In 1988, Mickey Mouse had his 60th Birthday. As part of the big celebration, Walt Disney World in Florida opened a new land in the Magic Kingdom called "Mickey's Birthdayland." This area featured a chance to meet Mickey Mouse, a tour of his house, a Birthday show, and a visit to Grandma Duck's Petting Farm. This land was meant to be a temporary attraction, but it proved to be very popular. As you can see from this picture (from an issue of Newsweek), aside from Mickey's house, the land consisted mostly of tents (you can see the show building for the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride disguised for this photo as a flat, yellow-striped tent).
Mickey's 60th Birthday was a big deal for Disney, with all kinds of special merchandise, and items created with promotional partners. I believe this "Mickey's Magic Moments Mobile" was on a box of Twix. McDonald's had a "Mickey's Birthdayland" Happy Meal, too (a nice set of toy cars).
Of course, the birthday party could not last forever.
In 1990, Mickey's Birthdayland was renamed "Mickey's Starland."
The Birthday show was replaced with characters from the Disney Afternoon syndicated TV cartoons.
Mickey's Starland was pretty much the same as Mickey's Birthdayland, including the use of the tents.
For 1996, the land became "Mickey's Toontown Fair."
Mickey's house was remodeled to a "country house" (his "real" house was at Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland in California). Minnie Mouse got her own house (it replaced one of the tents). The other giant tents stayed, with one becoming a store called "County Bounty." Donald Duck got his own boat house. Note the large body of water on this map with the King Triton statue---this is the former location of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which closed in 1994.
Goofy got his own small-scale, kid-friendly roller coaster called "The Barnstormer."
If you are looking for a pressed penny for Mickey's Toontown Fair, they have one! They've also got Barnstormer merchandise, too!
This pull-back Barnstormer roller coaster car is pretty spiffy.
As part of a major Fantasyland expansion, Mickey's Toontown Fair will close for good on February 11, 2011. The Fantasyland expansion itself is very exciting. A new "Beauty and the Beast" section will feature an interactive Belle's Cottage attraction, a large Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston's Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts. A "Little Mermaid" section will feature Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid, which is a lavish new dark ride. Just yesterday, Disney officially confirmed the long-rumored "Seven Dwarfs" Mine Train coaster, a highly-anticipated musical adventure featuring animated figures and rocking mine cars (sadly, the "Snow White's Scary Adventures" dark ride is closing, and will be replaced by a Princess Meet and Greet).
Mickey's Toontown Fair is closing down to become Storybook Circus, the home of the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction (with two ride units to double capacity, which is great). Dumbo's new area will include the former Goofy's Barnstormer, which will be re-themed to "The Great Goofini." I had thought it would be nice if the ride had been changed to a Pink Elephants on Parade roller coaster. I'm relieved that they ditched the idea of having a clown roller coaster replace the Barnstormer.
It looks like Storybook Circus will also have----large tents. As a Disney fan, I find this to be incredibly annoying and even maddening. The Disney Cruise Line just got the new Disney Dream, featuring the cutting-edge "AquaDuck" water coaster, but Disney's flagship Florida park's iconic Fantasyland somehow cannot get rid of the temporary-feeling tent structures that have been in this area since 1988.
Hopefully these new circus tents will house something really impressive.
It would be great if the 1970s "Dumbo's Circus" proposal for Disneyland was revived here. This would have featured various Audio Animatronics Disney characters performing in a circus. Maybe they could use this idea as a theme for a retail location, with the characters as store fixtures overhead. "Dumbo's Circus" at Walt Disney World would be Elephantastic!