Disney Just Opened A Mickey Mouse-Themed Pop-Up At Downtown Disney
Never one to miss an entertainment trend (as long as it's family-friendly), Disney's jumping into the pop-up game. Though we guess Disneyland was kind of the original pop-up.
"Pop-Up Disney! A Mickey Celebration" opens Friday at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, allowing you to enter a Mickey-filled world with lots of chances to take photos for your social media feeds/Christmas cards/egocentric desktop wallpapers. It's part of the year-long celebration of 90 years of Mickey Mouse.
You start in a waiting room with Mickey decor, including a wall map of Mickey's head showing the path you'll be taking through Disney nostalgia -- as opposed to all the other heartwarming Disney attractions based on Disney nostalgia. You'll get to wait seated on Mickey head-shaped seats with cartoon highlights themed to each of the pop-up's areas playing on a screen.
We went during a media preview, and they seemed to still be working out some kinks (meaning we didn't get in until more than half an hour after our assigned time). We're hoping they have that all worked out in time for the general public, so that you're spared from our fate of listening to the same music loop around three times.
When your assigned group is called, you're led upstairs into the Mickey and Minnie's Love room, celebrating the grand romance between two cartoon mice. The centerpiece is a giant Minnie bow.
The structure of the pop-up includes long rooms with walls that often twist, keeping you from seeing the full thing at once. It feels less built for selfies than the average pop-up, though there are a handful of selfie-friendly spots. Instead, the setup calls for a helping hand to be able to capture the size of their photo opps -- so bring a friend, or take advantage of the friendly Disney staff on hand happy to take your picture.
The twisty structure also means there are fewer rooms where just being in it is what makes for a great photo. That leads to some traffic issues -- the often narrow rooms and the need to be a good distance away to get a photo makes it difficult for people to be in a position to get great photos. Still, the timed entries should hopefully help to avoid lines that feel too long while you're trying to capture that Disney magic.
The second room was a personal favorite, "It All Started With A Mouse." You enter a black-and-white world featuring old school Steamboat Willie-style Mickey, including some great 2D sets to pose in. It also features a wall of black-and-white Mickeys that could seem either adorable or like they're trying to drag you into some unseen cartoon hellscape -- your mileage may very.
The walls also feature early Mickey character designs, with key instructions like a note that Mickey usually shouldn't be shown with teeth. (The accompanying drawings illustrate how yes, seeing Mickey's teeth is incredibly weird.)
Next up is Mickey's Friendships. Rather than celebrating those friends, the theme is those friends celebrating Mickey. (Mickey's not just one of those people who celebrates his birthday the whole month, he celebrates it the whole YEAR.)
The room is filled with Mickey portraits stylized as if done by characters ranging from Donald Duck, with his epic anger giving us an apparently cursing Mickey, to a Mickey statue in acorns as if created by Chip 'n' Dale.
Up next, you get classic Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey, as seen in Fantasia (and Disneyland's nightly Fantasmic shows). A glowing hallway leads you into the dimly lit room, with sparkling stars up and down the walls -- as well as a Fantasia demon on one wall, so maybe cover the little ones' eyes.
In the Mickey Around The World room, you get to see versions of Mickey from different countries. The staff member on hand seemed a bit confused about which country each drawing was supposed to represent, but hey, we give them credit for trying to figure it out. (But saying that one picture was either Hawaii or Jamaica is a pretty wide range.)
Beyond the images on the walls, there are also two larger areas with one China-themed backdrop and one that's Mexico-themed.
Next up, is the trippy Forever Mickey area. You'll go down a mirrored hallway, creating an infinity effect as you stare at an endless string of yourself and your friends. The ceiling is covered with waves of tightly packed Mickey Mouse ears.
Then you move into a room featuring a metallic Mickey statue and shelves full of clear mouse ears, with shifting layers of light making you feel like you're in a Daft Punk music video.
Finally, you get a celebration of Mickey's Disneyland home. The central chance for a photo here includes a giant, clear Mickey head, giving you the chance to feel like you've been trapped inside a giant Mickey balloon as if you're in a Disney-themed episode of the Twilight Zone.
There's one more chance to get a photo with an obsidian-toned Mickey statue, before exiting -- of course -- through the gift shop. Disney estimates that the full experience should take you about an hour and a half to get through.
Pop-UP Disney is open now, with tickets ranging from $30 to $38, or free for kids under 3. You'll need to make a reservation to get your chance to meet the mouse (though sadly, no costumed Mickeys were to be found inside). It's a limited time event, with tickets currently available through June.