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In today’s column, Roger Colton goes all over the proverbial map and returns with … CRANKY PANTS!



When I was young, we used to go for trips by car with my maternal grandfather. Whenever we would ask where we were going, he would reply that the car knows where it is going.

So it is with today’s column…

All over the map will describe it best. And this column is the return of cranky pants… So here we go!

Well, no big shock, but it seems that every Disney fanboy Internet site had a spy at the recent Disneyland “Cast Blast” event. And they all had the same thing to say, “No one was telling us anything we didn’t already know!”

Boy! Now, there is one heck of a surprise. When you’re joked about in the opening remarks, what did you expect?

Might as well bring back the dead carp floating in the Rivers of America after all the garbage folks have been spouting about Disneyland due to be closed for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie premier event. Never mind the fact that Disney has now added special event tickets for the average *** to attend. I sure there will be a special section with a distorted view for Internet columnists, somewhere in the Timon parking lot, no doubt, somewhere under the manure pile for the X Games .

And could that carp be Nemo floating upside down? Time will tell, but I still know more folks from E’ville who aren’t having the fish. Think happy thoughts…

Things aren’t all beer and skittles over at the Dreamland. One recent project in the works pitched it’s first act to El Jeffe who actually liked most of what he saw, and had a few points to address afterwards. Don’t know the why’s and where for’s, but most of the crew bailed on the project after that event and the few who were left have since “gone on to explore other opportunities” elsewhere, now that the project has been shelved or just shoved off into development oblivion.

I’m still trying to decide if I should break down and buy the “Roger Rabbit” DVD. As the CAV laser disc of the film and the disc of the shorts already take up shelf space, is there really a need to buy this product just for the extras?

Rumors also have the War Years Disney DVD coming soon. There’s an allegation it may have “Victory Through Airpower” as the main feature, but I’m hoping for a whole lot more including a look at some of the shorts Disney did for the various service branches, and maybe even some of the squadron art the Studio folks produced. Let’s be proud of that work for a change.

Maybe we’ll even see “Song of the South” do a DVD thing sometime this millennium…

For those Captain Nemo fans, there’s another film on the horizon called “The League of Distinguished Gentlemen”. Some one who worked on the project for more than a few months enjoyed getting his check, but said that production was well above and beyond the usual movie making foolishness. Ah, the foolishness… Don’t set your hopes too high for this one.

Lately, when it comes to the movies, I follow a simple rule. Don’t expect anything. That way you won’t be disappointed when you don’t get anything.

Case in point: Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers. Give me the scissors. I can cut a whole bunch of extra gunk from that film and it still is too long and does not convey the real sense of threat as told in the book. Save the romance for the Star Wars franchise or the next “Titanic” rip-off. Badly written and produced teen angst we get enough of already.

DizBiz recent piece on the cemetery on Gower reminded me that they used to have a studio tour next door at Paramount. Not all the fluff you find at Universal’s tour and if you’re lucky you may actually see a production at work.

A few years back we did this and got to go onto a set for the film “Ghost”. It was a full set of an office building complete with ceiling and four walls (break away for letting the camera in). If you remember the movie, there is a scene where the camera goes in through a door into the busy office. We got to see the set just after it had been completely dressed, and it looked just like any office building downtown after everyone had gone home for the day. Very weird when we actually saw the movie to recall having been there…

Let’s see, other things seen… The bar from “Cheers” back when the show was still in production. Much smaller than it looks on television. We were there when they were filming the episode in which Carla’s ex-hockey star husband died after getting run over by the zamboni during an ice show. Got to watch the cast do some run through’s. Funny stuff…

For the Trekkers, we were there during the production of Next Gen. and Voyager. Saw only one set from the outside, and that was the Enterprise D cargo deck through an open door. Did see various cast members, Patrick Stewart comes to mind, going from the set to their trailers outside.

Here’s the link for more info on what was offered:

Sadly, the tour was another victim of the post 9/11 hysteria. It was suspended and has not been offered since.

Warner Brothers also offers a studio tour, but I can’t tell you about it, cause I’ve never been. Looks like a good time though… Here’s the link for that tour:

Speaking of 9/11 and studios, I got a real kick out of this story. Somewhere along the way, the FBI identified a “credible threat” against one Hollywood studio. So the word got out and all of the studios decided to take steps.

At Disney’s Burbank lot, these steps included getting out the props and costumes. The studio’s replica police car, motorcycle and fire truck (all not real, okay?) were placed strategically and staffed by the biggest guys maintenance could provide in appropriate costumes (former President Ronald Reagan once referred to military uniforms as costumes) for their roles at the two main gates. The motorcycle was driven around the lot “on patrol” by another costumed player. All in the name of creating an atmosphere of security.

Talk about art imitating life…

Last time I flew down from the Bay Area, it was Michele’s turn to get the “high security” screening. On the whole, I’m still convinced that all the TSA really does is keep folks employed while not really increasing security. Maybe some travelers feel more secure, but frankly I’m not convinced things are better or worse than they ever were before. We watched a woman board our flight carrying a pair of aluminum knitting needles right out in the open. Now I’m no expert, but in the right hands, one has to believe that those could pose a “credible threat”. So I’m still wondering why you can bring them on board.

The TSA has a web page listing all the things you can and can not bring on a flight. Swords are right out…

I’m still chuckling about the airline industry as a whole. Thanks to some bonehead decisions well before 9/11, they had problems. For example, United picked up a bunch of Pam Am’s overseas routes; ones that had been costly and had a habit or three of being notoriously empty. So… Surprise! Flights that don’t fill become product liabilities that don’t add to revenues. Duhhhh…

So when folks like us don’t fly after 9/11, things go from bad to worse and who do they cry to for help? Why folks like you and me in the form of the Federal government, who of course says, “Sure!” Yet, when it comes to Amtrak, a Federal program created to get the railroads out of the passenger business (talk about subsidy!) by the Nixon administration, that will never be profitable but yet serves a good number of folks, Congress tries to play hardball and hold passengers hostage. Somehow the logic of not fully funding a Federal operation that meets passenger needs, but bailing out the airlines that fly with empty seats does? Not in this corner…

A cranky Roger (with a mouthful of breakfast) as the chef on a private car trip.

Back to movie sets for a quick tale. Up in the Mother Lode Gold Country, there is a railroad that you’ve all seen in the movies and on television. The Sierra Railroad was and is a Hollywood favorite with equipment dating back to the turn of the 20th Century. Throw in a countryside that can look like almost anywhere in the West and it was used for everything from silent films up to “Back to the Future III”.

You’ve seen this place and don’t remember it. “Petticoat Junction” had the classic opening with the train and the girls in the water tank. That’s the Sierra’s steam locomotive #3 and their Jamestown water tank. Jamestown is where the railroad had it’s shop facilities complete with a turntable, shop and roundhouse. Today’s it’s part of the California State Park System as the Railtown State Historic Park (also part of the California Railway Museum in Sacramento). The roundhouse and shops also appeared in films and television including “Wild, Wild West”, “Lassie” and “Little House On the Prairie”. Some of my favorite movies shot on the Sierra include “My Little Chickadee” with W.C. Fields and Mae West, the Marx Brothers “Go West”, “Bound For Glory” with David Carradine and “Back to the Future III”.

The Sierra #3 was most prominently seen in the last film as par of the time traveling science experiment. As the railroad’s oldest locomotive, it’s finally getting some well-deserved and needed repairs to keep it operating for another century. If you would like to help out, the CSRM is accepting donations to complete this project.

The town of Hill Valley as seen in BTTF III was constructed on a ranch adjacent to the railroad. What you saw on screen was pretty much what was built out in the wilds of Tuolumne County. Many of the buildings had interiors such as the saloon, the barn and the school teachers house. When the movie finished shooting, the town was left pretty much intact. So, during a visit to friends in the area (before the film came out), I found myself off to explore the town. It was off the beaten path, but if you knew where to turn in off Highway 120, it was an easy drive. Recall that first view of the town in the film at the train station, and you have an idea of what I saw when arriving that afternoon. The owners of the ranch had hired a caretaker to keep an eye on things. He didn’t mind folks touring the set, and even escorted us about the place. AT the time, he said that the owners had hopes of developing it into a movie ranch to be used for other productions. The only building to be torn down was the Courthouse as it was only a false front of a structure being built, and wasn’t all that sturdy to begin with. If a big wind came up, they thought it might just blow over all on it’s own.

One other set nearby was the old Delgado mine. This was where Marty and the Doc spent the night with the Delorean by the campfire. This was just a stroke of luck for the BTTF company as this was an old set left over from a “Little House” episode years before. It was easily seen from the highway for a long time.

Sadly, Mother Nature did in the town and the mine sets. A quick moving wildfire crossed the ridge behind the town one afternoon and destroyed the whole thing. Today it’s only a memory.

Anyway, that’s enough for this time.

Stay tuned kids. It’s going to be an interesting summer in more ways than we can yet imagine…

Next week: We’ll set the “Wayback” machine to the summer of 1976 and a look at my brief radio career at what once was a major player in the San Francisco market.

And if you’re enjoying these columns as much as I enjoy sharing them with you, why not show that support by clicking on the Amazon Honor System Paybox link here? As a friend once said about another electronic device, “Go ahead! It doesn’t hurt a bit!”

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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