Disney History: Remembering Mickey's Birthdayland, Starland, and Toontown Fair

Minnie and Mickey have been victims of Eminent Domain! This was my first thought upon hearing the announcement that Mickey's Toontown Fair was closing its doors and being leveled to make way for New Fantasyland. On my first visit to Walt Disney World, I was fortunate to visit Mickey's Birthdayland, which opened on June 18, 1988 to celebrate Mickey's 60th birthday. By the time we returned six months later, the popular land had been re-themed to Mickey's Starland and as an adult, I was fortunate to make several visits to the expanded land that had become Mickey's Toontown Fair. Only the promise of a second "Dumbo" quelled the sadness that I felt over losing this childhood icon.

Mickey's Birthdayland ExpressMickey's Birthdayland Express

Visiting Mickey's Birthdayland in February 1990 was one of the most memorable experiences of my childhood. We arrived via the Walt Disney World Railroad (temporarily named "Mickey's Birthdayland Express") at the present-day Fantasyland Station, where we entered the town of Duckburg, named to promote the iconic DuckTales television show. We were treated to a show in which Minnie presented Mickey with a Birthday cake. This was the first time I ever saw Mickey and friends in person and it was pure magic! After the show, we had the opportunity to walk through Mickey's house and see all of the delightful surprises that the Imagineers had so carefully crafted for us. At this time, Minnie's house and Donald's boat were just facades. Guests could also meet Minnie Moo, a cow with a "hidden Mickey" spot at Grandma Duck's Farm.

Welcome to The City of DuckburgWelcome to The City of Duckburg
Minnie Helps Decorate Mickey's Birthday CakeMinnie Helps Decorate Mickey's Birthday Cake

When we returned to Walt Disney World six months later, Mickey's Birthdayland had undergone a name change. This led to the legend in my mind that we had ACTUALLY attended Mickey's real birthday party! Re-opening in May 26, 1990 as Mickey's Starland, much of the area remained unchanged. Of course, the birthday show had changed to allow Goofy, Max, and other popular characters from Disney Afternoon to be showcased. During the Mickey's Starland period, the Minnie's House facade became a real house that guests could walk through, just like Mickey's House! These houses were built using the same squish and stretch concepts that gave their characters such vivid range of motion and personality and I think that anyone who had the opportunity to tour these homes can agree - they certainly were packed with personality!

Minnie Mouse's Toontown HouseMinnie Mouse's Toontown House
Inside Mickey's HouseInside Mickey's House

By the time I returned to Walt Disney World in 2003 as an adult, the theme of this land had changed yet again and the land was now called Mickey's Toontown Fair. In 1995, it had been briefly transformed to Mickey's Toyland before being expanded as Mickey's Toontown Fair in 1996. In those 13 years, Donald's Boat had sprung to life as a Splash & Soak station, Goofy had his own roller coaster called the Barnstormer, and Pete's Garage had been added to town.

Mickey's Toontown FairMickey's Toontown Fair
Giant Magical Pumpkins GrewGiant Magical Pumpkins Grew

One of the ideas that had been presented to celebrate Mickey's 60th Birthday was to construct a giant birthday cake on top of the Carousel of Progress. I suspect that many fans can agree that we're glad that Mickey's Birthdayland won out in the end and sparked more than two decades of great character memories.

The Much Loved MinniemooThe Much Loved Minniemoo

As for where Mickey and Minnie went after they were served their eviction notice? Well, Mickey now meets guests daily at Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom and Minnie can be found with her friends Daisy, Donald, and Goofy at Pete's Silly Sideshow Meet & Greet at Storybook Circus. Goofy's Barnstomer still exists with an updated queue as the Great Goofini's Barnstormer. As for where they sleep? Well, I like to think that Cinderella invited them.

A big thanks goes out to Guest Author Holly L. for sharing a little bit of her time in Walt Disney World with us. If you'd like to read more about Holly's trip, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

crazycatperson wrote on Tue, 06/17/2014 - 15:30:

crazycatperson's picture

I imagine that, having first visited as a child, you would've had cherished memories of Toontown Fair and its predecessors that made it special to you even after you grew up. It sure looked like that kind of place - like It's a Small World is for me.

But my first visit to WDW was as an adult, and Toontown Fair was just someplace I walked through to get to the train. I never understood the attraction at all. Now I wish I could've seen it through child's eyes.

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