For several years, Walt Disney wanted to create a film adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s book called The Wind in the Willows. The book was about human-like animals named Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. These animals go on several adventures, which include Mr. Toad crashing cars, going to the hospital, paying fines, going to jail, escaping, and learning valuable life lessons with his friends along the way.

The main problem was the fact that the story was not long enough to reasonably turn into a feature-length film. Walt also felt that it lacked the same quality as his other animated feature films up until then. This occurred during the big Animators Strike in the 1930’s and 1940’s. After years and years of on-and-off production, the company finally decided to pair the story of The Wind in the Willows with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The result was the 1946 animated film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. It was only 68 minutes long, but still received positive reviews. The film first aired on television as part of ABC’s Disneyland show.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was an original attraction at Disneyland from opening day in 1955. Unlike the other Fantasyland attractions at the time, Mr. Toad’s was not a re-enactment of the film. Instead, it was a chaotic and rambunctious new story involving the same characters. Of course, Mr. Toad is driving a motorcar like a maniac. And we are just along for the ride…the WILD RIDE, that is!

The original version in Disneyland California was simple. Yet, it was one of the most beloved opening day attractions. There were several reasons for this. First of all, it was exciting and new. Unlike the other Fantasyland attractions, riders could not anticipate what was going to happen because it was a different story from its source material. Second of all, it was obvious you were supposed to feel like the main character of Mr. Toad. You are riding in his motorcar on an adventure to nowhere in particular, just like he would. Nobody complained about never seeing Mr. Toad on the ride because it was universally understood that you are Mr. Toad. The other Fantasyland attractions received some backlash over this because it was less obvious to them. Their respective protagonists have since been added to all the attractions, except for Mr. Toad’s, to fix these issues.

The Magic Kingdom Version

When deciding which attractions to duplicate in Magic Kingdom from Disneyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was an obvious choice. However, there were some major upgrades in store for the duplicate version (if you can even call it that). First of all, Magic Kingdom’s version of the attraction had two different tracks, each with a different experience. Second of all, many of the previous two-dimensional plywood props were upgraded to three-dimensional set pieces. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride opened along with Magic Kingdom Park on October 1, 1971. Just like its predecessor, it was an immediate hit.

Track A (Left Side)

Part of the excitement of the two tracks came at the moment your motorcar starts moving. It does so at the same time as those on the opposite track. It looked and felt like you were about to crash into them! Luckily though, there was a last-minute turn into the ride. Guests on this track first venture through Toad’s trophy room, then his kitchen. Then you speed out of his house and into the forest where some very colourful characters are camping. Before you knew it, you were driving on the wrong side of the road. Several “WRONG WAY” and “ONE WAY ROAD” signs urge you to “GO BACK.” But of course, as the wild driver that Mr. Toad is, we kept going and almost crashed into those on the other track again.

Both cars on each track now enter the same room, which was depicted as Town Square in the film. Then you drive into a tavern with scantly clad women and a bartender tossing alcoholic beverages around. We speed out of there, pass some weasels hiding behind barrels, and pass by Ratty’s house. All of a sudden, we find ourselves in the way of an oncoming train. We crash and are sent to a dark, hot room where Satan reigns. You guessed it: “Hell.” Then, you turn one last corner and the ride is over.

Track B (Right Side)

Just like Track A, riders on Track B almost crash into the others before narrowly escaping into the ride. First, you drive through the fireplaces and into Toad’s library. Then you break out to the barnyard where you almost hit a couple of farm animals. Of course, you end up going the wrong way again with tons of signs advising you to turn around, just like before. This resulted in another near crash with the Track A vehicle before entering the same Town Square scene. Your motorcar heads into the courthouse where you are found guilty of reckless driving and sent to jail. You and the weasels break out. Our motorcar barely escapes the shoot-out between weasels and police. Before we can get too confident though, we are once again hit by an oncoming train and sent to “Hell.” The “Hell” scene is the mirror opposite of the same scene in Track A. And finally, the ride is over.


As time went on, the attraction at Magic Kingdom began to age audience preference changed as well. Sometimes that is not an issue. But sometimes it is. With Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, it was an issue. In the beginning and middle scenes where the vehicles on each track almost collide was difficult to get the timing correct. Since one cast member was in charge of loading, unloading, and starting each side of the ride, coordinating was a pain. Proper coordination meant longer wait times. But without that cooperation, the effect did not work.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Magic Kingdom also had multiple depictions of things parents might not have liked. There were scantly clad women, portraits of nude women, references to alcohol, violence, and a literal depiction of “Hell” and Satan himself. While there might not have been any backlash for this yet, Disney probably saw the writing on the wall here. It was then that information leaked about the ride’s possible closure. Replacing it would instead be a Winnie the Pooh dark ride.

We have seen this several times before. Disney makes plans, people get mad, and Disney does it anyway. When this information got out, there was an entire campaign launched to “Save Mr. Toad.” And this was not just petitions and strongly worded letters. This campaign inspired actual protests both outside and inside the parks. Protesters wore green shirts that said “Save Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” on them. The picture on these shirts actually showed what looks like a funeral for Mr. Toad, in order to get their message out there.

Needless to say, Disney decided to change the attraction anyway. Today, people still miss the wackiness that was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Magic Kingdom. However, there are so many people who love The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh now, too. Changing attractions is a double-edged sword, but usually better in the long run, and Disney has known this for much longer than we have. As much as it breaks our hearts, we still understand the need for change along the way.

Do not worry though. Fans of Mr. Toad can still see him in the Winnie the Pooh ride. Inside Owl’s house is a picture on the wall of Mr. Toad giving the deed over to Owl. If that does not warm your heart, what will? And if you are really itching for another wild ride with Mr. Toad, you can still head over to Disneyland in California!