Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
|Mr. Toad's Wild Ride|
|Opening date||July 17, 1955 (Original)|
May 23, 1983 (reopening)
|Closing date||1982 (Original)|
|Opening date||October 1, 1971|
|Closing date||September 7, 1998|
|Replaced by||The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh|
|Theme||The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad|
|Riders per vehicle||2|
|Vehicle names||Mr. Toad, Toady, Ratty, Moley, MacBadger, Cyril, Winkie and Weasel|
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is a theme park attraction and dark ride at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. It is loosely based on Disney's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of two segments comprising the animated package film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). The ride is one of the few remaining attractions operational since the park's opening in July 1955, although the current iteration of the ride opened in 1983. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is located in Fantasyland, and a variation of the attraction also existed at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, from the park's opening in 1971 until September 1998.
In any variation of the attraction, guests assume the role of the titular Mr. Toad, recklessly careening through the English countryside and streets of London in a period motorcar before ultimately meeting demise in a railway tunnel and ending up in a tongue-in-cheek depiction of Hell; the ride's ending has no significance to the events of either the animated film or the original novel. Originally envisioned as a roller coaster, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was realized as a dark ride because Walt Disney felt as though a roller coaster might not have been appropriate for young children and the elderly. Corey Burton performs every voice in the current version of the attraction, except for the usage of audio from the film.
1955 version (Disneyland)
The very first iteration of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was the least complex out of all three. Designed by Imagineers Bill Martin, Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, and Robert A. Mattey, the version of the attraction that opened to the public along with the rest of Disneyland in July 1955 contained the simplest gags, the least setpieces and characters, and with a duration of 98 seconds, was the shortest in length.
One notable quality of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that was especially prevalent during its earliest years was the liberal use of painted plywood "flats" in its interior sets. Whereas its contemporary opening-day Fantasyland dark rides Snow White and her Adventures and Peter Pan's Flight employed three-dimensional figures and sculpts for either the majority or at least a significant quantity of their interior scenery and characters, the various scenes of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride were rendered predominantly by means of two-dimensional flats, with only a scarce presence of three-dimensional sculpts. More three-dimensional gags and scene details would be added in later updates, although the attraction has always remained overwhelmingly "flat" in appearance, despite the other Fantasyland dark rides having become considerably less so over the decades.
As with the 1955 incarnations of the Snow White and Peter Pan dark rides, the exterior facade of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was fashioned to resemble a colorful medieval tournament tent, and its loading queue was located within a large opening in the front wall of the show building. Guests boarded their vehicles directly adjacent to a huge, elaborately painted mural spanning the entire front wall of the space housing the interior scenes; this mural depicted both the cast of the film on which the ride was based as well as the scenarios encountered within the attraction.
Upon boarding a fiberglass replica of a 1900s-era one-seat roadster (manufactured by Arrow Development), guests "crashed" through the front doors of Toad Hall (the extravagant Tudor-style estate of Mr. Toad) to the far-left of the mural. Once in the confines of the lavishly detailed mansion, guests approached a large stained-glass bay window before their car performed a sudden U-turn and headed instead toward a forced-perspective mural of an open living parlor. Here, two miniature "toad-shaped" suits of armor supported by pedestals (one on either side of the mural) swung down their halberds as guests drew near, causing the vehicle to swerve into the opposite direction. Guests then rolled under a pointed Tudor arch and into a small sub-room where a third miniature suit of armor brought down its mace. The motorcar then veered to the left and crashed through the paneled wall, and guests found themselves in total darkness.
Swerving through the night, guests encountered a large mirror reflecting their vehicle's headlights, providing the illusion of an oncoming automobile as the screech of a motorcar's brakes was heard. Guests then swung out of the way before passing under a natural archway and advancing toward a mural depicting the rustic cottage of Ratty the water rat along the moonlit riverbank, as well as a fully sculpted boat docked in front. Swinging around another bend, guests approached a three-dimensional roadway leading off into a mural of a twisted intersection at the center of a rural hamlet, while signs labeled with nonsensical place names such as "Woostershire" and "Notsoshire" made for a sense of confusion. Guests then swerved into a narrow village street, where a plethora of road signs fixed to the buildings and lampposts read, "TURN BACK," "DO NOT ENTER," "ONE WAY," and other such warnings. Despite these, guests had no choice but to continue down the long straightaway, eventually reaching the headlights of an oncoming vehicle in the darkness beyond the stretch and swerving out of the way to avoid it.
As a police officer with a club blew his whistle and a loud siren blared, the car performed a U-turn and began down a dilapidated wooden pier flanked to the right with old bollards and a large ocean freighter. As guests advanced over a series of bumps emulating the rough surface of unsafe boards, a mural depicting London across from the harbor under a foggy night sky was seen beyond the edge of the wharf. Just before guests approached the end of the pier, their vehicle swung around and rammed through the doors of a dockside warehouse, now racing between long, towering rows of crates and kegs stocked with dynamite, blasting powder, and other dangerous contents. At the end of the corridor was a forced-perspective mural featuring an exit door marked with a sign reading, "THIS WAY OUT," next to which was a tall stack of three-dimensional kegs. As guests approached the false exit, the stack of barrels toppled down, blocking the way out and forcing the motorcar to instead turn toward a solid brick wall before smashing straight through it.
Guests now found themselves back in the English countryside, swerving rapidly around stunted trees (some of them anthropomorphic, with startled faces and branch arms lunged away in shock) and darting briefly toward police officers blowing their whistles and a mural of a dirt roadway leading off into the distance. After swinging past a signal box and a ringing crossbuck, guests briefly drew near a mural of a precarious, winding path scaling the side of a cliff before racing by a sleepy railroad engineer and breaking through a crossing gate. Guests then entered the arched stone maw of "R.R. Tunnel No. 13," ran over a series of simulated railroad ties, heard the roar of an oncoming steam locomotive, saw the front headlight of the approaching engine overhead in the darkness, and finally "collided" directly into it amid a loud crash. The darkness then gave way to a menacing, demonic face with a gaping mouth: "The Jaws of Hell." As guests passed under the demon's sharp teeth, the word "WELCOME" written in flames greeted them into the depths of the underworld, where they found themselves swerving around red-hot stalagmites topped with miniature horned devils who laughed maniacally and wielded pitchforks. Guests were soon directed toward the ride's final set of doors, which took them back out into the queue area.
In 1961, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride received an assortment of new gags, scene details, and technical improvements. Among these were additional character flats (Moley, MacBadger, and a human butler in Toad Hall, as well as Ratty in front of one of the painted storefronts in the village scene and a handful of new police officers, including one on a motorcycle), new crash doors (these being a construction barricade located in the village street and multiple breakaway flats of stacked crates and kegs in the warehouse), improved crash doors in general, and fully-sculpted devils and red "rock" in the hell scene replacing the original flats.
1983 version (Disneyland)
Guests enter a re-creation of Toad Hall, passing by artistic works commemorating characters from The Wind in the Willows. A large mural shows the adventures of Toad and his motorcar, foreshadowing various scenes in the ride. This mural has a hidden reference to Walt Disney and his love for trains in the form of a train named "W.E.D. Rail". Guests hop aboard miniature, early 1900s (decade)-era, multicolored motorcars. The name of one of the characters from the film (Mr. Toad, Toady, Ratty, Moley, MacBadger, Cyril, Winky, or Weasel) is inscribed on each motorcar.
Passengers begin their journey by crashing into a library, where MacBadger is seen teetering atop a ladder with a stack of books. They then crash through the fireplace, where fiberoptic effects simulate the scattering of embers on the floor. Narrowly avoiding a falling suit of armor, the passengers break through a set of doors to find the interior hallway of Toad Hall in disarray, as weasels swing from chandeliers. Guests then enter the dining room, where Moley is eating at a dinner table and gets knocked aside.
Upon leaving Toad Hall, guests travel through the countryside, passing Ratty's house, aggravating policemen and terrifying a farmer and his sheep. Making a right turn, guests head for the docks and get the impression that their car will plunge into the river, but quickly make a sharp turn in a different direction and enter a warehouse full of barrels and crates containing explosives. Guests crash through a brick wall as the warehouse's contents explode in a burst of bright, flashing lights. They then head out into the streets of London, narrowly avoid a collision with a delivery truck, and enter Winkie's Pub, where Mr. Winkie the bartender holds two beer mugs. He ducks down, leaving the mugs spinning in the air (this gag is recycled from the 1971 Florida version of the ride).
Passengers then enter the town square, where the cars wreak further havoc on the citizens. A working fountain featuring Toad and Cyril Proudbottom stands in the center of the town. Behind this statue is one of Lady Justice peeking out from under her blindfold. Next, guests enter a jury-less courtroom, where the riders are proclaimed guilty by a judge (based on the film's prosecutor for the Crown). The cars then enter what is presumed to be a dark prison cell before abruptly turning right and landing on railroad tracks. The vehicles bounce along the tracks in the dark before colliding head-on with an oncoming train.
Passengers then arrive at the ride's final scene: a tongue-in-cheek depiction of Hell not inspired by any scene in the movie or book. The entire room is heated, and the scenery features small devils who bounce up and down. Passengers also see a demon who resembles the judge from the courtroom scene. Near the end of the scene, a towering green fire-breathing dragon emerges and attempts to burn the riders to a crisp. A glowing light is seen in the back of its throat and choking, coughing noises are heard while the motorcar speeds away. Granted a reprieve, the passengers eventually "escape" to the ride's loading and unloading area, where they disembark. In The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Mr. Toad never actually goes to hell at all. Instead, he escapes from jail by wearing a woman's night dress and affecting the voice of a female.
Magic Kingdom version
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was one of the Magic Kingdom's opening day attractions on October 1, 1971. Although it was modeled after the Disneyland attraction and reused the soundtrack and various sound effects from the attraction, it had some unique characteristics that set it apart from its California counterpart. The most obvious was that the Florida incarnation had two separate boarding areas. The vehicles (in the form of jalopies) in each boarding area were on separate tracks that followed different paths, so riders would get a slightly different ride, depending on where they boarded.
Like its counterpart at Disneyland, it was not a thrill ride, but it was not slow and quiet like most dark rides. It made sudden turns and often the vehicle would move at full speed towards an obstacle, which would move out of the way at the last second. At one point the vehicles on different tracks would head directly towards each other, giving the sense of an oncoming collision. It was a very stylized attraction and resembled a cartoon more than any other Disney ride. It contained highly ornate plywood characters and sets that were very reminiscent of the multiplane camerawork featured in many Disney films.
In October 1997, rumors began to spread that an attraction based on Winnie-the-Pooh would replace Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. On August 27, 1998, Walt Disney World announced the closure of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Reactions to the announcement were severely negative, as Disney launched a campaign to save the attraction. A group of park fans petitioned on the internet due to the backlash. People from the country joined together to arrange protests of the upcoming final ride. They became so rampant that they were picked up by many news stations. Besides the protests and green t-shirts saying "Ask me why Mickey is killing Mr. Toad", postcards and letters were sent to Disney officials. Mr Toad's Wild Ride would officially close on September 7, 1998, to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which opened on June 4, 1999. One of the ride vehicles was sold at auction for $13,000. Minor tributes to the ride can be found in Disney World, including paintings of Mr. Toad and Moley within the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction and a statue of Toad in a pet cemetery outside of Haunted Mansion, with his epitaph allegedly reading "Here Lies Toad, it's sad but true. Not nearly as marketable as Winnie the Pooh". There was much controversy over the attraction's closure, which sparked in-park protests.
The two tracks of the Walt Disney World version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride did not pass through all of the same show scenes. Thus, each track gave riders an almost completely different set of scenes to pass through.
On the Right Track, guests first passed through the library (similar to the Disneyland version) then broke out of Toad Hall and passed through a barnyard, coming face to face with a sheep, a pig and a couple of cows along the way. After passing through a small tunnel with several warning signs, known as the One Way Street, guests made a turn into a central plaza. Traveling around the turn, the vehicles passed a policeman signaling riders to stop with his whistle. Guests then made a right hand turn into the courtroom and saw the judge (who in this version was actually a policeman holding a gavel). Upon making another right hand turn, the vehicles passed by several policemen and weasel convicts and then entered several weasel-filled jail cells.
After winding through the cells, guests emerged out into Shireland, passing by a shootout between the police and some weasels (using red lights to simulate gunfire). Several of the police barriers then moved aside revealing a railroad crossing, complete with a ringing bell. The gate then moved aside (presumably breaking apart), and the vehicles made a right hand turn onto the tracks. The vehicles traveled along the railroad tracks until getting hit by a train (with guests seeing the headlight of the locomotive). A door then opened, revealing the "Hell" scene. Afterwards, guests went through a door back to the boarding area.
From the boarding area to the plaza, the Left Track passed through three scenes not seen in the Right Track: Toad's trophy room, a kitchen, and a Gypsy camp. After going through the One Way Street and rounding the plaza, instead of entering the courtroom, guests continued on and entered Winky's Tavern. Mr Winky the bartender, who was holding two beer mugs, could then be seen ducking down, leaving the mugs spinning in the air (this gag was recycled for the revamped 1983 California version of the ride). The vehicles then made a right hand turn and guests could see the weasels hiding out in the tavern among the ale barrels. Following this, guests emerged into the night countryside. Passing by Ratty's house (where Ratty appeared only once and Moley was seen on a boat), the vehicles reached a railroad crossing. This gate moved aside, and vehicles made a left hand turn onto the railroad tracks. As on the Right Track, the headlight of the locomotive was visible before the train hit the guests. The "Hell" scene on this track was merely a mirror image of the Right Track's "Hell" sequence.
- Strodder, Chris (2017). The Disneyland Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). Santa Monica Press. pp. 343–344. ISBN 978-1595800909.
- Gennawey, Sam (2013). The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney's Dream. Unofficial Guides. p. 87. ISBN 978-1628090123.
- "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
- Janzen, Leon; Janzen, Jack (October 28, 1999). Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (20 ed.). Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- Hidden Walts - Search for hidden references to Walt Disney - Disneyland Secrets and History (YouTube video). Fresh Baked. December 16, 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
- Gurr, Bob (27 November 2013). "DESIGN: Those Were The Times – No.23 1955 Arrow Development – Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon". MiceChat. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- Spitz, Jill Jorden (October 22, 1997). "Is Mr. Toad about to drive out of Disney?". The Orlando Sentinel. Sentinel Staff. Retrieved July 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
- "MR. TOAD TO GIVE HIS LAST WILD RIDE ON SEPTEMBER 7". Ultimate Rollercoaster.
- "Mr. Toad's pals protest to Disney World". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 6, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
- "It's lights out for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". The Muscatine Journal. September 1, 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
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- Official website at Disneyland
- Passport to Dreams Old & New in-depth article commemorating WDW's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Jim Hill Media An up-close look at some figures from WDW's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride from GoSleepGo
- Save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!
- Virtual Toad a virtual reconstruction of WDW's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Walt Dated World
- Widen Your World
- Fastpass Facts
- Yesterworld Entertainment's YouTube channel
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride from YouTube
- Mickey Mouse Park (Disneyland version)