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Down Friday afternoon and back Sunday afternoon… It’s another long commute for Roger along the Five. Join the fun, won’t you?



For the record, I had not been to Disneyland since my visit in December for the Candlelight events. So, it seemed long overdue. And the AP’s were up for renewal, so this was a good time to get on the road and head south.

Things, as usual, didn’t go quite as planned. An early departure was set back as we waited for the arrival of the U.S. Postal Service and medication. El Gato was safely stowed, and we finally managed to get out of Dodge by almost five p.m. — just in time for the start of the heavier commute traffic out of town and over the Altamont.

We did take advantage of the delay by shopping a bit and checking out the new Disney collectibles store in town. Nice place, nice folks and with the demise of the Disney stores all but a done deal, a welcome addition.

Traffic was surprisingly light and we managed a respectable speed for most of the trip (an average of 71 miles per hour according to the fancy electronic display in our rental car). We rolled into Anaheim about 10:30, and headed for our room at the Days Inn on Ball Road. Finding it was easy. Getting into the parking lot was not. That required a detour by way of Long Beach or so it seemed. And the lot was all but full as we took the last space directly across from the office. If memory serves, we stayed here many years ago, long before the Mickey & friends parking structure sprang forth with the new entrance/exit flyover ramp across Ball Rd. The place had a different name then, and wasn’t all that expensive.

Readers from last year may recall that Jim did a set of tours at this same time last year. And you may also recall that there was an influx of cheerleaders at the Park at the same time. The same held true this year, so mid-range and lower hotel rooms were all booked up.

I’m in mind of a number of titles of films that could be changed to describe the weekend. “Monkee’s, Go Home” and “That Darn Cat” come to mind all to easily with changes to “Cheerleader’s, Go Home” and “Those Darn Cheerleaders”. That and a line from the Blues Brothers about Illinois Nazi’s…

Raging teen hormones on the loose in unescorted gaggles, pushing, shoving and in general just being there. All those little super inflated ego’s in one spot all at the same time. At times, it’s enough to make me want to watch a marathon showing of “Heathers“.

You want construction walls? We got ’em and all over the place! Glad to see all the work going on and hope we get to enjoy the results ASAP!

Michele and I took a measured approach to our weekend in the Park. We didn’t really rush about but took things as they came. For example, we managed to be at the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean right at 11:00 a.m. as the attraction opened and were all of maybe tenth or so in line. After that we ended up in line for the Disneyland Railroad just in time for the Holiday Two train to arrive with the Caboose open and seating passengers. Rode it around to Main Street to make the short walk across the Esplanade to DCA for a while. Picked up Fastpasses for Soarin’ Over California (with a 6:20 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. return) and ambled over to the Animation building. I never get tired of just sitting in the foyer here and just watching the show.

Another treat was a performance by the current incarnation of the Royal Street Bachelors.
This classic view shows the original trio on the street of their name in New Orleans Square.

Taking a bit of a break, we went in and watched a showing of “One Man’s Dream”. Yes, it is still a bit odd watching Michael Eisner go one about Walt and his legacy. But the film still drives home points that, at least publicly, it seems that some folks find difficult to remember.

Back to the lobby and the exit through Off The Page, I was bemused to see a new (at least it was to me) trend using animation desktops and cells as collectibles. There was also one woman hard at work drawing a collection of characters. Just a guess that it was for a guest…

We adjourned to the Grand Californian for a sedate lunch at Whitewater Snacks. It was interesting to note that this place is now only open until 7:00 p.m. — a trend one can only hope is only seasonal. As it is the only moderate price option for quick food service in the hotel, one would think they might wish to keep the place open a few hours longer, especially on weekends. Michele books a fair number of families into the place. Not every one likes room service, or the prices of it…

Back into the Park after lunch, we headed off to Adventureland for a show in the Enchanted Tiki Room. Now on another site, there’s been a fair amount of heated discussion about the replacement of the sign over the marquee of the Main Street Cinema. Frankly, I didn’t even notice it, even when I stopped in next door at the New Century Music Shoppe for a glance at the CD’s. I was safe here as there was not a new title I couldn’t live without. I do hope that we will see more of those classic albums come out on disc this summer. And while I’m in the neighborhood, why don’t they have the “Firehouse Plus Two At Disneyland” for sale here, too? Considering how we still hear tracks from Ward and the rest of these animators about the Park, this seems a natural.

Word has it that the entire Tiki Room complex will be closing in September for a long delayed refurb. No show changes, just a clean and polish inside and out. It was nice to see that the old faded 16mm film loop with Dole’s “Taste of Hawaii” had been replaced with a new clear video — complete with some animated advertising for their line of tropical canned fruit products. We also enjoyed the usual helping of Dole Pineapple Whip. Chatting with the nice lady behind the counter, I guess I’ve now had Pineapple Whip everywhere it is served. That’s here in Anaheim, then in Orlando and lastly on Oahu at the Dole Plantation. Call me sentimental, but it was nice to just sit and relax in the Tiki garden with a dish of it. The same used to be true of coffee here. Once upon a time, it was Kona coffee. Now it’s just the usual Nescafe served everywhere else in the Park.

A classic view of the entrance to Adventureland and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

All of the Tiki gods and goddesses were doing their usual in the preshow, but a bit too quietly. Maybe when the refurb is done they’ll be back in full form. Especially Pele, who needs her fire relit…

Just to see if Michele actually pays attention to things she reads here and hears me say about the Park, I asked her if she knew why there are restrooms here. She did, and recalled that it was originally supposed to be a dinner show. So a point for her!

A few bonus points as well for the Cast Member (Bryant?) who was our host for the show! Not only was he envious of the pins I had traded for that day, he also got everyone well into the spirit of the show with a rousing “Aloha” cheer and lots of great upbeat comments in his introduction. I’m always glad to see someone making the Guests get involved in an attraction like this. We sat just to the left of Jose’s perch in the front row. As much as I miss the complete show, it is a definite treat to enjoy this vintage attraction.

Let’s all sing like the birdies sing!

We made our way back out to Downtown Disney on kind of a two pronged mission. I was off to the car in the Mickey & Friends parking structure to grab some assorted goodies for folks, and Michele went off in search of a watch at “World of Disney”. She found a nice inexpensive one with Eeyore in clear light purple plastic. My little bag contained a few alcoholic items that the security folks wouldn’t let me take into the new containment area, so I checked the bag at the bell desk of the Grand Californian.

With a few minutes to kill until our Fastpasses for Soarin’ were valid, we sat in the lobby and enjoyed the antics of the gentleman at the piano. Not the repertoire we remembered from previous visits, and he played the grand piano like it was the standing version Rod Miller was busy with over at the Coca Cola Corner. (Don’t know about you all, but I would sure like to see another Compact Disc from Rod!)

A walk through the Acorns shop in the Grand Californian was interesting as well. Notably, the wall display of pins has been replaced with assorted ladies jewelry. Was more than tempted by the nice set of pajamas and the comfy robes for sale (I passed, however). Still hoping that book on the hotel will see the light of day soon… Business was brisk at the Storytellers Café with folks without reservations being turned away.

Wandering back into DCA, there was a fair sized line for Grizzly River Rapids for six p.m. on a Saturday. And the stand-by line for Soarin’ was healthy as well with a forty-five minute wait showing. Thanks to only being a party of two, we managed to by-pass a good deal of the wait and were gliding above the Golden State less than ten minutes after entry.

One thing I’ll give those Imagineers. They sure got a lot right in Condor Flats. From the décor, to the lighting to the music, it all works so well. The mist from the rocket engine test stand, the landing lights flashing in sequence in the runway and even the wheel scuff marks… I’m not a total airport geek (train maybe at times) but the feeling from the way the place appears just works for me.

Dinner was right on time with Jim and Chuck joining us at Naples. Service was a bit odd, but the food was great. Drew Tretick was playing his violin just across from the entrance, drawing the usual crowds. On the whole, another fine evening in Downtown Disney…

We managed to meet up with folks (I still want my Pal Stitch!) for the start of Jim’s tour Sunday morning before enjoying a fine breakfast at Carnation on Main Street. Some last minute shopping saw us out of the park and the parking structure before noon. Traffic heading north on the Five was a pain as usual, but we finally managed to arrive at the Los Angeles Live Steamers in Griffith Park. Jim, Chuck and the tour group had gotten here ahead of us. This was the usual day of the month for Walt’s Barn to be open, thanks to the volunteers from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. There were also a number of authors in attendance with their books for sale. Michael Broggie was there with copies of his “Walt Disney’s Railroad Story“, now back in print, and available directly from the Society for $59.95 plus shipping and handling.

There was also a flyer for a new book coming out later this year — “Welcome Aboard the Disneyland Railroad” by Steve DeGaetano. That looks like a winner and I’ll be pre-ordering mine soon! Promises to be 300 pages of great stuff for railroad and Disney fans alike.

All too soon, we had to get back on the Five and head north. Lot of officers out and about with no shortage of customers. For us, an uneventful journey saw us home at a reasonable hour. Looking forward to another visit maybe later in the spring…

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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