Five Facts About Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
For 27 years, guests to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom could take a helter skelter drive with J. Thaddeus Toad through the world of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, located in Fantasyland, was one of Walt Disney World’s 1971 opening day attractions. It closed on September 7, 1998, much to the consternation of its legion of devoted fans. Though Toad Hall is gone, we thought we’d take a quick tour of the attraction’s history with these five facts.
1. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
In 1949, Disney released the package film, “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”. The company’s 11th animated theatrical feature, it told the stories of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Wind and the Willows”. Crooner Bing Crosby narrated “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and Basil Rathbone (best known for his depiction of Sherlock Holmes) narrated “The Adventures of Mr. Toad”. Walt originally had reservations about transforming “The Wind in the Willows” into a film, believing the content to be corny.
2.The Ride was an opening day attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World
Before the creation of Walt Disney World, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of the opening day attractions at the Disneyland park in Anaheim. The company held a soft opening on July 12, 1955, with a grand opening five days later. The Disneyland version was originally housed in a building that resembled a medieval tournament tent. It required a C ticket to ride.
3. The Walt Disney World Version Had Two Tracks
Unlike the Disneyland version, guests of the Magic Kingdom were treated to two different versions of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Operating on two tracks, riders could view different scenes depending on the track they rode. The first track traveled through Toad’s library, across the countryside, crashed through a chicken coop, passed through a prison, witnessed a shoot-out, and got hit by a train before descending into (and eventually escaping from) hell. On the second track, guests passed through Toad’s trophy room and kitchen, a Gypsy camp, and Winky’s tavern before getting hit by the train.
In the fall of 1997, Disney announced that it would close “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” in the Magic Kingdom. Fans immediately voiced their displeasure and started an aggressive effort to save the attraction. The campaign, called “Save the Toad”, prompted fans of Mr. Toad to write letters, make phone calls, and eventually stage in-park protests they called “Toad Ins”. Guests even arrived in the park wearing shirts with slogans like “Ask Me Why Mickey is Killing Mr. Toad”. Despite these passionate objections, Disney closed the attraction a year later.
5. Traces Remain
Disney Imagineers left traces of Mr. Toad throughout the Magic Kingdom. After the attraction closed, it was replaced by “The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh”. A painting hangs in the attraction that depicts Mr. Toad handing a deed to Winnie-the-Pooh’s Owl. Another painting shows Pooh Bear with Moley, Mr. Toad’s faithful sidekick. A statue of Mr. Toad stands in the pet cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion.
Though nearly two decades have passed since the last guest stepped into one of Toad’s jalopies, fans around the world still remember merrily traveling his road to nowhere in particular.