Ichabod and Mr. Toad

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Premieres

On this day in 1949, moviegoers were taken on a wild ride with the release of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The film combined two stories, The Wind in the Willows, featuring Mr. Toad, an amphibian with a need for speed, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring a school teacher with a lot of class. This was the last of the “package” features, a format that in the 1940s allowed Disney to combine short films into a single feature—when the studio had deep economic problems. The great American crooner Bing Crosby narrates the tale of Ichabod Crane, the popular schoolmaster who turns up missing after a terrifying encounter with the Headless Horseman. Bing lends his vocal chords to the songs “Ichabod,” “Katrina,” and “The Headless Horseman.” Narration duties for the story of Mr. Toad went to actor Basil Rathbone. If you are not familiar with that name, it’s really no mystery. He is a British stage and screen actor, probably best known for his film portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the 1930s and 1940s. The Wind in the Willows was the inspiration for one of the most popular Fantasyland attractions, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The queue for the attraction, which remains at Disneyland today, features instrumental and vocal versions of “The Merrily Song,” which was featured in the film, and if you listen closely to the lyrics, you’ll learn just where and why we are joining Mr. Toad on his wild ride. “We’re always in a hurry, we have no time to stall. We’ve got to be there! We’ve got to be there, but where we can’t recall…. We’re merrily on our way to nowhere at all!”