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Fridays with Jim Korkis: Walt Disney World and Mickeyville



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

MICKEYVILLE

By Jim Korkis

Imagineer Marty Sklar always said that Imagineering never threw away any good ideas, but kept them on file to re-use later. Some people think those good ideas all appeared at Disneyland, but several of them originated at Walt Disney World and were later incorporated not only into Disneyland but Disney theme parks worldwide.

Mickey’s Birthdayland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World opened on June 18, 1988, and was intended to be just a temporary land to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday and have a dedicated location where guests could meet the world’s most famous mouse. Most of the structures in the land were just simple temporary facades.

However, it became so popular that it was updated to Mickey’s Starland in 1990 and shortly after inspired not only the creation of Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland but also an area for Tokyo Disneyland that was never built.

(c) Disney

Tokyo Disneyland has limited room for expansion but continually wanted to add new things. At one time, the Oriental Land Company that owns the park was seriously considering adding a Mickeyville long before the idea of Disneyland’s Mickey’s Toontown was proposed.

The original contract with Oriental Land Company allowed them to pick items for Tokyo Disneyland from both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Roughly a year after opening Tokyo Disneyland, the Oriental Land Company was intrigued by what Walt Disney World had done.

The idea of having a dedicated area where guests could meet the costumed characters was appealing, so two Japanese designers and American Imagineer Bob Weis started doing concept work for Tokyo Disneyland’s version of the Walt Disney World area that would be called Mickeyville.

Mickeyville (to be located in the Tokyo Disneyland spot of land between Autopia and Small World) would have been based on a medieval theme using Mickey Mouse’s appearances in films like The Brave Little Tailor (1938) and Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947). Interestingly, that design work also inspired the creation of Sir Mickey’s Boutique in Disneyland Paris and later the Sir Mickey’s store at the Magic Kingdom in 1996.

The cobblestone walls and tile roofs in the artwork for Pinocchio (1940) was used as an architectural reference for Mickeyville.

Houses of various Disney animated characters would be built. Some would just be facades, while others would offer guests the opportunity to come inside and explore, such as Donald Duck’s houseboat.

The location of Donald Duck’s houseboat would have also served as a dock for the land’s only ride, for which elaborately carved wooden boats would have taken guests on a leisurely watery journey through the land.

There would have been a Minnie’s Candy Palace that looked like it was made of different candy and Mickey’s Music Store with a musical instrument decorated façade that sold CDs, sheet music and more. A large indoor Mickey Theater was to be built to showcase the elaborate stage shows popular at the park.

With a number of delays in proceeding, the Oriental Land Company discovered that a team of Imagineers at the Walt Disney Company was developing an elaborate Toontown concept inspired by Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Starland and so decided to wait to see how that evolved. When it became a success, Tokyo Disneyland went with a version of that land in1996 that saved the Oriental Land Company both time and money.

And, of course, Walt Disney World later upgraded to Mickey’s Toontown Fair, a version of Disneyland’s Mickey’s Toontown. Mickey’s Toontown Fair was closed in 2011 and replaced by parts of New Fantasyland and Storybook Circus.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt: Volume 10: Final Edition  Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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