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Roger’s back from the Southland, and shares a look into some of his favorites from the world of music as found on his wall of compact discs!



Okay, back from the Southland. I’m saving the trip report for next week. You’re safe till then…

First a quick commercial. Saturday, October 18, I’m offering a one-day Private Railroad Car Excursion from Oakland to Bakersfield and back to Oakland. We’ll be recreating the classic days of passenger travel aboard the Santa Fe’s “Golden Gate” trains that used to make the same trip down the San Joaquin Valley before Amtrak. Using two (and maybe three) former Santa Fe passenger cars, our staff will be at the ready for a full day of travel. The fare includes an all-day buffet with beverages. The first ten people to pay in full will also receive a commemorative gift. The Private Car Service web page has more info. If you’ve wanted to see what this kind of trip is all about, this is a great chance to do just that. Think of a cruise on land instead of at sea, and you’re on the right track — literally.

Enjoy the open platform business car “Tamalpias” and the Dome lounge “Plaza Santa Fe”
both seen in this photo by Nathan Holmes.

Now the Disney connection. If you’ve enjoyed your copy of Michael Broggie’s “Walt Disney’s Railroad Story”, then you’ll recall the trip Walt Disney and Ward Kimball made from Los Angeles to Chicago to visit the 1949 Railroad Fair. That trip was aboard the Santa Fe’s famed “Super Chief”. The Dome lounge car we will be using for this excursion was built for the “Super Chief”. It featured the Turquoise Room — the only private dining room aboard a train at that time. While I can’t promise the beef stew Ward Kimball wanted to enjoy aboard the dining car or even the fine steaks Walt ordered for them, I can offer a great trip with service in the style of those days gone by with our uniformed staff at the ready to meet your every need.

Hope you can join us for what should be another great excursion.

And now, today’s column…

Well, despite best intentions, things change.

(That’s the title of one of my favorite films, a small classic starring Don Ameche with some great moments at Lake Tahoe.)

I’ve bashed this column about three or four times. Started out as a trip report, then a glimpse into some activities of note at the Disneyland resort. Then another thoughtful piece. Saving all for another time, and doing this one instead… Just felt better about it.

One of the pleasures of last weekend was some great music in Downtown Disney. Some interesting musicians playing everything from jazz at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen to blues, Latin jazz and some great violin pieces. We bought some CD’s from the folks and enjoyed them along the way.

So, how about some musical selections? Don’t worry, I’m not going to start singing Disney tunes, although I have been known to break into an occasional Sinatra song after a cocktail or two. And I did my bit in local church choirs, high school choirs and musical productions (Damn Yankees and The Sound of Music) once upon a time. But that’s all well behind me, so you’re still safe!

My musical history also included piano lessons way back when in both grammar school and high school, and I did my band stint during as well with the tuba and sousaphone for concert and marching band. So with all of that, there should be little surprise that my musical tastes run all over the place.

When it comes to Compact Discs, I have a good-sized collection. Movie soundtracks tend to make up a good percentage of it followed by Disney discs of all flavors. Big band and jazz come next along with a growing group of Hawaiian titles. I still have a turntable with a bunch of 33 rpm LP’s and then about a hundred or so old 78’s. Throw in a few 45’s left over from the KSFO experience, too.

My very first compact disc was a copy of the Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and then the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”. Still two of my all time favorite albums of any genre…

Personally, I’ve been somewhat excited about some of the great developments in personal electronics and music — Apple’s iPod and iTunes in particular. While I’m decidedly a Mac person, I am happy to see that the Windoze crowd has the opportunity to enjoy both the iPod now and then iTunes later this fall. The price is right for the downloads of individual songs at 99 cents and then complete albums at $9.99. And now Real Networks has upped the ante with it’s pricing of songs for 79 cents each. (Here’s a link to a story on that price war in the making.) I’ll admit to having downloaded a few songs from Apple and hope for a more expanded selection as the summer goes along.

So? How about some other highlights from what seems like the wall of discs in my front room?

If you watched the episode of “ER” that featured the death of Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) then you were probably taken by the version of the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World” medley heard in the closing moments. That’s Israel Kamakawio’ole and the track is from his album “Facing Future”. It was also used on the soundtrack of “Meet Joe Black”. Check out his web pages. I picked up this disc at Island Charters in Downtown Disney. They got me by playing this disc as I walked into the shop. Lots of good music for sale here, all with an island flavor — Pacific and Caribbean as well!

While having dinner at Naples on Saturday night, we were seated on the patio. From across the way, we were treated to the sounds of some great violin music. That was provided by Drew Tretick. His rendition of the theme from “Somewhere in Time” (another favorite film of mine) was especially enchanting. Like all of the artists we encountered that night, he had CD’s for sale, and I picked up a copy of his album “Serenata”, which he was more than happy to autograph. Here are his web pages.

What would a visit to Disneyland be without taking a while to enjoy the strains of Rod Miller at the piano at the Coca Cola Corner? Glad to say that Rod was back at the old stand doing what he does best last weekend. His “Ragtime” album has become a standard part of any private car excursion I run, as it simply sets a classic mood. Rebekah Mosely has a fine page devoted to Rod. According to her notes, “It was at ‘Rod’s Table’ that I met and later accepted the proposal of my husband, Doobie.” Rod has made a lot of memories for thousands of Disneyland guests, and I’m hoping he keeps playing there for some time to come!

Way back when, it was the sounds of the Firehouse Five Plus Two entertaining folks at Disneyland. Led by Ward Kimball (he owned the fire truck), Danny Alguire, George Probert, Frank Thomas, *** Roberts, Ed Penner, Jim MacDonald, Harper Goff, Monte Mountjoy, Ralph Ball, George Bruns, Eddie Forrest, Don Kinch, K.O. Eckland, and Bill Newman all did their parts to bring some classic jazz tunes back to life for their own as well as the audiences enjoyment. They could easily be credited with reviving the Dixieland craze outside of New Orleans. Their “Firehouse Five Plus Two At Disneyland” album features a night at the Golden Horseshoe theater. Amazon has all ten of their albums from Fantasy Records on the Good Time Jazz label — again both new and used.

Among all of those soundtracks, one favorite is that from “Toys”. Now while this film may be one of Robin Williams less than classics (and we know there have been several, don’t we?) the soundtrack has a great mix of genres to bring a smile to my face. From the great MTV parody (“The Mirror Song”) performed by Thomas Dolby with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack as “Steve and Yolanda” to the hopeful anthem of “The Closing of the Year”, this one gets my vote for five stars. It’s available new and used on Amazon.

GNP Crescendo has done its part to keep soundtracks going as they have offered a good selection of titles from the various “Star Trek” franchises. My favorite on their label was the soundtrack compilation they did for the series “Quantum Leap”. Star Scott Bakula got his musical training early and even earned a Tony nomination for his performance in “Romance, Romance”. Even Dean Stockwell gets into the act with his “Alphabet Rap”. The scores by Velton Ray Bunch (now doing scores for “Enterprise” again with Bakula — who knows? He may sing on that show yet!) and Mike Post were favorites of fans of this show.

Capitol Records dug into the vaults and came up with some great oldies but goodies with the “Ultra Lounge” series of discs. Some rare gems and some classic keep the mix fresh, bringing back days of swinging bachelor pads and smart cocktails with the Rat Pack on the Strip in Vegas. Yeah, Baby! And how about the trio of soundtracks from the Austin Powers franchise? As a child of the Sixties and Seventies, there is just something about these that appeals to me.

Now when it comes to bands, the one that always gets my vote is the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. Now even though I have a definite Cardinal bias, (my maternal grandfather played football here from 1925 to 1928 and went to two Rose Bowl games — 1927 and 1928 — as quarterback), but these folks just know how to have a good time. In days gone by, the breakfast of band champions was beer and donuts. Not to say that they have gone teetotaling (see some of the links about trips and alcohol! Woo!)… Still their album “Mirth Control” is a classic with some of their standard game tunes including the anthem; “It’s All Right Now”. The band is an experience (not an official school organization, like at other universities!) and they even have marched in their own fashion at Disneyland when Stanford appeared in the Rose Bowl games in 1971, 1972 and 2000. What’s not to like about a group who has a tree as their mascot?

So have I dipped into an eclectic enough variety so far? There is a whole lot more from Jack Kerouac reading selected works including my personal fave, “October in the Railroad Earth” (that tale from his days railroading with the Southern Pacific out of San Francisco) to the compositions of Tom Lehrer (who could ever forget that classic “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”?) to any of the Disney soundtracks or park discs, including a handbell parade from Tokyo Disneyland and the “Ce’ Magique” disc from the show done during the opening of Euro Disneyland.

And I’ll admit to putting more than a few songs together in some interesting compilations for my own amusement. Ain’t technology grand?


It is said that music soothes the savage beast. Although I can’t recall what music Cruiser really likes. We’ve caught him watching television on occasion (the “Fireflash” episode of “Thunderbirds” on Tech TV was the most recent), but who knows? He’s not telling…

Using the Amazon links below, many of the titles can be yours! Help support the efforts at Jim Hill Media making your purchases here!

Thanks to those who made a donation to Roger’s Amazon Honor System Paybox. Your help is appreciated in keeping him plugging along at the keyboard. To quote Homer Simpson, “Oooooh, how convenient.” As for next week, there is still the trip report for the long Memorial Day weekend. Some amusing tales to be sure. Stay tuned…

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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