Mickey's Toontown is 13 years old as of this week and MousePlanet's own Frank Anzalone was there covering the ceremonies as a photographer. While today's article from David Koenig (link) looks at the decline of Toontown over the last 13 years, it seemed an appropriate counterpoint to republish some of Frank's photos and part of an article he wrote after the events of January 25 and 26, 1993.
Here is Frank's toontown story from 1993:
Toontown Opening Dedication, Disneyland January 1993
Journal January 25, 1993
This was my first experience participating in a "Disney Media Event." I waited two hours (in the midday sun) before the "Celebrity Parade." This parade was wonderful and I had a great vantage point. The first parade car to arrive was carrying Michael Eisner. He signed the official Toontown guest book and then proceeded through the special archway into Toontown. Many stars and personalities followed: Robin Williams (with the Blue Genie from Aladdin), Sally Fields, Whoopi Goldberg, Dan Ackroyd (and wife Donna Dixon), Candace Bergen, Danny DeVito, Ted Danson and George Wendt (I had to yell out, "Norm!"), Tom Selleck, Tony Danza, and George Lucas.
Mickey & Minnie wave as the enter Toontown for the first time on the red carpet. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
And at the end of the parade...
I have since found that much of the media just get the basic shots and then leave the area. I like to stay and just watch the happenings. Here was a time that it paid off for me. After all the celebrities had gone in to Toontown, the crowd disbursed and it got quiet, but then Mickey and Minnie came out from behind the scenes. The two most famous Disney characters walked though the decorated archway hand-in-hand... and "click!"... this was really what I thought Toontown was all aboutthe most famous Disney characters and the image was captured!
Journal Monday, January 26, 1993
I arrived early (about 8:00 a.m.) in Toontown. The press was starting to arrive and I decided to walk the new land. It was great fun to see all of the new architecture and attractions. As I was over by the Roger Rabbit fountain, I noticed this man standing there by himself having a cigarette. It was Roy Disney! I walked over to him to say "hello" and we had about a 20-minute, one-on-one conversation... a wonderful gentleman. Roy told me that he had recently read this book, Storming the Magic Kingdom, and he found it very interesting. He said he lost track of the details (but never the mission of the "Brain Trust") of what they were doing at that time. It was a very intense period. I, for one, am glad he had the "push" to do it! I then took a few pictures of Roy in a Toontown car... Thanks, Roy!
Mickey welcomes the celebrity guests to Toontown. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
The podium was ready for Michael Eisner and Harry Anderson (Toontown's honorary mayor) to dedicate this new land. The ceremony started and it went by so quickly, I hardly stopped taking pictures for a second. I took a few during the ceremonial speech itself but the best ones were at the end when all of the confetti was flying around. After the dedication was completed, most of the press got up and left. I know that it's just a job to them but I wanted to hang around to just see what was going on... and to suck-up the atmosphere and the excitement of the moment. Again, it proved to be a good move! I wandered into the courtyard area of the "Five and Dime" store and standing there were Frank Wells and Michael Eisner. I had the opportunity to walk up to Michael and Frank and say, "Good morning, gentlemen" and we had a few moments to chat. This was a special moment for me. They took a few minutes out of their busy schedule and I'll remember that for a long time.
The "Event" was a spectacular. The 'new land' was something different that Disneyland has not seen in years. The ceremony was quick but energetic and colorful and I was feeling pretty special being a part of the action. Meeting Roy Disney, Michael Eisner & Frank Wells, people that are not only Disney but Disney businessmen, was awesome, a special memory.
Celebrity guest Sally Fields on her way into Toontown. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Cheers star Ted Danson being welcomed to Toontown. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Danny DeVito mugs for the camera during an MTV interview. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Robin Williams, fresh off his success in Disney's Aladdin, brought his family. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Michael Eisner and Mickey Mouse drive up to Toontown together. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Whoopi Goldberg signs the guestbook as she enters the new land. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Roy Disney took time to pose for photographs. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Harry Anderson oversaw the dedication ceremony with Mickey Mouse and Michael Eisner. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Mickey and Michael immediately after Toontown officially opened. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
(Send an email to Frank Anzalone)
Frank is a mild-mannered marketing/advertising photographer by day, but his true passion is his professional band, Sage. His web site, mckyfoto.com, sports an impressive collection of Disney photos from his period as an official photographer for Disney Magazine. Frank has also published a book, "Images and Art of Santana Row", a coffee table style picture book of the grand new lifestyle shopping and entertainment destination in San Jose, CA.
Frank shot all of the photos for this article with Nikon camera gear. (Nikon D2x and D80 digital cameras with 18-55 zoom, 24-200 zoom and 80-400 zoom lenses, and a Nikon SB 800 flash for fill light).
Frank lives in Northern California with his wife, Karen. Premier annual passholders to both Disneyland Resort and WDW Resort, the Anzalones visit Disneyland and WDW as time permits in their busy schedule.