After a year of being closed, Disneyland’s Toontown has fully reopened! The land added a brand new attraction, which opened in January, and reimagined most of its existing space. In this post, we’ll review the new Toontown, looking at its attractions, design and fit in Disneyland.
We’ll start with the latter, as Toontown has stuck out as Disneyland’s redheaded step child for quite some time. The land was first conceived in Magic Kingdom in 1988 before coming to Disneyland in 1993. Having six other iconic lands, as well as Critter Country which fits organically as an extension and is steeped in tradition, makes it hard for a new one to fit in. When that new land is based in cartoon architecture as opposed to the real world design of all the other spots, fitting in is even harder.
The landscape at Disneyland has changed since the 90’s though. The biggest of those changes came in the way of Galaxy’s Edge, an IP-specific land unlike all of the other broad themes. Toontown, specifically the reimagined version, does share a few similarities to Galaxy’s Edge. While Toontown is meant to be a broad space for all types of cartoons, it really is shaped around Mickey Mouse and his friends with Roger Rabbit doing weird stuff over in the corner. That is even more the focal point now that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the attraction’s fantastic queue are right in the middle of the land.
Galaxy’s Edge goes a similar route, albeit on a larger footprint, with the Millennium Falcon being the wienie. Having a relatable centerpiece, whether the Falcon or El CapiTOON Theater, is a good place to start for a somewhat IP-specific, character driven land.
Unfortunately, at least for this Galaxy’s Edge defender, that’s where the similarities end. There are nits to pick with adding Star Wars to Disneyland, of course, but even the most stubborn person would have a tough time arguing that the area isn’t beautiful with doses of realism. That makes the on paper stark contrast of moving from European, New Orleans or Old West architecture to a galaxy far away less drastic. All of those places have a lived-in idealistic feel. Toontown doesn’t.
Maybe that’s the point of the whole land? I mean Michael Jordan definitely thought it looked funny when he entered the toon world in (the based on a completely true story) Space Jam, so why wouldn’t I? To me, that makes the area look ugly and stick out like a sore thumb but maybe it’s just not my thing. I have the same problem with Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland, which has an elaborate backstory and each part of it makes sense but… It’s not enjoyable to look at!
There are attempts to ground the reimagined Toontown. Green spaces were added, somewhat successfully to the whole area including on both sides as you enter. Forget that some of the
grass turf is currently used for stroller parking. Imagineers were clearly trying to make this land feel like a city park. I think there’s an element of lipstick on pig to that, but it does help make the area more inviting. This isn’t Toy Story Land, which had no place to sit and no shade when it first opened. I think some lessons were learned from that.
One curious aspect of that green space in CenTOONial Park on the left side of the entrance to the land. This area is turf with a tree in the middle. Surrounding the tree are roots coming up from the ground. It looks fine but this is one area I don’t really get the purpose of. I imagine that the roots are for kids to play and climb on but they’re not big enough to climb and they aren’t small enough to step over. The tree is an homage to one in Marceline, where Walt Disney would draw under. That’s all well and good, just the roots seem problematic.
Moving past that and into the land is the fountain, which is also considered part of CenTOONial park. In general, if someone makes a fountain then I’m going to like it. I liked the other Toontown fountain, as well, but I’ve got no beef with this one. It’s a pretty fountain!
The highlight of the reimagined land (outside of Runaway Railway) is Goofy’s How-to-Play Yard and House. Starting with the former, the yard is a playground with some slides and funny gags including one about catching Big Foot. It’s bright, colorful and everything a small playground like this should be.
What I really enjoyed though was Goofy’s House, full of physical props and amazing pictures. The physical props and games draw everyone in, especially kids. Seeing how each little game interacted with the balls and pipes going overhead in the ceiling was really interesting. Maybe this is a little too much “Get off my lawn, I’m old” talk but I loved how there were no screens or interactivity used here. There was no reason to pull out your app or use a Magic Band. It was just straightforward fun. The photos show Goofy’s family through the years and are good for a giggle while furthering a story. Plus, who doesn’t love Step Brothers?
The rest of the land is a mixed bag for me. Donald’s Boat being a splash pad makes sense but I think the lack of water under the boat does hurt the aesthetic. Maybe that’s just water under the bridge though? I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Changes to Chip ‘N’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster look nice but this is still just a below average family coaster. The rethought coaster is made by the wonderfully named Gadget Hackwrench for the two chipmunks. I haven’t figured out why gadget is capitalized in that title. If anyone else understands please fill me in. Is it simply because of the Gadget Hackwrench character?
Speaking of being confused, the treehouse was taken out and replaced by some very Toontowny (if you care to read into this adjective the following definition might be useful – Toontowny: Aesthetically unpleasing) rockwork. There’s not really anything over there outside of some benches and an ugly, unthemed water fountain. While all of the other turf areas were in use by people sitting and kids playing, this one only had a few people around. Maybe that’s a nice place to escape the hubbub but it also looked like an afterthought.
From that dead end of Toontown, looking back toward the land is one of the better views offered. That skyline looks believable and still manages to be outlandish. I enjoy the colors looking back that way and the theater has helped the land fill out really well. There are positives to come out of the reimagining and I do think Toontown is more inviting as a whole. I think there’s more life in the land because of it being welcoming and more characters being out and about, which is a change I hope sticks around long term.
Because they opened at different times it’s hard to assess how much of an improvement simply adding Runaway Railway is to the land. While I really liked Goofy’s House and others are drawn to Mickey and Minnie’s, the pull they have to the land is a minimum. Same goes for Café Daisy and GADGETcoaster. The pull is the new attraction and Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Adding a ride that is the strongest in the land inside of a building that is the best looking in the land obviously makes Toontown much better! It just doesn’t necessarily feel that way because of the timing. But I want to be fair, the job was well done in that regard and I think that queue is maybe the best in the whole park.
Roger Rabbit’s remains a hoot and the sight gags and puns are prevalent and in working order. I would have liked them to do more work on Mickey and Minnie’s House but, to be honest, those aren’t my thing anyway.
That all brings us back around to the fit inside of Disneyland. Toontown’s attractions have clearly improved and some of the aesthetic is more welcoming and grounded. I like most of those changes, I imagine some others prefer the zanier choices prior to the reopening. When I’ve sat down to write and rewrite this post, my initial thought was a Toy Story Land comparison because I have no interest in being the size of a toy stuck in a backyard without shade. There’s some of that to Toontown but really I just keep coming back to Dinoland in Animal Kingdom.
There are great backstories to both, that many fans will point to for why it exists. Depending on your feelings for the campy Dinosaur, there are some very fun attractions in each. There’s also some subpar food in each! But I come out of Dinoland happy to be somewhere else because the rest of that park is so beautiful. I come out of Toontown happy to be back in the charm of Disneyland, with its snug footprint and constant motion.
The puns, zaniness and toon aesthetic feel like they’re antagonizing that charm, perhaps purposefully so in the same way that the roadside feel of Dinoland is the antithesis of the beauty the rest of Animal Kingdom has. Like some of the best cartoons, there’s a spoof and winking quality to Toontown. But in a theme park full of amazing idealized environments, it’s hard to suspend my belief and jump into the snark cartoon world regardless of how much turf they add.
What do you think of Toontown? Let us know, along with any other questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Attraction Reviews