Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Toon Town

By NicoleMarie

(My apologies for the creepy no-face pics!!!)

There are lots of things I’m NOT good at.

Throwing a football, for example. I’m awful at that. Really AWFUL at that. I’m so bad that even though my son can be desperate for someone to throw with, he knows to ask me is futile. It’s not that I’m not willing, but I’m just not able. Did I say how awful I am?

I’m not good at being organized, either. I’m much too laid back to fret over the details of things, and although I usually do a good job fooling people into THINKING I’m organized, I’m not.

But here’s one thing I AM good at. And that's taking TONS of pictures and video of my husband and kids, and our life together, and preserving them in a way that we can enjoy forever.

We aren’t a “take-the-pics-and-video-but-then-put-them-away-in-a-drawer-forever” kind of family.

We LOVE to watch videos and look at pictures of the past, and I am so thankful that of all the things I’m NOT good at, I have been organized and good about that. Of all my earthly possessions, I think my photo and video memories are the most precious.

What does that have to do with my trip report?

It actually has everything to do with it.

Because this morning in Disney World, the second day of our trip, the NMs were headed to Magic Kindgom. And the main goal for the morning was to take our last family pictures in Mickey and Minnie’s houses, and on the Goofy Barnstormer. Our main goal was to say goodbye to Toon Town.

Without me having a melt down in the process.

See, the Disney World roots don’t run deep for the NMs. I never went as a kid, and although my husband went once or twice in his childhood, we weren't in a rush to get back with our own children. In fact, when my in laws took us on our first trip to Disney, because they wanted their grandkids to see the Mouse, (ALL EXPENSES PAID IN A MAGIC KINGDOM VIEW ROOM AT THE CONTEMPORARY!!), we still weren’t all that impressed. I remember not really enjoying the trip, but just tolerating it.

I know. I’m astounded at my past ignorance, too. I might just call my mother-in-law right now and apologize AGAIN for not fully appreciating their generosity.

But what did come out of that trip was the desire to plan another Disney trip with just my family of four.

And on the next trip that I planned, that first trip to Disney with just my husband and our two small children, we spent LOTS of time in Toon Town. The kids were 7 and 4 then, and my daughter loved the kitchen in Minnie’s house. My son – a HUGE airplane fanatic – thought he was really taking flight on Goofy’s Barnstormer. So many of my precious early Disney memories are pictures and videos of my kids in Toon Town.

Though I don’t share a memory with the folks who miss Horizons, and I don’t have a nostalgic sweet spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade, I understand where those feelings come from. Because I’m saddest ever about losing Toon Town.

There’s a saying that goes, “the only thing you can count on is change.” That’s so true. And I don’t fault Disney for changing. For growing, expanding, and staying relevant in the tough economic times. I’m not mad that Toon Town will not be a part of the Fantasyland expansion.

But I am sad about it. And on that hot, June summer morning, my only order of business was to say goodbye.

As ridiculous as I realize that sounds, I wanted, I guess you can call it, closure. I wanted pictures of my kids – at ages 11 and 8 – in the same places I had those precious pictures of them at ages 7 and 4. I wanted to put the two pictures beside each other and look at the differences. I wanted to notice how they had grown, how their chubby little faces had become slim and more grown up. I wanted to see how my daughter’s legs now touched the ground when she sat in the chair in Minnie’s house. They didn’t used to do that. They used to stick out straight because she was so small. I wanted to see the kids sit in the same row in Goofy’s Barnstormer. Even though it wasn’t a comfortable fit like it used to be.

And I wanted to do all of this without allowing the big, snotty cry I felt coming on.

It was odd, how I felt. I’m used to being on the verge of a big cry at bittersweet events at home. They are a part of parenting. But not in my happy place. Not in Disney World.

I had that same feeling I had last spring when my daughter graduated from Elementary school, and was headed to Middle School - and only seven years away from going off to college. The same feeling I had when my son went to first grade last year and I knew the days of having a lunch buddy were over. The bittersweet mixture of happiness for the gifts you’ve been given, and the fun stages you are entering, but lots of sadness for how fast time is going. And a little bit of mourning for the time you'll never get back. The feeling of wanting to dwell on that for a minute, but knowing that if you do, the emotions might just overwhelm you. And not in a pretty way.

So I didn’t let on to anyone in my family that this was the only Disney experience I’d ever had that was making me want to curl up in a ball and cry for a little while.

I put on my Disney happy face and lightheartedly said that we were going to visit Mickey and Minnie’s house, and ride the Goofy Barnstormer since it would probably be our last chance. The kids were a little bit sad that Toon Town would close, but like most kids, they didn’t share the sentimental emotions their Mama was hiding.

We walked over to Toon Town and Roger offered to take a picture of me and the kids in front of the soon-to-be-defunct Toon Town sign. We then made our way to the colorful homes of the Main Mouse and his Main Squeeze. The detail in those places is fantastic. We walked through like we always do, taking the same pictures we always take. I had my daughter sit in Minnie’s chair, and I had her pose in front of the oven in Minnie’s kitchen. We used to love watching that cake bake. We exited the Mouse residences and walked over to the Barnstormer, which was a walk-on. I had the kids get in the car behind me so I could train the camera on them for this closing ride in Toon Town.

They screamed and hollered, albeit without the excitement they used to feel. Who can blame them? Expedition Everest and Space Mountain make the Barnstormer seem tame. It's a perfect ride for a 7 and 4 year old. Notsomuch a preteen and her big-in-his-mind little brother. So because the Barnstormer is practically over before it starts, just like that, our time in Toon Town was done.

I’d done what I’d come to do.

We got off of the Barnstormer and wound our way down the ramp onto the main drag in Toon Town. We had fastpasses to use on Space Mountain, and the little NMs were pumped and ready to get over to Tomorrowland. They had no idea that this exit was both literal and metaphorical.

As we walked away from Toon Town, my camera full of pictures and videos of our final hoorah there, my eyes filled with tears under my sunglasses. My lips quivered a little and I scolded myself for letting it get that far.

But the emotions were strong.

My kids are growing up. Life is changing. Disney is changing. There’s not a single thing I can do to stop it.

But I can preserve it in pictures, and I can preserve it on video. And no matter how big my kids get, or how much Disney World changes, I can curl up on the couch and watch our history any time I want.

And if I’m gonna be good at something, I reckon I’m happy to be good at that.


  1. Great post! I can throw a spiral pass but I can't scrapbook worth a darn :) I'm envious of your skills.

    We visited Toon Town for the last time in March. Even my older boys were lamenting the fact that our princess won't get to have Barnstormer as her first roller coaster ride, a family tradition we had hoped to keep. But, as children do, they perked up when they remembered that it might be a new roller coaster (rethemed to whatever) and that it will be different, but hope remains that it still be good. And, God willing, we will all be there together next fall to watch the little princess get on that roller coaster and take her first ride :)

    Thanks for sharing your family's memories :)

  2. Very nice post NM!!

    I think it is very cool that you have your own special piece of happiness within the vastness WDW has become. Let your kids know so when they go near there with their kids someday, they will always think, "That's Mom's Happyplace."

    My Grandma did that 37 years ago. Even today whenever I or one of my siblings walks to that area of Main Street, we always stop and say, "There is Gramma's spot." It gives us a chance to pause and reflect how great of a lady she was and how lucky we were to know her. Also, amongst all the activity and crowds of Main Street, it reminds us that WDW is awesome not because of what it is but because of the people we share it with.

    Uncle Goofy

  3. Great update NM!

    Love the nostalgia! It's always a bitter sweet thing when there are major changes to The World. Perhaps one of the most alluring aspects of the place is the way they manage to combine the allure of new attractions with a sense of timeless familiarity.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more. Oh and I just shipped you 1200 photos from our last trip to scrapbook together for me.


  4. Aww, I hear ya, NM. It is both sad and exciting to see our kids AND "our" World growing and changing. I still have mixed feelings when I look at the adorable pictures of my boys when they were little. They were SO sweet! But....then I remember how much hard work it was when they were little and I'm glad I'm past it. As I always say, "every age has its joys and challenges". With your wonderful kids, I have no doubt that it'll always be more of the former than the latter!

    We were never big fans of Toon Town. Now I'm feeling like I must've missed something......

  5. I understand the tears. Really, really.

  6. I'm not at all sentimental about Toon Town. Now, show me a picture of Butter Grilled Pound Cake (RIP), and I'll go to pieces. NOAlabama'sdefense.

    I'm glad you've discovered what you're good at, NM.

    Ash: responding to your comments on my TR, while Pukas are shells, they're small pieces of shell. So it's not like I was sporting a chain of shells around my neck. The picture I posted was the best shot I could find of me sporting the Pukas. Dude.


  7. First of all, did Z just hijack my post with more talk of PUKE? I'm not surprised. Not surprised at all.

    Second, it's not that I really have mad love for Toon Town either. As a "land" in MK, anyway. My sadness is only as it relates to the passing of time and not being able to go back there and see the place that my kids used to love so much.

    Steph, I wanna hear all about YOUR trip to the World!

    Ash, you crack me up sometimes with the kid talk, ya know that? The younger years WERE harder, weren't they? Physically, anyway. I think the older they get, the more emotionally challenging it becomes. And you didn't miss anything with Toon Town. Like I said, it's a sentimental attachment. Not an attachment to something awesome that shouldn't be torn down.

    GB. DED! 1200 pics? Dude, you need to get to steppin'. You know you can download those babies to Shutterly and click "autofill", right? That'll do in a pinch.

    Uncle Goofy - Nice thoughts! I've never thought of my kids walking into WDW (without me - sniff) and remembering me as they pass certain things. That's a sweet idea. Thanks for stopping by!

    Motherofboys! You can throw a spiral, huh? My son would think you're awesome. As it stands, my only contribution to my son's football career is making the highlight video at the end of the season. Thanks for your post!

    I appreciate all of you stopping in to comment. Means a lot!!


  8. One more thing...

    I started typing my comment a little while ago and got a phone call so I stopped, but left the screen up. My son came in to use the computer and all of a sudden I heard, "Hey!!! Why I am I on here with NO FACE! That's CREEPY!"

    Heh heh.

  9. NM sad: Uncle Goofy - Nice thoughts! I've never thought of my kids walking into WDW (without me - sniff) and remembering me as they pass certain things.

    And then there will be the times when they'll walk by a computer and say (with a hint of nostalgia), "Remember when Mom used to post just our bodies and blur out our faces on that website she loved so much? Man, those were the DAYS!"

    Heh Heh.

    NM, I think this may be my favorite installment of yours to date. That was some GOOD stuff, girl!

    My heart went out to you and I may have teared up a little myself as I was reading about yall's last trip through Mickey and Minnie's houses and your last ride on the Barnstormer. Because you put into words so eloquently EXACTLY what it means to me as well.

    I could SO feel your pain!

    When our daughter was two, she must have stood in front of that oven and watched the birthday cake rise about ten times. And watched, enthralled, as the rolling pins hanging on the kitchen rack rocked back and forth and clicked and clacked musically. To this day when I hear that sound on our vacation DVDs, it reminds me of being there when they were oh so little. And watching their faces fill with wonder over something that we wouldn't normally give a second glance.

    And although it has GOT to be the shortest ride in all of WDW, Barnstormer rocks! Mainly because of the memories there as well. So like you, I will be sad the next time we're there and Toon Town isn't. Glad to be experiencing something new, but sad that what we experienced so many times before is now gone.

    Thanks for taking me back there, my girl. I enjoyed every sad yet happy step through Toon Town with ya.

    And keep doin' what you're doing. One day those pictures and videos will be completely priceless. If they're not already.

  10. I almost heard "Sunrise, Sunset" while reading your post. I too am not in love with Toon Town itself, but I have some sweet memories there of my boys when they really believed in the magic...the Toon Town closure is just another reminder that they are growing up.

    We're going in early January. Hopefully, it will still be open so that we can pay our respects.

    Beautiful post. Thanks.

  11. LaLa sad: "And watched, enthralled, as the rolling pins hanging on the kitchen rack rocked back and forth and clicked and clacked musically."

    Girl, even in your comments on MY post, you still take me right there. I can hear that sound perfectly as I sit here in my kitchen on a Wednesday afternoon. Far, far away from Minnie's house... Thanks for your comments, friend. It's always fun to hear from you.

    crabbygal: Sunrise, Sunset, Wow! It's been a long time since I thought about that song, much less hummed the tune. I think we're on the same page. Toon Town is memories, but not so much a rockin' land in MK. Thanks for stopping by.


  12. Sunrise sunset? Did this blog suddenly turn Jewish? What's a couple of goys like you doing referring to the most Jewish movie ever?

    Now I'm in the mood for a good bagel and potato knish.

    Which reminds me. There is NO good deli to be had in Disney World.



  13. On our trip, we did stop at Minnie's house because I did know that it wasn't going to be around much longer. We don't have a lot of memories here, mostly because it was always so crowded to get in there and it gives Mike the heebie geebies to be so enclosed in there with a lot of people. But I got some pics of the kids this time, for posterity. Someday they can talk about how "back in the day" they remember Mickey and Minnie's house. DD wanted to see the Fairies in the Judge's Tent, but the wait was to next year. We declined that one.

  14. NM - you got me so verklempt over this chapter. We YAK's have many memories of Toontown and this August we past by it like it was already gone! I'm now upset with this because if I'd been thinking, we too would have taken one last tour (although my kids are 15 & 12 now)

    So many memories of Goofy's Barnstormer! One of them was on Mother's Day 2003 on Little YAK's actual 5th birthday. We were waiting on Big Sis YAK to ride Barnstormer for the 6th or 7th time (she wasn't a big coaster fan yet) when a CM came up to LYAK and ask if she could give him a birthday present. She presented him with a large bag of Goofy Gummies! Score for a 5yr old! He was thrilled and just typing it out brings those tears of memory at GB again!

    Big Borg on the video's and photo's. We have stacks of Disney memory books! I'd love to share yours sometime!

    Thanks again NM for bringin back Toontown. We will miss it too. Much like every time I walk by the area that used to house 10,000 Leagues....I miss that one! I wish I could ride it one more time. Ah change!

  15. Awwww.... so what I got from this is that Toon Town is your most favorite land in the MK. right? You think they are going to put the Barnstormer on Ebay? Surely they are not going to trash all of that good stuff!

    I was just given our family album with all of my Disney pictures from my very early years and oh how I cherish it! Your kids are going to have the best memories of their fun times there!

    Sweet sweet chapter NM! Thanks for sharing that with us! I'm not sad about the loss of Toon Town. It's not a part of my original Disney memories so I'm ok to see it go. Now, if they tear down Peter Pan I will be a royal mess!!!

  16. Ugh, it's been a crazy few weeks here between school and work projects - I'm way behind on trip reports! But I'm working on it. ;)

    "But I can preserve it in pictures, and I can preserve it on video. And no matter how big my kids get, or how much Disney World changes, I can curl up on the couch and watch our history any time I want."

    NM, you said it. While I'm not much of a Toon Town fan, any and all changes at WDW remind me of the fleeting-ness of time - the attractions and themes may change, but we'll always have our memories. :)