When guests visit Walt Disney World, sometimes they are going for only their second visit or maybe even just a third. Others may arrive in Orlando and say to their familes, “I can’t believe it’s been six years since the last time we were here.” How do those guests feel then when they walk around the corner prepared to enjoy a specific attraction and it’s just not there?
I know how it is personally because Disney trips aren’t something that are a rare occurrence. Two summers working at Walt Disney World and having a family that went multiple times a year made it easy to enjoy my favorite rides and attractions more than most. But it still was disappointing when we’d show up and the walls advising us that a certain area was “being refurbished for our future enjoyment” were up in front of something we wanted to ride. That happened one time and it’s something that still bothers me to this very day.
No matter how many times we arrive at Magic Kingdom and see some kind of new attraction being erected or something being changed; it will never be as devastating as the day we arrived and saw that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was done for.
Mr. Toad is one of those characters that not everyone may recognize or remember right away because he isn’t nearly as popular or famous as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck or even Peter Pan. Mr. Toad comes from the original story, “The Wind in the Willows” which was eventually turned into a Disney animated short. The short always appeared in conjunction with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” tale starring Ichabod Crane. Still to this day, it is one of my favorite DVDs to watch whenever Halloween comes around.
The attraction itself came from that animated short and literally took you through the story room by room as you rode in an old-fashioned “motorcar.” Let’s start from the outside though first shall we?
Mr. Toad’s queue line was amazingly detailed and simply beautiful to look at while you weaved your way through and listened to “We’re merrily merrily merrily on our way to nowhere…in particular.” You’d watch as the red, blue, yellow, and green cars rolled out of the tunnel and you’d read the name on the front hood wondering if you’d get one that said something like “Mr. Toad” or “Moley.” It was as enjoyable a queue line as you’d find anywhere in all of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. But that was only the beginning of a journey you’d never forget.
Did I mention the entire inside of the attraction was doused in black-lights because it was.
There were two sides to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and you’d get a totally different aspect of the story depending on which direction you went, left or right. Check out the two videos below to see both sides. Trust me when I say though that either way you go is going to result in a complete mind trip for you. Rounding sharp curves in your motorcar, you’d come meet gypsies, weasels, a corrupt bartender, and even come face-to-face with a speeding locomotive. Not being of the best quality of people (since technically you are supposed to be Mr. Toad), the accident with the train didn’t end very well and your final stop was in a place with a lot of fire, tiny floating devils, and one big old devil meant to scare the life out of you.
Sounds rather demonic and not very Disney-like, but it became a favorite of guests no matter if they had seen the animated short or not. People were drawn to it and just absolutely loved it. It was also a good ride to go on any time of the day because it moved so quickly that there was very rarely a line. Or simply if you had time to kill for one reason or another and wanted to get something in quick, the ride itself didn’t last more than maybe five minutes. Anything and everything that was good about Fantasyland was seen in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Then came the fateful day that the refurbishment walls were up and we realized that this was a lot more then touching up the paint or making sure all the animatronics were working correctly. Things were being taken down. The queue line music wasn’t playing. Subtle changes were happening and then we noticed that the statue of Mr. Toad was gone from the top center of the attraction outside. We were crushed.
What could be coming?
What will be put in its place?
Who on earth believes they could be better and more entertaining than Mr. Toad?
Sigh, the answer to that would be Winnie the Pooh and the whole gang from the Hundred Acre Woods. Out went Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and in stepped The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. While Pooh and his friends have not always been my favorites; the ride is rather entertaining and creative so be sure to check it out. In no possible way though will it ever make me forget Mr. Toad.
Disney Imagineers wanted to make sure you didn’t forget either as a bit of a tribute was given to our now long-lost friend. As you are riding along in your honey pot and you enter Owl’s house? Look immediately to your left on the wall to see a picture of Mr. Toad handing the deed of the attraction space to Owl. Sure it makes me smile as it is a fun little thing to see, but I’m still not happy about it.
From what I have heard, but have yet to see it, there is also a picture of Mole and Winnie the Pooh somewhere in the ride. Make sure you check out the pet cemetery over by Haunted Mansion too and you’ll find our favorite toad in all his glory.
Sadly, Mr. Toad went merrily merrily merrily (literally) to nowhere.
Check out the rest of the Lost Attraction series:
For e-mail updates whenever a new article is posted, please subscribe at the top of the page and follow me on Twitter: @CapnDanny, GoogleBuzz, or join my group on Facebook.
Be sure to visit Walt’s Basement for all the Disney talk and news you need.