Disneyland reopens Toontown with inclusive design
Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Clarabelle, Goofy, Pluto and Pete stand outside Mickey’s house in the refurbished Cartoon City at Disneyland.
Visitors to the park at Disneyland in Anaheim, California will finally be able to return to Mickey’s Toon City 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 characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, as well as coasters for kids and play areas.
The reimagined Toontown honors the space that first opened in 1993 by keeping existing structures like Mickey and Minnie’s houses intact, albeit with paint. But there is also quite a lot of new infrastructure for kids to explore – with an eye on inclusion.
At its core, the Toontown update is based on intent. Imagineers designed a space for all children, creating accessible play areas as well as quiet areas and shady corners so that the youngest visitors to the park have a place to show off their accumulated energy or relax.
The renovated area, which opens to the public on March 19, is fully wheelchair accessible, including slides, and is visually and auditory accessible to children who are easily overwhelmed by loud or bright sensory stimuli. The entire ground has been repainted in softer colors, and in some places more subdued spa-like music plays.
“We want every child to know that when they came to this land, this land was made for them,” said Jeffrey Shaver-Moskowitz, Portfolio Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagination. “That they were seen, and that this place was hospitable to them.”
Shaver-Moskowitz said the Imagineers have spent time touring children’s museums and water playgrounds to see how kids are doing, and have developed different stations around the country to cater to different types of play patterns.
“We know that a day at Disneyland can be hectic and chaotic, with a person running from one attraction to another, from one booking to another,” he said. “We wanted Toontown to be not only exciting, but also soothing, relaxing and welcoming.”
With this in mind, Imagineers have created more green spaces on the ground, places for picnics, sitting and relaxing, or free play.
“We really wanted to take a look at Cartoon City, knowing how important it is to so many of our guests from generation to generation, and so many memories associated with this land, and make sure we don’t lose any of them. it,” Shaver-Moskowitz said. “But bring a lot of new magic.”
“We think about every guest”
As guests enter the new Toontown, they will pass through Centoonial Park. The area is anchored by a large fountain with Mickey and Minnie, as well as water tables for kids to dip their hands in and a “dream tree”.
The Living Tree was selected from Disney property for its cartoonish branches and leaves. Roots are sculpted around the trunk, over which children can climb, climb under them and crawl through them.
“One of the main play features for toddlers is learning the concepts of over, under, and through,” Shaver-Moskowitz explained during a nationwide press tour earlier this month. “So you’ll see that some of the roots are big enough for the little ones to crawl under, some of them can be used as balance beams for toddlers who are learning to crawl under them.”
(There is a wheelchair-accessible trail that also goes through the roots.)
Centoonial Park is also located next to the El Capitoon Theatre, home of Mickey and Minnie traveling by rail. Racers are invited to the premiere of Mickey and Minnie’s latest animated short, The Perfect Picnic. However, the jokes begin and the guests are taken away on the Goofy train to be immersed in the cartoon world.
El Capitoon Theatre, exterior of Mickey and Minnie’s train on the Runaway Railroad at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
The trackless ride has no height or age restrictions, allowing even the youngest Disney guests to join.
Continuing the journey over land, guests will see Goofy’s new playground, which surrounds Goofy’s house and includes a sound garden filled with musical bridges and melons, as well as Fort Max, a climbable club house with attached slides.
Shaver-Moskowitz said the roller coaster was chosen so that younger guests, whose legs are often less mobile, don’t get stuck at the bottom of the roller coaster. There is also more room at the bottom of the slides for guests who need time to get back into their wheelchair.
“We try to make sure we think of every guest here,” he said. “Make sure every little one who comes here to play feels like we designed the space for them.”
There is also a small cordoned off area outside where kids can crawl and explore the area safely.
Goofy stands outside his new how-to yard at Mickey’s Toon Town at Disneyland.
Goofy’s house has a series of games that kids can play to help Goofy turn honey from the beehives on his property into candy. Here, little park visitors can sort candies by taste and color and watch as the ball kinetic machine activates throughout the space.
Special care has been taken to ensure that the sound of air compressors pushing balls is suppressed, Shaver-Moskowitz said, to ensure that people with sensory sensitivities are not overwhelmed and can still enjoy their sensations. peers.
In a separate area next to Goofy’s new playground is Donald’s Duck Pond, a water fun for kids. The creators deliberately separated this space from the playground so that parents can better keep an eye on their children around the water element.
Donald Duck stands near the new duck pond in Mickey’s Toon Town at Disneyland.
Shaver-Moskowitz noted that the earlier design of the land meant that children would sometimes run back to their parents, soaked to the skin, wandering into the water play area.
Donald’s Duck Pond features a tugboat that spits out water, spinning water lilies, balance beams, and rocking toys. Inside the boat, kids can help Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby with a hull leak by spinning the wheels and levers to push the water out.
Pack for a picnic
The Imagineers have also updated the food in Toontown. New restaurants like Cafe Daisy and Good Boy! Grocers offer a wide variety of foods and flavors for young park goers and more mature gourmets.
Michel Gendreau, director of food and beverage optimization, explained that the team wanted to make eating easier by creating food that can be held in the hand so that it can be chewed on the go.
Daisy’s menu includes pizzas, hot dogs and rolls. Here adults can drink cold coffee or sweet tea with honey and mango. For dessert, there are mini donuts coated in cinnamon sugar.
“Children want to eat what their parents eat,” Gendro said, highlighting kid-friendly options for traditional pizza.
The Good Boy! Grocers, guests can pick up drinks, snacks and takeaway novelties. The roadside stand offers the “perfect picnic basket” with 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.
Baskets are set at different heights to allow even the youngest guests to choose their own groceries, giving them a bit of autonomy when it comes to eating.
Merchandise from Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland.
Park visitors can purchase picnic blankets, T-shirts, toys, and other Toontown-exclusive merchandise at EngineEar souvenirs.
In addition, encounters with fan favorite characters are returning 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 in the neighborhood.