A little over a year ago, Caroline persuaded me to try a Disney online computer game she'd seen advertised on the Disney Channel, called Toontown Online. It's one of those "massively multiplayer roleplaying games" for kids...and grownups, too. We gave it a try, and both she and I have been addicted ever since.
It's a little like going to Disneyland. Everything is happy and bright and fun there. And the graphics are amazing. Complex and beautiful with charming and funny theme decorations.
So, here's the idea...You are a "toon," an animal-ish cartoon character whose species, color, clothes, and name you choose. Me, I'm a periwinkle rabbit named Clover Crinklejinks. Caroline is a pink cat named Ladybug Sparklezilla.
You are helping keep Toontown safe from Cogs, these sort of robotic dullards (with names like Bossbots and Sellbots and Lawbots and such) and you fight them off by using jokey "gags" against them...like throwing cream pies and squirting them with selzer water and making them slip on banana peels. You get increasingly complex tasks and run around Toontown, playing games and getting rid of cogs and earning rewards. And especially wonderful aspect of the game is that fairly early on, even as a new Toon, you can only complete your tasks by cooperating with other Toons. So you have to help each other and you can only succeed through cooperation and good teamwork.
It's extremely safe for kids, which is what sold me on it to begin with. You can only talk to other toons using a "speedchat" menu of designated phrases. The worst thing you can say is "You stink!" There is no way to share personal information (ie, real name, phone number, or any other info) with someone you don't already know outside of the game. It's won all sorts of kid game awards, too.
So, we've been playing on and off over the past year and having a grand time. We tried to enlist Roger, but he's not a game-playing sort. We did get my sister ("Dapne Featherzilla") to join up, and so sometimes we all run around together. I tell you, it's hysterical.
Then, the Toontown folks announced that they were having a one-day activity/celebration for Toontown fans, known as Toonfest. I started looking into it, thinking that these days of Caroline being thrilled to play with mommy are probably limited, and it'd be a fun way to put an exclamation point on the end of summer vacation. So, I signed us up and off we go.
And it's here! Toonfest is this Saturday, and Caroline and I are both thrilled. We leave tomorrow...
...not on the Toontown trolley, I'm afraid. We opted for Southwest Airlines, instead.
We'll stay Friday and Saturday night at a hotel.
And as for Toonfest itself? We don't really know what to expect. It's at Disney Studios (which are not generally open to the public, I understand, so that ought to be interesting) and it is reported that Big! Famous! Disney! Stars! will be on hand, like Raven and (dare we hope?) Hilary Duff.
We'll probably meet other Toons...
And play some games...
...Probably swim in the hotel pool...
And go out for dinner, or maybe have room service. Nope, we won't catch our own dinner.
It ought to be a magical, imaginative time and a fun girls' weekend together.
Oh, and if you're curious about Toontown? You can investigate here and do a free 3-day trial and play a bit. It's really worth checking out, if nothing else for the wonder of seeing the stunning graphics and marveling over how complex the programming must be to have everything work so flawlessly with all sorts of real-time people playing together. I guarantee, it's a delightful escape and it will make you smile.