Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Toontown Grand Opening 1993

It's time for another selection of photos from our much-missed friend Irene, her brother Bruce and his friend James. The DREAM TEAM. All of today's pictures are from around the debut of Toontown. 

This first one shows a sign at the entrance (in the tunnel beneath the train tracks), welcoming guests for a "soft opening" look around the newest land. I'm not sure if there was anything for guests to do - were any rides ready to enjoy? Could you grab a snack anywhere? And most importantly, what about the bathrooms? 

The next three are from the actual opening ceremonies, which apparently took place on January 24th, 1993, and not January 26th as the sign in the previous photo indicated. I'm sure many die-hard Disneyland fans were there, but I have to admit that the decor looks rather chintzy... a few balloons, some (plastic?) checked flags, and... that's about it? Way to pull out all the stops! Was Eisner there? Presumably this ceremony is on YouTube, but I'm very sleepy and don't want to look.

Whoa, party streamers! That's more like it! This is the most fun celebration ever and I hope I don't faint.

And finally, I really like this last view, taken from inside Toontown, looking back toward the rest of the old Disneyland that nobody likes anymore (because it's old). It's funny, I recognize the man with the hat (in the foreground to the left) just from my days of haunting Disneyland message boards. I'm not sure I should say his name (you never know), but that just shows how tight some of those online communities used to be.

MANY THANKS to the Dream Team!


JB said...

As soon as I read the title of today's post I knew it was from the Dream Team. The grand opening of Toontown is the sort of event that Bruce and his friend James could be relied on to document.

I do like the red, yellow, and blue balloons arranged like topiaries (or something). Was Wonder Bread a sponsor of Toontown? Actually they sort of remind me of Willy Wonka's Everlasting Gobstoppers.

Somebody bring Major some smelling salts; the party streamers are just too much for him, being the delicate creature that he is. I have to admit that these photos are colorful and cartoony.

The backlighting in the last pic really makes those balloons glow! (I'm all about the balloons today). In fact, everything is aglow! People, trees, mountains... somebody hand me Major's smelling salts; I'm feeling a little weak at the knees.

Thanks, Major. And thanks to our friend, Irene and the rest of the Dream Team.


That “welcome to TOONTOWN “ sidewalk sign is pretty amazing ………..for someone who has never painted a sign in their life!! … there ! I said it! Somebody had to.

TokyoMagic! said... is it possible that this was 30 whole years ago? Scary! I like these photos for their vintage-ness, but I have never been a fan of Toontown. The only decent thing over there was Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, and they didn't even open that until 12 months later. Of course now, there is that new ride, which doesn't look too bad in YouTube videos, but took them 30 years to add something new to that land.....a land that was already majorly lacking in attractions. I guess that means in another 30 years, Wookie World might get another attraction.

Major, I recognize that guy, too. I met him during one of the early "Dapper Days" events at Disneyland.

Thank you Irene, Bruce, James, and Major!

Chuck said...

That last photo just screams "Southern California" to me (you all can hear it, too, right? Right?). Shorts and t-shirts in January, although there are plenty of sweatshirts around, too. The Old Farmer's Almanac says the high that day was 79° F, so it all makes sense to me.

That guy looks familiar to me, too, and I have no idea who it is. I wonder if I ran into him at Disneyland at some point in the mid-'90s, or maybe at some railroad event (there's a lot of cross-pollination between the communities).

All of the decorations are pretty underwhelming, but about what could be expected for the era. Still, it must have been pretty exciting to have been present for the opening of the first new land at Disneyland since 1972. Glad Bruce & James were there to document the day.

Nice to see more from the Dream Team. Hard to believe we lost Irene a year ago this Friday. She is definitely missed.

Anonymous said...

It looks fun, but that last picture has a "now what?" feel to it.
I had that feeling when MGM Studios first opened. Cool! what?
It's nice to see the Dream Team stiil being represented! Thabks, Major!

Anonymous said...

Darn it! That was Stu!

JG said...

Thanks to the Dream Team, your efforts live on.

Toon Town was the “Big It” when we first visited with our toddler kids. I’m fuzzy on the actual dates, but it must have been much later since we waited hours for Roger Rabbit. And we would have waited even longer if it hadn’t been open.

Like many of us, I never liked Toon Town, the Reality. Good Concept, insufficient follow-through and never enough trees or landscaping. Hot, hot, hot, and nowhere to sit. Poor food options etc. but it lived up to the weak opening ceremony, so there’s that. I don’t think either of the kids are nostalgic for it like they are for star tours and Indiana Jones. I never bothered to go there at all on my last 2 visits. I hope they have improved it since the Park needs places for small children to play.

I sure like that pic looking back into Old Disneyland. That’s a good angle. I don’t know the guy in the hat.

Thanks Major.


Bu said...

Thanks to Irene and the Dreamteam for the photos! Toontowne or Toontown is 30. Wow. I am just as appalled now as I was then...just a wee too plastic-ee for me. Although the wee ones love it, and I suppose I am not the target market anyway. So poo poo to me! I am finding a lot of nostalgia in the RCA video camera however. I had one was gigantic like a TV studio thing...and so very heavy. It never even made it to Disneyland, or anywhere for that matter. The green field that Toontown took over was lovely, with beautiful kind of lumpy rolling grass. It was a particular species, and I've seen it in the wild too: but only in California. My hope in the day was that area would become something else...and certainly, the Company's IP could support an entire bevy of new dark rides: which is where Pooh and Tiana should be hanging out in. (For another time.) I would take a Mary Blair/Rolly Crump extension to it's a small world. Not an extension of the ride...which is quite long enough, thank you...but a whole other thing...not sure...and not the Circus land...and that's just me because clowns and circus folk kind of freak me out. I recognize hat guy too....and the guy with him...hmm... Irene is up there enjoying her vintage Disneyland and Knott's! I just ordered a real boysenberry pie from the real Boysen family. The ONE Boysenberry I got this year from my Rudy Boysenberry plant was much a much different taste than any berry I've ever had. Berry bushes need a few years to bear heavily, so I'm looking forward to Summer '24 to make my own pie. More reports to come...Thanks Major.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-
Jason's Almanac says the high temperature was 80°; so oddly the Farmer's Almanac was essentially correct. I don't remember my first visit to Toontown, but I might've been there on opening day. I DO remember riding Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin - the only really interesting attraction. Ultimately, the place was for little kids; but more important, the area did look as if "every expense was spared". (The shape of things to come, evidently).

Thank you Dream Team.

Anonymous said...

Sad that it took so many years to 'plus' the land. The question is...what is the opinion of today's Toontown? Many thanks to the Dream Team! KS

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, it’s true, Toontown does not tend to show up on GDB unless it is from Irene and her team. Eh, the balloons look OK, but very cheap by Disneyland standards. “Send someone to Party City immediately! But don’t spend more than $50”. I don’t know what I would expect from a place called Toontown, but… not this.

Mike Cozart, I was wondering if that sign was even hand-painted. By then could they print a sign via inkjet?

TokyoMagic!, I know, it is incredible that this was 30 years ago, it sure doesn’t seem like it. I was a fan of the Roger Rabbit movie and intrigued at the idea of a Toontown, but the reality was a disappointment. I agree with you, other than the Cartoon Spin, there’s no reason for me to go there (though the new ride does look worthwhile). As for that guy, the one time I went to Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park, he was there as a volunteer. I almost wanted to tell him, “I have a picture of you!”. And then I’d run away laughing.

Chuck, 79ยบ in January is icky to me. I like some cool (if not cold) weather during the winter, but we’ve had hot Thanksgivings, unfortunately. If you looked at Disneyland-related websites back in the ‘90s, you might have seen that guy just as I did. I’d love to go back and read some contemporary accounts of what the fans thought of Toontown back in the day… for a lot of them, it’s hard to judge objectively because they are so darn excited in the moment. And YES, Irene is missed.

Anonymous, I guess they could go for a ride on the Jolly Trolly, which still worked then. Not for long though.

Anonymous, how do I KNOW this is Stu?

JG, I still enjoy the Cartoon Spin, though I tend to time it so that Toontown is closed (for fireworks I guess) when I want to head over there. It’s a fine dark ride. It sure would have been nice if they’d planted a few trees or figured out a way to provide more shade. And I didn’t even know there were ANY food options back there. With the new Mickey runaway train ride, at least there is another incentive to walk under the train tracks at the back of the park.

Bu, Disney animated movies never had those crazy “un-square” buildings, in fact I always thought that the background paintings for the short cartoons of the late 30s and into the 40s are so beautiful, but definitely more realistic. It was Fleischer cartoons that really epitomized the “crazy cartoon” look. I’m glad that people love visiting Mickey and Minnie in Toontown, but that has no appeal to me. Can they visit Donald and Goofy too? I’m not even sure. I think we are stuck with Toontown for the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t mind if they put more fun stuff in there. It really is a snooze, especially once you’ve seen it already. Yeah, Circus Land doesn’t sound that great, but “never say never” I guess - they might surprise us. Wow, only one boysenberry? That’s a bummer. Hopefully you’ll have some hot humid weather, enough for your berries to produce lots of fruit.

Nanook, another problem with Toontown seems to be the fact that the paint tends to fade, especially on the “hillsides”, which really makes the place look neglected and a little seedy. Maybe that’s appropriate, as it is a bit seedy in the movie.

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I haven't been to Toontown since it has been redone (with the new ride), but my guess is that my general opinion won't be that different!

JG said...

Major, as you know, Mrs. G is a stickler for healthy food, and especially for the kids. Our first visits to the Park in the 90's found it difficult to find something for them that wasn't french fries and greasy burgers and that's what ToonTown offered then.

Since then, Park food has really gotten much much better, with plenty of healthy options for prepared meals and fresh fruit for snacks etc. albeit at astronomical prices. I think the Bengal Barbecue is the best option other than the Blue Bayou, oddly both are "BB" names, but good food is easier to get now.

My biggest beef with ToonTown now is that the so-called "imagineers" are turning the whole Park into ToonTown.


Bu said...

I wouldn't mind going on Blue Bengals Bayou Barbecue. Perhaps a little swampy, but delicious!


Tokyo: not only that regarding attractions …. IT LOST ATTRACTIONS!!! …..the TOONTOWN TROLLEY and the ACORN CRAWL….’
TOONTOOWN always felt like a “bad touch” it really didn’t belong there. ….. and there were so many contrived and convoluted backstory’s then marketing grabbed on to the one that “it was always there and Mickey told Walt that he should build Disneyland next to it!!” …… yeah and the decree that there “be no straight lines “ …. Tacky….

TOOTTOWN was a Eisner forced-land …. Imagineers had been working on a possible area very similar to TOOTTOWN as an extension of Fantasyland … to house Tokyo DL’s MICKEY MOUSE REVUE and bringing it to Disneyland …. This was when Oriental Land Company decided to close the attraction ( originally built for WDW) …. There was also Scrooge Mc Duck Bank Coin Crawl …this project was shelved when OLC delayed the Mickey Mouse revue removal . Eisner wanted a Hollywood Blvd .. / HOLLYWOODLAND brought to Disneyland and and this concept flipped flopped with a without a “toon studio” section …. Eisner wanted a Disney Afternoon TV presence in the park … and a Roger Rabbit presence … Eisner was desperate to beca “father “ of a popular Disney character ….. “Roger rabbit” … “Marsupilami “ and other failures … to catch on .. a proposal to change the Fantasyland Autopia to TOON-TOPIA ….. a Roger Rabbit Themed auto race … through a toon scape. They was also plans to create a TOONTOWN theme locker area that would be a segue corridor between Main Street USA and New Tomorrowland….

Even TOONTOWN had things cut away early on … the Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin was designed as a two level ride … and the second level was cut back to a single level … after the exterior show building’s upper exterior track area already build ( when the power house explosion blasted cab riders out into the open … then the cab vehicles crashed back into the skylites of the glass works….backing inside….

Eventually all these mish-mosh ideas got shoved into TOONTOWN …. Despite the “toon” elements , the film WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was NOT a child friendly film… it was sexual in tone and made for adult audiences…. So you right from the start have an odd disconnect of children’s afternoon tv - traditional Disney animated shorts characters … and adult themes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit…
Adults were unfamiliar with the TV toons … why does Mickey and Minnie , goofy and Donald live here in Homes thst look like them ??and kids didn’t get the inside jokes and theming of 1930’s and 1940’s a animated atmosphere and music .

Also ….. as I’ve mentioned before … TOONTOWN and Fantasmic was created with the budget for the never built TOMORROWLAND 2055….

GALAXYS EDGE took away money intended for a Tomorrowland fix …

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I have heard that there are many more healthy options at the park, including vegetarian selections for those who don’t eat meat, which is nice. I’m OK with a burger, but you are lucky to have Mrs. G looking out for your health! Many folks rave about the Bengal BBQ, but I have never eaten there. Someday! And yes, making the whole park cartoony is not as great as some people might think.

Bu, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Mike Cozart, I feel like I can imagine a Toontown that would work better than what we got. Even the “no straight lines” thing could have worked if it was reigned in just a little. Look at all of those beautiful Disney short subjects from the late 1930s and 40s, they do not have the crazy curves and leaning buildings that TT has. I wonder why Eisner was so hot on the idea of “Hollywoodland”? I guess it was related to the DCA concept, which as we all know was pretty flawed from the get-go. I’m still bummed that they closed the Trolley forever, but the “ball crawl”… after reading about how filthy those things get, I’m OK with that one going away! A Disney Afternoon presence could have been fun, imagine a well-done Duck Tales attraction! I watched many afternoons and am still shocked that we don’t have Scrooge McDuck and the nephews in some sort of an adventure ride. Wow, bummer that we did not get the version of Cartoon Spin with two levels, that would have been awesome. Another great idea sacrificed due to budget. My guess is that a lot of kids saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit in spite of its more adult themes - I’m assuming that the spicier elements probably went over their heads. But maybe not? I didn’t even know that some TV show had Mickey, Donald, and the others living in homes that looked like them, and here we are 30 years into TT!