22 November 2016

All Aboard for Birthday Fun

Mickey Mouse celebrated his birthday last Friday with a dance party that spanned the globe. It was just one year in a string of impressive birthday events. Perhaps no birthday, however, has resonated with Walt Disney World guests than Mickey’s 60th. Celebrated in 1988, the shindig expanded the boundaries of the Magic Kingdom and gave visitors a whole new land to explore. That land was Mickey’s Birthdayland, and it had a very special way with which guests could gain access to it.

Guests would jump aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad at either the Main Street, U.S.A. or Frontierland stations. Announcements were made about the special surprise party that was being hosted in Mickey’s honor. As the train left Frontierland and made its way around to Mickey’s Birthdayland, guests could see special signs tucked away in the marsh featured a slew of Disney characters on their way to celebrating Mickey’s birthday. Guests would eventually pull into Duckberg, where the party was being held and the current resident of none other than Mickey Mouse himself.

Duckberg, otherwise known as Mickey’s Birthdayland, filled the vacant three acre plot between the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage and the Grand Prix Raceway.  The town of Duckberg was, for the most part, child or duck sized and came complete with its own gazebo/bandstand. That is to say the shops and storefronts, none of which guests were able to access, were all of the miniature variety. They made perfect photo opportunities for children who wanted to get their picture in from of D. Ducks Candy Shop, Duckberg News, Donald’s Miss Daisy, or even Scrooge’s mansion (as made popular by the insanely popular DuckTales at the time), but adults generally only used the facades as a place to hide from the sun.

Mickey’s house was also here, but was a full-sized, walk through attraction. Those of us that remember Mickey’s house from the Mickey’s Toontown Fair days, may be surprised to learn that the house is not the same one they remember. While the bulging columns and yellow color scheme that are trademarks of Mickey’s residence were there, the house itself was constructed to resemble a house that could have lived in any of our neighborhoods. His car, however, was the giveaway that proved a cartoon character must live here.

Guests could also visit the Party Tent, where the main event and stage show, Minnie’s Birthday Surprise, took place. Minnie had all of Mickey’s best friends, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale, ready and awaiting the arrival of the big cheese himself! The party was capped off with the earworm worthy, We Love You Mickey Mouse. From here, guests could also go and visit Mickey backstage for what was billed as an “unequaled photo opportunity.”

Grandma Duck’s Farm, home to baby chickens, goats, pigs, miniature horses, and, of course, ducks also resided within Mickey’s Birthdayland. The farm was also where Minnie Moo, the cow with a Mickey Mouse shaped spot on her left side, happened to reside for a time.

To leave the land, guests could make their way out a large fence, i.e. gate, and back into the Magic Kingdom near the Mad Tea Party or they could once again ride the rails aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad bound for Main Street, U.S.A. For me, the train ride to Mickey’s Birthdayland was one of the coolest things in the world. It wasn’t a land that was accessible any other way and, even if you happened to leave through the gates at the far end of Duckberg, it always felt like you were in a faraway land. A land where it just happened that none of the doorknobs worked…

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