The New Yorker

Save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

September 21, 1997
Only Connect Column
Page 41

Save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride ( -- This humble site chronicles the efforts of a few to prevent the destruction of one of Walt Disney World's most beloved attractions. In its original incarnation, at California's Disneyland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (taken from the vehicular adventures of the gentleman fool of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows) achieved cult status. It was a favorite of acidheads in the sixties, beloved for both its frenetic pace and its sharp, un-Disney-like turns. (At the climax, the out-of-control car descends into Hell.)

The Disney World version, in Florida, drew an equally devoted (if less dosed) following, some of whom were appalled last October to hear that the ride was doomed. A small band (now known as Team Toad) began gathering weekly at the park to protest. The "Toad Ins" are recounted here (you'll also find links to numerous Mr. Toad sites) by the group's impassioned, if somewhat inarticulate leader. "I'm not much of a spokesman," he admits. "I'm just someone who cares more about the Magic Kingdom than Eisner does."

For a long time, the folks at Walt Disney World didn't admit any plans to destroy the ride, but they didn't exactly deny the possibility, either. As Team Toad grew more organized, park security reportedly grew peevish, alarmed in part by the group's T-shirt message: "Ask Me Why Mickey Is Killing Mr. Toad." According to Toad In reports, other park staffers were more sympathetic. Benjamin Franklin (the Disney version) praised the team as "revolutionary spirits"--though Captain Hook allegedly drew his hook across his throat to indicate Toad was toast. Alas, Hook was right. On September 7, the geniuses at Disney closed the great amusement-park attraction to make room for a Winnie the Pooh ride, honoring a honey-sucking bear over the intrepid Toad. For comfort, Team Toad need only remember Toad's song of himself: "The clever men at Oxford / Know all that there is to be knowed. / But none of them know one half as much / As intelligent Mr. Toad!"
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