Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was among the Opening Day attractions when Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955.
It was a "C" ticket ride and really wasn't half the ride it was later to become. The lyrics to "Merrily on Our Way" were the inspiration for the ride and not the movie itself. Rather than taking guests through the storyline of the movie, as it does today, the ride simply took guests through Toad Hall, the streets of London, and the English countryside. The vantage point was that of Toad (as it is today).
Originally, it was envisioned as a roller coaster, but Walt Disney thought that would be too much for young children and the elderly. So instead, the cars were set on tracks that made the motor cars "steer" erratically. The sense of being out of control was heightened by "flats" or props that showed policemen waving their billy clubs and signs that warned the driver to turn back. As the writer of The "E" Ticket explains, "To adults, this seems mostly noise and glowing images, but to kids it is exciting and unsettling, because they are helpless to do what the police and the stop signs demand."
The outside entrance, like other rides in Fantasyland, had the look of a medieval jousting pavilion, with colorful canvas, lances, and shields. You can read about the original 1955 Toad attraction at Yesterland.com.
This image is deliberately small
just to give you an idea of the exterior.
Go to Yesterland.com to see the original picture
and to read a very good article about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Notice the shield park attraction sign at the top of the entrance:
In 2005, to celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary, a set of four limited edition (1500, sold out) tin Disneyland Park Attraction signs were produced. They were approximately 8-1/2" x 9-1/2" sign for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride showed a shield that was very much like a coat of arms. Other attaction signs in the set were for Snow White's Adventures, Peter Pan's Flight, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The original price for the set was $79.95.
Limited edition (1000) pins featuring the shield design were also created in 2005.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was again updated in 1961, with more scenes and other refurbishments. In 1982, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was completely remodeled and redone, resulting in the crazy ride described here.
A retro-style poster for Disneyland's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was introduced in 2010. Just as movie posters at a theater help preview a movie for a viewer, ride posters throughout Disneyland help preview the thrill of various attractions for Disney guests. The Mr. Toad poster was first released as a collectible pin in 2008.
When Disney's Magic Kingdom opened in Walt Disney World in Florida in 1971, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was there to greet visitors. The ride was similar to its Disneyland cousin but it had two tracks with two separate boarding areas instead of just one. However, it was closed in 1998, when even in spite of great protest from Disney fans, Toad lost out to Winnie the Pooh. (You can see some of the props from the Magic Kingdom ride from Jim Hill Media and read a good description of the Florida ride at Widen Your World.)
Here you can see some pins that reflect the original exterior.
Limited edition of 750. Goofy's motorcar moves (bobbles).
Limited edition of 750.
Released as part of a 24-pin set at Walt Disney World (2006-2007).
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Florida: 1971-1998
Clearly, with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Disneyland is the superior park.
Disneyland guests wait to board Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in a line that weaves throughout the gardens outside of Toad Hall. Once inside, the line continues for a bit, going past a statue of Toad.
The arm position of the statue have been modified. Originally, Toad posed with one arm behind his back and the other with fingers pointed in the air. Poor Toad had to put up with a lot of abuse in this position. His hand was frequently filled with the deposits of wadded paper and gum, and his fingers were sometimes subject to breakage. Now, Toad is in a pose that still makes him appear friendly enough to greet his visitors, but protects his digits by placing both arms behind his back.
Finally, park guests make their way through the line and to the boarding area. There they see a giant mural that depicts scenes from Mr. Toad's adventures, many of which are depicted in the ride that awaits them. In one scene, Toad drives his motor car past a street sign that shows directions to Nowhere in Particular.
[insert pic of mural]
Here, guests board old-fashioned motor cars built by Arrow Development from 200 pounds of fiberglass and sheet metal. Disney originally ordered 12 Toad cars, with nine on the tracks and three in reserve. The ride was designed to last 1 minute and 38 seconds, with cars entering Toad Hall every 11 seconds (about 700 persons an hour).
The front of the motor cars bear the name of one of the characters from The Adventures of Mr. Toad: Cyril, Mr. Toad, MacBadger, Moley, Ratty, Toady, Weasel, and Winky. There are two each of Cyril, Toady, Weasel, and Winky.
A Dark Ride
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is a dark ride, which means that it is an indoor amusement in which a rider is guided on a track. It lasts approximately two minutes and is designed to show guests Toad's adventures from his point of view. (You can see this ride for yourself by following this YouTube link to a video of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, shot in HD and infrared.)
After crashing into the library filled with bookcases--one being accessed by a teetering Angus McBadger--and through the fireplace, guests careen through other parts of Toad Hall, where the weasels are swinging from chandeliers.
[insert picture from movie where weasels are partying in the Hall]
Moley can be seen dining just as the guest break out of Toad Hall and into the countryside where more havoc is wreaked. The wild ride takes guests into a warehouse containing explosives. Narrowly escaping the ensuing explosion, guests swerve through the streets of London and cruise past Mr. Winky, who, at is bar, flashes his teeth in that infamous grin and spins two mugs of beer.
[insert pic of Winky]
Disneyland guests see a statue of Lady Justice sneaking a peek under her blindfold--an omen of the trial to come. Those familiar with The Adventures of Mr. Toad know that Toad, framed for stealing a car, unsuccessfully defends himself against the false testimony of Winky.
"Guilty!" proclaims the judge, who looks not like the sweet judge from the movie, but rather looks like the prosecutor.
Guests are transported briefly to jail, before breaking out and escaping to the railroad tracks.
Hot as Hell
Inexplicably (perhaps as a moral ending to a story of indulging ones own desires and not following the rules?), guests are cast into hell after crashing into an oncoming train. Here, in a very hot room, guests are surrounded by little demons and dancing flames. The devil looks remarkably like the judge from the court room scene:
Bill Martin, who worked on the original Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, told The "E" Ticket "That idea of going through the Devil's mouth, through the Jaws of Hell, was okay with Walt at the time, too."
The hell scene is not drawn from the Wind in the Willows book nor from its movie adaptation, The Adventures of Mr. Toad. In fact, Disneyland cast members do not refer to this scene as "hell." Instead, they must call it the "inferno room." Most guests just call it "hell" and wonder why it is there. Fortuntely, the car in which the guests ride once again breaks out of its current location, this time returning them safely to the Toad Hall boarding platform from which they began their wild ride.
[insert pic of R&G in Toad car outside of Toad Hall]
source: "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," The "E" Ticket, Limited Event Edition, not dated but produced to commemorate Mr. Toad's Enchanted Evening, a celebration held at Disneyland on October 28, 1999.