On October 5, 1949, Walt Disney Productions released its 11th animated feature, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad as one of two segments, based on the stories The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, respectively. It was the last of the historic RKO Radio Pictures releases, which also included other early Disney classics such as Melody Time, The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos.
Film production began shortly after the release of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs in 1938. Ironically, Walt Disney was not overly-enthusiastic about the original pitch to make an animated feature film based on what Walt described as “corny” animals. Nonetheless, Walt purchased the rights, but proposed the film be packaged together with another animated feature after he and his artists collectively agreed the anthropomorphized animals in the movie was not to the level of their satisfaction. Originally, it was to be paired with Gremlins and Mickey & the Beanstalk; however, Gremlins never materialized and Mickey & the Beanstalk was ultimately joined with Fun & Fancy Free. Meanwhile, the Adventures of Ichabod Crane was in development and eventually matched with J. Thaddeus Toad and friends.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, one of the last remaining original Disneyland dark ride attractions, is loosely based on Disney's animated production. Voice legend Corey Burton provides every voice at the attraction (except for the usage of audio from the film.)
J. Thaddeaus Toad, MacBadger, Winky and the entire Wind and the Willows crew, coupled with Disneyland’s Wild Ride adventure, continue to be timeless cult favorites both on film and in the Park.
“And on a dark cold night, under full moonlight, he flies into the fog like a vulture in the sky! And they call him, Sandy... Clawssss...!” -- Jack Skellington
Released October 29, 1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas is Tim Burton’s stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation. Because Disney determined the movie would be “too dark and scary for kids,” the film was released under the Touchtone Pictures banner. Despite the darker plot and imagery, Nightmare was met with both critical and financial acclaim.
After having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington (aka the Pumpkin King) becomes bored with his job and believes his life in Halloweenland lacks meaning. He then stumbles upon Christmastown and quickly decides to give the holiday his own flare.
The Nightmare Before Christmas actually originated in a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios and for a short time, Disney even considered creating a 30-minute TV-special on the subject, but scrapped it after it was deemed “too weird.” Burton (who owns 50% of the film rights) declined Disney’s exploration into both a Disneyland attraction based on the film and a sequel.
Danny Elfman wrote the film score and provided the singing voice of Jack, as well as other minor characters.
On October 3, 2001, Disneyland’s Holiday Haunted Mansion opened during the Fall season and instantly became a guest favorite. The transformation overlays Nightmare characters with the traditional Haunted Mansion theming.
The Force Be With You, Always
In October of 2006, during Disneyland’s Year of a Million Dreams promotion, Tomorrowland Terrace was transported into a galaxy far far away. The wildly popular Jedi Training Academy stormed into the park and gave 30 kids a chance to gear up with their own lightsaber and learn the ways of the force. Once Padawans are selected out of a rambunctious crowd the new trainees are taught by authentic Jedi Nights and embark on a surprise run-in with the Dark Side. With some knee slapping Jedi dialogue and well created drama, this show is wildly entertaining for both kids and parents. Where else can kids have a interaction with Stormtroopers, Darth Maul and the man in the mask himself, Darth Vader. To this day, it still has adults asking “Can we be trained?”.
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