June 1, 2009

Journeys to Nowhere in Particular

Just what is Mr. Toad up to? If you'd like to know, you either have to read The Wind in the Willows, the book by Kenneth Grahame, or visit one of two Magic Kingdom style parks.

The most fulfilling journey will come from those taken at Disneyland in California. In fact, it is the only place you can actually hop aboard an old motorcar for a brief but thrilling excursion through Toad Hall and then London itself. (Imagineering's David Naylor created the painting above in 1982.)

Sadly, Walt Disney World's version of Toad's travels closed in the late 1990's to make way for the blustery adventures of a silly ole bear. The Magic Kingdom is the poorer for it, as Florida's version had not one but two separate journeys! I always did like taking two rides through upon each visit. Of course, you get always visit via web! For extensive details and photos, go to Widen Your World . For an on line ride thru, head to Virtual Toad.

The only other place to go and experience a bit of Toad is at Disneyland Paris. In this beautiful French park, although the exteriors of Toad Hall look the same, the residence is actually a British restaurant! The detail is still stunning, and if you look around, you'll find one of many little charming touches: a portrait of Mr. Toad himself sits on a wall above diners. Look carefully- here Mr. Toad is envisioned by great European artists: Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and da Vinci. The painting magically transforms before your eyes every minute or so. Delightful!

Before I sign off, I must mention the images above come from the terrific book, Disneyland Paris, From Sketch to Reality. It is written by Alain Littaye and Didier Ghez. Alain is the blogmaster of the great Disney and More website. I believe the book is still available- and is very well worth your hard earned money. It is the best source for Imagineering concept art for the Paris park. Stunning!

(Artwork copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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