On or around February 12th of this year, the 7th themed land of the Magic Kingdom will be no more. I am sad because I have always loved the Mickey Mouse Cartoon shorts, and Mickey’s Toontown represents Mickey, and of course Minnie. Cartoons are what started Walt and his company, and Mickey has been its iconic symbol from the beginning. Many fans have compared Mickey’s Toontown Fair with Disneyland’s Mickey’s Toontown, and wondered why Walt Disney World with so much more space did not have a comparable town. For me, entering Toontown Fair is akin to walking down Main St. USA. You get that same “Good Time” feeling, and I immediately turn into a kid again! If you close your eyes, you can believe that Mickey Mouse himself will come up and welcome you to his home.
Mickey’s Toontown opened in Disneyland in 1993 and is based on the hit movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, which was released in 1988. Upon entering Toontown, you step into an actual “Cartoon Land”, reminiscent of the cartoons of the 1930’s. There is everything here from Mickey and Minnie’s houses, to buildings from a jailhouse, power company and one of the most fun attractions, “Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin” which takes you on a hilarious jaunt through cartoon land in a taxi.
But in 1988, it happened to be Mickey’s 60th birthday, and what better way to celebrate it that creating a brand-new themed “Land” in his honor? Although the Main Mouse would not turn 60 until November 18 of that year, Walt Disney World built “Mickey’s Birthdayland” in record time. This was such an important event that a new railroad stop was constructed just for Mickey, and the Walt Disney World Railroad was re-named “Mickey’s Birthdayland Express” The land had its grand opening on June 18th, and to help unveil Mickey’s new (but temporary!) land was none other than Cindy Williams from Laverne and Shirley fame. This land was between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (They even had to shorten the track of Tomorrowland’s Indy Speedway (It was then known as the Gran Prix Raceway) to make room. Even Nancy Reagan was there for the ribbon cutting ceremonies. (It is interesting to note that this was the first new “Land” to be added since opening day in October 1971.)
When guests arrived at the new Birthdayland, things were a little different than today. Mickey’s house was less elaborate, just a few rooms; upon exiting there was Pluto’s doghouse and yard. Out front was his red “Toon” Car. Minnie’s house did not yet exist. The rest of the land was comprised of tents, in fact a large yellow-striped flat tent covered the attraction building for the 20,000 Leagues Submarine ride. Mickey’s house at the time was located in the town of “Duckburg” which had building facades for the various storefronts. The most popular attraction for the kids was “Grandma Duck’s Farm” a petting zoo which had a famous cow named “Minnie Moo” who had a black three-circle Hidden Mickey on her left side. Inside the tents, you could find Minnie’s kitchen, an area showing cartoons and a show called “Minnie’s Surprise Party” were you could meet Mickey and the rest of the gang.
Mickey’s Birthday celebration ended on April 22nd, 1990, but because it was so popular with guests, it was decided in 1989 to keep the land, but re-theme it, losing the birthday trappings. A short time after, on May 26, the area was renamed “Mickey’s Starland.” This new land had a more permanent feel, with some new shows and attractions. But Disney decided that Starland needed a facelift. Walt Disney World’s 25th anniversary was in 1996, and it was a perfect time to again re-theme the area.
The new re-themed area was renamed “Mickey’s Toontown Fair” in reference to the successful Disneyland’s “Mickey’s Toontown” and it was so dedicated on June 29th, 1996. Gone were the false facades and Minnie had her “Country House” built next to Mickey’s. Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm rollercoaster for the kiddies replaced Grandma Duck’s Farm and Peg Leg Pete, (Disney’s OLDEST cartoon character) now has his own gas station (with restrooms!). You can now meet Mickey Mouse in the Judges Tent, and in the Toontown Hall of Fame Tent, you can meet Princesses and Fairies. And for the Disney souvenir hunters, there is Cornelius Coot’s County Bounty merchandise store. And speaking of Cornelius Coot, his statue is in front of the Hall of Fame. Cornelius is the founder of Duckburg and Donald’s great-great-grandfather. The plaque on his statue reads, ”This is old Cornelius Coot – Who turned his corn crop into Loot – And Founded Mickey’s Toontown Fair – To Him we dedicate this Square”
As I said earlier, Mickey Toontown Fair, while not as elaborate nor as large as Disneyland’s version, still is a fun place to poke around. For the person with the sharp eye, there is abundant detail all around and some really nice Hidden Mickey’s. Donald’s replacement boat named after his girlfriend the “Miss Daisy” was a great place for the kids to splash and explore. A little play area called “Toon Park” was another place for the kids to burn off energy. And if you were really sharp-eyed, in Mickey’s garage, hanging on the wall, is the license plate that was on Mickey’s Toon car, which reads ”Mick N Min”. I am sure going to miss this little town of Mickey and Minnie’s! Enjoy some of my favorite pics of this memorable Land…
Contributed by: Bill Iadonisi (NDH#35) Bill is the DDL History Blogger.