At Disneyland, what is Toontown?

Jessica Ellis

Mickey’s Toontown is a wild cartoon land often forgotten in the constant bustle of Anaheim’s Disneyland. Behind Fantasyland, visitors can enter a world of wacky, based in part on the city designed for the Disney film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Toontown is a fun and lively area of the Disneyland Park, but some guests consider it a neglected area in need of updates and general refurbishment.

Young boy eating an apple
Young boy eating an apple

After the unexpected success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Disney officials wanted to build an additional area that celebrated the cartoon theme rather than traditional animation motifs and stories. Plans to build the area as an extravagant section called Hollywoodland were shelved in favor of the more budget-friendly Toontown, which opened in 1993. The cartoon style buildings and interactive props were designed mostly for children, and many of the rides are considered excellent for younger riders.

The most popular ride in Mickey’s Toontown is Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. The elaborate dark ride puts a literal spin on the traditional Fantasyland storybook rides, by allowing riders to rotate their cars completely in either direction. As cars swirl through the story, visitors can spin their cars as much or as little as they choose, adding additional thrills for older or more adventurous riders. The queue area for the ride is famous for its Disney license plates, which turn movie and character names into license plate codes.

The Gadget Coaster is a small, steel-framed roller coaster designed to be kid-friendly. Based on a popular character from the Chip’n’Dale franchise, the ride is noted for its extremely small train cars, which may be tricky for more than one adult to squeeze into. The Gadget Coaster is the only roller coaster in the Disneyland Park to not be themed around a mountain.

Toontown does not possess many thrill rides, instead providing guests with a variety of interactive houses and walkthrough exhibits. You can visit Mickey Mouse’s home and play in Chip’n’Dale’s Treehouse. The architecture appears to be straight out of a cartoon world, with larger-than-life features and even a two-dimensional mountain range in the distance.

A main feature of the area is interacting props. Many doors, mailboxes and innocuous looking barrels will make noise or do something surprising when touched or pulled on. A mysterious button outside the fireworks store façade sets off a deafening explosion, while the doorbell for the glass factory building causes quite a commotion inside when pressed.

Toontown opened to considerable fanfare but has not retained much popularity. Even during its opening in the early 1990s, Disney films were staging a huge return to traditional animation ideals of detail and style. The cartoon-style that was popular throughout the 1980s had already faded by the opening of the area in 1993. Since it opened, Toontown has received few rehabs or additions.

The home of the cartoon characters is a great place to take young children, and usually considerably less crowded than Fantasyland. Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin is a fun and engaging ride, and should not be missed. Toontown often operates on shorter hours than the rest of the park, and may close several hours before Disneyland.

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Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - I hope they don't get rid of Chip and Dale and Roger Rabbit and all of those classic characters though. The whole point of Disney's Toontown is that it's based around the idea from Who Framed Roger Rabbit that cartoons live together in a strange world, and I'm not sure it would work as well if it was filled with sidekicks without the characters they usually accompany.


@croydon - I actually think the way to update Toontown is to look at the characters rather than worrying about the medium. They don't use traditional cell animation any more, but they still use that kind of character. Olaf from Frozen is an excellent example of a character that works with cartoon physics. Stitch from Lilo and Stich is another example, and he's even a main character in his show.

These characters are pitched to a younger audience, so Toontown would still be aimed at kids, but it would be updated to include some of the characters they are more used to, rather than trying to get them interested in more nostalgic characters, like Chip n' Dale.


I always liked Toontown, and I hope they never decide to close it altogether. I think it probably needs some work and maybe needs to appeal a little bit more to nostalgia, but it's an essential aspect of Disney and it would be a shame if it was no longer represented in the park.

I guess Disney doesn't really do wacky hi-jinks as much as they used to, but I still think there's a market for it.

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