As the story goes, back when Walt was looking for a space in which to build Disneyland, his pal Mickey encouraged him to look in Anaheim, next door to where Mickey and the gang already lived among the orange groves. Then, 38 years after the opening of Disneyland, Mickey and the rest of Toontown’s homeowners decided to open their “secret hideaway” to Disneyland’s guests.
On January 26, 1993, Mickey’s Toontown, a whimsical suburb of Fantasyland, opened its gates to become the first new “land” added to Disneyland in 20 years (since Bear Country in 1972, which later became Critter Country with the opening of Splash Mountain). Inside the gates of this inviting little town, guests found two main areas: Downtown Toontown and Mickey’s Neighborhood. The Downtown section opened with three areas: an industrial zone, a commercial center, and Toon Square. This is where you could find the Fireworks Factory, Horace Horsecollar’s Gymnasium, the Camera Shop, a dog pound, and a clock repair store. A short distance from Toon Square is Mickey’s neighborhood, home to Disney’s most famous cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Goofy, Chip ‘n’ Dale, and Donald Duck.
“Everything is exaggerated,” said Dave Burkhart, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) show producer, in a press release for the opening. “There are no straight lines or conventional architecture. Nothing is ‘real’ in Mickey’s Toontown. It’s composed completely of cartoon elements.”
The opening of Mickey’s Toontown kicked off a yearlong Toon celebration, which culminated when the Cab Co. opened its doors and guests were able to solve the mystery of Jessica Rabbit’s abduction in Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.
“The houses actually look—in a very subliminal way—like their namesake characters,” added Joe Lanzisero, WDI senior concept designer. “I think the best example is Donald’s boat. The top of the wheel is literally Donald’s hat. The bow is painted like his shirt. And the whole shape looks like a duck bill. If you just walk by and look at it, it’s this big cartoon boat. But if you stop and study it, it’s Donald.”
The 20th anniversary of Mickey’s Toontown will be featured in D23′s Disney Fanniversary Celebration 2013. Hosted by Disney archivists and D23 team members, D23′s Disney Fanniversary Celebration events in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. will revisit some of the most beloved theme park attractions, animated and live-action films, TV series, and nearly 90 years of Disney history. Fanniversary events will be open to the public, with special admission and surprises created especially for D23 Members in attendance.
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Jim Frye