“Wind in the Willows” also inspired musical artists. Pink Floyd named their 1967 debut album “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” after a chapter in the novel. Several classical style musical compositions have been inspired by the book as well. A strange marriage of narrated excerpts from “Wind in the Willows” was set to various styles of music in a 90-minute mix by Paul Oakenfold (as part of his “Urban Soundtracks” series”).
A Wild Ride
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, based upon Toad’s obsession with motorcars and taking visual cues from Disney’s infamous 1949 animated motion picture, opened along with Disneyland in 1955. It was originally conceived as a roller coaster. The attraction departs from book in its eccentric ending, a visit to hell. Voices within the whimsical ride include audio clips from the Disney movie and performances by voice actor Corey Burton.
Above the attraction’s entrance is Toad’s coat of arms, which contains the Latin words, “Toadi Acceleratio Semper Absurda.” This amusing inscription literally means “Toad’s Ever-Absurd Acceleration.”
Walt Disney World’s version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride also opened when the park premiered (1971), but was closed in 1998 to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This version featured larger ride vehicles (seating four instead of two) and two different tracks (each with different scenes). Tributes to Mr. Toad’s long-lost follies can be found within the Winnie the Pooh attraction. Those include images of Toad and of Mole within the ride as well as a statue of Toad in the Haunted Mansion’s pet cemetery.
Disneyland Paris was supposed to also receive an updated version of the ride intended to more closely follow the book, including a change to the story’s end. Instead, a restaurant named “Toad Hall” was installed within Fantasyland.
For fans who cannot find their way to California and those who miss Walt Disney World’s wild ride, there is a virtual version. Using Quick Time, visitors to Virtual Toad can mouse their way around the dark ride. Images from the VR attraction can also be found on the site.
Toad and pals still entertain in Disney’s original magical escape in Anaheim, California and have a presence in Paris. The attraction will always hold fond childhood memories of visits to the Magic Kingdom in the 1970’s.