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Once more, it’s topic drift! The baseball season winds down and Roger’s at work on a piece along those lines… But first, he’s got a look at what he considers the world’s best party. And it’s no short story, either! So get ready, cause here we go…



It can trace it’s roots back almost two hundred years, a people’s party celebrating a royal wedding, lasting for more than three weeks, with almost six million of your closest friends consuming almost six million liters of some of the world’s finest beer.

Okay, I can hear some of you saying, “When do we leave?”


Widely imitated, there truly is only one place for this event. Oktoberfest takes place every year in the fall in Munich, Germany.

Well, how did all this get started? Grab a mass krug (that’s a full liter!) of your favorite brew (and it better be one of the true Oktoberfest beers — I’ll explain in a bit), and set back to listen to this tale.

From the official web pages, “It all began with the wedding of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig I) to princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese or Therese’s green) on October 12, 1810. Five days later, the National Guard organized a large public horse race to ensure that the Bavarian folk could also partake in the wedding celebration. It was decided that the festival should be repeated at the same time the following year, which marked the birth of the “October-Festivals”.

In 1811, the Bavarians additionally celebrated an agricultural festival. In contrast to the horse race, this festival has held to this day. Every three years this “central agricultural festival” takes place on the southern part of the Theresienwiese.

The enormous entertainment spectrum today didn’t exist in the past: A couple of carousels and several beer stands were all at that time – the first beer tents started in 1896.

As Munich was considerably smaller in the past, the proprietors and event organizers went out to the Wiesn for the starting ceremonies. This tradition is still reflected today with the entry of the tent proprietors on Saturday morning in the parade.

The mayor Thomas Wimmer first started the well-known tradition of tapping the beer keg in the 1950s. The mayor taps the first keg on the first Wiesn-Saturday at exactly 12:00pm and calls out “O’zapft is’!” (which means the keg has been tapped). Since then, the mayor has always tapped the first keg.”

As far as beer goes, there are specific Munich brewers that produce the official Oktoberfest beer. Those are Spaten, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, HB (Hofbrau) and Augustiner. Following the letter of the famed Purity laws (Dating back to 1516), these companies produce their products much as they always have for this event. And when you think about how much beer this is (The number of kegs boggles the mind!), that’s quite an achievement, year after year. Almost worth celebrating all on it’s own…

Known as Marzen (the brewing process begins in March and concludes with it being served at Oktoberfest), it is a good amber in color and goes down smoothly. Okay, so this is the voice of experience speaking. We visited in 2001, (Thursday, September 27th, and Friday, the 28th). Starting off our day at about one in the afternoon, we began with a visit to our first tent. Tents are the place for entertainment for almost any taste. The 14 tents aren’t what you might think. These are errected on the Theresienwiese and are works of art all their own. With kitchens producing food, washing glassware, plates and utensils; restrooms for men and women; seating for thousands inside and out; storage and service areas for all that beer; entertainment platforms; souvenir shops, and offices… these are not small canvas affairs by any means.

Our first tent was the Augustiner-Braeu. We enjoyed a nice traditional lunch of bratwurst, sauerkraut and bread, all complimented by a mass krug of their Oktoberfest “bier”. Here’s a review by an impartial source, the Beer Advocate. Note those first two lines: “Munich residents generally consider Augustiner to be the best of their 6 major Breweries. Hard to disagree too much after quaffing a Mass or 2 of this on tap at the Fest!” No argument on that from this consumer…

From there, we ventured off to visit some of the other tents and explore the shopping potential. (Yes, I was seduced by pins and managed to keep it down to only five of them for the various brewers. Missing only the one from Hacker-Pschorr…)

Our next tent was Ochsenbraterei. We sat and enjoyed another mass krug — this time, Spaten’s Oktoberfest — while listening to the traditional brass band (without amplifiers!). Had we wished, we could have enjoyed some of the fine roasted ox being served here. But we were still full from the Augustiner tent, and simply shared a giant pretzel among the four of us.

Finishing up the day, we ventured to the Lowenbraeu tent. Now if you come in here expecting a frosty mug of Lowenbrau like you might have at home, are you in for a surprise! But by the time we got here, we were just plain full of good German “bier”. So instead of each getting another mass krug, the four of us shared one and another pretzel. As it was getting late into the afternoon, we were reminded that the table was reserved for the evening and that we could only sit here for another half an hour.

If you’re planning to make this trip, that’s a point to remember. All of the tents take reservations for the evenings. Save your place and spend a night enjoying the good music, food, “bier” and friends. Check the web pages for the various tents for more details.

As much as we had enjoyed our “bier” that afternoon, I don’t think we had over imbibed. Walking around the grounds was good exercise. So much so that we went across the street into a small restaurant and decided to have dinner, with what else? More “bier”!

But beer is not only thing involved here. A number of traditional events also are part of the festivities. Again from the official pages:

“Parade of the Tent Proprietors
When: Saturday, September 20, 2003, 10:45 am
Start: Sonnenstraße
Length: ca. 1 hour

Description: The Wiesn-Parade marks the festive start of the Oktoberfest. It has a very long tradition with the first parade in 1887.

The Munich Kindl (played by a young woman) leads the parade on horseback, with the mayor of Munich and governor of Bavaria directly behind in a festively decorated horse drawn coach. They are followed by a colorful mixture of proprietor families, decorated carriages, magnificent teams of oxen/horses from the Munich breweries, waitresses/waiters on decorated wagons and all of the Oktoberfest bands.

You do not need an entry ticket for the parade of the proprietors!

The path the parade will take is marked on our Oktoberfest map.

Folklore Parade
When: Sunday, September 21, 2003, 10 am
Start: Maximilianstraße
Length: ca. 2,5 hours

Description: Held for the first time in 1835 in honor of the silver wedding of King Ludwig I. and Therese of Bavaria, this procession of national costumes has been taking place regularly since 1950 and turned into an outstanding Oktoberfest event. The German ARD public TV channel broadcasts it live all over the world.

Approximately 8,000 participants will march from the Maximilianstraße through downtown Munich to the Oktoberfest fairgrounds displaying a diversity of customs, folk music and folk-dance. Traditional costume and music groups will represent many different German states.

Festively clothed traditional costume group members, known as “Trachtler” alternate in colorful succession with sport clubs and mountain marksmen, brass bands, marching bands, trumpeters and brilliant fan twirlers. The magnificent brewery teams will of course also be present, augmented by over one hundred noble thoroughbreds pulling the beautifully decorated carriages. Among the guests of honor we again find the Munich “Kindl”, who will also lead this parade on horseback, the Mayor of Munich and the Bavarian Governor.

The Festring Munich e.V. are the organizers of this impressive parade, which counts as one of the largest and most beautiful in the entire world. This club is also responsible for the engraving of the annual Munich Oktoberfest medal and the Oktoberfest program.

Entry tickets are not necessary for the parade. It is however possible to reserve seats on the grandstand.

Parade line up: Franz-Joseph-Straße and Leopoldstraße

Further Infos: Tickets can be acquired at the Munich Ticket office: Telephone Nr. 089 / 548 181 81.

Parade line up: Franz-Joseph-Straße and Leopoldstraße

Festring Muenchen e.V. Pestalozzistraße 3a, 80469 Muenchen

Tel.: 089 / 260 81 34, Fax: 089 / 26 30 65


First Family Day
When: Tuesday, September 24, 2002, 12:00pm – 6:00pm

Description: This Tuesday features reduced prices and ticket fares for rides, which allows many families and others with tight budgets to visit and enjoy the Wiesn together.

A special program for children called the “Wiesn-Hits for Kids” also features special Oktoberfest-offers suitable for children.

Traditional Oktoberfest Mass
When: Thursday, September 26, 26.09.2002, 10:00am
Where: Hippodrom
Length: ca. 1 hour

Description: All citizens of Munich and Oktoberfest guests are warmly invited to attend a traditional Oktoberfest mass at the Hippodrom tent. Pastors from the largest religious denominations will celebrate a mass together with the people working at the fair (rides, food stands etc.), in addition to priests from neighboring countries.”

And that’s just the first week! Here’s more for the second week:

Gathering of the Oktoberfest Tent Bands
When: Sunday, September 28, 2003, 11 am
Where: Bavaria on the Theresienwiese

Description: All Oktoberfest tent bands will gather at the feet of the Bavaria Pantheon to give a concert. At this event, which has almost reached a cult status, approximately 400 musicians will interpret well-known marches and melodies.

Second Family Day
When: Tuesday, September 30, 2003,12 am – 6 pm

Description: This Tuesday features reduced prices and ticket fares for rides, for the second time, which allows many families and others with tight budgets to visit and enjoy the Wiesn together.

A special program for children called the “Wiesn-Hits for Kids” also features special Oktoberfest-offers suitable for children.

Oktoberfest Shooting
When: Sunday, October 5, 2003, 12 pm
Where: Bavaria on the Theresienwiese

Description: On the victory ceremony anniversary of the Oktoberfest-shooting match of the Bavarian rifle society, riflemen will fire off a large-scale salute on the steps of the Bavaria Pantheon.”

But if you are planning to make this trip for the “bier,” here is a book that has your best interests in mind. “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Munich” even offers coupons for FREE beer! For $9 it pays you to own this book! Wish I had found it before we went…

During our time there, we ran into other Americans, specifically a bunch of guys from Wisconsin who thought they were serious beer drinkers. After a few days, they gave in and claimed they were only amateurs. The real pro’s were the Germans.

And from what we saw on the train from Mainz to Munich, I was even more impressed. A group whose day started well before ours had brought an ample supply of “bier” onto the train, both cases of bottles and the one-gallon cans. When that ran out, they dipped into the supply being sold on the train. I saw many of them going by with three or four bottles, and more than once!

I don’t recall seeing too many folks around the Theresienwiese who were intoxicated. But the Munich police and the German military we saw on patrol did not give a lot of slack. If there was any problem, they handled it right away, and ended it.

I did see a number of folks trying to sleep on benches at the Munich bahnhof (train station) who were rousted by the Bahnpolizei (railway police). I’m guessing they spent the night elsewhere, with the usual suspects and in less than exciting accommodations…

Now as much fun as a trip to Munich for this can be, if again like me, you can’t afford to make it there this year, there are many similar events here in the U.S.

As an example, here in San Francisco there is the Oktoberfest By The Bay. This year, it’s a four day event, complete with special festivities.

“SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Oktoberfest by the Bay, Ft. Mason, Oct. 16-19

His Royal Highness Prince Leopold von Bayern will be at keg tapping ceremony at the West Coast’s largest event!!

This year’s Oktoberfest will be more spectacular than ever. Opening will be on THURSDAY evening, 10/16. A special 100-liter wooden keg will be flown in from Munich for this event. The tapping ceremony will take place at 8:30pm in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Leopold von Bayern and other dignitaries.

Prince Leopold is a direct descendent of King Ludwig II, whose wedding celebration over 100 years ago led to what we now know as “Oktoberfest”. He will be in town for just this special event.

Enjoy great Spaten beer, food and fun Thursday- Sunday! This is an event not to be missed!”

With music provided by the Chico Bavarian Band and the Internationals (complete with the famed “Chicken Dance”) it’s another great evening of music, food, fun and of course, lots of great Spaten Oktoberfest “bier”!

You don’t have to wear lederhosen or a dirndl, or even speak German to have a good time. It helps, but it’s not required.

Another great option is watching the festivities in Munich on all of the webcams. Lots of great views from all over the Theresienwiese. Not for the faint of dial-up, however…

Closing up this column, we can’t forget the German Pavilion at Epcot in Orlando. At the Biergarten, it’s like Oktoberfest very night! With lots of great German food (at least when I was there in April of 1999) and Bavarian musicians to keep the family entertained, and of course, “bier”! That evening, I enjoyed two, that I can recall, mass krugs of Becks Dark.

Now during this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from October 18 through November 16, I’ve found this:

Oktoberfest, presented by Lowenbrau (New!)

This festive celebration comes to the Germany Courtyard with traditional decor, a keg tapping ceremony and unique beer and food offerings.

Now, a guess would be that Lowenbrau may have taken over the “bier” supply efforts. I’m hoping that’s the German version, rather than that produced under license by the Miller Brewing Company.

As I alluded to above, there is a distinct difference between the two products. Kind of like night and day, actually. What we get here under that name is typical for the American consumer, and the same is true in Germany. It’s a “bier” best viewed as being for German tastes, not the typical rice beer we have here (a.k.a. Budweiser). There is a more full body and hearty flavor, not just sweetened to make you drink more, faster.

That said, one of our funniest moments in Munich was seeing a Budweiser truck. It took us a bit to realize this was Czechoslovakian, not American.

But if you’re looking to enjoy some of this full flavored “bier” at home, you should be in luck. Of the brewers available at Oktoberfest, you can find the following here imported into United States:

Spaten Oktoberfest

Paulaner Oktoberfest

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

Locally, we have Beverages and More (a.k.a. BevMo) which sells a good selection of brews imported from around the world. Their German “bier” pages offer the above brews and lots of other good choices.

And, they do mail orders! J A lot more than “bier” and well worth the time to look for your favorite libation.

With that, you’ll pardon me while I take my frosty mass krug and fill it with Paulaner Oktoberfest, turn up the volume on iTunes to enjoy the compact disc of Oktoberfest music from Spaten (recorded live in Munich in 2001 — when I was there, put on my Bavarian hat and kick back…

“Ein Prosit
Ein Prosit, ein prosit der Germutlichkeit
Ein prosit, ein Prosit der Germutlichkeit
Ein prosit, ein Prosit der Germutlichkeit
Ein prosit, ein Prosit der Germutlichkeit
Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!”

“A Toast
A Toast, a toast to Happiness
A Toast, a toast to Happiness
A Toast, a toast to Happiness
A Toast, a toast to Happiness
One, two, three, down the hatch!”

Next up: It’s the basesball post season. The gods of the diamond willing, the Athletics will be there to the bitter end. In any case, Roger’s back next week with a look at baseball fantasy camps. Indulge those childhood dreams and spend sometime with the players from your glory days at the ball park, and heck, maybe even learn a thing or two…

And for less than the cost of a mug of your favorite brew, why note show your appreciation for Roger’s efforts with something in his Amazon Honor System Paybox? Somebody’s got to pay for his “bier!”

Roger Colton

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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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