Saturday, September 24, 2011

ToonTown - To Be or Not To Be

If you were someone who was making their first visit to Disneyland and had the time to see it all, at some point you would enter Mickey's ToonTown to check it out. So you pass under the railroad tracks and up the the little hill that puts you in ToonTown and you take a look around. Wow! Visually, ToonTown is stunning with color and whimsy coming at you from everywhere. There isn't a straight line anywhere in the place. But start to really take a look around and beyond the colorful facades, there just isn't much there.

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin is the featured attraction. I think it is the best dark ride in both parks (if you don't count Pirates and Haunted Mansion as dark rides, which I don't). It's the only dark ride that actually provides a fast pass return. The queue line, which is quite long but you wouldn't know it from the outside, is one of the best in Disneyland loaded with humor taken from the Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie. The ride itself is fairly long and entertaining. You are actually able to spin your ride vehicle around, but I usually don't because spinning detracts from the visuals of the ride itself. At least it does for me. So, ToonTown's Roger Rabbit ride is great - where to next?

Well that's where the problem starts. If you are an adult without children, there just isn't much to do. The only other ride is the Gadget-Go-Coaster which is a children's mini roller coaster. There's Mickey's house that is definitely worth checking out whether you are young or old because Disney has really done an excellent job with the interior. And who doesn't want their picture taken with Mickey no matter what your age?

There is a little food court that offers up regular hot dogs and really bad pizza slices from the window counters.  Everything else in there is aimed at entertaining children and even then, it might be a stretch as Donald's Boat and Chip and Dale's Tree House provide minimal amusement. The fore-mentioned Gadget-Go-Coaster usually has a long line for a ride that lasts about 30 seconds.

So where are we at with ToonTown? If you have children, young children, it is worth spending an hour or two there. Go to Mickey's House (and Minnie's though it's not quite as elaborate as the Mick's), have your children play with the interactive elements of ToonTown's "industrial" area with shocking doorknobs and other playful activities, and there's the coaster, the tree house, the boat, etc.

If you're an adult without kids, other than the Roger Rabbit ride and a quick walk around to take some fun photos, there just isn't much reason to even be in there.  You may enjoy the Five and Dime/Gag Factory store.  I think it's one of Disneyland's better retail souvenir shacks, but other than that, you'll probably beat it out of there rather quickly.  Mrs. DisneylandTraveler makes it into ToonTown every few trips or so to do exactly what is mentioned above.  If we happen to take a trip with a family member who has kids, we may spend a bit more time hanging around the place.

Over the years ToonTown has deteriorated because of safety concerns and is becoming a shell of its former self. Goofy's Bounce House (pictured above) is now closed. The Jolly Trolley (pictured below) is now stationary.  The up and down motion while the little train was running was judged to be, depending what story you believe, a safety issue because of the lack of a restraining apparatus.  It also required so much mechanical upkeep because of the hydraulics, not to mention train operators required to run them, that the manpower involved was not cost effective for a ride vehicle that only moved about 100 feet or so.

ToonTown is often a subject of hot debate on Disney forums and discussion boards. Many people would like to see it ripped out completely (maybe with the exception of Roger Rabbit) and replaced with attractions more appealing to all ages. Others think it's just fine the way it is because their kids love the place. Again, it gets back to having kids. It's a kid's land - kind of like Disney California Adventure's A Bug's Land but with less rides and more theming. One of the more interesting thoughts I had heard, and the one that gave me second thoughts to my personal opinion to have the place demolished, was to have a real nice counter service restaurant serving interesting menu options built in there and that is certainly doable. Who doesn't want a good place to get something to eat?

One final word about ToonTown, whether you have kids or you don't, it's worth taking a walk around there at Christmas time. Mickey and friends sure know how to decorate the place up and put their town in the holiday spirit.

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