Mickey's Toontown will reopen Sunday, offering what Disney hopes will be a more welcoming and accessible design for a new generation of Disneyland fans.
The addition of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway to the land gave prompted Disney to rethink its most iconic character's hometown, which opened back in January 1993.
"We got a lot of guests who utilize our parks in different ways - who see hear and feel our experiences in different ways, and want every child to know that when they came to this land... that they were seen and that this place was welcoming to them," Jeff Shaver-Moskowitz, Portfolio Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, said during a press preview for the land earlier this month.
"We also want to make sure that for our big kids, for adults, this land was designed for them as well. And we know a day of Disneyland can be hectic and chaotic, running from one attraction to another, one reservation to the next. We wanted Toontown to be exciting but also decompressing and relaxing and welcoming. So when we looked at Toontown, we saw a lot of opportunity in the layout of land to introduce a lot of green spaces, spaces for families to connect and to spend some time together - to sit and enjoy a day in the park."
Runaway Railway, which opened in January, will provide the bulk of the new excitement in the land, which will welcome the return of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and the renamed Chip 'n' Dale's GADGETcoaster, a Vekoma Junior. In case you missed it, here is our review of Runway Railway, which includes an all-new queue featuring an extended "Mickey Through the Ears" exhibit from the Toontown Hysterical Society: Take Two's a Keeper for Mickey & Minnie's Runway Railway.
But the first element that guests will encounter when walking under the Disneyland Railroad bridge and entering Mickey's Toontown will hint at the land's new potential for relaxation. CenTOONial Park offers open space at the front of the land, as well as a "dreaming" tree with roots for kids to climb on and a fountain with water play tables.
"One of the things that we found out in watching kids play was how much they always gravitated towards water," Shaver-Moskowitz said. "No matter what you do, no matter how much you tell them don't get wet, they gravitate towards water. So we said, instead of having our fountains behind some sort of a barricade that keeps you away, we wanted to invite you to play [and] touch the water."
The water tables around the Toontown fountain will be presented a multiple heights, allowing kids of all ages, as well as children using wheelchairs, to participate. At night, the fountain will offer a light show, as well.
"At sunset you can come back here with your little ones have some time around the fountain kind of have that 'kiss good night' moment here in the fountain if you don't think they're gonna make it to fireworks," Shaver-Moskowitz said.
Mickey's Toontown is now backed by an even larger mural of the Toontown mountains, which include a few Easter eggs, including references to The Old Mill from the 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon of the same name and a barn that looks a lot like Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn, now located in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.
Below, curbs are gone and pathways cleared, as Disney has worked to create an environment more accessible to guests using wheelchairs.
Continuing into the land, in a clockwise direction, next to CenTOONial Park you will find Goofy's How-To-Play Yard. Max's Fort overlooks the play yard, which includes two roller slides.
"We chose those slides because they're just fun as you go down these roller casters but also [for] little ones with less mobility in their legs, it's really hard to get down that last piece of a slide," Shaver-Moskowitz said. "Roller slides will help them get all the way down the slide."
Meanwhile, inside Goofy's house, guests can help operate Goofy's candy-making contraption.
"Our story here is that Goofy is harvesting honey from a beehive that is outside of his house and making candy for his friends. He's harvesting that honey and putting it through this contraption he has created inside his house that allows kids to [either] have an active experience in helping sort of color and flavor the candy, or a passive experience of just watching this amazing beautiful kinetic action going on all around you."
Behind the house, there's also a shaded, separated play area for younger children. Throughout Mickey's Toontown, guests will find play areas covered in soft, spongy material, the application of which was delayed by Southern California's recent rainstorms, forcing the two-week delay in opening the land.
Access to Goofy's How-To-Play Yard flows through a single point of entry and exit, helping parents keep track of their kids without having to hover closely over their play.
Next is Donald's Duck Pond. The Donald's Boat has been transformed into a single-level water play area, featuring both splash elements and bubble games in the boat's portholes.
That brings us to the coaster, which includes Chip, Dale, and Gadget characters next to its track. Next door, the long-removed Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse site is now given over to something very different than when Toontown first opened.
"We filled in the ball pit," Shaver-Moskowitz said. "Our guests who are on the spectrum might be having an overstimulation day, and they need as a place to decompress. We saw a great opportunity here to have us quiet, off the beaten path, shady spot, and we designed designed a score just for this area that's much more spa-like. It's the same soundtrack that you've heard throughout the rest of land but in a decompressing, quieting, and welcoming arrangement."
Mickey's and Minnie's homes remain as they were, offering meet and greets with Disney's first couple. Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, Clarabelle, and Goofy also will appear in the land. And in addition to these character meets, Pete will make his Disney Parks debut in Mickey's Toontown.
Heading back toward Runaway Railway, there's a new family restroom, as well as two new food service locations: Good Boy! Grocers, a grab-and-go location also selling a plastic Perfect Picnic Basket bucket that will be coming soon to Disney influencers' eBay store, and Cafe Daisy, whose menu Disney introduced earlier: Here's the Menu for Disneyland's New Toontown.
EngineEar Souvenirs is the gift shop at the exit of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. For more on one of the toys that will be available there, please see Tame the Runaway Railway With Disneyland's New RC Toy.
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Personally I really like all the interactive elements of the old Toontown, but I'm sure they were a bear to maintain. Having more splash pads and water interaction I'm sure will be popular with the little ones, but I question whether the adults will really care. Every time I've walked through the Mickey's Circus area of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom, there's been about a dozen or so kids 5-8 splashing about with 20 or so adults sitting on various benches and walls staring at their phones. Splash pads have become so ubiquitous and found in so many city parks and neighborhood squares that it seems to be a bit of a cop out for WDI to fall back on these elements when re-envisioning Toontown. I get that people just weren't hanging out in the old space and many of the gags and interactive elements were antiquated and contrived, but I think WDI could have come up with something more inventive here, especially when guests are paying $150+ to walk through the gates.
My sister was a bit annoyed she had scheduled our Disneyland trip last week when it was due to reopen and then delayed. We saw the Railway ride, a fun adventure and the fences still up, just wish had enjoyed it more.
Also a bit miffed literally one week later the Indy ride opened. Just the breaks, do look forward to this as more open for the kids to run around in.
I really love how Disney is implementing experiences to better serve people with disabilities! It's great to also see them do that at the Adventureland Treehouse. That's really lacking in theme parks in general. Being autistic myself, this is wonderful for me to see.
@ Rusell, Based on what's been presented, I think the new Toontown is meant to be that "winding down area" of the park. There's a couple of attractions, but it seems Disney created a space where parents could relax while kids could stay busy.
There was no place in the park where that could happen (People would chill in the Animation Academy) but it appears as if Disney has created a "public park" specifically for that reason. Obviously, its been plussed, but my takeaway is they actually wanted a non inventive area that's just a play space. I think its going to be fairly popular.
@MaxicKingdon, I agree! Wonderful to see all!
Kind of weird to think that the very first Disney villain is finally getting a meet and greet.
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I love the idea of more “green spaces” in parks. It will be interesting to see if this thinking is put into practice on a larger scale moving forward. It sounds like some welcome changes have been made to this land. Things that I might have otherwise overlooked, but as the father of a 2-year old, now look for.