Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Ratty Car From Disneyland
ORIGINAL CAR FROM “MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE” AT DISNEYLAND (ANAHEIM, CALIF), IN USE FROM 1955-1997 - The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was one of the best of the Disney post-war animated compilations. Released in 1949, it combined the stories of those “two fabulous characters” Ichabod Crane from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and, from The Wind in the Willows and J. Thaddeus Toad.
A few years later, as Walt Disney looked to his animated fantasies as themes for Fantasyland, the unhinged and adventurous Mr. Toad must have seemed a natural for one of the “dark,” or indoor rides. As Basil Rathbone noted in the film’s narration, Toad as “a disturbing factor, a reckless adventurer, having a positive mania for fads while never counting the cost”… characteristics which lent themselves to an exciting, fanciful ride at Disneyland.
Within Walt Disney’s new theme park experiment, Fantasyland was the area most familiar to visitors in 1955, while the themes of the other lands were more general and their attractions required some introduction. Once the guests ventured up Main Street and crossed the castle drawbridge, their attention was drawn to Disneyland’s original three dark rides, Peter Pan, Snow White and Mr. Toad.
The Toad ride was first considered as a form of rollercoaster, with the cars following a downhill track towards obstacles (such as parked cars), which would move out of the way at the last minute. Disney ultimately decided that the ride would not be appropriate for small children and the elderly, and it was toned down. Disney art director Bill Martin designed the ride to carry the original themes of the film. “Viewing the film was part of the design process,” he later recalled. “I made the track layout to start with, but we went through storyboards galore. Since the point was to convert Walt’s cartoon films to rides in Fantasyland, those dark rides were developed from the original 4 x 8 storyboards and concept sketches made for the animated films.”
The most art-intensive of the three original dark rides was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. It was designed to last 1 minute and 38 seconds, a pace to accommodate nearly 700 people an hour. There were a total of twelve original Toad cars, with nine on line (entering Toad Hall every eleven seconds) and three held in reserve. These cars were the same ones in use for over forty years.
The original cars were named individually as Mr. Toad, MacBadger, Mole and Ratty, with two each of Toady, Cyril, Winky and Weasel. Arrow Development built them with two hundred pounds of fiberglass and sheet metal, and was some of the first equipment delivered for the new park.
When Disneyland decided to change the original two-seater cars to four-seater cars (which they were then using at Disneyworld in Orlando), the late Leon Janzen, who along with his brother Jack wrote the Disneyland fanzine E-Ticket, inquired about purchasing one of the old cars. The original designer of the Disneyland ride cars, Bob Gurr, reserved the number 3 and 4 cars for himself and the Janzens. After acquiring them from the park, he took the cars back to his shop and cleaned them, polishing the chrome and sealing it against future oxidation. He also installed a pivot wheel under the front part of each car for ease of movement around his shop. Bob then transferred ownership of Ratty, the #3 car, to Leon and Jack.
Offered here is this original #3 car, the red and black carriage named “Ratty,” which is emblazoned in red letters on the front. As mentioned above, the car has undergone some minor restoration – cleaning, primarily, with the fabrication of a few new parts to replace those that were worn or broken. Other than a few minor scrapes and two bulges in the red vinyl fabric of the seat (all of which can easily be repaired), the car is in exceptional condition.
This car comes with a copy of the original “Disneyland Resort Material Clearance” receipt dated June 18, 1997 listing the #3 and #4 cars, noting the sale has been approved by Earnie Baily and Marty Sklar at Walt Disney Imagineering. Just beneath, a handwritten note documents the transfer of #3 Ratty to Jack and Leon Janzen, which has been signed by Bob Gurr. In addition, the car is accompanied with a signed letter of provenance from Leon Janzen’s wife, discussing the history of the car and how it came into her husband’s possession.
This may be the only opportunity a collector may ever have to acquire such an important part of vintage Disneyland—an actual full-size car used on one of its most popular attractions, ridden and enjoyed by thousands. More than just a fantastic original artifact, this car from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride represents the pleasant return of a warm childhood memory—a memory shared by countless numbers of children since the 1950s.