This is the first installment in a new article series called Fictionland, which chronicles the history of fictional amusement parks created for films and television. In this detailed article, Kenneth Robertson takes a look at the history and closure of Potatoland as seen in the Mickey Mouse animated television series.
Located in the state of Idaho, Potatoland started as a dream when a young Goofy G. Goof passed by the sign “Welcome to Idaho. America’s ‘Potato Land.’” yet never had the opportunity to experience it firsthand. It was only when he decided to make the trip with his two best friends that Donald Fauntleroy Duck and Michael “Mickey” Mouse discovered that the park did not exist…yet. It was then that Mr. Duck boldly propositioned, “And what are we gonna do? Build an entire amusement park in the middle of that potato field?” and history began to be made. While Goof rested, Mr. Duck and Mr. Mouse worked tirelessly through the night to convert the spare wood, holiday lights, potatoes, and gravy found within the fields into the first and only park to ever be made almost entirely out of potatoes.
Opening day attracted a resounding total of one guest who was escorted by none other than the park’s creators. While attractions were mostly well received, visitors commented that the carousel ran a bit slow and the Potato Mansion was too scary, while Great Moments with Potato Lincoln suffered a fatal malfunction. By midday, the sun’s heat grew too hot for the gravy mortar holding together the park’s potato infrastructure, resulting in the collapse of all major buildings and the destruction of the park. No attempts have been made to restore Potatoland since.
Potatoland was simple in concept but intricate in its execution. Holding to the theme of potatoes, it still managed to host a number of rides and attractions, capable of entertaining far more than the single guest it received. That said, a larger staff might have been necessary should the park have received large crowds. From what is known, it hosted its very own Main Street, USA and had a central hub which presumably split off into separate lands.
- Magic Windows – Yes, Potatoland’s Main Street featured a very special feature for those who liked to take things slow, Magic Windows. Guests were able to look upon a potato on a stool in real time and witness all the magic of a real potato!
- Penny Arcade – Main Street’s other feature attraction has only been documented by a photo of its storefront. It could be assumed that it hosted coin-operated machines from a bygone era or it’s entirely possible that those were slowly moved out in order to accommodate more potato confectionary. The world may never know.
- Potatoland Castle – Seen from Main Street, the castle is one of the major landmarks within the park. It was primarily constructed using potato and gravy. Due to heavy gravy flooding damage of nearly all documentation, this is all that is known about this wondrous feat of architecture.
- Potatohorn or Expedition Potato – Another major landmark of the park, though the official name has been lost to time. From what is known, this was most likely a roller coaster that raced through the starchy mountain with gravy falls while being chased by a potato. It is unknown whether or not if the potatosquatch animatronic was ever fully functioning or if was always stuck in B-mode.
- The Carousel – One of the better-documented attractions, the Carousel was four benches placed upon a rotating base with potatoes hanging from the circus tent style top. It was operated at multiple speeds depending on the attendant running the crank. One other employee was required to play the organ in order to provide its signature music. This was one of the most popular attractions on opening day.
- It’s a Potato World – Seen only from a photograph of the outside which shows its many spires and flags, Potatoland hosted this ride in which it is assumed that guests loaded into boats on a gravy river where they were sung at by potatoes of all nations.
- Potato Mansion – “As the potato creeps o’er the dead oak tree, potatoes arrive for the midnight spree!” Another opening day hit, although too scary for some, the Potato Mansion offered a track-based horror ride in which a disembodied voice guided guests through its haunts and into a graveyard. The graveyard was decorated with tombstones and potatoes hung from the ceiling. Occasionally, a ghost would pop up and frighten riders.
- Great Moments with Potato Lincoln – The last seen and possibly most tragic of attractions would be Great Moments with Potato Lincoln. Originally intended to capture President Lincoln’s likeness in potato, the attraction was never seen at full functionality. As conceived, the attraction took place in a theatre adorned in Americana where the tuber visage of President Lincoln would provide a life-like performance of the Gettysburg Address. During its initial performance, the potato president failed to start. Mr. Duck took this into his own hands and manually puppeteered the animatronic through the first few lines of the speech. His performance came to an abrupt stop after an electrical malfunction caused the presidential spud to explode on stage in front of all guests in attendance. Doomed, as if by fate, to repeat the terrible history of tragedy which befell its predecessors in both mortal and animatronic form.
When guests arrived at the park, they were greeted by a large Potatoland sign over the entrance. This lead down Main Street which hosted attractions such as the Penny Arcade, Magic Windows, and Great Moments with Potato Lincoln. From Main Street, guests entered a central hub which split off to different lands with the castle in direct line of sight from the main gate. Beyond the castle lay the Carousel, the Potato Mansion, It’s a Potato World, and Potatohorn. Most other knowledge of the park’s layout is unavailable, and no park maps have ever been recovered.
Potatoland, like many regional theme parks in the United States, was heavily inspired by Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The attractions are direct rip-offs with the exact same names only with potato inserted into the title somewhere. The attractions were similarly clones of Disneyland attractions with potatoes inserted into them.
As depicted in the animated short, the demise of Great Moments with Potato Lincoln is most likely a reference to the infamous performance of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in which the AA too, suffered from a malfunction that resulted in red hydraulic fluid leaking from him making it look as if the president had just been assassinated.
Finally, the park literally falling apart during its opening day oddly seems to correlate with the disaster of an opening that Disney’s original park suffered. Due to the heat, women reported that their heels sunk or stuck into the newly paved asphalt while the park just as it melted the gravy holding together Potatoland.
For more information on Potatoland, here is a documentary detailing its history.
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