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It’s a Small World. And Getting Smaller …

This time around, Andrea uses the recent arrival of ESPN on European cable systems to talk about what Disney is planning to do to expand its brand internationally. More importantly, he identifies some of Mickey’s top players in the European arena.



What a treat it is to welcome back guest columnist Andrea Monti (Mickeyfantasmic). Andrea has quickly become a favorite here at, thanks mostly to his insightful columns which reveal quite a bit about what the Walt Disney Company is really up to overseas.

This time around, Andrea uses the recent arrival of ESPN on European cable systems to talk about what Disney is planning to do to expand its brand internationally. More importantly, he identifies some of Mickey’s top players in the European arena. So why is this important? Well, where do you think Jay Rasulo – the new head of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts – came from? That’s right. Walt Disney International.

And – given that most Mouse House insiders suggest that the Walt Disney Company will be expending most of its energies over the next 10 years into expanding internationally — now might be a really good time to start taking notes. Just so you can keep track of Disney’s next generation of key corporate players as these guy try to pull a Rasulo. Use all the good work that they do overseas as their “FastPass” to the top of the Mouse House corporate ladder.

Enjoy, jrh


I was at one of those wonderful dinners at a friend’s house Saturday night. One of those really enjoyable evenings where you see old University friends. The usual bunch of joke a lots and generally spend the night eating, drinking and chatting about the old times and what’s presently going on in your life (boy do I feel old for my 25 years after this sentence ;-)).

After a few hours, we where pleasantly relaxing on the sofas and switched on some digital television; searching for something fun and interesting to watch (and comment). After a few minutes the house’s owner switched onto ESPN Classics saying “this is a new channel which started broadcasting last week and always has interesting sports to watch “…whilst I started becoming pale in the face; cleaning my throat and thinking about how best to put to my friends what ESPN actually was I heard some party members saying “oh it must be some small new company which wants to tap into the Italian – non football fan based- market”.

Ok… that was enough; in a few instants I realised how much different Europe is for Disney from the US. How much misunderstanding there is about what type of media company the “Walt Disney Company” actually is, what it does in Europe, the US and the rest of the world. And why- more often than not- Eisner writes sentences like “the US market provides 80% of Disney revenue, but has only 5% of the world population, if we only can improve the average spending in Disney products to 80% of the US level in the 5 major markets (Germany, Italy, France, England and Japan) we could provide your company with an extra 2 Billion $ revenue” in the annual letter to shareholders (a similar to the above phrase was present on the 1999 annual report).

See what I mean, gang? Eisner, and all of the Walt Disney Company know about this “international problem”, the simple fact that the Oversee market doesn’t see Disney for what it really is (a world media conglomerate) but only as the producer of kid oriented movies, animated classics and theme parks where Mickey and Donald are overwhelmingly present.

Getting back to my evening- as an example- I started explaining to my friends that ESPN is actually the world’s leading sports channel, present for many years in most US houses and has 3 major channels in the US, plus a few outlets worldwide. I went on describing the different sports which the US sees (unlike in Europe where soccer has all the interest) and the fact ESPN is actually controlled by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), which is one of the 4 major US Television channels, and one of the 3 historical ones (CBS and NBC being the others).

While my friends were trying to follow my description, I went on to explain that — in 1995 — the Walt Disney Company actually went on to buy the ABC network- along with all its assets- and therefore ESPN. And that — for the time — (Well before the AOL- Time Warner acquisition of ’99) this was the most important acquisition in World Economic history.

The point for us Europeans is that ABC, and until recently also ESPN, have little- if none- appeal or visibility in the European panorama. Disney on this side of the Atlantic majorly comes down to EuroDisney (“hey didn’t it go bankrupt? Oh it actually changed names did it? A second park? You get in with the same ticket right?” … sigh), the Disney stores (where 80% of the stuff in the shop is plush or bean bags), a few Disney Channels (which broadcast on Satellite Digital systems) and – this is the incredible thing- the major source for the whole world- in Disney Publishing.

Think about it, my fellow Disney lovers. Especially there in the US you know and think about Disney as an “all across the board” company. Mickey and his pals can attach their brand name to all sorts of products and still be coherently seen and felt as a presence on the market. Here in Europe, Disney cannot and is not synergetically linked to ESPN. Of course, it is pulling the strings of the launching of the Channel. And — of course — the ESPN offices share the same floor and space with the Disney Channel ones. But the audience will never feel this link- at least not for a few years, until Disney Company management will feel it can be useful to cross promote its products on that outlet.

Eisner, Iger and their Vice Presidents are all well aware of this “misbalance” of perception and penetration (which obviously leads to lower revenues) and have – for a few years– taken active steps in a direction to fulfill this “international void”.

Want to know how much important in this world scheme Jay Rassulo- newly appointed Disney theme parks chief- has been and will be in the future? Well picture this: Since 1999, a new division of the Mouse House has been created; and -creatively- named “Walt Disney International”. As most of you might know, its first president was Robert Iger. Iger was directly picked up from the top spot at ABC and quickly gained the number 2 job at this mother of all Divisions within a year from this new naming. Mostly by (without much following from Eisner) signing a win-win deal with the Hong Kong government for the opening of HK Disneyland in late 2005/ early 2006.

But how many of you know that at the same time Gilles Pellisson- CEO of EuroDisney SCA until 2000, when he left and Jay moved up- was then told to jointly report to 2 people? Both Pressler (as he was the theme park chief) and Iger’s number 1 man in Europe; Etienne de Villiers.

This man, Etienne de Villers, has since then held the title of “president and managing director of Walt Disney International — Europe, Middle East and Africa.” From his office in London, de Villers leads a “brain team” of all the Presidents of the major countries of his regions. Plus he holds synergistically meetings with the management team of EuroDisney SCA so to promote all Disney European products synergistically and in the best possible way through all possible outlets.

These country managing directors are: Claus Gydesen, 39, for Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is based in Munich. Philippe Laco, 44, for France and Benelux and is based in Paris ( he was formerly vice president and general manager of The Disney Channel France since 1996). Laszlo Hubay Cebrian, 53, for Spain and Portugal (who opened Disney’s first offices in Portugal in 1980 and has managed Disney Consumer Products operations in Spain, Portugal and Germany as well as overseeing television and theme park marketing operations in Spain in prior years). Stuart Warrener, 48 for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, based in London. Mats Caneman, 49 for the Nordic Region based in Stockholm.

For my home country (Italy, and — for now — Greece), the CEO is Mr Umberto Virri. Virri has served as president of Disney Consumer Products Italy since 1990, overseeing all merchandise, publishing and interactive activity for Disney, including a portfolio of more than 30 magazine titles. Virri is a 23-year veteran of Disney and in addition to his current role, Virri oversees Accademia Disney, a highly regarded training program for character artists in Milan.

As you might imagine this team of Disney executives all report still to the president of Walt Disney international, who now is Michael Johnson, and have all been vital to the spearheading of new Disney businesses in these countries. All of these Disney heads (having personal basis of this) have been extremely happy with Rasulo’s promotion last month. Some of these team members have known the man since the early eighties and know what he is capable of, and what he has done both for Disneyland Resort Paris and for the European market and its perception for Disney.

It is important to understand, my American friends, that the Walt Disney Company is much more than what it appears to be in our own home market and its next-door neighbor.

De Viller and all the national managing Directors, Jay Rassulo and many more- less known- Disney mangers are and have been a vital part in making Disney what it is today. Some of these executives have been in the company form as long as Eisner, and some even more. These moves to broaden their range of control can help review the magic and fulfill Walt’s wish to “inform and educate the whole family” (as the very idea of Walt’s last dream EPCOT was, remember?).

For us Europeans (or citizens of the world, as I like to think of myself often), it is fundamental to “open our minds” and understand that this corporate strategic marketing plan form the Walt Disney Company. This plan will really kick into gear on the heels of Jay’s promotion and will lead to an even stronger presence of the mouse in Europe… and I surely hope that, unlike prior to the EuroDisney opening in 1992 (when the park was named a “cultural Chernobyl” and Mickey as a “greedy rodent”) the wide wings of the Mouse house product range will be able to provide us with even more quality products.

Hoping to have helped both European and American readers understand better the inner workings of the Walt Disney Company’s European and International divisions, I would like to wrap up this piece by sharing a friendly word of welcome to ESPN in Europe and specifically in the Italian television market.


Andrea “Mickeyfantasmic” Monti

Andrea Monti

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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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