It seems to me that everyone in the Disney community is bidding farewell to Mickey’s Toontown Fair right now, and I figured I should also offer my thoughts. Ironically, until about a year ago these thoughts and opinions would have been totally different. But now, I have 2 small children.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been traveling to Walt Disney World for many years, mostly trying to cram in as much as we could into a single day. So, for a bunch of adults and teens, a kiddy land with no real rides was a waste of space in my mind. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew how to get to the land for the first few years of its existence. On longer trips (more than a day) with friends or family who had never experienced Disney World, I would bite the bullet and take them in to ride Goofys Barnstormer, and then quickly back out to the “real park” so we wouldn’t miss any more time on the mountains. Then three years ago, that all changed with the birth of my daughter, and on our last trip, I definitely see the value.
Firstly, I love Goofys Barnstormer, and I’m so glad it’s not leaving but just being repurposed. As a kid, I can still remember the first time I got to ride a “real” coaster, and it was one of those coming of age moments in my life. “I am finally big enough to ride an adult like ride, even if it is a smaller scale.” Now the Barnstormer isn’t a great coaster, it’s barely a good one. But on our last visit, Susie looked up at it and asked to ride. Now unfortunately she’s still too small, and I had to tell her not yet. You should have seen her face melt. This is a land for her, how could she not get to ride it? I’m just so glad that it will return in the next version of this land, and someday Susie and Mikey will get that moment where they’ll get to ride a grown-up ride.
Secondly, a closed in play area goes a long way. I never understood why this was so great. What I mean to say is, everyone has parks at home, why would Disney “stoop” to just filling in a space with some things to climb and slide on? Then I took Susie to the parks and I realized, if you spent the day in lines, hearing “don’t climb on that”, “stop pushing them”, “stand here”, or “no running” when that’s what you usually spend your day doing, you’d go mad too. We spent 30 minutes letting Susie run around the playground, and that was the wisest thing we could have done. Here, she was in control of herself, and she could run and do what she wanted, all the while, I could sit and watch her. Then she was a little more willing to stand still when she needed to, because she got to let out some of that pent up energy.
Finally, visiting the houses of the mice and then saying hello to them is magical. If you’ve ever gotten a chance as a kid or an adult to let your imagination go, and believe that this house is where Mickey lives, and that’s he’s just out back waiting to meet you, it will change your outlook on this land. I saw this in my daughter, as we wandered though the houses, and eventually got to meet Mickey and Minnie in the flesh. Susie was just ecstatic, and so was daddy. You could see her trying to envision him sitting on the chair, watching the TV. You could almost hear him singing as he worked in his garden out back. And then when you get to give him a hug in the tent, the image is complete. This was his home.
It’s funny how having a child will change how you look at things. Who knows if I ever would have spent more than five minutes in this land on my own. But now I can now truly say I am sorry to see Mickey’s Toontown Fair go. Farewell Mickey’s Toontown.