• Sunday, July 15, 2018
The Evolution of Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom

The Evolution of Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom

Home to one of the most iconic Disney rides of all time, Storybook Circus seems like a true staple at Magic Kingdom. However, the area now known as the home of Dumbo has had a long history at the park.

Mickey’s Birthdayland

Mickey’s Birthdayland opened at Magic Kingdom on June 18, 1988 in honor of Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday. The land, meant to be temporary, was set up in an area of unused space near the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride and Fantasyland. As guests entered Magic Kingdom each day, they would hear Minnie Mouse announcing a surprise birthday party for Mickey over the park’s loudspeakers. “Partygoers” boarded Mickey’s Birthdayland Express (the temporary name for the Walt Disney World Railroad) and traveled to a new stop on the route in Toon Land.

Similar to Toontown at Disneyland, the Disney World version was themed around the town of Duckburg. With an entrance marked by a 60 foot tall inflatable Mickey Mouse, the town was full of pastel colored facades representing local businesses like Goofy’s Clip Joint Barber Shop, Daisy’s Cafe, Duck County School, McDuck’s Bank, and other shops that provided unique photo spots for guests. The town square was dedicated to Duckburg U.S.A. founder Cornelius Coot, with a fountain and statue in his honor.

Attractions in Duckburg included a walk-through of Mickey Mouse’s house complete with Pluto’s doghouse in the backyard, a playground, topiary maze, and Grandma Duck’s Farm. The farm was home to a variety of animals from chickens, goats, pigs, miniature horses, and the infamous Minnie Moo Cow, who had a large “hidden Mickey” spot on her left side.

The main attraction in Birthdayland was a large tent that served as the location for Mickey’s suprise party. Inside the tent, the land’s featured stage show “Minnie’s Surprise Birthday Party” ran from June 18, 1988 through April 22, 1990. The pre-show holding area played cartoons for guests waiting to see the next show, and the post show area featured a performance by Mickey and friends on top of a giant birthday cake with candles that exploded with confetti.

Food carts in Birthdayland offered traditional party snacks like cupcakes, ice cream and drinks and merchandise carts sold special Mickey 60th Birthday commemorative gear.

Although it was meant as a temporary spot, Mickey’s Birthdayland was very popular among guests and became a permanent addition to Magic Kingdom until it eventually closed in April 1990 to make way for Mickey’s Starland.

Mickey’s Starland

The Birthdayland area of Magic Kingdom reopened as Mickey’s Starland on May 26, 1990, themed around Disney’s Afternoon cartoons that were popular at the time. Maintaining the same temporary feel as Birthdayland, changes included replacing signage on the train station and renaming the train “The Walt Disney World Express”.

Minnie’s Suprise Party became “Mickey’s Magical TV World” with characters from the Disney Afternoon cartoons that were changed annually to reflect the Disney Afternoon shows that were airing at the time. The after show element allowed guests to meet Mickey in his dressing room.

Mickey’s Toyland

For a brief period between December 1995 into early 1996, Mickey’s Starland was renamed Mickey’s Toyland. All of the attractions remained the same, but a holiday overlay was added to the area.

Mickey’s Toon Town Fair

After Mickey’s Toyland closed, the area was finally refurbished to house a more permanent land, Mickey’s Toontown Fair.  The remodel included more permanent, established buildings and an all new backstory for the land. The new Toontown Fair was themed as the holiday home for the characters that lived at Disneyland’s Toontown.

Several new permanent attractions joined Mickey’s House walk-through, renamed Mickey’s Country House. A walk-through version of Minnie’s Country House was built next door to Mickey’s, complete with an answering phone playing messages from Goofy and Mickey, a cake baking in the oven, popcorn popping in the microwave, and a gazebo in the backyard. Donald’s boat, the “Miss Daisy”, was a water playground where kids could steer the ship, ring the bell, and dodge water that was randomly spurting out of the ground. The primary attraction in the Toontown Fair was the all-new Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm, a family friendly rollercoaster that takes riders on an out of control ride in Goofy’s plane before eventually crashing into his barn.

Other additions included new character meet and greet opportunities. In the Judge’s Tent guests were able to line up for their turn to hang with Mickey and his friends, and in the Toontown Hall of Fame there were several Disney princesses and fairy princesses waiting to meet their biggest fans. Also inside the Hall of Fame was the Home of the County Bounty merchandise shop. Other shops added to Toontown were Mickey’s Toontown Fair Souvenirs and the Toontown Farmer’s Market.

The Toontown Fair officially closed on February 11, 2011 to make way for Storybook Circus, which opened as a part of the New Fantasyland project.

Storybook Circus

The New Fantasyland project began at Magic Kingdom in 2010, which brought big changes to a large portion of the park. One of those major changes was the closing of Toontown Fair to make way for Storybook Circus. All the elements of Toontown were either destroyed or recycled to fit the new big top circus theme. The train station was completely rebuilt and the Barnstormer was renamed “The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer”.

The new land’s main attraction, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, was not only removed from its original Fantasyland location but was also duplicated to fit twice as many riders. The new twin Dumbo rides use an interactive queue, where kids of all ages can play on age appropriate play structures until their beeper goes off signifying their ride time.

Other features of Storybook Circus include the Casey Jr. Splash N’ Soak water playground, Pete’s Silly Sideshow character meet and greet area, Big Top Souvenirs and Big Top Treats.

Want more Disney World history? Find out how much Journey Into Imagination has changed over the years at Epcot. Explore Storybook Circus on your own with Disney tickets from tickets2you.com!

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