The popularity of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? sparked the idea for Mickey’s Toontown, but fans have noticed the presence of its protagonist, the animated Roger Rabbit, slowly vanishing from the area as Disney plans for its expansion.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, which follows the exploits of human detective Eddie Valiant and his unlikely crime companion, the accused cartoon star Roger Rabbit, you probably know Roger. In fact, all it takes is a quick visit to the Disney Parks to catch a glimpse of the Maroon Cartoon Star, which features throughout Mickey’s Toontown at the Disneyland Resort.
Or… he did. Of course, fans of the movie will remember a subplot within the film concerning the ownership of Toontown, an animated neighborhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles where all the cartoon characters who star in animated films reside. After the death of the Toons’ creator, Marvin Acme (who allegedly willed Toontown to the Toon upon his death), Valiant and Roger set off to both clear Roger’s name and discover the missing will which will prevent Judge Doom and the City from bulldozing the Toons’ home for a freeway.
In 1993, a new themed area opened at Disneyland, allowing Guests to visit Mickey’s Toontown, where characters from the Fab Five, including Donald Duck, Goofy, Chip n Dale, and Minnie Mouse, lived alongside the resident hometown hero, none other than Mickey Mouse. Still, Roger and his wife, Jessica Rabbit, received a few cameos throughout the space and a dark ride: Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.
However, when Walt Disney Imagineering announced plans to expand Toontown, adding in CenTOONial Park, new dining locations, and the El CapiTOON Theater, home of the recently opened Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction, fans feared the worst for the fate of Roger Rabbit. Fortunately, the Car Toon Spin attraction will remain, still allowing Guests to spin through the streets of Toontown alongside characters from the original film.
Even so, smaller nods to the franchise seem to have vanished, such as restroom signs featuring Roger and Jessica, which Disney has updated to match the new outdoor backdrops behind the El CapiTOON. What’s more, the iconic Roger Rabbit fountain which once graced his dark ride’s entrance is now nothing but trees and some artificial grass.
While logical reasons, such as accessibility, modernization, and progress, can explain these changes, for many fans of the zany character and his beautiful wife, it’s harder to let go. Hopefully, when the rest of New Toontown is unveiled on March 8, 2023, Roger Rabbit and the film’s characters will continue to feature in the space in tribute to the story that started it all.