Monday, October 16, 2023

Disneyland's Toontown - 30th Anniversary

Today we have yet another "anniversary" post.  My other anniversary posts from earlier this year include, the 45th anniversary of The New Matterhorn, the 45th anniversary of Knott's Montezooma's Revenge, and the 40th anniversary of Knott's Camp Snoopy.

This year, Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland is celebrating it's 30th anniversary.  I have to admit that Toontown is my absolute least favorite "land."  With the exception of Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin (which didn't open until one year later), I have always considered the area a waste of very valuable real estate.  However, I had saved this Los Angeles Times article from when the land first opened, so I thought I would share it here, along with a few other souvenirs.

The article is dated January 21, 1993.  It mentions that the "Roger Rabbit ride" will be opening "this summer," but it didn't actually open until January of 1994.  Pictured below is the "Jolly Trolley" attraction, which closed after only 10 years of operation.

The article also mentions some of the other new "attractions," such as Goofy's Bounce House (which closed after 15 years), and Chip 'n Dale's Acorn Crawl (which closed after only 5 short years).  And the author talks about how Disney wasn't exactly breaking new ground here, since Knott's had built their children's area (Camp Snoopy), 10 years earlier.  It isn't mentioned, but Magic Mountain had a children's area (The Wizard's Village/Bugs Bunny World), even before that.  And Sea World had also opened their children's area (Cap'n Kids World), many years earlier.

The Motor Boat Cruise, Mission to Mars, and the Fantasyland Autopia, all received shout-outs in the article, but unfortunately it was because they were all being closed for good.  The reason given was, to relocate the employees on those attractions to Toontown, in order to "minimize additional operating costs" for the park.  Sad!

I think I have only ever bought one "Toontown" related souvenir, at the park itself, and that was the pinback button at the top of this post.  However, I did buy a can of Coke at my local grocery store, which commemorated the opening of the new land.

I made a huge mistake by not opening the can and draining the contents, prior to storing it away on a top kitchen shelf for years.  I had forgotten the urban legend, about how if you drop a nail into a glass of Coke, it will eventually dissolve it. Well, the contents of this can eventually ate a hole through the side of it, and leaked all over that top shelf.  I did not realize this had happened, until many years later, so there was a thick sticky mess to clean up, once it was discovered.  Coke actually contains "phosphoric acid," which etches the enamel on our teeth, and makes them more porous, so I'm assuming that was the specific ingredient responsible for eating through the can.

I did a search on ebay, and was surprised to see these other Toontown-themed cans were also available.  I don't remember seeing these in the grocery store, back in the day.  This first one is a Diet Coke can, which featured Roger Rabbit.

This can of Sprite, featured Donald and his boat.

And this last design, featuring Goofy and his "Bounce House," was on cans of Diet Sprite.

This final item is not from Disneyland in Anaheim, but from Tokyo Disneyland.  I bought this during a visit to the Disney parks in Japan.  They sell a series of miniature attraction vehicles, which are just about the size of a Match Box® vehicle.  I should have put a coin next to the vehicle, to show just how small it is!

The box lists the scale as 1/77.

The manufacturer of the "Disney Vehicle Collection," is Tomy®.  The sticker on the box shows a price of 750 yen, which at today's rate of exchange, would be about $5.00 in U.S. currency.  I'm guessing if they sold these in the U.S. parks, they would charge more than that.  I never found the price of food, souvenirs, or even admission at the Tokyo Disney parks, to be as inflated as they are in the U.S. Disney parks.  But then Disney does not own those two parks.  They are owned by a Japanese company, The Oriental Land Company.

I'm not completely sure, but I think the little "universal symbol" on the far left means, "Do Not Feed This To Pac-Man, Or He Will Cry."

And speaking of Tokyo's Toontown, if anyone is interested in seeing how the Japanese decorate Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown for Halloween and Christmas, you can click below, for some of my older posts.

Halloween in Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown

More Halloween in Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown

Christmas in Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown 

Happy anniversary, to Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland.  While I have never cared for the land very much, at least Disney finally decided to add another attraction (Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway) to the area, just this year.  It's too bad it took them 30 years to do it!  Oh, and when I finally saw Toontown for the very first time (one year later, in January of 1994), I took quite a few photos.  I will be including those in a 30-year "Vintage Disneyland Trip Report," this January.  So stay tuned......or "toon-ed," if you will.

****Post Update - 10-27-23****

I just found a few more Toontown-related items, in my personal collection!

This first one is a "game piece" from a contest.  These were given out when you had your film developed at Thrifty drugstores.  They were included inside the film processing envelopes, when you returned to pick up your photos.  The contest was also sponsored by Kodak.

These were "sealed," so you had to "tear open" that center square, to reveal the game piece inside.  Then, you had to match the character and the color of the Castle, with the image that was displayed on the counter of the Thrifty photo processing department.

The rules were printed on the back, along with a list of the prizes.  The top prize was a trip for four to Disneyland.

Another one of the prizes, was this Craig 'N Co. Rock 'N Toontown CD.  I had to look up this performer, since I had never heard of Craig 'N Co.  His name is Craig Taubman, and it looks like he made multiple appearances on The Disney Channel, back in the nineties.

This is not my CD, but I found a few of them listed on ebay.  You can own a copy for as low as $5.95!  There was also an ebay listing for two "intact" Thrifty game pieces, for $24.99.

The other items I recently found, are these Toontown postcards.

Both postcards were stamped on the back, with a special postmark commemorating Disneyland's 40th anniversary.  On July 17, 1995, the U.S. Postal System set up a temporary station in the old Disneyland parking lot, and were stamping the special postmark onto any item with U.S. postage affixed to it.

I remember the postal workers were trying very hard to place the "N" in the word "Station" just barely onto the stamp, so that way most of the postmark would be on the actual item.  It looks like they completely missed with that first postcard, and just barely touched the stamp on this second one.

*****Post Update (April 2024)*****

I recently came across this color newspaper advertisement for Toontown, so I am adding it to this post.  It's from The Los Angeles Times, and while I don't have a specific date for the ad, I'm pretty sure it had to be from the earliest days or weeks following Toontown's opening, in January of 1993.


K. Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K. Martinez said...

I enjoyed Mickey's Toontown when it opened. I thought it was a lot of fun looking for all the gags, puns, plus buttons and levers to push and pull. I also liked the fact that there was nary a straight line in the "land" and it was based on vintage Disney IP.

I loved the Jolly Trolley when it was two trolleys attached in tandem. It provided some cool kinetic energy for Toontown when they wobbled to-and-fro. Once they reduced it to one trolley the kinetic energy was gone. I read how some thought the Jolly Trolley was too short a ride. To me, the best asset of the Jolly Trolley was that it provided movement and kinetic energy in a static area. Sometimes it's not about the ride, but what the ride adds to the atmosphere and overall feel of the area. The Jolly Trolley reminded me of old-school cartoon animation the way it moved across from Mickey's Neighborhood to Downtown Toontown.

Besides the Jolly Trolley there was Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin which I think was a great good headliner for the area, but the rest of the attractions are strictly kiddie fare. That's okay because there was enough to keep the adults entertained on another level.

I do appreciate the original design and effort that went into making Mickey's Toontown. Of course, over time, Disney does seem to lessen what was special by closing attractions and/or cutting operating costs (Jolly Trolley). Also, the loss of the Motor Boat Cruise, Mission to Mars and The Skyway, were not worth the price to pay for Mickey's Toontown and Indiana Jones Adventure. Fantasyland Autopia didn't close until 1999 when it was merged with Tomorrowland Autopia to become one big Autopia.

Oh, and as far as attraction tradeoffs go, I'd take The Skyway any day over Indian Jones Adventure.

I really love those Toontown themed Sprite cans. Super-duper cool!

I do have many souvenirs of Mickey's Toontown including the pinback button pictured. I also have a Jolley Trolley die-cast and all the postcards released for Mickey's Toontown from opening day and through the years.

My one question for you is, do you think Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown was a waste of valuable real estate?

TokyoMagic! said...

.....the rest of the attractions are strictly kiddie fare.

Ken, I guess that is what bothered me. There were just too many things that were for "kids-only." I thought Walt wanted a place where "children and adults could have fun together." I know, I know, Walt had been gone for over 25 years at this point, and NOBODY in management cared about what he said, or what he wanted.....except when it worked to spin his words in their favor. I just felt that since Fantasyland was already there, at the very least, this should have just been a Fantasyland expansion. I also felt like Toontown was missing the type of attractions that we expect from Disney. It's great that they finally built a "Mickey and Minnie" dark ride. But I thought that it desperately needed something like that, back when it opened. It's funny that it took them 30 years to think the same thing that I was thinking, back in 1993. you think Tokyo Disneyland's Toontown was a waste of valuable real estate?

Even though Tokyo Disneyland is built on a landfill, available land isn't quite as scarce as it is/was on the Disney property in Anaheim.....especially back then. Disney hadn't started developing any of the neighboring land in Anaheim, and in Tokyo, they hadn't built a second park yet. So Disney had less available land in Anaheim, and The Oriental Land Company had far more available land around Tokyo Disneyland.

And then there is one other difference between the two parks. Another problem I have with Anaheim's Toontown, which I didn't mention in my blog post, is that it just feels too "tacked-on" to the rest of the park. I don't have a problem with them developing beyond the berm, but I feel that they should have built a new berm around Toontown. That is what Tokyo DL did. So when you enter their Toontown, it isn't so bare and open, and they don't have those tacky flat (fading & peeling) hills as a backdrop. I do understand the look that they were trying to go for in Anaheim, but I bet that also saved them some money in the long run. Tokyo's Toontown has a full thick line of trees surrounding it, so when you enter it, you feel like you are still in the park, and still away from the outside world. When I enter Anaheim's Toontown, I feel like I have gone "backstage" and that I am not in the actual park anymore. I start to wonder about the roads, vehicles and "real world" that is just on the other side of those hills. I have never felt that way in Critter Country, because when they expanded the park out beyond the train tracks (for the development of Bear Country), they planted trees around the expanded area and behind the brand new buildings. And even in DL's Frontierland, over at the train station, when they reworked that area for the construction of New Orleans Square, they planted trees beyond the train station. Again, Toontown just seems too open and bare and sunny, without any natural green growth behind the north side of it. I think it makes it even worse that when you are in Toontown, you can look back at the old berm and established trees, on the south side of Toontown. It's just a stark contrast, and makes it look unfinished or again, just "tacked-on." But that is just my opinion! I'm sure there are many people out there who love it, and don't notice those things. Personally, I don't dislike Tokyo's Toontown as much, because I feel like they did a proper job when adding it onto the park.

You have reminded me that I might have one postcard of Anaheim's Toontown. I might have to dig that out and add it to the post!

K. Martinez said...

I actually like the painted hills as the backdrop for Mickey's Toontown. For me it's an extension of the "toon-ness" where real trees and foliage would seem more "live-action" themed. They should've just taken care of the backdrop instead of letting the paint/finish peel. Today it looks more detailed, but still retains the "animation/toon-ness" as a backdrop.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I guess for me it's too much inconsistency. You've got the berm with the real trees and landscaping on the south side of Toon Town, then on the west end, you have those sculpted concrete/plaster three dimensional hills (which are usually faded), and then to the north you have the painted "flat" hills. Again, I do get what they were trying to accomplish with the flats. I just don't think they were successful in pulling it off, since there isn't any consistency with the three different backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Love these bitter posts,,,not.

K. Martinez said...

@Anonymous - If you're going to drop a turd comment on someone's blog, at last have the guts not to hide beyond "Anonymous". Otherwise, you add nothing to the conversation.

TokyoMagic! said...

Anonymous.....Nic Kramer, is that you? It sure sounds like you! All I can say is, thanks for reading!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, thanks! Either that, or someone could always start their own blog and fill it with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, all of the time!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous was me, Eisner.


TokyoMagic! said...

Michael E., I knew that you followed my blog! Somehow, I just knew! I think you will absolutely LOVE my upcoming "Mega Posts", Tomorrowland '98 - The Best Land Ever! and California Adventure 1.0 - The Best Park Ever! Watch for them!

Major Pepperidge said...

Hooray, a new post! Well, not so new since I am late to the party. You sure love anniversaries. I’m more of a funeral guy myself.

I wanted to love Toontown, but it really does disappoint in so many ways. It has always bugged me that Disney cartoons didn’t really do the “wonky buildings” aesthetic - except for maybe some of the very earliest cartoons, and even those don’t really. I always think of Fleischer animation (Betty Boop, and so on).

The Jolly Trolly - I mean, it doesn’t look that fun, but I still sort of wish it was there to add some life to the land. It’s no surprised that it closed, once people realized that only babies and others with short attention spans enjoyed it.

I think of Toontown as a place where there’s not a lot to do. I have no interest in a meet and greet with Mickey or Minnie. The Bounce House and Acorn Crawl are fast-food restaurant level attractions. Plus the “acorns” were found to be covered in the grossest stuff, no thanks. I would have had a Sardine Slide - climb up stairs in Donald’s house, and take a slide into a pit full of sardines. Unique!

Minimizing operational costs - in other words, give the customers less value. Just like Walt would have wanted.

Whoa, bummer that your Coke can got dissolved! I hope it didn’t ruin anything (Disneyland stuff especially) good that happened to be stored nearby. Like your box full of Paul Pressler autographs. “To TokyoMagic!, keep on minimizing costs! Your pal, Paul”.

I like the matchbox-scale Jolly Trolly, and wish that all of Disneyland had been built at 1/77 scale. Also, seeing Pac-Man crying is the saddest thing I’ve ever witnessed.

I look forward to seeing your photos of Toontown when it opened, and hope to someday ride the Runaway Railway, which actually looks pretty fun. Now all they need to do is add four more nice attractions.

"Lou and Sue" said...

IMHO, Toontown would be better situated by the Disneyland Hotel, for the kiddies to run around and play in. It looks too cheap to be inside of The Park. Only my opinion, Mr. Eisner.

I don't remember seeing the Jolly Trolley in person...I must've zoned-out, though I remember walking in the little houses. They were cute, but once was enough.

"Do Not Feed This To Pac-Man, Or He Will Cry" - HAHA!

Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, yeah....I kind of ran with the "anniversaries" this year. Just you wait, I have a very special birthday post for next month, which I can't talk about right now. Okay, you twisted my arm! It's for the voice actress who played Tiana's best friend, and the voice actor who played a firefly, in The Princess and the Frog. I hope that has gotten you excited and that you are now looking forward to my post for November. ;-)

One thing that surprised me about the Jolly Trolley was, that the benches faced outward (like the original DL parking lot trams) and not forward (like Main Street's Horse-Drawn Street Cars). And on top of that, they didn't have seat belts. I remember thinking as the cars rocked from side to side, that it would be so easy for someone....especially a small child, to slip completely off of the seat and "plop" right onto the ground. I wonder if that ever happened?

You are absolutely right about the "bounce house" and "ball crawl" being fast-food level attractions. If I were a parent, I'd be thinking "We did not drive all the way to Disneyland and spend hundreds of dollars, for little Johnny to jump around in a bounce house, or crawl through a bin of plastic balls!" I'd make such a good parent, I tell ya!

I hope it didn’t ruin anything (Disneyland stuff especially) good that happened to be stored nearby. Like your box full of Paul Pressler autographs. “To TokyoMagic!, keep on minimizing costs! Your pal, Paul”. HA! That's a good one! Gee, I wonder if a signed Paul Pressler photo has any value at all? Maybe just the value of the paper it is printed on? Maybe not even that? Maybe people who have such an item, have to pay others just to take it off their hands? Since the shelf that the Coke leaked out onto, was higher than eye level, and because the the Coke did not spill over the edge of the shelf, it just went unnoticed for a such a long time. But it only flooded (probably very slowly) the top shelf. On that same shelf, were my 1970s McDonaldland drinking glasses, my 1978 Magic Mountain's Colossus drinking glasses, and my 1976 Disney's "America On Parade" drinking glasses. Fortunately, none of them were ruined. They just needed to have the dried, but sticky syrup-y coating washed off their bottoms. Even the Coke can itself wasn't majorly ruined. There is just a little pin-hole near the bottom of it.

I agree that the "Runaway Railway" looks good, from what I have seen of it online. However, good luck getting "four more nice attractions" in Toontown. At the rate they are going by waiting 30 years just to add one more attraction, it will take 120 years to get four more!

TokyoMagic! said...

Toontown would be better situated by the Disneyland Hotel, for the kiddies to run around and play in. It looks too cheap to be inside of The Park.

Sue, I completely agree....Toontown looks cheap! And it would have been better over at the DL Hotel. They could have even made part of it an interactive water/play area, instead of the "Neverland" pool that they built over 20 years ago. Not that I didn't like the themeing of that pool. It's just that Toontown should have gone somewhere else. The parking lot would have also been a nice place for it, except that would have ruined the original DL parking lot. Okay, okay, enough with my Toontown-bashing! It is there, and it obviously isn't going anywhere in the near future. However, I guess we could always hope for a permanent "Tiana" or "Frozen" or "Jack Sparrow" overlay of Toontown. That would be awfully nice. ;-)

TokyoMagic! said...

For anyone who is following this post and might be interested, I just added a few more Toontown-related souvenirs, including a couple postcards with special postmarks, and a "game piece" from a Thrifty Drugstore & Kodak sponsored contest!

Anonymous said...

I have 1 of the wall clocks from the thrifty Disney promotion I know it's 1/200 made for contest originally the value was 65.00 what do you think it might be worth never taken out of the bubble wrap lol.

TokyoMagic! said...

Anonymous, I just did an online search, for a "Toontown Watch Wall Clock" as described in the list of contest prizes. Several Toontown wall clocks came up, but not one that looked like a giant watch. If I were you, I would just keep searching every so often, to see if an image comes up that matches your specific clock. Remember, even if you do find it, the price that the person is asking isn't necessarily what it's "worth." It's just what that individual seller is asking. They may or may not be able to get that price for it.