This Week in Theme Park News: Mickey’s Toontown Gets Reimagined, Sesame Street Comes to San Diego, and MoreMickey's Toontown concept art courtesy of Disney; Sesame Street Place concept art courtesy of Sesame Street Place Travel Features theme parks
Let’s start with news that broke earlier today. Disneyland’s about to say goodbye to the current version of Mickey’s Toontown. A real-life cartoon world that opened in Jan. 1993, Mickey’s Toontown is being reimagined for early 2023. Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced the news today at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in Orlando. We’ve known for a while that a West Coast version of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway was coming to Toontown, and that it would bring some changes to the land, but this is the first Disney has revealed about a larger reimagining. The whole land will be closing in March 2022, and when it reopens in early 2023 it’ll feature not just the new ride but play experiences for families and green space for guests to relax on.
Some of the planned changes are detailed in a post on the Disney Parks blog. The first thing you’ll encounter when you enter the new Toontown will be CenTOONial Park, a greenspace with a large interactive water fountain and a sculpted “dreaming” tree that children can explore. It’ll also still be the home of Mickey, Minnie, and their pals, including Donald Duck and Goofy. I’d imagine the land’s outlandish cartoon-style aesthetic might be going away, though, as it always resembled Disney competitors like the Fleischer brothers and Looney Tunes and the fictional cartoons from the world of Who Framed Roger Rabbit more than Disney’s own cartoons from the ‘30s and ‘40s.
We don’t know what this reimagining holds for the only ride currently located in Toontown. Back in September Disney revealed that Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, a modernized take on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that opened in 1994, would be getting an update that will turn Jessica Rabbit from a damsel in distress into a more active participant in the story. Disney didn’t really touch on the future of Roger Rabbit today, but hopefully it can remain an anchor for the revised Toontown alongside the new Mickey and Minnie ride. We’ll no doubt hear more about the changes to Mickey’s Toontown in the months to come.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, Walt Disney World welcomed its latest hotel. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort—one of my favorite places to stay on resort at Disney World—has opened a new 14-story addition. The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve adds 349 guest rooms and 151 suites. It sits right next to the Swan and Dolphin, which means it’s a short walk from EPCOT, the Skyliner, and the restaurants at Disney’s Boardwalk. That makes it an ideal hotel for adults who want to experience some of Disney World’s nightlife. The Swan and Dolphin are great for families, of course, but if you’re at Disney World to enjoy the food and drinks at EPCOT, or stay out late at the Boardwalk’s dance hall, dueling piano bar, or amazing Abracadabar themed bar, they represent the best combination of closeness and affordability. And now, with the Reserve, even more rooms are available. Execs from co-owners Tishman and MetLife were on hand last Friday to officially cut the ribbon, joined by Disney and Marriott officials and a couple of life-sized mice you’ve maybe heard about before. The Swan Reserve is open and ready for bookings right now.
Finally, last Wednesday was the 52nd anniversary of Sesame Street’s TV debut. The TV show quickly became a pop culture icon, leaving deep impressions on every generation of children since, and eventually making the jump into theme parks with the launch of Sesame Place in Philadelphia in 1980. To mark the 52nd anniversary, Sesame Street San Diego, an upcoming park themed entirely to the show, announced that it had reached its latest construction milestone. The 17-acre park is a collaboration between Sesame Workshop and SeaWorld, and is currently scheduled to open in March. Expect a variety of family-friendly rides and attractions starring your favorite residents of Sesame Street, including Elmo’s Rockin’ Rockets and Super Grover’s Box Car Derby. There’ll be meet-and-greets, live shows, parades—all the stuff you expect from a theme park. The year-round park will include a seasonal water park, and annual passes can be purchased now. You can also bundle it with an annual pass to SeaWorld San Diego. I don’t know about you, but Rub-a-Dub Sub—“a bubbly adventure aboard Ernie’s toy submarine”—sounds like it just might be the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea replacement I’ve been looking for since 1994.
And that’s it for another week. If you work at a theme or amusement park and want to keep me and our readers updated on your latest news, feel free to reach out to me via email or on Twitter. And if you’re headed to any amusement parks this week, stay safe and have fun!
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.