Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Surviving Mr. Toad, July 1972

What could seem less "Disney" than a dark ride in which you wind up going to hell? Good old Mr. Toad's Wild Ride does it, though, and that's what makes it so great. Today I have three photos showing a previously-seen family as they exit the ride, having just passed through the final "crash doors", back into the sunlight.

Well, those two kids had a swell time! They're laughing their heads off, and craning their necks for a last glimpse of those wiggling demons. Hell is pretty fun, I guess.

Mother and daughter had a good time too. Paging David Cronenberg - those walls look like glistening entrails. 

Uh oh! Maybe it was just a little too intense for these youngsters. The boy is in tears, and big sis doesn't look very happy either. She's hanging on for dear life! 

They may be traumatized for the moment, but I feel like I always appreciate a scare or two in my dark rides. Hopefully it was that way for these two, as well. Eventually.


Nanook said...


'Wiggling demons'. That's exactly where my mind goes when I think of 'Hades'. (This is a family-friendly blog, isn't it-?)

I have a funny feeling the "Mom" in the 2nd image has stuffed her gigantic purse full of 'wiggling demons', as a delightful keepsake. And clearly the two youngsters in the last image are a bit beside themselves, as they discovered to their horror that there are no stripy pants allowed in hell-! Well, they had to be outlawed somewhere.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

These are really great! You've got Weasel and Cyril, but I can't figure out the last Toad car. This also happens to be my favorite of the Fantasyland dark rides.

That's definitely David Cronenberg material on those exit door walls. Naked Lunch or The Brood anyone?

Funny! The back wall is as plain as it can be. Thanks, Major.


I like how the exit door “filigree” is a demon tail!!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I concur. The little girl and Edna T look like they had fun. The boys in pic one just might be on laughing gas. But the stripey twins look like they are going to yak. They look about as happy as Dale and Brennan when the remote got taken away during Shark Week.

I hope these rides never fade away (like so many have). The kids today are seeking thrills and newer themes (Marvel,Star Wars)but the little kids still love them and they are always crowded.

DrGoat said...

My absolutely favorite ride back in the 50s-60s. I've tried over the years to make it my last ride when we visit the park. The trick with us was working it so you get the Mr. Toad car. Usually had to settle for someone else but Cyril wasn't too bad a substitute. Any horse with a last name of Proudbottom can't be bad.

Jonathan said...

Mr. Toad was my second favorite dark ride. Peter Pan's my fav. Emerging photos are always cool, the expressions are priceless. I think everyone of us who were around in the early 70s would like a chance to rethink our wardrobe choices. Thanks Major, great pix.

Melissa said...

So beautiful! It never ceases to amaze me how far a little good stage design will take you.

Kids need a safe place to get scared every once in a while! I'm so glad I got to experience Snow White's Adventures in Florida a whole bunch of times shortly before they tore it down. I only wish I I'd gotten to experience the super-psychadelic, even-scarier, original version. Of course, it's easy for me to philosophize about when kids should and shouldn't be scared, when I don't have to coax an actual preschooler onto every other ride promising him that he's not going to get hit by a train or have a boulder dropped on him this time. But when I see parents letting their kids take flashlights on the Haunted Mansion, I can't help wondering, “Why bother?”

And I was sure I remembered those stripeypants kids from somewhere! Stripeyshirt Mom looks like one of those fun Moms who’s all the cousins’ favorite Aunt.

Stefano said...

That was inspired lunacy, ending the ride with a trip through hell.
There is no such scene in the 1949 Mr. Toad movie. Happily the
designers of the 1983 revamp kept the wit going with the addition
of a devilish prosecuting attorney!

The wall of gore behind the riders is turning into a Rorschach blot; above the boy's head in the last picture I see Ken Anderson's sketch of the skull apple for Snow White's ride.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I would LOVE to have one of those devils from “Toad”! A few from the Florida version have come up for auction (Van Eaton), and I think they fetch something in the range of $6000. Zoiks. In my memory, they were rubbery, but I guess that wasn’t really the case.

K. Martinez, I think that the third (white) car says “Weasel” too, though it is pretty washed out. I had to darken the original scan in Photoshop, and even then it was hard to tell.

Mike Cozart, oh yeah!

Alonzo, who are Dale and Brennan? What’s Shark Week? Who am I? What day is it? I agree with you about the dark rides - it feels as if there is less and less “Disney” in Disneyland every year.

DrGoat, my most recent experiences at the park had Fantasyland so jam-packed after the fireworks and parades that there was no hope of getting on the dark rides, unless one was willing to wait an hour. Which I wasn’t…

Jonathan, Peter Pan is the most beautiful of the dark rides (I’ll have to see if there is a version in Shanghai, and if so, has it been wildly upgraded - next stop, YouTube), but Toad is so manic and fun. And even as a kid I loved that they sent you to hell.

Melissa, by all accounts, the Florida version of Snow White was great - I wish I could have seen it. With all of the land in Orlando, couldn’t they somehow make room for Snow White and Pooh? You are right about having a safe place to be scared, even roller coasters scratch that itch. You’ll see more of Stripeyshirt Mom - wait ’til you see her day-glo pink pantsuit!

Stefano, it took me a moment, but I can see the “screaming” skull! Now it is following me everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Oh this is priceless, what a wonderful set of pictures.

These are the details that make up a Disney visit, spontaneous reaction to being amazed, scared, fooled, enchanted, all simultaneously.

I wish I had a photo of my Mom wigging out when the train headlight appeared.

The skull rorschach in the last pic will haunt my dreams.

Maybe the left wall was blank because it was always going to be behind the riders and the people waiting would be expected to be looking ahead in anticipation? Have to save money where you can.

Thanks Major.


Anonymous said...

Also, this is still a very popular ride. On my trip last year, I waited almost a half-hour for the Toad and longer still for Peter Pan and Alice.

At some points later in the day (around my nap time), Snow White and Pinocchio are almost walk-ons, but Alice, Toad and Pan seem always crowded.

Based on the other newer dark rides for Little Mermaid and Pooh, which could be better narratives, this ride type shouldn't go out of style if it can develop a compelling story, or possibly, an interesting ride pattern like Pan and Alice, both of which are off-beat transports.


Patrick Devlin said...

Boy that younger kid in the last could have been me. I was occasionally brought to tears by rides like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. But it is reasonable: you collide head-on with a train and are sentenced to hell after your gruesome death. So much fun...


JG ANONYMOUS: there’s a NEW-NEW FANTASYLAND for Disneyland that’s being developed for DISNEYLAND and in the recent concepts both SNOW WHITE’S SCARY ADVENTURES and PINOCCHIO’S DARING JOURNEY are removed and replaced with the new BEAUTY & THE BEAST attraction - the same system currently being installed at Tokyo Disneyland.
However , two other attractions gone from recent plans are CASEY JR. CIRCUS TRAIN and STORYBOOKLAND CANAL BOATS replaced with the SEVEN DWARFS DIAMOND MINE COASTER . Dumbo gets relocated between Small World and the current canal boat dock and enhanced with DOUBLE DUMBOS.
Some other changes are in the works as well , but the core of Disneyland’s Fantasyland is changing.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I have the feeling that the little boy might have weathered the ride better if he’d been in the same car as his mom, who was probably laughing out loud. But instead he was stuck with his equally fraidy-cat sister!

JGII, I used to find that Snow White, Pinocchio, and even Alice were practically walk-ons, though now Alice seems to have found some renewed popularity. I think Pinocchio is a beautiful dark ride, and I’m very glad that we have it, especially since it replaced the Fantasyland Theatre - something that I never went in!

Patrick Devlin, I was probably scared of the Toad ride when I was really little, though I don’t remember to be honest. I do remember being afraid to walk through a tunnel - it was just a tunnel - at Knott’s because it was dark. It was probably only about 50 feet long, if that.

Mike Cozart, Noooooooooo! That being said, I confess to not loving Beauty and the Beast as much as everybody else did, so I am extra-apprehensive. I worry that the B&TB ride will be another “Little Mermaid” attraction - greatly anticipated, and then sort of forgotten (I’m amazed at how quickly people stopped talking about that one, except for when it had problems with the animatronics). Keep chipping away at the few remaining attractions that Walt had something to do with, guys. Good going. How are they going to do those "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tours in a few years?

MRaymond said...

From all the recent videos I’ve seen, the final demon doesn’t cough up smoke anymore. His mouth still lights up, though.

K. Martinez said...

Mike Cozart, That's horrible! Every bit of news on what Disney is doing to their parks is turning me off. I am so done with Disneyland and the other Disney parks. It's for the newer generation and I have no interest in it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Pinocchio is my favorite ride! I can't believe they would get rid of it. I love snow white too, how it ends with the dwarves about to get crushed by the witch—then you immediately exist the ride! it's actually pretty scary for little kids, those trees... I also love the Mr Toad ride. The last time I was there (American) kids and parents in lines for these rides had no idea what they were based on, one lady had no idea what Alice and Wonderland was! I heard that's why they changed Tom Sawyer too, because kids don't read anymore and no one knew who Tom Sawyer was. Pretty depressing.

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

I remember riding Mr Toad in WDW before it changed to Winnie the Pooh. Ah, memories. Especially the repressed ones about the shock you receive after going to hell--literally! :D

From what I hear, the attractions in the early days were much different than they are right now. Would be nice to be able to see what the original looked like.

Anonymous said...

@Mike Cozart, that's the saddest news I've heard in just about ever. Those two attractions alone are the major draws for me to come back to Disneyland.

If they go, I will probably never visit again.