Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Gem!!

Hey guys, it's time for another episode of Disney Gems! Last time we met, I wrote about a priceless piece of art inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. A brilliant piece of red headed deliciousness. Next I want to address another gem, but it's less provocative. This certain gem has been a part of Disneyland since the park opened in the summer of 1955; July 17th to be exact. Anyone wanna guess? Anyone wanna take a stab at this? Wrong! Its not the train! I'm talking about none other than Mr. Toads Wild Ride!


Mr. Toad's Wild Ride the way it looked on opening day. Photo courtesy of the wonderful Yesterland.com

Few people realize that Mr. Toad has been a part of Fantasyland since the beginning. It's a beloved ride in the park, and draws almost as much attention as Peter Pan's Flight. In this ride, the story goes that Mr. Toad is a millionaire and is reckless with his choices, and really sucks at driving! He hits everything that's in front of him and almost kills multiple police officers. The first part of the ride, he's driving through his mansion, for Hell's sakes! Speaking of Hell, we will get back to that in a few.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride as it appears today, as the front door to Toad Hall

The ride is loosely based on the beloved characters in the Disney film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, with the Mr. Toad segment being based off of Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows". Never read the book, don't care. Apparently it was good, but why read the book when you can ride the ride? It's a fantastic ride, and still is today! It has withstood the sands of time. Who wouldn't want to ride in a buggy and raise some hell by running people off of the road, dodging horses and then driving straight into Winkie's bar for a pint? My favorite part of this ride however is the ending, and it's not a happy one.

"What?? Disney has a ride without a happy ending?" Yes my fine fellow, they do. Ride Mr. Toad and you will see. You get hit by a train, go to Hell (told you we would come back to it), and then...drum roll please...you STAY in hell! The ride ends! It ends with you still in hell!
The ride is summarized on the mural in the loading area, Hell and all.

 What kind of happy ending is that? Its not the kind of Happy Ending in Vegas, that's for sure. It's almost as if when they were building the ride, the construction foreman was having a really bad day, and the workers said "Hey boss, we're running out of room on the Toad ride. How can we wrap up the story nicely?" To which I imagine the foreman said "Go to hell!"...."Brilliant! Thanks boss!"  All joking aside, it's still a sweet little gem of Disneyland that has historical meaning and is still fun to ride, even after almost 60 years. Walt and his crew of Imagineers knew what they were doing for sure!