The Original
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Yesterland
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in 1956
Welcome to the original Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. “C” Ticket

Before you get in line for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, be sure to admire the genuine canvas tent structure over the entrance and the genuine canvas awning across the loading area. Be prepared to wait, because this is a very popular attraction. Then, present a “C” ticket, board your motorcar, and enjoy 98 seconds of fun—including a collision with a train and a trip to Hell.

Children emerging from Hell on 'Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride'
Children emerging from Hell on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of Disneyland’s opening day Fantasyland attractions in 1955. Many people mistakenly believe that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is gone from Disneyland. Actually, the ride is still operating and still quite popular. But there’s a good reason for the misunderstanding, as you’ll read at the end of this article.

Only the original version of the ride is gone. It lasted until 1982, when the tracks were ripped up; the show building interior was gutted, and the façade was torn off. Then, the ride was rebuilt with an ornate new exterior, a larger loading area, a longer track, new scenes, and more gags. The Imagineers made the most of the limited space.

The New Fantasyland version of 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride'
The New Fantasyland version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

When the New Fantasyland opened in 1983, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride looked entirely different from the outside. Throughout Fantasyland, the tournament tent look was gone. The three rebuilt dark rides of Fantasyland were joined by Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. Each ride had an appropriate storybook exterior.

The highly detailed entrance to 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride'
The highly detailed entrance to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was loosely based on Walt Disney’s relatively obscure 1949 animated movie, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The movie was a “package film” with two distinct, unrelated parts. Ichabod in the title refers to Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Mr. Toad refers to J. Thaddeus Toad, the impulsive proprietor of Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Mr. Toad’s crest above the entrance
Mr. Toad’s crest above the entrance

The original Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the current version are brilliant in that there’s no attempt to retell the story of the movie. Walt Disney’s Imagineers used the characters and spirit of the movie to give guests an experience unique to the ride—a wild motorcar ride. The highlight is a collision with a train in a tunnel, followed by a memorable ending in Hell, which is populated by bouncing red demons. There’s no such scene in the Disney movie or the Kenneth Grahame book.

Along the same lines, Peter Pan’s Flight works well because it’s ultimately about the experience of flying over London and Neverland, not about retelling the story of Peter Pan.

'Mr. Toad' car in loading/unloading area
The cars are named after characters of the movie.

Squeezing the plot of a feature length movie into a brief theme park ride tends not to work. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey tries to condense the plot of an epic animated film into a little ride. In spite of some beautifully designed scenes, the ride doesn’t succeed in being a captivating experience for guests.

Heading into Toad Hall
Cars now drive through the Toad Hall fireplace instead of past it.

And it helps to have a catchy theme song... “We’re merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily on our way to nowhere in particular!”

Toad Hall in the 'Storybook Land Canal Boats' ride at Disneyland
Toad Hall in the Storybook Land Canal Boats ride at Disneyland

Way back in 1956, there was already a stately Toad Hall in Disneyland. Only this one was a miniature. Toad Hall enjoyed a prime setting on an island in the Storybook Land Canal Boats ride until 1994, when the Sultan’s Palace from Aladdin took its place. Presumably, the children of the 1990s were more familiar with Aladdin than The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. A year later, Toad Hall returned to the ride in a less prime location.

Toad Hall Restaurant at Disneyland Paris
Toad Hall Restaurant at Disneyland Paris

When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, guests found a Toad Hall similar to the full-size Toad Hall at Disneyland. But this wasn’t a ride. It was (and still is) a counter service restaurant. In keeping with Mr. Toad’s setting in England, the restaurant features English fish and chips.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of the original attractions. The ride’s exterior was an updated version of the tournament tent style of the Disneyland’s original Fantasyland—which is still the style of Fantasyland in Florida. Based on the attraction’s long lines in California, the Florida version was designed to have a much greater capacity. Not only did the ride vehicles have two rows of seats rather than a single row, there were two complete tracks, which came together in one scene. Although listed as a single attraction, guests quickly discovered that each track provided different scenery and different gags.

'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh—a ride with a shop

The Mr. Toad show building in Florida was much larger than the one in California. Some Disney executives must have noticed that the building was big enough for a ride and a souvenir shop. Rumors hit the Internet that Mr. Toad and his fleet of motorcars would be evicted to make way for a character with proven success at the cash register—Winnie the Pooh. A University of Miami student started a “Save Toad” website, which captured the imagination of the national press. Some of the reporters didn’t understand that Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park are not the same place. So some newspapers and television stations reported the 1998 closing of the ride at Disneyland.

Fortunately, the reports of the death of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland were greatly exaggerated.

'Save Toad' postcard
A 1998 postcard campaign tried to save Mr. Toad in Florida
 

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad on DVD

Walt Disney’s 1949 animated feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was his final “package film.” It consists of two different classic stories—The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows. Bing Crosby narrates the former, and Basil Rathbone narrates the latter.

Both segments are very entertaining and superbly animated. The movie is under-appreciated by today’s audiences. The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow is one of the most memorable animated sequences of all time.


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Updated October 24, 2014.

Photograph of original Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride facade: 1956 by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photograph of children emerging from Hell on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: 1956 by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photograph of the New Fantasyland version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: 2000 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of the highly detailed entrance to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: 2006 by Karen Weiss.
Photograph of Mr. Toad’s crest above the entrance: 2006 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Mr. Toad car in loading/unloading area: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of car heading into Toad Hall: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of Toad Hall in the Storybook Land Canal Boats ride at Disneyland: 2005 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of Toad Hall Restaurant at Disneyland Paris: 2005 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Magic Kingdom Park: 1996 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom Park: 2007 by Allen Huffman.
Scans of Save Toad postcard, courtesy of Leslie N. Herschler,