Friday, March 18, 2011

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

This week we're merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily on our way to nowhere in particular as we look at the terrific typography of the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is one of the classic dark rides of Fantasyland. It's one of the last remaining attractions from Disneyland's opening day back in 1955. The attraction is based on the Disney short, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and loosely based on the classic tale of The Wind in the Willows. Disneyland wasn't the only park to feature this attraction—Walt Disney World had its own version which was much larger and boasted a two track system. Sadly, on September 7th of 1998, Winnie the Pooh evicted J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. from Toad Hall. To this day, fans are still upset over the loss. Thaddeus, however, still roams around the park to this day. You can see him handing over the deed to Mr. Owl in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; a few retro t-shirt designs pay homage to the attraction, and at one time you could see a grave marker dedicated to the loss of the beloved character over at the Haunted Mansion’s pet cemetery.

As with any attraction in Fantasyland, you’ll notice the heavy hand of Fraktur, Blackletter, Gothic, Medieval and Old English fonts, which is fitting to the themes of fantasy and fairy tales, not to mention Mr. Toad. The classic novel of The Wind in the Willows is set in a pastoral version of England, the country from which many of these type classifications originated. Amongst the classic typography of the attraction, designers incorporated wacky and fun display fonts to carry out the theme of a wild ride. Unlike Walt Disney World's version, Disneyland's typography consists strictly of classic font specimens and doesn't incorporate the silly and fun display fonts. When WDI remodeled Disneyland’s Fantasyland back in the early eighties, all of the classic dark ride attractions received new facades to better fit their respective themes. It appears Tony Baxter nixed any crazy display fonts that broke the theme and tight integration of the story. 

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride will always be my favorite classic Disney dark ride. I have fond memories of me and my mother speeding through Toad Hall and the British countryside. Each time I visit Disneyland, it's one the highlights of my trip. Well that does it for this week’s installment of typography from the parks. Tune in for another fun Retro 71 concept and a few new Kuler palettes. Thanks for stopping by and have a swell day.