Disneyland Toon Town celebrate its 25th anniversary today and i thought that it was the perfect time to repost a great D&M article about the first concept for Toon town which at that time was called Mickey Ville. You’ll see wonderful artworks from Imagineer Hani El Masri who designed this version and who passed away two years ago, very unfortunately. Please click on each artwork to see them in big size.
It was the first study for a “Toon Town”, but much different than the one we know, as the architectural style was more “medieval”. For a very good reason: this Mickey’s Ville was supposed to be a tribute to Mickey’s “medieval” cartoons, like “The Brave little tailor” or “Mickey and the Beanstalk”.
Hani’s team was under the direction of imagineers Yoshi Akiyama and Bob Weis – yes, the same Bob Weis who designed the Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s America and who is now in charge of the huge placemaking of Disney’s California Adventure.
Here is a first rendering of the Mickey Ville project. For the design of this artwork, Hani was also slightly inspired by the architecture of Pinnochio’s Village.
At the entrance, guests would have find at the left of the porch a nice fountain with Daisy…
But Mickey Ville also would have include a “Mickey’s Music Store” with chimneys who looks like pipe organ. Inside the music store, CD’s, sheet of music, and all kind of merchandise items related to music would have been on sale.
Also envisioned, a “Minnie’s Candy” house, which looks like a real candy house, and was supposed to be…..that’s right: a candy store.
Another interesting concept was this “Donald’s Dock” where Donald’s house and boat were mixed all in one.
In fact , Donald’s dock would have been the departure point where guests would have embark in small boats for a little cruise on a small river all around the village.
But the project also include this beautiful Mickey’s Theatre – artwork above, on the top. Because the Oriental Land executives knew how popular Tokyo Disneyland is, they wanted a big theatre,. So, instead to design one big facade, Hani and the imagineers thought it would have been more interesting if all the facade was designed like a little village. With on the right side the house of Mickey and Minnie – not to forget Pluto’s doghouse.
And in the front, another cute fountain, with Minnie on the top.
The entrance of the Mickey’s Theatre was on the middle of this little village facade…
And inside the theatre, guests could have watch old Mickey’s cartoons – like “Plane Crazy”, Steamboat Willie”, etc..but also others animated shorts with Pluto, Donald, etc…
By the way, when i saw this Mickey’s Theatre artwork, it reminds me the facade of Mickey’s Philarmagic theatre at Hong Kong Disneyland. I remember when i was at HKD being surprised by the architecture, but may be HKD imagineers took their inspiration from this concept – who knows?
To come back to the Mickey Ville story, and always back in 1990, another team lead by Tony Baxter and imagineer Joe Lanzisero was working on another Toon Town concept, this time for Disneyland, Anaheim. And it seems that when the executives of Oriental Land Company heard about it, they decided to wait and see how this “other” Toon Town will look once it’ll be built at Disneyland.
We know the end of the story: Toon Town opened at Anaheim, everybody loved its great “cartoon” style, and so did the Oriental Land executives who decided to build it at TDL.
This marked the end of the Mickey Ville project, and Hani moved from one team to another to work with Joe Lanzisero’s team where he created the Toon Town concept-arts you saw yesterday.
Many thanks to Hani El Masri for his great help in the making of this article.