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Ruminations – High on Waikiki

While looking through all of the columns Roger has written for your enjoyment here, he found one item from almost a year ago that was missing. So with a bit of electronic magic, it’s been recalled from the mists of the Internet to reappear today, with a bit more of added content.



Back from Oahu, having consumed his share of fruity rum drinks, today Roger shares a condensed version of his tropical adventures.

(This column originally appeared on October 17, 2003…)

Let me start by saying that there are parts of this past weekend that were magical and that I will likely never forget.

A beach this nice? With no crowds? Okay, so it was the Columbus Day holiday Monday. As far north as you can drive, legally, along the Leeward Shore at Makua. And on the former right of way of the Oahu Railway and Land Company (with the concrete bridge abutment on the left).

However, much of what I saw reminded me of Burbank, and not the nice parts of it. (Yes, there are nice parts of Burbank, if you know where to look…) I’ll explain in more detail later on.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the highlights:

That first view of the islands from the air was one of those moments I mentioned last week. Or it could have just been the anticipation of getting off the plane after five odd hours in the air…

The sunset at Waikiki is all and more that it is hyped up to be. It was nice from the lanai of a seventh floor ocean view, but it was even better from the terrace of a thirty-sixth floor ocean view.

Sunset from high atop Waikiki…

Ah… now this is the life! Michele takes in the afternoon view from the 36 th floor. And yes, the pink building on the beach: The Royal Hawaiian, where we did enjoy a fruity rum drink.

I especially enjoyed sleeping with the sound of the waves across the beach and the open sliding glass door at about seventy-four degrees.

Two places that summed up the beauty of Oahu for me. Hanauma Bay, which could easily pass for the location of “Finding Nemo” (especially if you wanted to take up snorkeling!) and Kualoa Beach. The latter you might recall from scenes in ” Jurassic Park” at the nearby Kualoa Ranch. (I knew the picture had been filmed in Hawaii, but didn’t realize this was one of those places.)

Sam Neill runs for his life. Kualoa Ranch, the site of the Gallimus dinosaur stampede you saw in Jurassic Park!

 A view from the beach at Kualoa Bay

Now you may recall from some previous columns that I have a great deal of respect for the men and women who have served our country. That said, I was somewhat ambiguous about a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. I wasn’t sure if a visit here was something that I really wanted to do or not. Michele however was not, and made it clear this was something she wanted to do. We took advantage of a holiday (Columbus or Discoverers or Indigenous Peoples Day, depending upon if you are in San Francisco, Honolulu or Berkeley) Monday and were in line before 7:30 a.m. with everyone else. There are a limited number of tickets available for each day, and they tend to be handed out quickly on busy days, especially when one or more of the cruise ships are in port.

We missed out somewhat as the first part of the visit was cut short by a malfunctioning projection system in the visitor center. After a minute or so, we were ushered outside to the waiting boats operated by the Navy for the ride to and from the Memorial. With the U.S.S. Missouri now docked to the west of the Arizona, a sense of before and after is there. I will admit to being engrossed by the comparison and then humbled by recalling that this ship remains a tomb for the 1,000 men still aboard. Watching the oil rise to the surface further drove home that point. All in all, a very personal moment I’m still reflecting on.


The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

We did manage to get in our fair share of walking along Waikiki including several stops at the International Market Place, the Ala Moana Center and the Royal Hawaiian Center. The first is a great place to get inexpensive trinkets, etc to take home for the folks. The second is home to both a Disney Store and an Apple Store. Both were disappointing in their own ways. Disney had no pins (of any kind!) and a limited amount of Hawaii specific merchandise. And Apple had no location specific merchandise, ironic considering it is the one store in the middle of the Pacific. The Royal Hawaiian Center is home to a B. Kliban store, complete with items found only in Hawaii. (Michele still enjoys her Hawaiian baseball cat shirt today!)

We didn’t have time to stop by the other Disney Store at the Pearlridge Center in Aiea. Michelle Smith tells me I should have as this mall has it’s own monorail! Something to look forward to on the next voyage!

Now knowing me, you would have to suspect that I would do something involved with railroads on this trip. Well, you would be right as I certainly did. Sugar mills on each of the islands often had railroads to move cane from the fields to plants for processing. One at Kahuku on the Windward Shore is now a shopping mall. (A locomotive of the same name is part of the fleet at Roaring Camp in Felton, California.)

While the days of the sugar and pineapple plantations may have gone by, Dole still has a big operation with lots of pineapple fields near Wahiawa, and their visitor center in well worth a stop. Okay, so it was mandatory for two reasons. Dole Pineapple whip. Insert your best drooling Homer Simpson imitation here. “Ummm…pineapple whip. Aaaaauuuuuugh…”

And the Pineapple Express, a two-foot gauge railroad that gives a good view of how pineapple is grown. The two-mile, twenty-minute ride is enjoyable, if quick. The store even has an amusing selection of “Hello Kitty” merchandise with a Hawaiian flair along with a lot of other great items. Check out their online store for some of the selections.

The Pineapple Express offers a nice entertaining ride through the pineapple fields. It’s not just for show here either. The fruit really is harvested and sold to guests or used on the island.

Another area with a sugar mill was at Ewa. Today it’s a quiet neighborhood and the mill site is being cleaned up with much of the dirt being removed. Some of the mill structures remain, but much of what was obviously the company town still looks like it must have when it was a busier place.

What brought me here was the chance to don my white jacket aboard another railroad parlor car. The Hawaiian Railway Society operates excursions along a seven-mile section of the former Oahu Railway & Land Company right of way from Ewa to Kahe Point. The ninety-minute ride offers an interesting view of the past, present and future of this area of the Leeward Coast. Where once sugar cane grew in fields, now homes are sprouting. New resorts are opening in the area near Ka Olina, and the train stops directly across from a recently constructed power plant at Kahe Point. With luck (and another bridge), there will be another three miles added sometime soon further west along the right of way. East of Ewa, much of the right of way is preserved and will some day see restoration as a key element of the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail ( an 18.5-mile trail beginning at USS Arizona Memorial, with connections to cultural, natural and commercial sites in communities from Aiea to Nanakuli).

Along the Leeward Shore on the former Oahu Railway, that’s Nanakuli in the distance.

Scenery and all, the draw for me was chance to ride aboard the former OR&L parlor car #64. From the web page: “In 1900, Oahu Railway & Land Co. founder, Benjamin F. Dillingham, had Parlor/Observation Car No. 64 designed and built especially for him. No. 64 was the showpiece of the OR&L’s rolling stock.

Built in Honolulu at a cost of $4,388.24, it had a double-size rear platform, surrounded by ornate iron grillwork and protected from the sun by fluted awnings.

Oak, mahogany and birdseye maple created an interior of luxury. The parlor car was fitted with a galley, lavatory, washstand and sideboard. It was used frequently by the OR&L for visiting dignitaries. The most notable guests were Queen Lili`uokalani and other members of the Hawaiian royal family. The observation platform offered guests a chance to feel the cool trade winds, as well as giving them a better view of the landscape.

No. 64 has been restored and is available for charter Monday through Friday. 90-minute rides for $350 and on other Sundays for $210.

Certain restrictions apply. The parlor car is added to the train on the second Sunday of every month. Reservation required because seating is limited. Fares: $15.00 per person.”

A nice car, very reminiscent of those built by the Carter Brothers at Newark, California. And if the story I was told was true, it may have been built in Hawaii by former Cart Brothers employees. A nice open platform, with a parlor seating, a galley and water closet.

So did I have a good time?

The photo below by John Treiber of the Hawaiian Railway Society should give you a clue…


Your porter at the ready with Oahu Railway & Land Company Parlor Car #64. 3:00 p.m., Sunday, October 12, 2003 at Ewa.

Now about Burbank…I don’t know why but once we got off the tourist track, it just seemed like southern California in a lot of ways. Small shops crammed in together next to each other, strip malls, you name it. It just got me that way. Even the highways and the Interstates. We drove on two out of the three (H-1 and H-3).

But whoever came up with the idea for the ABC Stores, that gets high marks. That’s something Disney could learn from. We took advantage of them on several occasions.

We finished up with a fine flight home, even if takeoff was delayed by an hour, (but who’s going to complain about an extra hour in Hawaii?) with a departure flying east along Waikiki Beach.

It may have been only five days, but it was a great time and yes, we are both more than ready to go back to see what we missed. And that’s just Oahu, to say nothing of the other islands!

Next week? Well, there are a number of items simmering away on the back burner, so only the fates know which one is likely to pop up here…

Roger does have a project underway to support the efforts of the Hawaiian Railway Society. Details will be available on his web site next week if you would like more information.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the American Red Cross. There are many people they continue to help on a daily basis all over the world right now. Making a difference in today’s world is appreciated more now than ever before…

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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