Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mickey Ville , The Toon Town that never was

After yesterday's introduction to the talent of Hani El Masri, here is the part two of this article.

At the end of 1990, Hani was asked by Walt Disney Imagineering to work on the creative development of a new project "Mickey Ville" which was supposed to be a new land for Tokyo Disneyland.

It was the first study for a "Toon Town", but much different than the one we know, as the architectural style was more "medieval". For a very good reason: this Mickey's Ville was supposed to be a tribute to Mickey's "medieval" cartoons, like "The Brave little tailor" or "Mickey and the Beanstalk".

Hani's team was under the direction of imagineers Yoshi Akiyama and Bob Weis - yes, the same Bob Weis who designed the Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's America and who is now in charge of the huge placemaking of Disney's California Adventure.

Here is a first rendering of the Mickey Ville project. For the design of this artwork, Hani was also slightly inspired by the architecture of Pinnochio’s Village.

At the entrance, guests would have find at the left of the porch a nice fountain with Daisy...

But Mickey Ville also would have include a "Mickey's Music Store" with chimneys who looks like pipe organ. Inside the music store, CD’s, sheet of music, and all kind of merchandise items related to music would have been on sale.

Also envisioned, a "Minnie's Candy" house, which looks like a real candy house, and was supposed to be.....that’s right: a candy store.

Another interesting concept was this "Donald's Dock" where Donald's house and boat were mixed all in one.

In fact , Donald’s dock would have been the departure point where guests would have embark in small boats for a little cruise on a small river all around the village.

But the project also include this beautiful Mickey's Theatre - artwork above, on the top. Because the Oriental Land executives knew how popular Tokyo Disneyland is, they wanted a big theatre,. So, instead to design one big facade, Hani and the imagineers thought it would have been more interesting if all the facade was designed like a little village. With on the right side the house of Mickey and Minnie - not to forget Pluto’s doghouse.

And in the front, another cute fountain, with Minnie on the top.

The entrance of the Mickey’s Theatre was on the middle of this little village facade...

And inside the theatre, guests could have watch old Mickey’s cartoons - like “Plane Crazy”, Steamboat Willie”, etc..but also others animated shorts with Pluto, Donald, etc...

By the way, when i saw this Mickey's Theatre artwork, it reminds me the facade of Mickey's Philarmagic theatre at Hong Kong Disneyland. I remember when i was at HKD being surprised by the architecture, but may be HKD imagineers took their inspiration from this concept - who knows?

To come back to the Mickey Ville story, and always back in 1990, another team lead by Tony Baxter and imagineer Joe Lanzisero was working on another Toon Town concept, this time for Disneyland, Anaheim. And it seems that when the executives of Oriental Land Company heard about it, they decided to wait and see how this "other" Toon Town will look once it'll be built at Disneyland.

We know the end of the story: Toon Town opened at Anaheim, everybody loved its great "cartoon" style, and so did the Oriental Land executives who decided to build it at TDL.

This marked the end of the Mickey Ville project, and Hani moved from one team to another to work with Joe Lanzisero's team where he created the Toon Town concept-arts you saw yesterday.

In a future article we will talk about Hani's work for Dream Works Animation, as he did wonderful paintings on the three animated movies "Prince of Egypt", "El Dorado" and "Spirit", and also his extensive work on the 'Thousand and One Nights'.

You can see some of his work for animation on Hani's site, where all the renderings you saw today and yesterday were previously posted.

All Artwork by Hani El Masri and copyright Disney and Walt Disney Enterprises Inc.

Many thanks to Hani El Masri for his great help in the making of this article.


Anonymous said...

Does this "Mickey Ville" was an inspiration for the "boutique du petit tailleur" à Disneyland Paris?

Alain Littaye said...

Good question, but i don't think so, i think the concept for the DLP shop was done before.

Anonymous said...

This would just be a perfect fit to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom,Orlando - not to expensive, a boatride , a theater and (my imagination) a smal powered coaster and perhaps a small darkride ala Roger Rabit (different theme ofcours, maybe Jake and the beanstalk) set in a medievel theme like the cartoons.
Why perfect? wel, the MK does need something of high quality, something unique something to compete with a certain Harry, something that will actually ad a few rides -something that the people from the concrete jungles of NY would love - and above all they need it fast, otherwise they are likely to lose a lot of visitors in the near futere

This could be designed, build and opened rather quickly, and finally make the MK relevant again.....

Thanks Alain- Thanks Hani, you guys are great!!!

Unknown said...

All I can say is...


Anonymous said...

Great to learn about Hani el Masri, thanks Alain. Mikeyville would be a perfect replacement for Toontown Fair at the Magic Kingdom. Alas, with the current philosophy for the park, that will never happen.