1992 may not have been the most “original” year in Disneyland history (even the “original” promotion had been carried over from 1991), but the end of the year saw two new venues open in the northernmost part of the happiest place on earth. On November 25, the new Toontown Railroad Station opened, and on December 18 the it’s a small world Toy Shop followed. Both are still with us, thirty years later.
Guests approaching this end of the park had a clear view of the bright yellow station with the steeply pitched red roof. Trees had not yet grown densely in front of and behind the building. It replaced a simple platform that had been built to accommodate guests traveling the Disneyland Railroad to the Videopolis dance club of the 1980s.
Moving closer, one could see the platform and water tower, which added a lot of much needed ambience to this outlying area of Fantasyland.
A closer look revealed that, although the station was open, there was still some work to be completed. Those work ladders on the water tank were not possibly whimsical enough for Toontown.
When completed, the water tank featured the appropriately cheerful silhouette of the world’s most famous mouse. And it included a ladder that would make Goofy proud.
A view from the center exit of the Videopolis seating shows the first of what would be many generations of parked strollers. You could also see the extent of the station platform, located on the right hand side of the station, to the east.
Looking at the station from the further exit from the stage gave a clear view of the varying rooflines that were employed in this relatively small structure. One can also see the brand new, somewhat sparsely planted landscape.
Welcome to Toontown Station, gateway to the Videopolis Stage, it’s a small world, and Fantasyland. (More to follow in January of 1993!)
Just a stone’s throw from the new station, a large green construction fence had been in place for much of 1992. The addition of a prominent sign late in the year finally revealed just what had been built behind that wall. It is the official it’s a small world Toy Shop.
The shop replaced the original entrance to it’s a small world, which had been in place ever since the attraction opened to the public in May of 1966. Guests walked up a short ramp, through the small pavilion with the gold and white striped roof, and descended a staircase into the center of the two flumes where the boats were loaded. At the end of their voyage, small world travelers exited to the outside platforms on each side, and exited to the east via the long ramps on the north and south of the flume. (This photo is from late 1991.)
During construction, guests entered and exited via the ramps.
This was the view for much of 1992. Not only was the Toy Shop added, but the entire attraction was given a new pastel-hued color scheme.
And here it is, all new and shiny, less than a month after the opening of the neighboring train station.
From this slightly different angle, you can see that guests now exit up the staircase that had previously served as the entrance to the attraction. It seemed arbitrary… until long term guests realized that the new route meant that families leaving small world would be literally exiting through the gift shop!
This nighttime view from December of 1992 shows the main entrance to the shop, and a glimpse of the now colorful facade.
The Mattel logo was given prominent placement on the sign over the door. This represented another important change in Disneyland history. Mattel had been successfully wooed as the corporate global sponsor for Disney’s it’s a small world, all over the real world. This meant that Disneyland’s long-time sponsor, the Bank of America, had to go.
For some Disneyland traditionalists, this was a puzzling and even unwelcome change. Bank of America had been a part of Walt Disney Productions going back to the studio’s earliest days. It was a timely loan, arranged by Walt Disney himself, that had assured the completion of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930s. The first color map of Disneyland had been provided to guests in a souvenir brochure, distributed free of charge at the Disneyland branch of the Bank of America on Main Street.
As more emphasis was placed on global brands, other long-term sponsors would be leaving the Disney theme parks. Carnation was eased off of Main Street in favor of Nestle. (With the much mourned Fantasia ice cream as a major casualty.) Licensees like Pendleton and Western Publishing (Little Golden Books) also departed around this time. Fortunately for them, Coca Cola and Kodak were considered global brands, and did not have to be sacrificed. (After all, who could imagine a world without Kodak film?)
But none of this was on the minds of guests browsing among the Mattel branded and licensed offerings in its official Toy Shop. With Christmas only days away, and the Disney Decade barely three years old, the future looked as colorful and shiny as the newly painted facade of it’s a small world.