« Jim’s Attic: The Cameraman Statue | Main | Carthay Circle Restaurant: The Glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age Meets the History and Heritage of Disney »

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Mr.Toad-6.jpg
Fifteen years ago September, the beloved Magic Kingdom attraction
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride permanently closed its doors.

by Keith Gluck
Guest Blogger

During early planning for Walt Disney World, Chief Operations Officer of WED Enterprises Richard Irvine tapped Imagineer (and future Disney Legend) Rolly Crump to spearhead all of the Fantasyland attractions.

Thrilled with the assignment, Rolly immediately began formulating ways to improve upon the existing dark rides from Disneyland. One of the rides Disney decided to carry over was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which was extremely popular in Anaheim. In fact it was so popular, Vice President of Operations Dick Nunis advised Rolly that they should build two identical Toad rides, one right next to the other. Rolly did not share his vision. “I thought that was a dumb idea,” Rolly said. “I told him to let me think about it for a while, and I’d come up with something better.” And come up with something better, he did.

Rolly designed a two-track ride system that was housed in the same show building, giving riders two noticeably different ride experiences. On track one, passengers traveled through Toad Hall’s library, over a farm, through Town Square, in and out of jail, past a shootout between cops and weasels, down the wrong way of a railroad tunnel, and ultimately, to Hell.

Track two also started riders out in Toad Hall, but through the Trophy Room instead of the library. The journey continued through a gypsy camp, Town Square, Winky’s Tavern, the countryside at night, and their own Hell, also by way of the wrong way of a railroad tunnel.

toad2.jpg


The design was brilliant. Rolly even had the two tracks nearly intersect at points, giving the illusion of an impending head-on collision. Not only did having a second track double ride capacity, but in the 90s they started using motorcars that carried four passengers compared to Disneyland’s two.

The ride was a huge hit, and a perennial guest-favorite from Opening Day.

In fall of 1997, however, rumors of its closure began to circulate. On October 22, the Orlando Sentinel addressed the rumor, reporting that Disney was considering replacing Toad with a ride based on Winnie the Pooh. Toad fans came out in earnest, devising ways to keep their beloved attraction open.

On October 23, Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst (stars of the soon-to-be-aired television movie Tower of Terror) were asked their thoughts on the report while at Walt Disney World. ''That's one of my favorite rides,'' cried Dunst. ''Save Mr. Toad!'' That same day, a Save Toad website debuted.

Petitions were signed, Save Toad t-shirts and buttons were worn, and letters to Disney executives were written, all in a concerted effort to rescue the rambunctious amphibian known to some as J. Thaddeus.

On December 7, 1997, a peaceful protest labeled a “Toad In” was held outside of the attraction. Many more Toad Ins would follow, and Rolly later recalled, “They would walk around in front of the ride and chant and cheer. I was really touched by that.” As the months went on, support for the Toadies’ plight grew as various news outlets across the country picked up the story. Aside from surprising a few executives at Disney, the valiant efforts to save Mr. Toad went unrewarded. After nearly a year filled with rumors, petitions, and uncertainty, Disney finally made the official announcement on September 2, 1998.

Five days later, Mr. Toad took guests on one last wild ride, to nowhere in particular.

toadin4.jpg

Photo Credit: http://www.math.miami.edu/~jam/toad/

Keith Gluck has been a Disney fan his entire life. While Disneyland is his 'home park,' he has been to and adores Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris. He runs thedisneyproject.com, and also volunteers at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. If you were to ask him his favorite thing about Disney, his answer would always be, "Walt."

The previous post in this blog was Jim’s Attic: The Cameraman Statue.

The next post in this blog is Carthay Circle Restaurant: The Glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age Meets the History and Heritage of Disney.

Comments (21)

Jim:

Why does the ride still exist in Disneyland if it was too dark for Disney World?

S:

We'd gladly surrender Winnie the Pooh in exchange for Toad. Seriously, what were they thinking? My husband is still ranting about it. Couldn't they find a way to tuck it back into the new Fantasyland?

Jon:

Keith,
A delightful remembrance of a simple but wonderful ride. A ride that told a double story with just glow in the dark paint, paper and a crazy dual track. But to find Mr. T in the 'pet' cemetary is just rude. Thaddeus was no man's pet, just ask any weasel. 

Penny from Vermont:

On the rare occasion that I get to Disneyland, I insist we go directly to Mr Toad's Wild Ride first thing. I am still mad at WDW for closing that ride and in protest I do not ride Winnie the Pooh! So there!

Robert:

Of all the things Disney has changed this is the only one that I truely hated. I complain to wife about it everytime we are at Disney. For me it was always Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Mr.Toads Wild Ride that I loved the most.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is one we never miss in California. We sure miss it in Florida.

What were they thinking?

Jessie:

We made a special trip to ride Mr. Toad on the last day it was open. I was 16 and still have the bright green "Save Toad" postcard that someone was handing out in front of the ride. I still miss that ride, though my kiddos are now big fans of its replacement! I'd love it they brought it back! :)

Cindi:

I was saddened when they closed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It was one of my favorites and I still wish they would bring it back. Why not get rid of something else like Stitch's Great Escape?

I never got to ride Mr. Toad's. Our first visit was in 1999. It's nice to get to see pictures of old Disney rides.

Chad:

Deb, to your knowledge has there ever been conversations at DW about finding a location to rebuild classic attractions, Toad or 20k, at other locations in the World? I always thought it would be a great way to revamp Disney Studios.

DEB: Nothing that I have ever heard...

I don't quite remember Mr. Toad but I'll take it over Winnie the Pooh any day

Nancy Ford:

Love and miss this ride in WDW! We just returned from Disneyland and insisted on riding Mr. Toad a few times. It's still on our 'don't miss" list!

Andrea S.:

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride used to be one of my favorite rides in Fantasyland growing up. I remember riding that ride over and over again with my sister. This past June my own family went to Disneyland for the first time and I was able to enjoy that ride again. I am grateful that Disneyland has that ride still because I was able to show my own daughters the ride that their mother (and father) used to ride as a child in Walt Disney World.

Jay Riback:

It's all about the $. Pooh merchandise outsells Toad. This is also why the Main Street Cinema was transformed into a space to sell plush toys. It's too bad the bottom line has to get in the way of what the public wants.

gena yates:

Alot of MY childhood fav. rides are gone.....but I'm 40 something !!! Although I LOVED Mr Toads ride and Snow Whites Scary Ride and 20k Leagues, I'm not sure if today's generation of children would love them as much , and after all these rides ARE for children !!! I think those darn princess's (I have Boys ) needed a place for all their adoring little girl fans of today....and there is a cool snow ride ride on the way !! I don't know what replaced 20k ( is it the stage in front of the castle....my memory recalls it being near the castle ) but i believe this one might still be a hit with boys even if they never heard of the book or movie . Lets face it though, the Winnie the Pooh ride is cool for small children and older kids and adults who have grown up with Pooh !! Pooh is much more famous than poor Mr. Toad !! As much as I loved loved loved Mr Toad, u can't keep every old ride and u have to think of what is most appealing to each generation of children....and Pooh has spanned a lot of generations !!!!

Heather Hynes:

I just got back from Disneyland Friday and the first thing we did when I got there was Mr. Toad! I forgot how neat that ride was!

Steve A:

Little Mermaid is where 20k used to be. I can see why they got rid of it. It isn't really handicap accessible.

I loved Mr Toads Wild Ride. I heard they got rid of it because it showed hell. I think that kids are too timid nowadays though. That's probably why Alien Encounters and Snow White's Scary Adventure are gone as well.

DONNA DURRANE:

I was very upset when you got rid of Mr. Toad ride, We been to Disney World 35 times, my youngest son loved that ride, I would tell him he was driving it, all he did was laugh, when the train came, you had to be there to see his face, when we go off he would tell the family how good he did. Now my son has a family he goes down Disney and always wish he could put his children on it, and the have the same fun he did.
never like pooh,no fun.....
bring it back!!!!!!!

I was lucky enough to do a solo trip to Disneyland in 2012, and I didn't make it on all the Fantasyland dark rides. I definitely went on Mr. Toad, though. It doesn't have the same feel as the two different rides in Florida, but it was still a blast to check it out. I like the Pooh ride, but I hate that Toad is gone. We loved it as kids.

John Allen:

I loved Mr Toad and felt horrible that my wife missed it by mere months when I took her for her first Disney trip on our honeymoon in December of 98

Jana:

Just reread Wind in the Willows to my grandchild, age 8. She loved it. To get the ride back we should all encourage Disney Studios to do a new movie. What wonders Pixar could do with that plot.

Post a comment

(All comments must be approved before they appear on the entry.)


Return to Blog Central

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 27, 2013 9:07 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Jim’s Attic: The Cameraman Statue.

The next post in this blog is Carthay Circle Restaurant: The Glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age Meets the History and Heritage of Disney.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.