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“CineMagique” is the only reel … er … real piece of entertainment at the Walt Disney Studios theme park

JHM guest writer Eric J. Craven sings the praises of this WDS attraction, which combines live actors, film highlights and in-theaters effects to recreate one truly memorable multimedia show.



Dear Jim:

Yesterday, I notice that Andrea Monti was really beating up on the Walt Disney Studios. Calling that theme park “…this small movie-themed theme park is arguably is the least attractive as well as the worst received park in Disney history.”

That — to me, anyway — seems a bit harsh. After all, Walt Disney Studios does have at least one truly memorable and magical attraction: “CineMagique.”

This WDS multi-media show is a truly clever mix of elements. Live actors, scenes from classic Hollywood and French films combine with in-theater effects to create what has to be seen as almost the definitive love letter to the movies.

That “CineMagique” was so beautifully directed by Jerry Rees is really not a surprise. Animation fans probably know Rees from his wonderful work on Hyperion Studios’ 1988 release, “The Brave Little Toaster.” But theme park fans … they really owe Jerry a debt of gratitude for his skillful work on “Back to Neverland” (that short film that used to run at the “Magic of Disney Animation” exhibit at Disney-MGM. You know, the one that starred Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite), “Michael and Mickey” (that great movie you used to see at the end of the studio theme park’s walking tour, where a live action Michael Eisner used to interact with an animated Mickey Mouse) and “Cranium Command” (not the animated film in this “Wonders of Life” pre-show, but — rather — all of those filmed interludes you see in the main theater featuring Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Charles Grodin et al).

But — with “CineMagique” — Rees has really outdone himself. This show is so sweet, so clever, it has so much heart, it ALWAYS gets a huge round of applause for WDS guests. Who always seem somewhat shocked to find something truly entertaining inside of this half-baked version of a Hollywood theme park.

So what’s “CineMagique” about? Well, what follows is a description of this Walt Disney Studios attraction which is loaded with SPOILERS. So — if you don’t want this show spoiled for you prior to your next trip to Paris — you better bail out now …

I mean it!

Okay …

Everybody ready? Here we go …

“CineMagique” is set inside what appears to be a fairly standard theme park theater. At the very start of the show, a WDS cast member steps forward and does the standard Disney theme park safety spiel. No video, no flash photography and please turn off your cel phones.

Then the lights go done (sort of) and we begin watching what is supposed to a film that pays tribute to the entire history of motion picture. Which — of course — starts off with a black and white silent movie. So we see the lovely French actress Julie Delpy being menaced by the evil sorcerer Alan Cummings.

Except that … after 30 seconds or so, someone’s cel phone goes off in the theater. As the WDS cast member who gave us the safety spiel tries to find out just who it is who’s disrupting the show, a man in a trench coat stands up in the aisle. As he speaks loudly into his cel phone, we realize that it’s some boorish American tourist. Who asks: “Is this the Frankfurt Airport? Have you found my luggage?”

The in-theater cast member finds the man on the cel phone, rushes up to him and says “Please, Sir. You’ll have to turn that off.” In an effort to escape this WDS employee, the American starts walking down the aisle while still talking on the phone. Still with his back to the audience, the man accidentally finds his way up onto the “CineMagique” stage.

Where we members of the audience notice that even the actors in the silent movie that’s showing in the theater are growing upset with this American’s boorish behavior. Alan Cumming’s wizard character grows so angry that — with a wave of his hands — he casts a spell. And POOF! The man who is talking on the cel phone actually gets sucked INTO the movie screen, suddenly becoming a member of the film’s cast.

The boorish American finally turns to face the audience. We see that it is noted American comic Martin Short. Who tried to continue his cel phone conversation but finds that — every time he tries to talk — all he gets is a title card that reads “Hello? Hello?”

And — with that — “CineMagique” really kicks into gear. We have Martin Short trapped inside a motion picture. Constantly being bounced from one bizarre setting to another as the film moves through the history of the cinema. Always trying to hang onto his cel phone, forever trying to get back in touch with the Frankfurt Airport to see if they’ve finally located his bags.

But — at the same time — Short can’t help but fall for the beautiful Ms. Delpy, who keeps popping up in the picture as Martin’s romantic interest. Julie’s there looking stunning in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” as well as standing on the deck of James Cameron’s “Titanic” looking equally radiate.

And you can see that Short is clearly smittened with this girl and would love to make some time with her. Except that …Well, there’s still that pesky luggage to find. And then there’s the fact that the film seems to keep changing settings on Short every five seconds.

There are some truly memorable set pieces in “CineMagique.” These include:

Short stumbling along the ledge of a high skyscraper with silent star Harold Lloyd in a clip from “Safety First.”

Martin mixing it up with Laurel and Hardy in that epic pie fight from “Battle of the Century.”

Short winding up in the same Chicago garage with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis at the start of Billy Wilder’s classic, “Some Like It Hot.”

But the sequence that really gets the audience going is when Martin — after stepping into a puddle in Paris and suddenly disappearing from sight — suddenly finds himself ‘way out in the ocean, swimming with Pinocchio as the animated puppet and the live action actors are pursued by Monstro.

We now cut to Sean Connery as the Russian submarine commander from “The Hunt for Red October.” As he peers through his periscope, Sean sees Martin Short and Pinocchio fleeing from the enormous whale. Connery — in dialogue pulled straight out of this 1990 Paramount Pictures release — says “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

Short eventually surfaces and sees a rescue ship steaming his way. Martin waves frantically at the approaching vessel, which turns out to be — of course — James Cameron’s “Titanic.”

Just as Short is being rescued, the ship hits the iceberg. Martin then hears someone pounding on the pipes. We quickly cut to Leonardo Dicaprio, handcuffed to the radiator below deck, hammering away — screaming for help. Short then says: “Wait! I know this movie. Someone’s got to save Jack!”

And — with that — Martin goes below deck and begins frantically opening doors, looking for Jack. But each time Short opens a door, there’s a different film star in each room. In quick succession we see:

Sully screaming from “Monsters, Inc.”

John Cleese nearly naked — except for a framed photograph — from “A Fish Called Wanda.”

Regan the possessed pre-teen from “The Exorcist.” Who — before Short quickly closes that door — manages to throw up on the comic’s pants.

You see what I’m saying, Jim? It’s all of these wonderful moments from major American and French films, seamlessly sewn together. With Martin Short as our increasingly desperate guide. Eager to escape this movie, win the girl, reclaim his cel phone and/or his lost luggage … But not necessarily in that order.

And the in-theater effects! Those are extraordinary too. With a gentle rain falling on the audience during the “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” sequence, real bullets seeming to whiz out into the theater during the “Some Like It Hot” gangster shoot-out, smoke actually curling out from under the screen whenever an explosion occurs in the movie.

As for the rest of the film … the clips just keep coming, faster and faster. With Short suddenly finding himself fighting alongside Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” and Kevin Costner in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

Not to totally spoil all of “CineMagique”‘s surprises (Hey! What am I saying? This is supposed to be the spoiler-filled section of the review, isn’t it), but Martin — after finally getting tossed OUT of the movie and (because he’s finally fallen for Julie Delpy) desperately trying to find a way to get back into the film — climbs back up on screen, defeats the evil knight and wins the girl.

And then — in the moment that makes every serious film fan fall totally in love with “CineMagique” — Short and Delpy play out that old cinematic cliché. They run at each other in slow motion through a field of flowers. They finally reach each other and kiss. And then — after their kiss breaks — Martin and Julie climb a small hill as the camera pulls back.

And then we see that Short and Delpy aren’t just standing in any only field of flowers. These are the poppies from MGM’s 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” And just below Martin and Julie is the Yellow Brick Road. And shining in the distance is — of course — the Emerald City.

So — as the music swells (great score by Bruce Broughton, by the way) — Short takes Delpy’s hand. And the young lovers head down the Yellow Brick Road, “Off to See the Wizard.”

Doesn’t that sound like an absolutely killer attraction? One that you’d love to see cloned for Disney-MGM Studio theme park and/or for the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of Disney’s California Adventure?

Here’s the sad part of my story. Based on what friends at WDI have told me, due to all the rights clearance problems that Disney had with “CineMagique” (I.E. which clip from which particular film did Disney have to pay big bucks to include in this film, how much dough did the Mouse have to dole out to include key images from “Star Wars” and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” etc.), it’s unlikely that this wonderful not-so-little film will ever play stateside. Not at least while Disney’s current management team is in place, refusing to open its purse strings to allow a quality theme park show like “CineMagique” over to the United States.

Make no mistake, Jim. “CineMagique” really is a magical show. I mean, why else would the Themed Entertainment Association — at its 10th annual Thea Awards — have recognized Walt Disney Imagineering’s Theme Park Productions division (I.E. TTP is the unit within WDI that actually produced the film portion of this project) by giving “CineMagique” its best new attraction award.

So — if the guys in the themed entertainment industry went out of their way to recognize this WDS show — you just KNOW that “CineMagique” has be something really special.

And — at least ’til Eisner exits the Walt Disney Company — this one-of-a-kind attraction is going to be a Walt Disney Studios exclusive. So, if you want to experience a truly magical trip through a 100 years of film, Hill, you’d best start packing your bags.

For you see, Walt Disney Studios isn’t really the most terrible theme park that WDI has ever created. After all, how can WDS be a complete failure if it still has a wonderful attraction like “CineMagique”?

Eric Craven

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The Evolution and History of Mickey’s ToonTown



Disneyland in Anaheim, California, holds a special place in the hearts of Disney fans worldwide, I mean heck, it’s where the magic began after all.  Over the years it’s become a place that people visit in search of memorable experiences. One fan favorite area of the park is Mickey’s Toontown, a unique land that lets guests step right into the colorful, “Toony” world of Disney animation. With the recent reimagining of the land and the introduction of Micky and Minnies Runaway Railway, have you ever wondered how this land came to be?

There is a fascinating backstory of how Mickey’s Toontown came into existence. It’s a tale of strategic vision, the influence of Disney executives, and a commitment to meeting the needs of Disney’s valued guests.

The Beginning: Mickey’s Birthdayland

The story of Mickey’s Toontown starts with Mickey’s Birthdayland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Opened in 1988 to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday, this temporary attraction was met with such overwhelming popularity that it inspired Disney executives to think bigger. The idea was to create a permanent, immersive land where guests could step into the animated world of Mickey Mouse and his friends.

In the early ’90s, Disneyland was in need of a refresh. Michael Eisner, the visionary leader of The Walt Disney Company at the time, had an audacious idea: create a brand-new land in Disneyland that would celebrate Disney characters in a whole new way. This was the birth of Mickey’s Toontown.

Initially, Disney’s creative minds toyed with various concepts, including the idea of crafting a 100-Acre Woods or a land inspired by the Muppets. However, the turning point came when they considered the success of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” This film’s popularity and the desire to capitalize on contemporary trends set the stage for Toontown’s creation.

From Concept to Reality: The Birth of Toontown

In 1993, Mickey’s Toontown opened its gates at Disneyland, marking the first time in Disney Park history where guests could experience a fully realized, three-dimensional world of animation. This new land was not just a collection of attractions but a living, breathing community where Disney characters “lived,” worked, and played.

Building Challenges: Innovative Solutions

The design of Mickey’s Toontown broke new ground in theme park aesthetics. Imagineers were tasked with bringing the two-dimensional world of cartoons into a three-dimensional space. This led to the creation of over 2000 custom-built props and structures that embodied the ‘squash and stretch’ principle of animation, giving Toontown its distinctiveness.

And then there was also the challenge of hiding the Team Disney Anaheim building, which bore a striking resemblance to a giant hotdog. The Imagineers had to think creatively, using balloon tests and imaginative landscaping to seamlessly integrate Toontown into the larger park.

Key Attractions: Bringing Animation to Life

Mickey’s Toontown featured several groundbreaking attractions. “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin,” inspired by the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” became a staple of Toontown, offering an innovative ride experience. Gadget’s Go-Coaster, though initially conceived as a Rescue Rangers-themed ride, became a hit with younger visitors, proving that innovative design could create memorable experiences for all ages.

Another crown jewel of Toontown is Mickey’s House, a walkthrough attraction that allowed guests to explore the home of Mickey Mouse himself. This attraction was more than just a house; it was a carefully crafted piece of Disney lore. The house was designed in the American Craftsman style, reflecting the era when Mickey would have theoretically purchased his first home in Hollywood. The attention to detail was meticulous, with over 2000 hand-crafted, custom-built props, ensuring that every corner of the house was brimming with character and charm. Interestingly, the design of Mickey’s House was inspired by a real home in Wichita Falls, making it a unique blend of real-world inspiration and Disney magic.

Mickey’s House also showcased Disney’s commitment to creating interactive and engaging experiences. Guests could make themselves at home, sitting in Mickey’s chair, listening to the radio, and exploring the many mementos and references to Mickey’s animated adventures throughout the years. This approach to attraction design – where storytelling and interactivity merged seamlessly – was a defining characteristic of ToonTown’s success.

Executive Decisions: Shaping ToonTown’s Unique Attractions

The development of Mickey’s Toontown wasn’t just about creative imagination; it was significantly influenced by strategic decisions from Disney executives. One notable input came from Jeffrey Katzenberg, who suggested incorporating a Rescue Rangers-themed ride. This idea was a reflection of the broader Disney strategy to integrate popular contemporary characters and themes into the park, ensuring that the attractions remained relevant and engaging for visitors.

In addition to Katzenberg’s influence, Frank Wells, the then-President of The Walt Disney Company, played a key role in the strategic launch of Toontown’s attractions. His decision to delay the opening of “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin” until a year after Toontown’s debut was a calculated move. It was designed to maintain public interest in the park by offering new experiences over time, thereby giving guests more reasons to return to Disneyland.

These executive decisions highlight the careful planning and foresight that went into making Toontown a dynamic and continuously appealing part of Disneyland. By integrating current trends and strategically planning the rollout of attractions, Disney executives ensured that Toontown would not only capture the hearts of visitors upon its opening but would continue to draw them back for new experiences in the years to follow.

Global Influence: Toontown’s Worldwide Appeal

The concept of Mickey’s Toontown resonated so strongly that it was replicated at Tokyo Disneyland and influenced elements in Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. Each park’s version of Toontown maintained the core essence of the original while adapting to its cultural and logistical environment.

Evolution and Reimagining: Toontown Today

As we approach the present day, Mickey’s Toontown has recently undergone a significant reimagining to welcome “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway” in 2023. This refurbishment aimed to enhance the land’s interactivity and appeal to a new generation of Disney fans, all while retaining the charm that has made ToonTown a beloved destination for nearly three decades.

Dive Deeper into ToonTown’s Story

Want to know more about Mickey’s Toontown and hear some fascinating behind-the-scenes stories, then check out the latest episode of Disney Unpacked on Patreon @JimHillMedia. In this episode, the main Imagineer who worked on the Toontown project shares lots of interesting stories and details that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s full of great information and fun facts, so be sure to give it a listen!

Jim Hill

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Unpacking the History of the Pixar Place Hotel



Pixar Place Hotel, the newly unveiled 15-story tower at the Disneyland Resort, has been making waves in the Disney community. With its unique Pixar-themed design, it promises to be a favorite among visitors.

However, before we delve into this exciting addition to the Disneyland Resort, let’s take a look at the fascinating history of this remarkable hotel.

The Emergence of the Disneyland Hotel

To truly appreciate the story of the Pixar Place Hotel, we must turn back the clock to the early days of Disneyland. While Walt Disney had the visionary ideas and funding to create the iconic theme park, he faced a challenge when it came to providing accommodations for the park’s visitors. This is where his friend Jack Wrather enters the picture.

Jack Wrather, a fellow pioneer in the television industry, stepped in to assist Walt Disney in realizing his dream. Thanks to the success of the “Lassie” TV show produced by Wrather’s company, he had the financial means to build a hotel right across from Disneyland.

The result was the Disneyland Hotel, which opened its doors in October 1955. Interestingly, the early incarnation of this hotel had more of a motel feel than a hotel, with two-story buildings reminiscent of the roadside motels popular during the 1950s. The initial Disneyland Hotel consisted of modest structures that catered to visitors looking for affordable lodging close to the park. While the rooms were basic, it marked the beginning of something extraordinary.

The Evolution: From Emerald of Anaheim to Paradise Pier

As Disneyland’s popularity continued to soar, so did the demand for expansion and improved accommodations. In 1962, the addition of an 11-story tower transformed the Disneyland Hotel, marking a significant transition from a motel to a full-fledged hotel.

The addition of the 11-story tower elevated the Disneyland Hotel into a more prominent presence on the Anaheim skyline. At the time, it was the tallest structure in all of Orange County. The hotel’s prime location across from Disneyland made it an ideal choice for visitors. With the introduction of the monorail linking the park and the hotel, accessibility became even more convenient. Unique features like the Japanese-themed reflecting pools added to the hotel’s charm, reflecting a cultural influence that extended beyond Disney’s borders.

Japanese Tourism and Its Impact

During the 1960s and 1970s, Disneyland was attracting visitors from all corners of the world, including Japan. A significant number of Japanese tourists flocked to Anaheim to experience Walt Disney’s creation. To cater to this growing market, it wasn’t just the Disneyland Hotel that aimed to capture the attention of Japanese tourists. The Japanese Village in Buena Park, inspired by a similar attraction in Nara, Japan, was another significant spot.

These attractions sought to provide a taste of Japanese culture and hospitality, showcasing elements like tea ceremonies and beautiful ponds with rare carp and black swans. However, the Japanese Village closed its doors in 1975, likely due to the highly competitive nature of the Southern California tourist market.

The Emergence of the Emerald of Anaheim

With the surge in Japanese tourism, an opportunity arose—the construction of the Emerald of Anaheim, later known as the Disneyland Pacific Hotel. In May 1984, this 15-story hotel opened its doors.

What made the Emerald unique was its ownership. It was built not by The Walt Disney Company or the Oriental Land Company (which operated Tokyo Disneyland) but by the Tokyu Group. This group of Japanese businessmen already had a pair of hotels in Hawaii and saw potential in Anaheim’s proximity to Disneyland. Thus, they decided to embark on this new venture, specifically designed to cater to Japanese tourists looking to experience Southern California.

Financial Challenges and a Changing Landscape

The late 1980s brought about two significant financial crises in Japan—the crash of the NIKKEI stock market and the collapse of the Japanese real estate market. These crises had far-reaching effects, causing Japanese tourists to postpone or cancel their trips to the United States. As a result, reservations at the Emerald of Anaheim dwindled.

To adapt to these challenging times, the Tokyu Group merged the Emerald brand with its Pacific hotel chain, attempting to weather the storm. However, the financial turmoil took its toll on the Emerald, and changes were imminent.

The Transition to the Disneyland Pacific Hotel

In 1995, The Walt Disney Company took a significant step by purchasing the hotel formerly known as the Emerald of Anaheim for $35 million. This acquisition marked a change in the hotel’s fortunes. With Disney now in control, the hotel underwent a name change, becoming the Disneyland Pacific Hotel.

Transformation to Paradise Pier

The next phase of transformation occurred when Disney decided to rebrand the hotel as Paradise Pier Hotel. This decision aligned with Disney’s broader vision for the Disneyland Resort.

While the structural changes were limited, the hotel underwent a significant cosmetic makeover. Its exterior was painted to complement the color scheme of Paradise Pier, and wave-shaped crenellations adorned the rooftop, creating an illusion of seaside charm. This transformation was Disney’s attempt to seamlessly integrate the hotel into the Paradise Pier theme of Disney’s California Adventure Park.

Looking Beyond Paradise Pier: The Shift to Pixar Place

In 2018, Disneyland Resort rebranded Paradise Pier as Pixar Pier, a thematic area dedicated to celebrating the beloved characters and stories from Pixar Animation Studios. As a part of this transition, it became evident that the hotel formally known as the Disneyland Pacific Hotel could no longer maintain its Paradise Pier theme.

With Pixar Pier in full swing and two successful Pixar-themed hotels (Toy Story Hotels in Shanghai Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland), Disney decided to embark on a new venture—a hotel that would celebrate the vast world of Pixar. The result is Pixar Place Hotel, a 15-story tower that embraces the characters and stories from multiple Pixar movies and shorts. This fully Pixar-themed hotel is a first of its kind in the United States.

The Future of Pixar Place and Disneyland Resort

As we look ahead to the future, the Disneyland Resort continues to evolve. The recent news of a proposed $1.9 billion expansion as part of the Disneyland Forward project indicates that the area surrounding Pixar Place is expected to see further changes. Disneyland’s rich history and innovative spirit continue to shape its destiny.

In conclusion, the history of the Pixar Place Hotel is a testament to the ever-changing landscape of Disneyland Resort. From its humble beginnings as the Disneyland Hotel to its transformation into the fully Pixar-themed Pixar Place Hotel, this establishment has undergone several iterations. As Disneyland Resort continues to grow and adapt, we can only imagine what exciting developments lie ahead for this iconic destination.

If you want to hear more stories about the History of the Pixar Place hotel, check our special edition of Disney Unpacked over on YouTube.

Stay tuned for more updates and developments as we continue to explore the fascinating world of Disney, one story at a time.

Jim Hill

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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From Birthday Wishes to Toontown Dreams: How Toontown Came to Be



Mickey's Birthday Land

In the latest release of Episode 4 of Disney Unpacked, Len and I return, joined as always by Disney Imagineering legend, Jim Shull. This two-part episode covers all things Mickey’s Birthday Land and how it ultimately led to the inspiration behind Disneyland’s fan-favorite land, “Toontown”. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. It all starts in the early days at Disneyland.

Early Challenges in Meeting Mickey

Picture this: it’s the late 1970s and early 1980s, and you’re at Disneyland. You want to meet the one and only Mickey Mouse, but there’s no clear way to make it happen. You rely on Character Guides, those daily printed sheets that point you in Mickey’s general direction. But let’s be honest, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. Sometimes, you got lucky; other times, not so much.

Mickey’s Birthdayland: A Birthday Wish that Came True

Fast forward to the late 1980s. Disney World faced a big challenge. The Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park was under construction, with the company’s marketing machine in full swing, hyping up the opening of Walt Disney World’s third theme park, MGM Studios, in the Spring of 1989. This extensive marketing meant that many people were opting to postpone their family’s next trip to Walt Disney World until the following year. Walt Disney World needed something compelling to motivate guests to visit Florida in 1988, the year before Disney MGM Studios opened.

Enter stage left, Mickey’s Birthdayland. For the first time ever, an entire land was dedicated to a single character – and not just any character, but the mouse who started it all. Meeting Mickey was no longer a game of chance; it was practically guaranteed.

The Birth of Birthdayland: Creative Brilliance Meets Practicality

In this episode, we dissect the birth of Mickey’s Birthdayland, an initiative that went beyond celebrating a birthday. It was a calculated move, driven by guest feedback and a need to address issues dating back to 1971. Imagineers faced the monumental task of designing an experience that honored Mickey while efficiently managing the crowds. This required the perfect blend of creative flair and logistical prowess – a hallmark of Disney’s approach to theme park design.

Evolution: From Birthdayland to Toontown

The success of Mickey’s Birthdayland was a real game-changer, setting the stage for the birth of Toontown – an entire land that elevated character-centric areas to monumental new heights. Toontown wasn’t merely a spot to meet characters; it was an immersive experience that brought Disney animation to life. In the episode, we explore its innovative designs, playful architecture, and how every nook and cranny tells a story.

Impact on Disney Parks and Guests

Mickey’s Birthdayland and Toontown didn’t just reshape the physical landscape of Disney parks; they transformed the very essence of the guest experience. These lands introduced groundbreaking ways for visitors to connect with their beloved characters, making their Disney vacations even more unforgettable.

Beyond Attractions: A Cultural Influence

But the influence of these lands goes beyond mere attractions. Our episode delves into how Mickey’s Birthdayland and Toontown left an indelible mark on Disney’s culture, reflecting the company’s relentless dedication to innovation and guest satisfaction. It’s a journey into how a single idea can grow into a cherished cornerstone of the Disney Park experience.

Interested in learning about Jim Shull’s original idea for a Winnie the Pooh ride? Here’s concept art of the attraction proposed for the original Toontown in Disneyland. More on [Disney Unpacked].

Unwrapping the Full Story of Mickey’s Birthdayland

Our two-part episode of Disney Unpacked is available for your viewing pleasure on our Patreon page. And for those seeking a quicker Disney fix, we’ve got a condensed version waiting for you on our YouTube channel. Thank you for being a part of our Disney Unpacked community. Stay tuned for more episodes as we continue to “Unpack” the fascinating world of Disney, one story at a time.

Jim Hill

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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