then now pooh toad

Then and now are two very different times when it comes to Disney Parks. Think about – if you visited then, you would've found parks filled with rides like Horizons, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Backstage Studio Tour, and many more... And now? Well... Fans will probably always debate whether Disney Parks were better "Then" or "Now," and we've come up with a unique way to compare apples to apples... Examining how rides "Then" and "Now" use the same physical spaces to tell very different stories!

Recently, the first entry in our THEN & NOW mini-series uncovered how the beloved, classic, cinematic Lost Legend: The Great Movie Ride was kicked out of the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios to make way for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway (with a surprising look at how their layouts follow a similar path through the showbuilding!).

Now, let's compare how the same real estate in Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland was re-used for two very dissimilar dark rides... and once you've studied their layouts, be sure to vote in our poll and determine which of these two rides you think was the better use of the space!

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (1971 - 1998)

Image: Disney

Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 with the same three dark rides that had debuted with Disneyland sixteen years earlier: Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. All three were noticeably different from their Californian cousins, but it was the Lost Legend: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that represented the (pun intended) wildest departure from the Disneyland original.

At Magic Kingdom, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was upgraded to a much larger space, and – given the whimsically wacky ride's success in California – was uniquely selected to be doubled in capacity. 

Image: Park Lore, Flickr (license)

The result is that at Magic Kingdom alone, Mr. Toad actually undertook two Wild Rides, each offering unique settings, scenes, and experiences. In a doubled loading area before an extra-long mural, a "Left Track" of jalopies would enter Toad Hall, careen through a Fortune Teller Camp, cause chaos in Town Square, and then race through the store room of a local Pub. Meanwhile, a "Right Track" of cars would take a different path, wrecking Toad Hall's Library, bursting through a Chicken Coop, getting caught in a shootout between badger cops and thieving weasels.

No matter which Wild Ride you ended up on, one thing was for sure: both tracks eventually saw guests run over by a train only to come to in the steaming, smoking bowels of Hell, including pitchfork-wielding demons and the Devil himself. Be sure to read our Lost Legend: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in-depth history to get the full picture!

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1999 - Today)

Image: Disney

The late '90s, Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood went through a major pop culture resurgence... and importantly, a major merchandising Renaissance. As the story goes, the call came from on high that both Disneyland and Walt Disney World needed a Winnie the Pooh ride (and associated gift shop) as quickly as possible. 

Of Magic Kingdom's three Fantasyland dark rides, Mr. Toad held the least pop culture clout... and it didn't hurt that Mr. Toad's double-sized dark ride space could be used to house not just a Pooh dark ride, but a meet-and-greet and gift shop.

Image: Park Lore

The Winnie the Pooh ride has almost nothing in common with the previous occupant of the building. Rather than a zippy, chaotic, wild ride, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh places guests in lumbering, slow-moving bee-hives. But if you overlay the two layouts, you'll see that there are some interesting relationships between the two. For example, the single track of Pooh actually exits through the central opening into the showbuilding through which Mr. Toad's two tracks used to enter.

Though maybe it's a little too on-the-nose, we also can't help but notice that the much-demanded Winnie the Pooh gift shop is actually standing on the former Hell. Which some might say isn't much of a change at all.

Your Pick

Looking at the two layouts we've shared here, we have to ask – which do you think represents the best use of the space? Think about it... we're not necessarily asking which ride you like better, so this is a tough one! Take our poll to let us know whether the "Then" or the "Now" is the better use of space in this Fantasyland showbuilding!

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