All’s Fair in Toontown Fair

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Since it opened in 1971, Walt Disney World has been an ever-changing destination. As new experiences are added, oftentimes that means older experiences disappear. Being a fan of Disney animation and of classic Disney shorts in particular, one of the Walt Disney World offerings that I miss the most is Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

Located where Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus stands today, Mickey’s Toontown Fair was at one time considered the 7th themed land of the Magic Kingdom. This section of the park originally debuted in 1988 as Mickey’s Birthdayland, a temporary addition to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday, before eventually getting reimagineered in 1996 as a rural counterpoint to Disneyland’s urban Mickey’s Toontown. This turned out to be a fitting choice since many of Mickey Mouse’s earliest cartoons of the 1920’s and 1930’s centered on a barnyard setting. However, to give the land a more festive atmosphere (and an excuse to reuse the large tent structures that had been used for Mickey’s Birthdayland), the land was given a back story that the county fair was in town and that Mickey was its head judge.

The sign shown here marked the entrance to the large tent that acted as the central hub for the land. The structure was home to the County Bounty shop as well as the entrance to the Toontown Hall of Fame, a meet-and-greet location that over the years played host to a variety of characters ranging from Minnie Mouse and Goofy to Winnie the Pooh to Disney’s Princesses and Fairies. Not content to create a simple sign, the Imagineers included the wonderful gag of Chip lowering Dale down with a fishing pole to steal a prize-winning acorn out from under the nose (beak?) of Donald Duck, reminiscent of their behavior towards the Duck in so many Disney shorts. The entire land was filled with such gags, showing both a great attention to detail and a deep affection for these classic characters.

Although Mickey’s Toontown Fair unfortunately closed in 2011 to make way for further expansion of Fantasyland, its spirit live on in the many references to Disney’s classic short films scattered throughout Storybook Circus (as well as through some of its tents, which were re-used yet again for the “Big Top Souvenirs” store and “Pete’s Silly Side Show” meet-and-greet location). Expect to see more of such Disney references from both from Storybook Circus and Mickey’s Toontown Fair posted here in the future.

Did you ever get to experience Mickey’s Toontown Fair? Share you memories in the comments section!

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