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Roger is back this week with the first in the series of things you always wanted to do but never knew you could. So come on along and see what’s in store for you this time…



Once upon a time, odds are if you were waiting at a street crossing of a railroad, and a train passed, you would probably get a friendly wave from the engineer or fireman on the locomotive on the front of the train and maybe another one from a conductor or brakeman on the caboose on the rear of the train. A lot of little boys (and little girls, too!) got a big kick out of that. The mystery of what it took to be at the controls of such big machine was something that made its mark on popular culture for many years of the 20th Century. Everything from pulp novels, popular songs, movie serials and radio shows told the tales of life on the railroad.

There was just something about it that fascinated a whole lot of people. Some got over that by finding other things to grab their interest; usually the opposite sex. Others never did get it out of their blood and gravitated to vicarious thrills through the hobby of model railroading (Walt Disney was one of those). And those folks who really had it bad, well they got jobs with the railroad.

Now in recent years, thanks to folks like Ward Kimball, there has been a growth in railway preservation. Around the world, museums have been made out of sidings and old railroad yards. Where once it was the job to move freight and passengers, today it is the love of railroading that brings folks to recreate those days gone by. Bringing history to life (there’s that term again! “Heritage Tourism”) is a passion for some and a labor of love as well.

One of the most sought after positions at many of these museums is that of the locomotive engineer. Usually, there is already someone doing the job, so chances to learn are limited. During my tenure at the railway museum, my opportunities came about by pure luck, mostly being in the right place at the right time. If a piece of equipment needed to be moved, I often volunteered to do so, or to be part of the crew making such a move. Having worked both in the cab of a locomotive as well as on the ground doing the field part of the job, I was ready to do what ever was needed.

However, one need not plan to invest years in a project just to get a chance to run the train. A growing number of museums offer some kind of “Engineer For The Day” programs. One of the better known is here in California at the Feather River Railroad Society’s Portola Museum.

The museum is located in what once was a diesel locomotive service facility at the eastern end of the Feather River canyon. Today, Portola is a typical northern Sierra town with a growing retirement population. While the railroad still has a presence in town, it’s pretty much limited to the changing of crews. Refreshing the memory, Federal laws limit the maximum number of hours that a train crew may be on duty to twelve. That starts when they arrive at the railroad yard and report ready to work. So at various points along the railroad, crews already on duty will hand off their trains to another rested crew so that the train can continue to its destination.

But back in the earlier days of railroading, Portola was a busy place with locomotives and trains being serviced around the clock. The Western Pacific Railroad arrived here in 1910 and built a roundhouse and yard facility to handle the freight and passenger traffic. The WP was a latecomer in the transcontinental railroad business. It was created to allow access to the Pacific Rim to the other railroads of the Gould interests.

World War II brought diesel-electric locomotives to the Western Pacific for the first time, both for local switching of cars and for longer distance trains. Eventually, these provided such economic improvements that steam locomotives were retired. East of Portola to Salt Lake City was the first area to be fully dieselized.

Portola’s roundhouse was replaced by a smaller diesel servicing structure. Time claimed that as well with improvements to locomotive technology reducing maintenance requirements.

The Western Pacific always had a special place in the hearts of many enthusiasts. The route crossed some of the state’s most scenic territory. And it was always in competition with the bigger and better funded Southern Pacific.

A group of folks working with the local chamber of commerce convinced the railroad to donate the old diesel facility as the location for their museum. Gathering a collection of diesel locomotives and cars from the WP, they created a true one-of-a-kind “living” museum.

With funds to restore equipment always in short supply, they were among the first to offer the “Run-A-Locomotive” program to visitors. Today it is extremely popular, and often booked well in advance during the peak summer months.

Here’s a great description of a typical experience. It starts with a safety briefing and an explanation of the locomotive controls. Then you’re off for the chance to run the locomotive of your choice around the Museum’s demonstration railway (which was once the railroad’s balloon loop used for turning snow removal equipment). After the end of your session, the Museum provides you with a certificate in recognition of your time at the throttle.

They offer several packages to tempt any level railroad fan, from as low as $95 for one hour running the switching locomotive (one of the first two diesels on the WP way back when) to $125 for one of the road locomotives to a combination of both for two hours for $195. The page linked above has more info and photo’s of the locomotives typically available to rent.

If that’s a bit more than you had in mind, check out your local railway museum to see what they might offer. For example, the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California, has it’s Railway Festival every spring. One of the opportunities taking place during that time is a chance (for a reasonable fee) to run a diesel locomotive back and forth on a short section of track.

If the diesel side of things isn’t what you really want, then other places offer the chance to run and fire on full size steam locomotives.

One of the best-preserved rail facilities from the steam days is the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in East Ely, Nevada. The NN goes back to the early days of the 20th Century when the railroad was built to connect the newly discovered copper mines with the transcontinental railroads.

Copper was king in more ways than one in this part of the Silver State. Long after the silver mines of the Comstock were closed and abandoned, the copper mines near Ely kept producing ore. From the large open pit mines the railroad carried it to a smelter and then on to those connections to the rest of the world. Parent company Kennecott Copper was the largest employer in White Pine County for many years.

Sentiment kept steam locomotives in storage in Ely for many years after they were replaced by diesels. Two locomotives went to display at the county museum and another was kept out of sight whenever officials came to town.

In 1983, the price of copper reached an all-time low, and the railroad ran it’s last freight train from East Ely to the outside connection at a place called Cobre. Kennecott donated over 32 miles of track between the mines and East Ely, along with the East Ely Complex of machine shops, roundhouse, yards, and rolling stock as well as the McGill Depot to the White Pine Historical Foundation.

In 1986, steam returned to the NN with the operation of that locomotive the railroad folks kept hiding — #40. In the late Nineties, #93, one of the locomotives on display at the County Museum was returned to service. Since then, both steam locomotives and a diesel locomotive have been available for the museum’s “Student Engineer Rental Program”.

The #93 did have a brief moment in the international spotlight as it and some passenger cars went into service during the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games carrying passengers to one of the venues.

This year, you can experience the #93 on either a yard ($350 for one hour) or main line trip from East Ely to Keystone and back (for $550).

While I have been to Portola to view the Museum, I have not run a locomotive there. The same is true of Ely, though I did participate as a volunteer supporting train operations (putting out small fires caused by coal cinders) one weekend. And while I’m proud to be a member of the Orange Empire Railway Museum, I don’t get the chance to visit as often as I would like to.

By no means are these the only places that offer the chance to run a locomotive — steam or diesel. But if you plan to be in either area, (or at any of the other railway museums and or tourist railways) and this is something you have always wanted to do… make that phone call and reserve your place now! You’ll be glad you did.

And now the Disney and railroads portion of today’s effort:

Nevada State Railroad Museum rolls out the Inyo
One of the most popular locomotives in the history of the V&T will steam-up at the Nevada State Railroad Museum for the Fourth of July weekend. From Friday July 4th through Sunday, Jul06, the 127-year-old Inyo will be out in the museum’s rail yard. The public may watch the engine in action between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. each day.

The Inyo has been working the rails in Nevada since 1875. Admirers nicknamed the locomotive “Brass Betty” because of the enormous amount of highly polished brass work, including the bell and bell stand, steam dome, sand box casing, boiler jacket bands, cylinder jackets, and running board edging.

After retiring from service on the Comstock, the Inyo became the first of many V&T cars and locomotives acquired by Paramount Pictures. The Inyo starred in movies such as High, Wide and Handsome, Union Pacific, Red River, and Disney’s The Great Locomotive Chase. The Railroad Museum plans a special Movie-in-the-Park screening of the Great Locomotive Chase on July 9.

Television credits include the Wild, Wild West and a recent appearance in the PBS American Experience Documentary “Lincoln: A House Divided.” The Inyo participated in the Gold Spike Centennial at Promontory, Utah.

The Inyo returned home to Carson City after being purchased by the State of Nevada and made its museum debut on May 29, 1983, after more than a year of restoration work. Since then, the Inyo has represented Nevada at the EXPO 86 World’s Fair in Vancouver, participated in Railfair91 event at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, and the 1996 Fourth of July Transportation Fair.

Nevada State Railroad Museum visitors may learn more about the Inyo and other V&T locomotives by exploring the museum’s new Locomotive Stories of the V&T exhibit. This exhibit features detailed models as the backdrop for a series of stories about the historic locomotives that once served northern Nevada and the Comstock.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum is located on Route 395 at the south end of Carson City at the Fairview Avenue intersection. For more information, contact the museum at (775) 687-6953.


Next week? That’s still coming along, but coming up every other week for as long as he has tales to share, Roger’s got more stories about things you wanted to do, but didn’t think you could do! How about flying in a big World War II airplane; riding in a NASCAR racer or even how to race with other folks on a quarter-mile oval; and a tale from the wide open prairies. Stay tuned to see which one he decides to share…

And if you’ve enjoyed this week’s informational attempt, why not click on the link for Roger’s Amazon Honor System Pay Box and share a buck or two? It’s appreciated greatly if you do!

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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