March 11, 2013

Inside Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland exterior statue rooftop
It's time for Mouse Troop's first Toad-related post of 2013, and today we're actually climbing aboard one of those awesome motorcars; get ready for a trip through Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland queue tapestry mural
The entry hall tapestry pays tribute to the mural on the 1955 version's exterior. It details your upcoming trip from beginning to end.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland chandeliers library queue
The short interior queue gives us a glimpse of Toad's lifestyle. He certainly loves chandeliers...and carvings of himself.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland statue Toad queue wooden
 He looks so innocent...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior fireplace doors
We watch a few cars begin their journey by entering the library, knocking poor MacBadger off a ladder...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior fireplace doors crash
...and crashing out through the fireplace, sending sizzling embers across the floor.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior car motorcar weasel
As we climb aboard our motorcar, I must apologize for the upcoming murky, grainy on-ride photos. Between my slow reflexes, my iPhone's limitations and the ride's many abrupt turns, the results of this photo safari leave a lot to be desired. On the plus side, I think the shots manage to convey the look and black-light atmosphere of the ride...in a murky sort of way...

And...we're off! We encounter MacBadger, crash through the fireplace, escape a falling suit of armor and (as the black-light effects take over), rush down down a weasel-infested hall, disrupt Mole's dinner, and crash out of the mansion through a glass wall...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior cop bobby whistle
The local bobbies are not pleased to see us crashing through the countryside. We avoid a near head-on collision with another car (our own reflection) and pass Ratty's riverside home.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior cops bobbies light
Could this be any blurrier? More annoyed bobbies shine a spotllight on us from a stone bridge above.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior shepard sheep bridge
This shepard's not too happy to see us, either.

Leaving the countryside behind, we stumble onto a city loading dock, then crash into a warehouse...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior crates barrels TNT
...into the scene that really defines Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and one of the best-designed rooms in theme park history. This is one scene that was left pretty much intact for the 1983 remodel, but updated with startlingly clear sound effects of smashing crates and creaking planks.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior crates barrels TNT
Even if it's your first time, you just know what's gonna happen when you reach that tipsy stack of barrels.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior blam explosion TNT
The guidebooks used to warn about the strobe lights in this section. The warning's gone, but the fun strobe effect remains. My iPhone likes to turn this section completely red, but there really are more colors here.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior truck delivery
 I always forget this truck's coming. Again, great use of sound.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior Winky's Pub
Through Winky's pub. If you haven't seen the film, Winky framed Toad for car theft. Jerk. We head into the town square, frightening a pie seller and knocking a scaffold out from under some painters. The courthouse looms ahead...
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior judge prosecutor court
We are caught and sentenced!

On the way to our jail cell, our car tries to escape down a tunnel. Unfortunately for us, it's a train tunnel and there's an oncoming locomotive dead ahead. As its headlight passes over us, we hear a terrible crashing sound...all's dark for a moment. Then....
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior hell mouth demon
We're in hell! Some people think Fantasyland's hell is It's a Small World, but...no...it's right here. We enter through a demonic stone mouth.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior hell devil demon
A familiar-looking devil sentences us to further depths. We pass some steam-projection demons and cackling imps from the original version.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disneyland interior hell dragon monster
And then a dragon shows up. Why? I dunno. But everything's better with dragons, so there ya go. He originally blasted steam clouds at riders while having a coughing fit. On this trip, he was just coughing and flashing a light from his mouth. The rock wall opens up and we escape, alive and well, back to the comforting interior of Toad Hall, where Mr. Toad has learned his lesson. Not really, though. Toad never learns. He can't; Toad, Badger, Ratty and Mole all represent different aspects of a single human personality. One can't exist without the other three. And you thought dark rides were all fluff and nonsense!

MORE ABOUT TOAD:

There have been four versions of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: The Disneyland original, the two tracks at Walt Disney World (so amazingly different from each other they could legitimately be considered two separate rides), and Disneyland's 1983 remodeled version -- the only remaining Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on Earth. I've ridden all four and would rank them in this order:

BEST: A tie between the current Disneyland version and the Cops VS. Weasels side of the Florida Version.

2ND BEST: The old Disneyland verison. It was technically the crudest, but it packed a punch.

LEAST FAVORITE: The Gypsy Camp side of the Walt Disney World version. It was still wonderful, but not as "wild" as the others.

I know someone who would disagree with this list, and I encourage you (if you haven't already) to visit Widen Your World for one of the most amazing articles ever written about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The piece pays loving tribute to WDW's version of Toad while perfectly expressing what made the Florida MTWR such a strange and wonderful joy. The author finds DL's version inferior, which--of course--I disagree with, but (and the author points this out) it has much to do with which version you grew up with. The article describes DL's ride as claustrophobic, but I grew up with DL's Toad, so--for me--Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is supposed to feel claustrophobic. I actually found Florida's ride too open; it didn't feel as intense to me. Yet, I completely agree that the Florida Toad had snappier, more colorful set designs with a wonderful cast of background characters designed by Rolly Crump.

Also, check out Dave Land for much sharper interior flash shots.

If you can get to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, try to pick up the back-issue of E Ticket Magazine detailing the creation of the 1955 original MTWR, as well as the various changes made to the ride over the years.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a ride to Nowhere In Particular. I promise not to write any more posts about how much I love Mr. Toad's Wild Ride...this week...

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking me down memory lane :)

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  2. Nice job! I grew up with the two Florida versions, so I was sad to see them go. I was able to ride the Disneyland one last year, and it felt different because my memories are so tied to the WDW ride. Still, it was a blast to check out. I'm hoping it's still there when I eventually take my daughter there.

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