Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He only got it part right – sorry Ben, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. The other certainty is change. Nothing lasts, and rather than fight that we need to embrace it. Walt Disney himself understood this better than most people. He realized that change is not a bad thing, but rather its something we should drive and press and flow with. Of Disneyland, Walt had said, “It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” And Disney World is no different.
One day when the world looks back at this week in Disney history they will reflect upon this as the time when Mickey’s Toontown Fair pulled up its tent pegs and moved on. This entire land in the Magic Kingdom was definitely one that people either “get” and love or don’t see the point of and always skip. I’ve personally always liked the special nature of this land. It is almost entirely directed at families with younger children, but at the same time it has factors that have continued to draw adults as well over the years.
The most important aspect of this land has been it’s core element – the meet & greet. For starters, if for whatever reason you haven’t found Mickey anywhere else in the Magic Kingdom you could always visit his Country House, and then head on into the Judges Tent. Inside, Mickey was always in to greet guests. And on the way there as you walked through his house the tent there are so many neat and interesting features to look at. Hidden Mickey’s, a kitchen renovation, Pluto’s Dog House. So much to look at, take in, and absorb. I’ve personally always loved the book bindings found in Mickey’s garage/workshop – all of which refer to various Disney shorts.
And if that’s not enough for you, other characters have often been found roaming the streets, especially near the Walt Disney World Railroad station. Minnie can be hard to find, but she has appeared from time to time over the years, even in her own backyard. After all her own Country House was found just across the street from Mickey’s. While I find that there is much more to look at and take in in Mickey’s house, I sort of always felt that with its bright pink theme that Minnie’s house has always stood out just a bit more when passing by.
In addition to being home to the County Bounty store, the Toontown Hall of Fame is where, over the years, you’ve been able to meet various groups of characters. Recently, the three meet & greet lanes inside have been broken into 1 for the Disney Princess (Aurora, Cinderella, etc.), another for the Disney Fairies (Tinker Bell, et. al), and a third “express” lane for guests needing assistance that want see the Princesses (the Fairy “express” entrance is through the exit to Pixie Hollow). Originally, these were broken between other members of the “Fab Five”, and with other Disney characters mixed in like Mary Poppins. For a long time, Chip & Dale could also be found here – as they are the absolute favorite of my wife, Cheryl, we always stopped here, and were sad when the Princesses and Fairies took over.
The Fair is also home to the Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm, one of 3 roller-coasters found in the Magic Kingdom. It is certainly the tamest of the three, and also the shortest. As this is Goofy’s home, outside you’ll find Goofy’s vegetable garden/farm, and inside you’ll walk through his workshop. On the drawing board and strewn about you’ll find all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. The general idea of the theming is that Goofy has “repaired” his crop-duster and it’s a bit out of control. During the ride you’ll move through a Goofy-shaped hole in one of the building walls and various other missing building pieces throughout.
There’s also Donald’s Boat which is a playground area for kids. Though adults can walk through as desired, there’s not a lot to really do in here if you’re not going run around and play. It is nice to at least walk inside and see where Donald lives when he’s in Toontown. While Donald’s gal pal, Daisy, lacks a home in Toontown, his boat has been dubbed the Miss Daisy as a tribute.
Always ones to hide a good jest out in the open, the Imagineers really came through in Toontown Fair with Pete’s Garage. Found across the street from the final turn of the Tomorrowland Speedway is where you’ll find this gas station and mechanics shop run by Pete. The joke? Being near the end of the track it’s a pit stop for the racers, and it’s also a pit stop for guests because inside you’ll find the bathrooms. I know, I have a terrible sense of humor. Sorry.
There are a number of little things I’ll always remember about this land, not the least of which is that it’s always been a great place to just come, sit down, relax, and people watch. I’ve also always been fond of the slight theme changes it gets during the various holidays throughout the year, especially on Halloween.
I find myself wondering just what will happen to all the little bits of eye candy found throughout this land. Will it be re-purposed, or will it all fade away. And after hearing his various stories over the years, I also wonder if Don “Ducky” Williams will ever get back all the little tchotchkes that he donated to help decorate the land when it originally opened as Mickey’s Birthdayland.
So, as the Fair ends, and the characters dismantle their vacation homes and move to other locations within the Magic Kingdom or even elsewhere in Walt Disney World, I will always look back on the fond memories I have of this land and the smile that it always brought to my face. And, since I do honestly believe that there is always a great big beautiful tomorrow, I look forward to Toontown Fair’s replacement Storybook Circus Land and the changes that it will bring.
What about you? Did you love Toontown Fair? Hate it? Will you miss it? If so, what will you miss most? Are you looking forward to it’s replacement? Excuse me, but after 2 cups of coffee I need to go visit Pete’s Garage.
Note: if you want to say good-bye to Toontown Fair with some friends, there is a meetup happening tonight, Feb 10th, at Magic Kingdom. This is not a TouringPlans.com event. Please contact Shane for more information.