Right around the corner from the Mad Tea Party and across from Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Since Pooh and the gang have been childhood staples for generations, it’s hard to believe they didn’t always have a ride at the Magic Kingdom. In fact, when you riding through the Hundred Acre Wood in a Hunny Pot, you’re actually in the same space once home to one of the strangest Disney attractions ever! Fortunately, Disney Imagineers know how to honor the past as much as they look to the future; and if you know where to look, you may find tributes or relics from Disney attractions of the past. So for today’s installment of Attraction Archaeology, we’re rediscovering Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and where Mr. Toad can still be found in the park today!
What was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was an opening day dark ride attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. It was based on Disneyland’s version which is still in operation today and was inspired by Disney’s 1949 feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Unlike other Disneyland attractions replicated at Walt Disney World, the East Coast Mr. Toad’s was bigger and arguably better due to two tracks each with their own experience but with the same surprisingly dark ending.
On Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, guests boarded a motorcar for their own reckless, wild joyride to nowhere in particular! But this attraction wasn’t your typical dark ride. It was quicker, zanier, and a little scarier with tight turns, near misses, and simulated collisions.
Guests who rode on the right track began by rocketing through the library of Toad Hall, the barnyard, and then through town plaza where they nearly collide with the motorcars running on the left track! From there, the motorcar zipped through a courtroom, a jailbreak, and then collided head on with a train.
The left track took guests through more of Toad Hall before breaking out into the woods and into a gypsy camp. Next the motorcar drove through town plaza where it passed cars on the right track before driving into Winky’s Tavern. Once outside, the motorcar drove into a railroad tunnel where it also collided with a train.
Now the ride on both tracks didn’t end with the train collision. Such reckless driving has consequences and so both tracks end up whisking the motorcars through a scene depicting hell complete with cartoon demons and Satan. Yep, not quite the happily ever after you would expect in a Fantasyland attraction, is it?
Why Did It Close?
The reasons for closing and replacing attractions are complex, and we may never know the full stories behind why they happen. What we do know is J. Thaddeus Toad lacked the mass appeal of Winnie the Pooh. Kids in Fantasyland were much more likely to know Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore than Toad or Mole.
Also, it can’t be denied that several of those plywood sets in Mr. Toad’s weren’t exactly politically correct and wouldn’t have survived long anyway. Lastly, do I really need to explain this children’s ride iconic yet problematic ending?
Despite fan resistance in the form of protests and campaigns, Toad Hall closed its doors on September 7, 1998.
What Attraction Is There Now?
The space which was once occupied by Toad Hall and the English countryside is now home to the Hundred Acre Wood. Instead of a motorcar, guests board a Hunny Pot to travel through scenes from the 1977 animated film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Mr. Toad’s two tracks offering two different ride experiences isn’t offered in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s believed the ride’s attached gift shop Hundred Acre Goods occupies some of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’s original ride space allowing for that second track. It would seem that Pooh is indeed a capitalist.
However, the Hunny Pot ride vehicles in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh do bounce when Tigger appears. Plus, this attraction received an interactive queue in 2010 where kids (and adults!) can pass the time in line.
Where to Find Mr. Toad Today?
While Imagineers are innovative and always looking to the future, they also know how to honor the past. For example, inside The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Imagineers left a few tributes to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for those who know where to look.
During the scene in Owl’s House after it fell in the blustery day, there is a framed picture on the floor of Pooh and Mole from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Also, on the wall is another framed picture, but this one shows Mr. Toad handing the deed to Owl. However, you may need to turn a bit in your seat and look behind you when entering the room to see it.
Surprisingly the tributes to Mr. Toad aren’t confined to Fantasyland. Next door in Liberty Square, tucked in the back of the Haunted Mansion’s pet cemetery, is a statue of the one J. Thaddeus Toad! At first glance, it’s meaningful for those who miss Mr. Toad to know the Imagineers took the time to respect a past attraction, but it’s a little creepy thinking Mr. Toad is buried at the Haunted Mansion. I guess there really was room for one more…
While I love today’s attractions Disney Parks today, I also enjoy discovering relics and tributes to the magic and memories that came before and their presence in the parks today. Were you able to experience Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? If so, please share your memories! Will you look for the tributes to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride during your next spin on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh?