Save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

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Moley hangs around.

Hanging around with Mr. Toad and his friends (and associates).

The Early Toad Ins

Toad fans from around the world have converged upon Walt Disney World to show their support for Mr. Toad and his fine Wild Ride many times now.

These are the first four documented Toad Ins.

(Click here to read about the first four documented Toad Ins.)
(Click here to read about the second four documented Toad Ins.)
(Click here to read about the final "official" Toad In.)
(Click here to read about some Uncommon Toad Ins.)

There are no more "official" Toad Ins scheduled.
If you'd like to tell us about your own personal Uncommon Toad In,
please feel free to contact JT.

December 7, 1997

When my friend and I arrived Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at a little before noon, a couple things were disturbing. One, no other Toad fans were there. Two, there were an AWFUL lot of Disney security people there.

Eventually, some other Toad supporters showed up and things began to look up. (Still no reporters or photographers.)

Only a few of them were wearing their Save Toad shirts. I think a lot of people might have been intimidated with the idea of getting kicked out of the park or losing their passes or something...and you certainly can't blame Disney employees for not taking part.

As we were hanging around, we spotted at least three groups of trenchcoated, earpiece-wearing security personnel, as well as several plain-clothes security and some security disguised as janitorial personnel. Plus some more security.

After a while, people started approaching us and asking us if we were the people they had heard about on television Saturday night. Our story had been on Orlando's Channel 9 (the ABC affiliate in Orlando, ha!) and an unknown number of other stations around the country. One woman told us her sister from California called her and told her that she'd heard about us on the news out there.

I've since had reports of our story airing on CBS National Radio, Orlando's Channel 2 (NBC), Central Florida News 13...and I was on an ABC news radio station in Tampa this morning. I returned a call, spoke to a guy for a second, he put me on hold...and I waited for a bit and all of sudden I realized the broadcast I was listening to on hold was talking about Mr. Toad. Before I had a chance to realize what was going on, I was on the air! Very strange. I don't even know what station it was, since as soon as the interview was over, they just hung up.

Anyway, back to the story. A few people were coming up to us and we were explaining why we there and what was going on and nearly everyone we spoke to was very supportive. We got a lot of thumbs-up and the like. We were also cheered by a group of people from the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup, but they were in line and didn't stop by to chat.

Then a reporter from Orlando Weekly and the Toronto Sun showed up and starting interviewing us. The manager of Fantasyland approached her and asked if she was a member of the press and if so, where was her card?

The reporter (Liz Langley) replied that Disney didn't return any of her calls and some more discussion occurred while I was talking to another park guest, but the manager pretty much left Liz alone once she explained that she had paid for her ticket to get into this park and she just wanted to ask us a few questions and take a few pictures. (Check out her article: An Ill Wind in the Willows.)

As we were talking, my friend tried to hand out one of our postcards with Judson Green's address on them. The manager (Camille) explained that we couldn't pass out materials. My friend explained that she was merely providing information that this person had asked for (the web address is printed on the cards), but the manager was pretty firm on the matter. Anyway, I told the manager that we wouldn't distribute the cards and crisis was averted.

We hung around for a good while longer, talking to other customers (many of whom were extremely supportive), each of us getting interviewed by Liz, taking a lot of pictures, and being watched intently by the security personnel who outnumbered us.

One of our plain-clothesed Toad spies had told us earlier that he'd overheard a security guard saying that they were going to give us ten minutes and then disperse us. It is our belief that Liz saved our butts by being there as a representative of the press. The last thing Disney wants is pictures of security guards dragging fans of one of their own rides down the streets of Fantasyland splashed on the front page of the paper.

We then decided to actually go on The Ride, which one of the members of our group had amazingly never been on. We talked to a lot more people waiting in line about the ride.

Anyway, we finally got up to the cars and security was watching us from everywhere. There was a woman on the phone the whole time we were on the ride, probably poised to call for backup immediately.

Of course, we just rode The Ride without any more fuss than the usual screaming about our imminent doom as we crashed through Toad Hall, the town square, Winky's Pub (featuring Rapunzel the naked lady) and into an oncoming locomotive.

When we got off, the Disney officials looked so relieved and genuinely pleased that we hadn't done anything violent that they actually let us bypass the line for a ride on the second side. We enjoyed the pigs, chickens and weasels immensely.

Afterwards a Mr. Toad ride operator told us she was glad we didn't lay down on the tracks or something, and assured us that she wouldn't have run us over.

We said our goodbyes to the Fantasyland manager (who I must say was very nice, considering the circumstances) and went about our own ways in the park.

As we visited City Hall to file our support for Mr. Toad, we were cheered by several employees who liked our shirts. My friend asked if a memo had been passed out about us and the guy said, "Memo? You were on TV!"

We walked around Walt Disney World all day and got quite a lot of support from employees, most of whom had heard of us. One employee told us that they were talking about us in the break room and that they all agreed that Mr. Toad should stay open.

We also got numerous requests from both employees and guests for information on where to get shirts, which came out really well, by the way. If you're interested, send me some mail and let me know. Also, if you'd like some pre-addressed postcards with your shirt, let me know how many you think you'll be able to distribute to family and friends. All you have to do is write your name and address on them, put a stamp on them and drop them in the mail.

What was totally amazing was that we walked all around Walt Disney World all day with t-shirts featuring Mr. Toad lying dead on the ground with crying children surrounding him on the front and the message ASK ME WHY MICKEY IS KILLING MR. TOAD on the back and no one complained. Everyone actually seemed pretty impressed with them.

The one thing that was really missing was some mainstream press. I finally found out why there wasn't any today. I talked to a representative of Orlando's Channel 9 who said that Disney wouldn't let them inside the park. They had a team out there for 3 hours, but they never saw us because we were inside the Magic Kingdom.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Sunday and everyone who will come out this Sunday and very special thanks to Liz Langley.

Toad In I: Rapunzel photo courtesy of Julie Williams. All other photos courtesy of Jennifer "Mandibles" Mandelion.
December 14, 1997

The day started annoyingly enough. Channel 9, the Orlando ABC affiliate, called me at 9am to tell me they couldn't make the 10:30am Toad In because it was on Disney property. They had the press release since Wednesday, so there wasn't much excuse for their behavior, but there you are.

They told me that they had an ABC National News team ready to go in, but since Disney owns ABC, they weren't going to cover the story. After some discussion, they told me that they'd send out an undercover news team to get past security, but we never heard from them. They have since left a message on my machine, saying that Disney "stopped them at the gate", but I'm not sure I believe that. If they are telling the truth, they certainly didn't try very hard.


The Orlando Sentinel team also did not show, for a second week in a row, which was also very disappointing. There was some mix-up last week, and it seems they only have one photographer assigned to weekends and he was busy covering the horrible weather we were standing in. Oh well.

Aside from the lack of press coverage, the Toad In went quite well. We had a lot more people than last week, and nearly all of them wore their very cool Save Mr. Toad t-shirts. Mike & Judy Tuchman also passed out their home-made "Save Mr. Toad" buttons.

The first stage of the Toad In (which was ostensibly for the benefit of the press, who were too cheap to spring for the 40 bucks to get in the Magic Kingdom gate last week), took place just a short distance from where we had planned on meeting. It was a miserable, cold, rainy morning, so rather than waiting under the Magic Kingdom monorail sign at the Ticket and Transportation Center, we gathered under the shelter of the ticket booths.

Then Disney made some money off us, as some Toad In participants had underestimated the chill and needed to buy sweatshirts to wear under their t-shirts.

We hung around for an hour, as planned. It took those staying on-site some time to get to the TTC, since it's not really part of WDW internal transportation's normal routes. The horrible weather also made driving difficult for everyone else.

As we were gathered there, we spoke to some customers and employees, most of whom were very supportive. One employee told us that in his opinion, Toad was threatened because "it all comes down to money". Many people told us that they had heard about us on the news.

There was some security, but not nearly as much as last week.

At 11:30am, we took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. As we boarded, some of the monorail workers saw our shirts and asked us about Mr. Toad. (It's amazing how wearing a shirt that says ASK ME WHY MICKEY IS KILLING MR. TOAD will get people to talk to you.) They wanted to know what they could do to help save Toad Hall, so we gave them some SAVE TOAD postcards. It has been reported that a certain monorail was seen driving around later that day with a bunch of SAVE TOAD cards in the front window.

(By the way, just got this report off the Internet..."Those little green cards have been showing up all over the place. I was talking to one of the bellhops at the Tower of Terror the other day. Knowing that I'm active on the Internet, he asked me what it was all about." Cool!)

We were a pretty sizeable group as we headed to Toad Hall and met up with more Toad supporters, as well as a lot of familiar Disney security and guest relations employees. The large, cool, bald black guy who doesn't smile was back this week, which made me pretty happy, because at least they hadn't totally dismissed us as harmless.

Both Dan (a City Hall manager) and Dave (Fantasyland Attractions Manager) were back again, shaking our hands and welcoming us back as only Disney employees can. Smiling and friendly even though it was obvious they'd rather be doing other things. Dave actually became sort of an honorary Toad In member, hanging out with the group, being subjected to questions while we videotaped him and getting his ear talked off all afternoon by some of the more talkative members of our party.

Dan wanted to know how to buy a shirt. We told him you could get the info from the web site and began to tell him how to find it, but he said he was already "familiar with the site".

We also briefly encountered the Fantasyland Merchandise Manager (didn't catch her name) and asked her why there was no Toad stuff to buy. She said she only sells what they give her. For what it's worth, we suggested to her that they offer some Toad gear already.

As we did last week, we talked to a lot of passing tourists, many of whom had heard of us from news in their home towns. We also spoke to a lot of people in line who were very supportive and told them how to find the web site and what they could do to help. And we also talked to a few employees who were happy that someone was doing something to save Toad Hall from demolition.

We rode both sides of the ride again, but we were not allowed to skip to the front of the line after our first ride as we did last week, because there were too many of us this week. As expected, The Ride did not fail to entertain, altho a prolonged stop in the pitch black of post-train pre-Hell was kinda spooky. Dave rode with us both times, as well. (That's Dave there in the picture. Second from the left, in the standard-issue crowd control bulletproof trenchcoat.)

After riding the right (and more weasel-intensive) side, we said our goodbyes (after praising one carfull of Toadies who did a very impressive job of screaming their heads off in Hell) and split up.

We spent the rest of the day around WDW, talking to other customers and employees who asked us why Mickey was killing Mr. Toad. The only person we spoke to who was not supportive was an exceptionally rude woman who had been drinking who said she was happy Toad was closing, calling the ride "stupid". She asked us if we'd ever been on it and we told her we'd been on it twice that day. She then asked us "Do you know that ride has connotations of Hell?" (or something like that). We told her that it didn't just have "connotations", it friggin had Satan in it! She didn't really take this very well and we were about ready to rumble right there in the restaurant, but luckily for everyone involved, we refrained from beating her silly, even though she clearly deserved it.

All in all, it was another positive experience, despite the weather (which cleared up later in the day, but remained very cold). It's really great to walk around wearing the shirts and to hear from people from all over who have not only heard about Toad's plight, but agree with us that Toad is a classic that should be preserved.

The day went so well, it really is a shame that the press wasn't there to see it.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Toad Ins and also those who couldn't make it to Walt Disney World, but called in on those Sundays.

Toad In II: All photos courtesy of Jennifer "Mandibles" Mandelion.
January 11, 1998

The day of Toad In III (which was the first one in which the weather was not completely foul), we had scheduled the pre-meeting at the Disney Marketplace, in front of the big fountain. After making a big fuss about exactly which fountain we meant, we discovered that the whole thing was covered by an ice-skating rink, making the point moot.

A few of us met at the rink at 10:30am, but as it was apparent that no press was going to show up (apparently we picked the day of some huge Disney marathon that dominated local news that day...oh well...) we dispersed early with plans to meet back at Toad Hall at High Noon.

There was also a guy in a green shirt who just sort of hung around, looking nonchalant. He never approached us and I didn't notice an earpiece...maybe he was just a regular guest (or a closet Toady) and we're just being paranoid, but his behavior was strange.

Security had hassled us earlier and told us to leave, on the grounds of their "dress code". (We were wearing our Save Toad shirts.) We explained that we were allowed in the theme parks and that Disney management was well aware of what our shirts had on them. After making a small attempt at a Disneyesque handling of the situation (by promoting the Animal Kingdom and telling us maybe they could move Toad there (because, you know, Mr. Toad is an animal)), they asked us to leave right then but were reasonably satisfied when we told them we'd be leaving in a few minutes anyway.

A couple Toad supporters went back to their car, and they were shadowed by security officers. A security vehicle also drove past them as they got in their car, making sure these obviously dangerous criminals didn't try anything funny.

Since we had a few extra minutes and I hadn't seen the new Lego Store, we decided to check it out. We were stopped by security on the way there, again citing the "dress code". They were less polite this time, and very firm. We didn't have time for a rumble, so we just left.

So I didn't get to see the store. Oh well.

Security watched us until we got to our car, at which point another security vehicle drove past us. The driver looked us up and down, but it appeared that we weren't packing heat.

We then drove to the Magic Kingdom without incident, putting an end to the acute security risk we posed to the Marketplace.

We caught up with two Toad fans at the hub and approached Toad Hall just a teeny bit late. There we met up with more Toad supporters we'd left back at the Marketplace as well more people who turned out for the event. Unsurprisingly, Dave was back to spend his Sunday with us. He thanked us for mentioning him as an "honorary Toad In member" in the last Toad In report.

He also pointed out that they had upgraded the lights under the Toad facade so that it would stand out more at night. I didn't stay around late enough to see this, but I'll take his word for it. (I think he's good for it.)

The meet went as usual, with curious onlookers and people who stopped by to tell us they'd heard about us. We had Dave take the picture this time, so he's not in this one, then we went on both sides of the ride again. We spoke to a lot of people in line and they all thought closing Toad was a horrible idea. Granted, this was not exactly an objective sample, but it was again good to see so much support for Mr. Toad.

Even Dave told us how much he liked the ride, saying "Where else do you get a chance to go to heck?". He's so Disney it hurts. There's a reason it's him they send him out to deal with us. You can tell he'd rather be somewhere else, but he's never anything but pleasant to the extreme.

Anyway, we hung around for a little while longer, and some of the people who hadn't had a chance to talk to each other earlier chatted for a while. Eventually Dave decided it was time to go off to whereever it is that he goes when he's not forced to deal with us nutballs.

He made his standard subtle (but polite) whimper as we called "See you later!" after him as he left.

We all went our own way after that. True to form, several groups of Toad fans arrived a few hours late and were unable to be a part of the event proper. A crack team of protesters ready to mobilize within minutes we are not.

The rest of our day was pretty cool. As usual, a lot of people asked about our shirts and we informed them of Toad's plight. Even when people don't have the courage to talk to us, there's a constant murmur around us of "Did you hear they're going to close Mr. Toad?" and such.

We had a good time on several attractions, one of which resulted in the nice picture at the top of this page.

One group of Toad fans experienced an interesting side effect of Toad shirt-wearing that would spoil a nice surprise if I told you about it. But you'll hear soon enough.

We talked to a lot of employees and got nothing but support from all of them, except for one, who I'll mention in a bit. Some of them seemed to want to say things, but were too shy or afraid to talk about it. Others asked us if we were the people they'd read about in the paper. Many of them had things to say about certain things and some of them had reactions that I should not mention here because we know Disney reads these reports. (Hi, Dave!)

The only negative reaction was from an employee who worked at City Hall (where we filled out the requisite customer suggestion forms) who opined that some of us "just wanted something to protest" and didn't really care about Toad. While I inflicted no physical harm on the boy, I gave him a generous dose of The Evil Eye. This is obviously not the right person to have in guest relations.

Otherwise, the day was cool, as I said, and if you want to find out what sorts of things can happen, well, you'll just have to come out and visit us on our next Toad In, which will take place March 1 and feature some nice surprises.
Toad In III: Group photo courtesy of Mr. Scrod Nolan. All other photos courtesy of Jennifer "Mandibles" Mandelion.
March 1, 1998

Well, first of all, I want to thank everyone who showed up to Toad In IV. It had the greatest turnout so far (somewhere between 45 and 50 people) and certainly had Disney security out in full force again. Of course, that might have something to do with the planned "surprise", but I'm getting ahead of myself.

One of the first things you noticed if you showed up on time was that I was nowhere to be found. This was the latest Toad In yet (starting at 2:30pm), but I still managed to be late for my own protest. The main problem was that I was having serious technical difficulties arranging the planned "surprise". The person in charge of pulling off the important bit was not only away from the phone, he was "at the beach".

My associate and I spent some time trying to locate him via our only contact -- a person not fully in control of all their faculties, let's just say. The guy was supposed to be back from the beach at 2:30pm, and the slightly incapacitated person told us we should call him then. We explained that if we're on the phone with him at 2:30pm, it'd already be too late. Well, that was the best that could be done, we were told.

So that was frustrating. And then when we got to the gates, another Toad fan hadn't bought their ticket yet and there was no way I wasn't gonna get the friggin Magic Kingdom Club discount for him, so I had to wait in line. Then they closed the ticket window just as we got to the front of the line and blah blah blah. It was a pain.

Anyway, once I was sure he had his discount, I (already late) proceeded straight to Toad Hall to find a mighty big gathering of green-shirted Toad fans. It was the first good moment of the day for me.

As most anyone who was coming was pretty much already there, the great big crowd cheered when I showed up and demanded I make a speech. I believe my eloquent speech went something like "'s a good ride. Save the friggin ride. Thank you."

Hey, I'm no politician, I'm just a geek who digs The Ride.

Anyway, the Disney suits were checking me out for signs of a surprise, but we were both disappointed. As you've probably guessed, the surprise never came about. I didn't bother with the 2:30pm phone call, as that wouldn't have amounted to anything anyway.

So the surprise has been delayed until Toad In V. Can you stand the suspense?

The crowd was full of people who heard about our cause on the Internet, including some people who had travelled all the way from Japan to take part. (You can see them in the group photo down there. Behind me, next to the suits.) Well, I'm sure it wasn't just to take part, but they were definitely genuinely from Japan. They even brought the e-mail with them that they had received from Deb Wills, founder of the excellent WDW Info Guide, that had interesting Japanese characters on it. Anyway, I didn't understand much of what they said, but they were extremely polite and good-natured and seemed to have a good time on The Ride.

Also of note was 21 month old Gabriel, the youngest Toad In participant ever. Not only was it his first trip to the park, but Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was his first Disney ride ever. That's him in that picture over there. (He's the smaller one.)

Sam the Pro-Toad Bartender filed this report that I missed completely:

"...we were all brooding (about 50 of us) out in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride when Cpt. Hook stepped out from behind the bushes to confront the group. He pointed to Mr. Toad then ran his finger across his neck (indicating that he's a goner) then after a few boos and heckles from us he did the old thumbs down kinda thing and went back to his character area.

It was kinda neat, I didn't have a reason to hate Cpt. Hook till then."

Wish I'd seen that. He really is evil.

As usual, we hung around for a while, talked to passers-by, posed for a group photo. Our group was so large the photo by the photo by T.R. was the only one I've seen that wasn't split into two parts.

As you might have heard, Dave the Fantasyland manager was unable to the make this Toad In, so they sent out Dan the City Hall manager (and Toad In veteran) and Joe the Replacement Dave to babysit us. (That's Dan shaking my hand there.) They teased me about the lack of a surprise, then told me that Dave had been reassigned to Epcot, since the suits had labelled him a Toad sympathizer.

They were just yanking my chain, of course, and had a good laugh at my expense.

I never had to take that kind of krap from Dave! They didn't even wear the patented Dave bullet-proof flame-retardant trenchcoat. Altho they did have earpieces, which is nice.

Joe the Replacement Dave can be seen in that picture right over there with Kelly, who, it should be noted, made her mom drag her all the way to Disney so that she could exercise her right as an American to stick it to The Man. (Joe is the one in the tie, representing The Man.)

While we were lining up for the group photo (as various people who did not want to be photographed for aesthetic or political reasons cleared out), Dan was asked if it was OK if we chanted something. He kinda squinted and said ", I don't really think that's a good idea." and then everyone started chanting "Toad! Toad! Toad!" anyway. I told Dan that I had no control over these crazy people, but luckily it sorta faded out just as security was starting to look a little uneasy.

After the group photo, it was time to experience The Ride itself. There were so many of us this time, that we attacked both sides simultaneously.

We also got some drive-by car-to-car pictures that are kinda cool, as you can see.

The first one is at the entrance, before we entered Toad Hall, and the second is in the heart of The Ride, in Town Square. That's Winky's pub in the background behind the smiling Rob.

Some people reported arriving over an hour late, but being happy to see that a good number of us were still hanging around after The Ride.

Due to the lack of the "surprise", some activities have been postponed, but some of us did manage to get a much cooler shot on Splash Mountain, which you can see above.

Also of note, one Toad protester (who arrived even later than I) was hassled by security about his shirt (which says ASK ME WHY MICKEY IS KILLING MR. TOAD). He tried to reason with them, explaining that we are allowed to wear these shirts in the park and that many have done so in the past, but apparently they were very assertive. He told them that he'd just go and change then, but they told him to change right there.

So, right there on Main Street, he turned his shirt inside out and proceeded to the Toad In (where he promptly turned it back in front of all of us). Dan heard about this told us he'd take care of it, then started giving orders into his walkie-talkie. So it's officially safe for us to walk the streets of the Magic Kingdom again.

And if anyone gives you any guff about wearing your shirt in the park, just tell 'em "It's OK, check it out with Dan."

So thanks again to everyone who took part. I hope to see you out there again. Beginning soon, we are going to start having weekly Toad Ins to apply a more continuous pressure on Disney. I'm not going to be able to attend all the future scheduled Toad Ins, but if you care to report on them, you can be our Very Special Guest Reporter of the Day.
Toad In IV: Large group, handshake, and scarf guy photos courtesy of T.R.. Small group of Toadies and Town Square photo courtesy of Meli O'Girl. Picasso Toad and cool Toad sign courtesy of Mr. Scrod Nolan. Head-on pre-entrance photo courtesy of IRC Rob. Joe & Kelly photo courtesy of Kelly's Mom. All other photos courtesy of Jennifer "Mandibles" Mandelion.
April 19, 1998

Toad Ins have now become a weekly event.

(Click here to read about the first four documented Toad Ins.)
(Click here to read about the second four documented Toad Ins.)
(Click here to read about the final "official" Toad In.)
(Click here to read about some Uncommon Toad Ins.)

See the Shirt
Save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!
See the Button
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!
Electronic Toad Hall
Fame & Fortune
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!
The Toad Timeline
Team Toad's View
More Toad than Toad
Friends of Toad
The Toad Ins
Miscellaneous Toad
Uncommon Toad Ins
The Final Chapter
See the Postcards
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