November 30, 2009

History of the Home of Toons

In 1988 Mickey Mouse turned 60 years old and the Walt Disney company built what was suppose to be a temporary land, Mickey’s Birthdayland. It proved to be very popular with guests and guaranteed a place where they could meet Mickey.  As guests entered the Magic Kingdom, they would hear an announcement from Minnie, saying that she was having a surprise birthday party for Mickey and that once they were inside the park, they could go to the railroad station and she would send a special train to pick them up from Main Street or Frontierland.  The train featured a very catchy song and cutouts of Disney characters were placed along the tracks that showed them traveling to Mickey's birthday party.


Opening on June 18, 1988, Mickey’s Birthdayland consisted of Duckburg. Within the town, guests could view small-scale storefronts and walk through Mickey's house and see Pluto's doghouse in the backyard.  There was also a playground and a topiary/shrub maze. After walking through Mickey's house, guests would pass other character dwellings, such as Donald Duck's boat then arrive at the Birthday Party Tent.  After watching Disney cartoons in a holding area, guests could see a show called Minnie's Surprise Party. The title pretty much described the plot of the show and featured a song called "We Love You Mickey Mouse."   After the show, guests would proceed to another room where Mickey and the gang did another short performance on top of a birthday cake with exploding confetti candles.  You could then visit with Mickey in his dressing room at the Hollywood Theater.

Mickey’s Birthdayland also housed Grandma Duck's petting farm.  The star of the farm was Minnie Moo the cow, who had a Mickey Mouse head on one side of her body.  She was later moved to the petting farm in Fort Wilderness and died in the summer of 2001.  Other animals such as chickens, ducks, goats, pigs and miniature horses were also featured.  Grandma Duck's Farm later became the entrance/queue for Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster.


As Mickey’s Birthdayland was suppose to be a temporary land, it closed on April 22, 1990. But it wasn’t gone for good. Opening a little over a month after the closing of Birthdayland, Mickey’s Starland took its place. The song on the train was modified so that it was the Walt Disney World Express.  A new show called Mickey's Magical TV World was created with characters from the Disney Afternoon shows.  There was a live character in the show with the unisex name of C.J., although most people who saw the show remember the part being played by a woman.


The show was changed annually and featured the newest Disney Afternoon show each year while dropping the oldest show that was no longer part of the Disney Afternoon lineup.  The first year of this show featured the Gummi Bears in place of Darkwing Duck.  Once the St. Canard Crimefighter's show premiered in 1991, he replaced the bears.  The Ducktales characters were later replaced by Goof Troop.  The section with the vault was retooled to featured Goofy and Max.  In this version of the show, Goofy gets trapped in the house by his home security system.  Bonkers was also later added to the show as well. 

Everything from Birthdayland basically stayed except a change in theme from Mickey’s Birthday to generic Duckburg.

Mickey's Toontown

In the meantime, Disneyland opened its own “home of Mickey Mouse” but not in the form of Duckburg, but as ToonTown. Opening on January 24, 1993, ToonTown opened in Disneyland as an area themed to resemble the Toontown seen in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The buildings are stylized and colorful. There are several attractions involving classic cartoon characters, such as the 'houses' of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and a small children's coaster. There are a few interactive gags. Compared to other Disneyland areas however, there are few large or technically complex rides or shows, and the houses themselves appeal primarily as playhouses for small children.


As Mickey’s Starland “closed” in 1996 to be remodeled as Mickey’s ToonTown Fair. Many  of the tents from Birthdayland/Starland were torn down to make room for some more “attractions”, including Minnie’s House, Donald’s Boat, and Goofy’s Barnstormer replacing Grandma Duck’s petting zoo. As the story goes, ToonTown, in Disneyland is the “real” home of the Toons (Disney Characters), while Magic Kingdom’s ToonTown Fair is themed to be the Toons’ “Holiday or Vacation” homes.

While Mickey’s Toontown Fair opened in late 1996, Tokyo Disneyland’s Toontown opened to the public on April 15, 1996, as apart of TDL’s 13th Anniversary. Like Disneyland’s it is themed to the homes of Toons, where they live. Mostly everything between Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland’s are the same, with the exception of one thing. They are mirror images of each other in terms of layout.


Disneyland Paris has been rumored to get a ToonTown, or ToonTown Fair in the past but nothing ever came to fruition. But on January 11, 2005, it was announced by Euro Disney SCA that the Disneyland Resort Paris would be getting an addition, but not to Disneyland Paris, instead its sister park, Walt Disney Studios Paris, which struggled since the opening in 2002 would be getting a Toon Studios. To go along with the “ToonTown History”, just like ToonTown in DL and TDL is where the Toons live, and ToonTown Fair in MK is where they vacation, Toon Studios in WDSP would be where Toons go to work to make their own animated movies, etc. Opening in June 2007, the land came to be as an expansion and refurbishment of the pre-existing Animation Courtyard. Featuring two new attractions, Toon Studios became the biggest expansion of WDSP since its opening. Now, opening in 2010 WDSP’s Toon Studios is getting another expansion, but in the form of Toy Story Playland, the home of Toy Story Characters and such.


All of the Disney Theme Park Resorts have some sort of ToonTown, except Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. When HKDL was announced it was to have a ToonTown, but was scrapped as a financial issue, but instead in 2010/2011 HKDL is getting a copy of WDSP’s Toy Story Playland.

Soon the first incarnation of Mickey and Friends living area, Mickey’s ToonTown Fair, originally Mickey’s Birthdayland, will be gone. As Mickey’s Toontown Fair in Magic Kingdom will be demolished to make room for the New Fantasyland Expansion, and in this area will be a new Circus Area themed to Dumbo and a Pixie Hollow area for Tinkerbell and Friends.

Pictures and Information from DLRP Magic, Walt Dated World, TDR Fan and Wikipedia

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