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Toontown will reopen with a thoughtful priority on Disneyland's smallest guests

March 17, 2023
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Disneyland in Anaheim, California, will reopen Mickey's Toontown this weekend after a yearlong closure for refurbishment.

With character meet-and-greets with Disney's younger park visitors featuring characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, as well as kid-friendly coasters and play areas, the cartoon-inspired section has long been a paradise for younger park visitors.

The newly designed Toontown pays homage to the area that debuted in 1993 by preserving the buildings that were already there, such as Mickey and Minnie's homes, albeit with a fresh coat of paint. Kids can also explore a lot of new infrastructure with an eye toward diversity, though.

Toontown's redesign is really all about purpose. The youngest park visitors have a place to release their pent-up energy or relax since Imagineers created a space for all kids, including accessible play areas, quiet areas, and shady corners.

For children who are easily overwhelmed by noisy or vivid sensory stimuli, the newly remodeled area, which opens to the public on March 19, is completely wheelchair accessible, including its slides. Softer hues have been used to paint the entire landscape, and some locations have music with a more muted, spa-like feel.

"We want every child to realize that when they come to this place, this land was made for them," said Jeffrey Shaver-Moskowitz, executive portfolio producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. "That they were noticed and that they were made to feel welcome."

According to Shaver-Moskowitz, the Imagineers spent time observing children's museums and water play areas to see how children interact with them. They then designed several stations across the land to accommodate various types of play patterns.

“We are aware that a day at Disneyland may be stressful and frantic as guests rush from one reservation to the next and from one attraction to the next," he said.  "We wanted Toontown to be inviting, de-stressing, and entertaining in equal measure."

In light of this, the Imagineers increased the number of green spaces across the landscape, including areas for picnics, relaxing, and unrestricted play.

“Knowing how significant Toontown was for so many of our guests when they were growing up and the numerous memories associated with the land here,” Shaver-Moskowitz said, "We really wanted to take a look at Toontown and make sure we don't lose any of that. Bring a lot of fresh magic, though.

‘Thinking of every single guest’

Visitors will go through Centoonial Park before entering the new Toontown. The "dreaming tree," a large fountain with Mickey and Minnie on it, as well as water tables for kids to put their hands into, serve as the focal points of the space.

Because of its cartoonish limbs and leaves, the tree was chosen from the Disney grounds. Kids may climb over, crawl under, and weave between the carved roots that surround the trunk.

Shaver-Moskowitz stated during a media tour of the property earlier this month that one of the primary purposes of play for young children is to teach them the ideas of over, under, and through. "As a result, some of the roots are large enough for children to crawl beneath, and others can serve as balance beams for young children who are still learning to put their feet under things."

Moreover, Centoonial Park is next to the El Capitoon Theatre, which houses the Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Train ride. Riders are invited to the premiere of Mickey and Minnie's newest animated short, "Perfect Picnic," but mischief occurs, and guests are carried away on Goofy's train and transported into the cartoon universe.

The trackless attraction has no height or age requirements, so even the youngest Disney visitor can participate.

Guests may see Goofy's new play yard as they continue around the property. It wraps around Goofy's house and includes a sound garden with musical bridges and melons in addition to Fort Max, a climbable clubhouse with attached slides.

The roller slides were chosen for the area, according to Shaver-Moskowitz, to prevent younger visitors—who frequently have less mobility in their legs—from becoming caught at the bottom of the slide. Moreover, there is greater room at the bottom of the slides for those who require some extra time to re-enter wheelchairs.

“We are making an effort to keep each and every visitor in mind, he stated. ensuring that each child who comes to play feels as though their needs were considered while designing the environment.”

Also, there is a tiny cordoned-off space outside where infants can safely explore the surroundings while crawling.

Kids can play a number of games within Goofy's home to assist Goofy in turning the honey from the beehives on his land into candy. Little park visitors can sort candies here by flavor and color while watching a kinetic ball machine move around the area.

According to Shaver-Moskowitz, “extra care was taken to guarantee that the sound of the air compressors propelling the balls around had been muffled in order to prevent those with sensory sensitivity from being overwhelmed and preventing them from participating in the activity with their peers.”

Kids can cool off at Donald's Duck Pond, a separate area close to Goofy's new play yard. To enable parents to better supervise their children at the water features, Imagineers purposefully divided this area from the play area.

Shaver-Moskowitz observed that due to the former layout of the property, children would occasionally rush back to their parents drenched after straying into the water play area.

A water-spitting tug boat, spinning water lilies, balance beams, and rocking toys may be found at Donald's Duck Pond. Children can join Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby inside the boat by moving gears and levers to pump water outside in order to fix a leak in the hull.

Pack a picnic

The Toontown menu has also been updated by the Imagineers. new spots like Good Boy and Café Daisy! For both younger park visitors and palates with greater experience, supermarkets provide a wide range of options and flavors.

The goal of the team, according to Michele Gendreau, director of product optimization for food and beverage, was to make dining simple by developing portable foods.

Pizzas, hot dogs, and sandwiches that "flip over" are available on Daisy's café's menu. Adults can get a cold brew coffee or honey-mango sweet tea at this location. Little doughnuts wrapped in cinnamon sugar are served as desserts.

“Children want to consume the same foods as their parents,” according to Gendreau, who emphasized kid-friendly variations of traditional pizzas.

Good Boy! Visitors can purchase grab-and-go drinks, snacks, and novelty items from supermarkets. The roadside vendor sells an "ideal picnic basket" that comes with up to three nibbles and a beverage. The alternatives are available to children ranging from hummus and pickles to granola bars and apple slices.

Even the youngest visitors can choose items from baskets that are arranged at various heights, giving them some independence during mealtime.

At EngineEar Souvenirs, park visitors can purchase blankets for picnics, T-shirts, toys, and other unique Toontown products.

Also returning to the land are meet-and-greet opportunities with favorite characters. Photographs with Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy, Pluto, Clarabelle, and Goofy are available to guests. Also, Pete will make an appearance at a Disney park for the first time ever and cause trouble in the neighborhood.

Cathy Hills
Associate Editor
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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