Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Clarabelle, Goofy, Pluto and Pete stand outside Mickey’s house in Disneyland’s renovated Toontown.
Park-goers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, will finally be able to return to Mickey’s Toon Town this weekend after a year-long closure for renovations.
The cartoon-inspired land has long been a haven for younger Disney park guests, offering character meet-and-greets with the likes of Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto, as well as kid-friendly coasters and play areas.
The redesigned Toontown pays homage to the space that first opened in 1993, keeping existing structures like Mickey and Minnie’s homes in tact, albeit with a touch of paint. But there’s also a great deal of new infrastructure for kids to explore – with an emphasis on inclusivity.
At its core, the entire Toontown renovation is centered around intent. Creating space for all the kids, the Imagineers designed accessible play spaces, as well as quiet areas and shaded spots so that the youngest park goers would have a place to exercise their pent-up energy or decompress.
The redesigned grounds, which open to the public March 19, are fully wheelchair accessible, including slides, and are visually and audibly accessible for children who are easily overwhelmed by loud or bright sensory stimuli. The entire grounds have been repainted in softer hues, and some areas feature quieter, spa-like, musical tones.
said Jeffrey Schaffer Moskovitz, executive portfolio producer at Inc Walt Disney to imagine. “They were seen, and this place was welcoming to them.”
Shaver-Moskowitz said Imagineers have spent time looking at children’s museums and water play venues to see how children are engaged and developing different stations around the country to cater to different types of play styles.
“We know a day at Disneyland can be hectic and chaotic, going from one attraction to another, from one reserve to another,” he said. “We wanted Toontown to be not only exciting, but also stress-relieving, relaxing and welcoming.”
With that in mind, the Imagineers provided more green spaces within the grounds, places for picnics, to sit and relax, or to play freely.
“We really wanted to take a look at Toontown, realizing how important it was to so many of our guests for the many generations that grew up and the many memories here associated with the land, and to make sure we don’t lose any of this,” said Shaver-Moskowitz. “But, he brought a lot of new magic.”
“Thinking of every guest”
When guests enter the new Toontown, they will pass through Centennial Park. The area is anchored by a large fountain featuring Mickey and Minnie, as well as water tables for kids to dip their hands in, and the “Dreaming Tree.”
The live tree was chosen from the Disney property for its cartoonish limbs and leaves. Around the trunk are carved roots that kids can climb over, crawl under and weave through.
“One of the main functions of play for young children is to learn the concepts of over, under, and through,” Shaver-Moskowitz explained during a media tour of the country earlier this month. “So you’ll see that some of the roots are big enough for the little ones to crawl under, and some can be used as stabilizing beams for the little ones learning to put their feet under.”
(There’s a wheelchair-accessible path that winds through the roots, too.)
Centennial Park is also located next door to the El Capitoon Theatre, home of the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The Knights are invited to the premiere of the newest Mickey and Minnie animated short, Perfect Picnic. However, tumult ensues and the guests are whisked away to ride the Goofy Train, entering the cartoon world.
The exterior of the El Capitoon Theater of the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
The ride without tracks has no restrictions on height or age, allowing even the youngest Disney guests to join in.
Continuing through the grounds, guests will see Goofy’s new playground, which wraps around Goofy’s house and features an intact garden filled with musical bridges and watermelons, as well as Fort Max, a climbable clubhouse with attached slides.
Rotary slides were chosen for the space so smaller guests, who often have less mobility in their legs, wouldn’t get stuck at the bottom of the slide, Shaver-Moskowitz said. There is also more space at the bottom of the slides to accommodate guests who need time to get back into wheelchairs.
“We try to make sure we think of every single guest here,” he said. “Making sure that every child who comes to play here feels like we designed the space for them.”
Also outside there is a small enclosed area for kids to crawl around and experience the area safely.
Goofy stands outside his new How-To-Play yard at Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland.
Inside Goofy’s house are a series of games kids can play to help Goofy grow honey from the beehives on his property and turn it into candy. Here, young garden-goers can sort the candy by flavor and color and watch the Kinetic Ball Machine zip all over the place.
Extra care was taken to ensure that the sound of the air compressors propelling the balls was muffled, Shaver-Moskowitz said, in an effort to ensure those with sensory sensitivities would not be disoriented and still be able to enjoy the experience with peers.
In a separate area next to Goofy’s new playground is Donald’s Duck Pond, a children’s water experience. Imagineers intentionally separated this space from the playing field so that parents could better watch their children around the water elements.
Donald Duck stands outside the new Duck Pond in Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland.
Shaver-Moskowitz noted that the earlier layout of the land meant that children would occasionally return to their parents wet, after having wandered into the water play space.
Donald’s Duck Pond features a water-pulling tow boat, spinning water lilies, balance beams, and rocking toys. Inside the boat, kids can help Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby fix a leak in the hull, and spin the wheels and levers to push the water out.
Prepare yourself for a walk
Imagineers also revamped the food in Toontown. New restaurants like Cafe Daisy and Good Boy! Grocers offer a wide variety of selections and flavors for young gardeners and more mature palates.
Michelle Gendreau, Director of Product Improvement for Food and Beverage, explained that the team wanted to make eating easier by creating handmade food that could be chewed on the go.
The menu at Daisy’s Café features pizza, hot dogs, and “flop” wraps. Here, adults can have cold brew coffee or sweet tea with honey and mango. For dessert, there’s a mini donut topped with cinnamon sugar.
“Kids want to eat what their parents eat,” Gendreau said, referring to kid-friendly versions of traditional pizza.
The father of the good boy! Grocers, guests can pick up drinks, snacks and novelties. A roadside stand provides the “perfect picnic basket,” including up to three snacks and a drink. Kids can choose from a variety of options, from hummus and pickles to granola bars and apple slices.
The baskets are set up at multiple heights to allow the youngest guests to choose their own items, giving them a bit of independence when it comes to mealtime.
Goods from Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland.
Park-goers can purchase picnic blankets, T-shirts, toys and other exclusive Toontown merchandise at EngineEar Souvenirs.
Plus, a meet-and-greet game with fan-favorite characters returns to Earth. Guests can take pictures with Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy, Pluto, Clarabelle and Goofy. And for the first time in any Disney park, Pete will appear, causing mischief throughout the neighborhood.