Anyone remember Disney’s Toontown Online? It was Disney’s 3D MMORPG (Yes, really) launched in 2003 and, for a good few years of my childhood, my absolute favourite game to play. Players would play as customisable characters called ‘toons’ where you could pick from an array of different animals to be and in any colour you want. You and your toon would use ‘gags’ to fight the evil ‘cogs’, the corporate robots set on corrupting the colourful happy town with evil capitalism, all while having a jolly good time playing mini-games, making friends, and completing tasks.
While this concept is pretty ironic considering the company that made it, it was actually really fun! In true MMORPG fashion, you would get together with friends and strangers alike to defeat the cogs in fearsomely funny turn-based combat – grinding hour after hour to complete your quests – ‘toon tasks’ – and earn rewards. These rewards could be fun, like jellybeans (the in-game currency) or temporary effects to make your character’s head humungous (which would make you very popular in the playground), or they could be practical, giving you access to more types of gags, teleporting abilities, and more.
The world of Toontown was pretty big and fun to explore. The newbie area was Mickey’s domain, ‘Toontown Central’, where you would see the mouse himself strolling around. There was also Minnie’s Melodyland, Daisy Gardens, Donald’s Dock, and so many more great places with fun things to do! The ‘playgrounds’ of these places were safe areas where you could socialise free from the oppression of cogs and ‘hop on the trolley’ to play minigames either by yourself or with others. If you wanted, you could even do some fishing to raise some jellybeans.
All of this doesn’t even begin to explain the extent of the fun you could have in Toontown. I played this game obsessively until Disney started charging players to be able to do… anything. Yep. The fun was not to last as Disney introduced paid membership which, back in my childhood days, was a ludicrous idea to my parents… If only we knew back then how bad in-game payments would be by 2020, huh? Alas, the fun was over for me and my younger sister who was my partner-in-crime on the game and, soon after that, for everyone as Toontown was permanently shut down on September 19, 2013.
what if I told you that you can still play Toontown and it’s better than ever?
Well, technically this is something I discovered during my university days in 2017. Me and a friend on my course, also a Toontown veteran, discovered something incredible…
Turns out some dedicated fans had completely recreated the game just like how it used to be (minus the copyrighted wandering Disney characters) completely free-to-play and oh my god… the nostalgia was real! Here, a new toon named Cookie Pillowface (I know, great name) was born. A yellow rabbit with a PASSION FOR DEFEATING CAPITALISM! The game at the time, admittedly, wasn’t 100% recreated. For instance, there were no ‘doodles’ which were pets your toon could have. Regardless, my friend and I played this for a long time until the call of essay deadlines became too threatening to ignore.
I forgot about Toontown for a bit… until last week when my younger sister, my ex-partner-in-crime, sent me a message: “Download ToonTown rewritten.”
Turns out, though I had forgotten joy, she hadn’t and she’d also recruited her boyfriend and best friend to join her. I was hesitant at first. I’m a professional journalist in London! I am an adult with bills and responsibilities! I shouldn’t play Toontown with a bunch of children… should I?!
I resisted… but it didn’t take long after that until I was hearing the familiar playful tunes of Toontown rewritten. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised when I got into the game to find that it had improved even more than when I’d played it a few years ago! MY TOON LIVED! My sister, her best friend, and I formed quite the terrible trio. It didn’t take long for us to start shamelessly begging on the streets for some jellybeans, create some excellent quality memes, and start socialising with the toons of the world.
I’d expected the game to be full of children but, to my surprise, almost everyone I’ve met has been my age or older! Seems like the audience for Toontown has shifted from children to… ex-children! The three of us have already made a few friends that we have now added to group chats on Instagram and Facebook and we spend our evenings, after long tiring days at our full-time jobs, destroying the cogs and causing a riot.
After just over a week of playing, I have already advanced 10 levels and have raised enough jellybeans to change my toon’s name. The days of Cookie Pillowface are over! Long live my NEW name… TBC! That is, I have to wait for my name to be accepted by the moderators of the game but, with a little luck, Shoujo Spoon will soon be parading around Toontown bringing down the establishment with her bountiful gags!
If you have a PC or Mac, you can download Toontown rewritten and play for free. Whether you want to re-live the nostalgic days of your childhood or get into a surprisingly good grindy MMORPG, I would definitely recommend it! If anything, it’s taught me a lesson: you’re never too old to enjoy something some might consider childish. Being an adult doesn’t mean that you have to stop having fun just because those cogs say so!
Now reader, tell me, did you play Toontown when you were a kid and do you still play today? If not, do you want to play (and join my gang)? Let me know in the comments!