Walt Disney Parks have always been disability-friendly destinations and the company continues to make its rides, attractions, dining establishments and grounds more accessible and inclusive for guests of all abilities.
As part of the Disney 100th anniversary celebration, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, recently unveiled its newly refurbished Mickey’s Toontown.
Toontown, which originally opened in 1993, is a cartoon-themed area that caters to young children and families. In Toontown, young guests can meet Disney cartoon characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto.
With more greenspaces, improved wheelchair access and thoughtfully conceived auditory, visual and tactile stimuli for visitors with sensory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorders, the area is now more welcoming than ever before.
To make Toontown fully accessible to wheelchair users, Disney has done away with curb cuts, added ramps and kept pathways open. A water play attraction includes interactive water tables set up at wheelchair height. Additionally, reports Disability Scoop, “a roller slide down an embankment hill will have a dedicated landing area where kids will have time to get back in their wheelchairs without pressure to get out of the way for the next slider.”
Likewise, the Dreaming Tree, which represents Walt Disney’s boyhood spot for daydreaming, includes a maze for climbing that’s wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
Visitors on the autism spectrum will benefit from designated areas where they can release pent-up energy, find shade, get away from crowds and noise, picnic and relax after an over-stimulating day at the park. Additionally, Toontown attractions such as Goofy’s How to Play Yard and The Popcorn Park feature calming soundtracks. Donald Duck’s boat is designed with hands-on sensory experiences. Toontown’s structures are painted in spa-like hues that won’t overwhelm guests who are sensitive to bright colors.
“We got a lot of guests who utilize our parks in different ways—who see, hear and feel our experiences in different ways and want every child to know that when they came to this land… that they were seen and that this place was welcoming to them,” said Jeff Shaver-Moskowitz, Portfolio Executive Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, at a press preview last month.
Toontown also has family restrooms and the EngineEar Souvenirs gift shop, which sells Minnie Mouse ears headbands specially designed for visitors who use cochlear implants.
Disney hopes that the area will benefit not only people with disabilities, but all families who need a place to rest and rejuvenate after a hectic day at Disneyland.