Designing Fantasyland – Toad Hall Restaurant
Located in the upper western corner of Fantasyland, in Disneyland Paris, lies one of the Resort’s most beautiful themed fast food restaurants, called “Toad Hall”.
In this majestic manor, guests can have lunch or dinner together with Mister Toad, the main character of the novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, the A.A. Milne play “Toad of Toad Hall” and the animated Disney film “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”.
Walt Disney Imagineer Tom Morris (Show Producer, Fantasyland) told our website that the charismatic J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. was selected to be the mascot of the restaurant because he thought it would solidify the district of Fantasyland, which depicts tales from Great Britain.
Mister Morris briefly considered building the legendary “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride” attraction (Disneyland Resort, California) in Paris, but he eventually thought that letting people dine in the frog’s mansion would be a new and interesting way to present the story.
After all, his cozy, eccentric manor house is one of the most interesting parts of the 1949 animated feature.
The exterior of the restaurant is inspired by the mansion as envisioned in the film. It’s a fine example of Tudor architecture (1485–1603): the brick walls, the array of twisted chimneys and the family crest right above the manors entrance door.
Tudor manor houses were often built in brick. The wealthy gentry class who constructed this kind of mansions, loved to use this new, fashionable, luxury building material to show the other nobles their wealth and social status.
The manors featured small mullioned windows and lots of chimneys. In the Tudor era, chimneys became common for the first time. The main reason for the increased use of chimneys was the widespread adoption of coal as fuel.
Previously, wood smoke was allowed to escape from the interior through a simple hole in the roof. Now the increased smoke from coal made necessary the construction of many and evolved forms of chimneys to funnel out the smoke.
Chimney stacks were often clustered in groups and the individual chimney columns were twisted. The spiraled design of Tudor chimneys was functional as the hot air moved upwards with the flow of the wind and therefore cooled down chimneys faster than other designs.
The family coat of arms of the proprietary was prominently featured above the entry arch of many Tudor manor houses. This feature had to create an awe-inspiring entrance and had to show the family’s wealth and prosperity.
The “Toad Hall” restaurant building was elevated above street level to make the structure appear more impressive. After all, it makes visitors look at it from a “frog’s” perspective.
When we enter the restaurant, you will immediately notice the portrait of J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq., painted by Kent Elofson (1953 – 2012), a talented artist who also worked on Disney theme park attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and “it’s a small world”.
The entrance hall of Toad’s mansion is a delight with beautiful antiques and wainscoted walls. Wainscoting is a decorative wood treatment covering the lower portion of a wall. It was originally used to protect walls from moisture or to hide existing water damage.
The entrance hall leads us into the library.
This room is noticeable for the fresco above the door to the kitchen. This is another great example of something you could find in a wealthy estate home. According to mister Morris, the scene was chosen because it conveys a sense of arrival after a long day on the road.
We continue our visit by entering the mansion’s kitchen. This space holds a beautiful cabinet, particular light fixtures and old fashioned add billboards. Most of these items are vintage.
The walls of the kitchen are covered with red glazed ceramic tiles. The color red was selected by the interior design team to convey warmth, recalls mister Morris.
In Toad’s kitchen, you can stand in line to place an order at the register and pick up your food. Then you can take a seat in one of the restaurants three dining rooms: the games room, the drawing room and the greenhouse or “winter garden”.
The games room features vintage sports goods, rare antique automotive and car collectibles and paintings (by Kent Elofson) depicting the most heroic and memorable sport achievements of Toad. All items reinforce the story part that the legendary frog possesses many strong passions.
The place is characterized by its green and white color scheme. These are the colors of a traditional English pub dining room.
We end our visit to the restaurant in the drawing room. With its cheerful wallpaper, impressive wood-beamed ceiling and ornate fireplace, it’s probably the most beautiful room of the house.
The interior of the drawing room wasn’t inspired by a specific architectural or design style. Tom Morris rather tried to imagine what the room would look like based on the manor’s exterior and on the reference material of the film.
The fireplace has been closed of with a fire-screen to allow heat to circulate throughout the place and to provide safety, protecting hearth and home from flying sparks or hot ashes.
The façade of “Toad Hall” in Disneyland Paris is designed after that of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” in Disneyland California. As a consequence, the things we told about the exterior of the restaurant apply ‘mutatis mutandis’ to the exterior of the attraction.
We wish to thank Walt Disney Imagineer, mister Tom Morris for his kind and much appreciated assistance!