Let’s try not to rush right up to that backdrop too soon… From near the entrance of Cars Race Rally, the Toon Studio Plaza nestles neatly in the corner beside Crush’s Coaster, with two oddly-shaped curved planters either side, enclosing the area in the middle.
Did you notice the floor on these photos by Joel? None of that strange black and grey checkerboard here — this is actually more alike what we might have expected from the project over in the old Animation Courtyard. There’s still random shapes amid straight lines, but in pale red and blue paving and sandy squares, the finish is far more appealing.
Sure, the Imagineers working on the project really wanted a different look for the old Animation Courtyard area — a more professional, serious tone — but would a nice coloured floor like this really have been such a distraction from that idea? The cost may have been prohibitive, but the final look is nothing but Disney quality.
Speaking of Disney quality, let’s get closer to that studio gate. Overlooking the similar annoyance of the ‘Toon Studio’ sign facing the wrong way, we can get a better look at just how that confusing backdrop works. The back wall features the building Goofy has crashed into, whilst two pieces of a backdrop are then positioned at an angle to form the row of buildings. Characters can walk in and out of the area via the path on the right.
Along with Toon Town Skool and Laughing Academy, you’ll find Toontown News and Funny Business amongst the businesses located on the town’s Main Street. In the hills above, you might spot Mickey’s House from the actual Toon Town lands at other Magic Kingdoms. Along with Goofy crashed into the backdrop, this is one of a few clever character references throughout the area.
One of the most obvious references — yet one which many people might not have noticed — is that the Toon Studio Security booth clearly appears to be inspired by the captain’s cabin of Donald Duck’s boat, as seen in the Magic Kingdom attraction and the short film “Boat Builders”. As we saw inside during the last photo tour, a faux Cast Member costume even features his beak as the peak of the hat.
The Imagineers have filled the inside with endless clutter, from files, paperwork and a brightly-coloured (Sony) computer to Mickey Mouse ornaments…
…and somebody’s lunch.
Off to the right is the second photolocation we didn’t see last time, featuring a direct view of Mickey’s House as seen at Disneyland in California. As with The Incredibles’ photolocation to the left of the studio gate, this one could also be changed quite easily for a new film or series of characters to take its place.
At the moment, Mickey has yet to be spotted here. He’s still appearing every day at his trailer over in Production Courtyard — which was repositioned from the current entrance of the new expansion area here around 18 months ago. Will Mickey move over to his house at some point, or will it be left for the mischeivous Chip & Dale to overrun each day?
Whoever becomes the long-lasting attraction of this spot, the Imagineers have certainly planned for some big crowds. Whilst character locations elsewhere at the resort have been added as an afterthought, they’re now considered a key part of Imagineering, and an organised queue like this should put some comments to rest about the behaviour of guests trying to reach their idols.
Notice also a door into the rockwork of Crush’s Coaster, and the continued dark blue hue which now stretches across this side of the building. Silver hanging lamps have been added along the wall, whilse another twisted blue lampost is positioned here. Lights and lamps are one thing the new Toon Studio is definitely not short of, especially considering the lights around Crush’s Coaster and Cars, the neons of Radiator Springs and the show lighting pointing to Crush’s façade.
Slightly less permanent are these LED lights spotted by Photos Magiques. They’re a staple of many trees over in Disneyland Park around Central Plaza, but are these ones to stay forever in Toon Studio? They could simply be for the nighttime events of the Press Event on 16th June — if not, the Imagineers are planning well in advance. The park doesn’t open late enough to be seen in the dark until the deep months of Winter.
Photos Magiques also reports in their latest update from the land that the food truck positioned against the back wall has re-opened, selling mainly ice creams for the Summer season.
Here we are, June 2007. This is the month when the first new attractions at Walt Disney Studios since its 2002 opening are finally inaugurated and officially opened to the public. That familiar view of Disney Studio 1 from across the park will never seem the same again — no more wide, empty courtyards or simple showbuildings for attractions. There’s definitely a “New” Walt Disney Studios atmosphere now, so much that you might even begin to feel a bit of nostalgia for the “Old” park.
But not for long, eh? Enjoy the Toons!
You can find out more about the history and development of the new land and see a full map of the area before and after its transformation at our updated Toon Studio Guide.