Disneyland Cast Members With Disabilities Consulted By Walt Disney Imagineers While Redesigning Mickey’s Toontown

The land has been reopened since March of this year, but earlier today, Disneyland shared a bit of insight into the design process behind the radical refurbishment of Mickey’s Toontown, sharing that Walt Disney Imagineers consulted Disneyland Cast Members with disabilities to help them design the new experiences.

What’s Happening:

  • Earlier this year, Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Park reopened after a lengthy refurbishment that saw most of the 30 year old land changed in some way.
  • Today, the Disneyland Resort has revealed that Disney Imagineers reached out to Cast Members at the park who have disabilities to get their input on the newly renovated land to thoughtfully reimagine the interactive spaces and features in the land that toons built.
  • Cast from ENABLED, a Disney Business Employee Resource Group that promotes respect, equality and appreciation of people with disabilities, were brought in early to provide their perspective on the reimagined land, down to the tiniest details.
  • Some of the changes included:
    • A virtually curb-less land, to help young guests still learning to walk and those using wheelchairs or mobility devices to play, experience and get around the land with ease.
    • A reimagined Goofy’s House and the all-new Goofy’s How-To-Play Yard, with interactive elements that allow kids to explore in an approachable sensory experience.
    • A reimagined version of Donald’s Boat in Donald’s Duck Pond, which guests can engage with the interactive portholes on the boat.
    • A wheelchair-accessible food and beverage podium, so cast in wheelchairs are better able to assist guests with their orders at Café Daisy.
    • Newly designed reversible costumes that mix and match, with textured fabric to help cast with differing levels of visual ability select their costume with ease while showcasing their individual personalities.
    • Incorporating Braille into the tree roots at CenTOONial Park, so as children explore they will come across the words “dream” and “play.”
    • Open green areas with shade from trees to allow children to play in the grass or decompress and unwind on the lawn.
  • Beeta Laskowski, an operations training manager, said cast took part in “training around disability awareness, [including] using the knowledge to help provide individualized recommendations for guests.” The training dovetailed the story of Mickey’s Toontown with disability awareness, encouraging cast to interact with guests in the way each individual may prefer to play and engage with the story.
  • Erin Quintanilla, a leader in ENABLED, helped Disney Imagineers create a space for everyone to play, pointing out that “In Goofy’s House, you will see that one of the junior woodchucks is using a wheelchair… Seeing that representation in the ‘toon world’ was so important.
  • Erin also noted efforts to make the land a place that represents cast members with disabilities as well, including podiums accessible for cast who use wheelchairs, adding that “Allowing people who identify with a disability to be part of that conversation … was important the whole way through.”

What They’re Saying:

  • Elliot Rosenbaum, producer at Walt Disney Imagineering: “We wanted to make sure we were designing for differing abilities, and creating as many opportunities as possible to play.”
  • Ryan Wineinger-Schattl, senior creative director at WDI: “Reinvigorating Mickey’s Toontown gave us a chance to dream big on behalf of our youngest guests. The most important thing we could give children and families is an inspiring place to play…This neighborhood feels both stimulating and decompressing, both buoyant and lush, and most of all, it is a place for our youngest guests to roam free and explore as new pals. The one thing you can’t know until you’ve experienced it, though, is the town’s reinvigorated spirit.”

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.