October 3, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Walt Disney’s “Mr. Toad” on Records

The first segment of the last Disney “package feature” of the ’40s makes a fine recording and a memorable park attraction–even to those who don’t know the film.

Walt Disney’s
From the Walt Disney Production
“The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”
Capitol Records EAS-3048 (12” 78 RPM / Mono / 1963)
LP Reissue (with Three Little Pigs): HX-3061
LP Reissue (with Lady and the Tramp & Rob Roy): J-3260 (12”)

Producer/Writer: Alan W. Livingston, Based on “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame and the Disney Film Story by Ed Penner, Winston Hibler, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Homer Brightman, Harry Reaves. Music: Billy May. Music: Jerry Livingston. Running Time: 11 minutes.

Song: “Merrily on Our Way (To Nowhere in Particular)” by Frank Churchill, Charles Wolcott. Larry Morey, Ray Gilbert.

Voices: Basil Rathbone (Narrator); Eric Blore (Mr. Toad); J. Pat O’Malley (Cyril Proudbottom); Campbell Grant (Angus Badger); Colin Campbell (Moley); Claud Alliser (Ratty).

Of all the films and characters to emerge from the Walt Disney Studios, Mr. Toad probably has the oddest identity with the general public. More know the theme park attraction based on the film than the film itself, much less the recording.

When the ride first appeared at Disneyland in 1955, the 1949 film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was fairly recent. But it faded into relative obscurity as feature’s second segment, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” went on to receive constant play on TV, in schools and later on home video as a perfect Halloween program (it also didn’t hurt that the animation and overall production was superb).

Toad’s segment didn’t come close to the playability of Ichabod’s section, or even many other Disney short segments in later years. The book upon which his story was based, Kenneth Grahame’s classic The Wind in the Willows, was never eclipsed by the Disney version. And while it’s often adapted for live-action and animation–including both a TV-movie and Saturday morning series by Rankin/Bass—there is yet to be a significant version.

But the Disneyland attraction’s identity continues to persist, mentioned frequently in popular culture, quite often as a comedy punch line. Things were very briefly confused when members of the Monty Python troupe appeared in a 1996 feature that was called Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but was essentially an adaptation of the Grahame book.

No one could have anticipated the identity the theme park attraction took on, though Toad himself didn’t have much of a presence outside of his ride. He made some appearances in comic books and co-starred on an outstanding Disneyland Records LP, A Christmas Adventure in Disneyland (which we explored here). When the Walt Disney World version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride—which was distinguished by having two different tracks—was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, it wasn’t without many a hue and cry from Toad fans. But how many of them knew the words to “Merrily on Our Way?”

That song, by the way, was sung again by J. Pat O’Malley, the voice of Toad’s loyal horse Cyril, on camera in a segment of “The New Adventures of Spin and Marty,” a serial on the Mickey Mouse Club.

The Capitol record includes all of the cast members from the film, a rare occurrence for the label, an original background score by Billy May, who handled most of their children’s discs. May stays admirably close to the Disney house sound rather than the typical style he uses for most Capitol kids’ discs. Basil Rathbone was a regular presence on radio (he loved co-starring with Jack Benny) and records at the time and it’s wonderful to have this permanent audio version of his performance, as well as the other voice actors.

It was unique in that it was released as a 12-inch 78-RPM record with an extra-large gatefold cover, so it was as large as one of today’s LP records, with a slightly longer running time than a 10-inch 78. When it was reissued, Capitol first put it on a 10-inch 33 1/3 disc (several labels were trying to launch this format in the ’50s) and then on the other side of an LP with Lady and the Tramp. Strangely, neither saw the light of day again in the late ’70s when Ziv and Wonderland were doing their brief run of Capitol reissues.


“Mr. Toad”

Someone was kind enough to place the entire record on YouTube — doing an excellent job of noise reduction—and scanning the artwork. Enjoy!



  • The Disney theme park ride tells a different story than the film version and has a wildly different ending.

    The song “Nowhere in Particular” is tough to find in recordings. It evidently never became a big Disney hit. MTWR is referenced briefly in the Disneyland 50th Anniversary audio CD collection as part of the “Fantasyland Dark Rides” track, but after about 6 or 7 minutes devoted to Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure and another 6 or 7 minutes on the Peter Pan ride, the Toad segment is just under 3 minutes, followed by about 10 minutes of Alice in Wonderland, and the Snow White ride is not referenced anywhere in the collection. It’s as though they just couldn’t find much sound track material from the ride–or maybe as Toad is less well known as a Disney character they gave him less air time. (Still doesn’t explain the complete absence of the Snow White ride.)

    The film “Ichabod and Mr. Toad” is great viewing for this time of year–the Toad segment has a brief Christmas scene and the Ichabod segment is perfect for Hallowe’en.

    The recording referenced above is an excellent recording. There is also a brief recording that Bing Crosby did of the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Together they make a nice little recap of the feature.

    • Talk about Christmas, several of the characters from Mr Toad appeared in the animated short, Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Mr Toad as Fizziwig, Ratty and Moley as The Charity Workers, Cyril as Fred’s (portrayed by Donald Duck) horse and the Weasels as the gravediggers.

  • Charles Nelson Riley did the voice of Mr Toad in Rankin Bass’ version of Wind in the Willows which also starred Paul Frees. And there was a beautiful version from England animated in claymation by Cosgrove-Hall the animators of Danger Mouse with the late Michael Holdern (who narrated FilmFair’s The Adventures of Paddington) as Badger and David Jason as Toad.

    • Man, if only there’s a post showcasing all the many animated adaptations of Wind in the Willows. That’ll be interesting.

  • The Rankin/Bass WIND IN THE WILLOWS is a real sleeper — an impressively well crafted adaptation of the Grahame book, with an excellent script by Romeo Muller and outstanding voice characterizations by Reilly, Jose Ferrer, Eddie Bracken and, particularly, Roddy McDowall.

    While the rightly beloved (and wonderful) Disney featurette memorably captures many highlights of the novel, it considerably abridges the story. This very ambitious 96 minute film is remarkably faithful to the novel, and sensitively explores the more thoughtful, even soulful themes of Grahame’s account of life in the wild. The pastoral designs by Alan Aldridge are very imaginative and delicately embellished. The Maury Laws score is very good, and Judy Collins beautifully sings a title song.

    I know nothing of the production history of this film, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Rankin/Bass had originally planned this as a theatrical feature. I think it might have found some success in theatres; it’s that well done. It didn’t deserve its fate of being abruptly dropped into the ABC schedule in mid-summer of 1987 with little promotion.

    I may wish that the film was better (and more elaborately) animated, but this is still quite good. My dream version of The Wind in the Willows, a Disney superproduction along the lines of PINOCCHIO or BAMBI, may never have come to pass, but this film is a lovely effort.

  • There was also a Capitol 7-inch 45-RPM release in 1949, with fold-out illustrations.

  • Wind In The Willows was originally going to be a full length musical feature. I recall reading somewhere that upon packaging with Sleepy Hollow, they opted not to compete with Bing’s popular singing and cut many of the songs from Toad – you can find piano arrangements for them in Russell Schroeder’s two volumes of Disney’s Lost Chords.

    According to Billboard Magazine, there was only ONE popular cover recording of The Merrily Song. It was on a 78 by Tex Beneke. It has since been released on CD:

    Toad is one of my favorites!!

  • When I worked at The Disney Channel in the 80s we ran the Cosgrove-Hall version. I thought it was great.

  • The Cosgrove Hall version was very good and ran here in the UK for years….

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