There are two segments in the film both based upon popular works of literature:
- The adventures of Mr. Toad, based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows (narrated by Basil Rathbone). In this story, the charismatic J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq., the happy-go-lucky upper-class proprietor of Toad Hall who believes in fun and adventure, has built a great deal of debt from disregarding the financial responsibilities of his insatiable love for transportation vehicles, such as the newfangled motor car. His friends, Mole, Water Rat, and Angus MacBadger try to help him when his mania leads to the loss of the deed to Toad Hall and a charge of car theft. Toad is thrown in jail but Toad's loyal horse Cyril Proudbottom pays a visit and inspires him to escape, which he does, only to learn that Winkie, the tavernkeeper and the weasels have taken over Toad Hall. With his friends, Toad redeems his good name by recovering the deed to the estate. Toad promises to reform until he eyes a 1908 biplane.
- The story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, based on Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (narrated by Bing Crosby). The gangly and lanky Ichabod Crane is the new schoolmaster in Sleepy Hollow. His somewhat odd behaviors make him the ridicule of the rambunctious and robust town bully Brom Bones. Despite his unattractive appearance, he quickly proves to be a ladies man who charms the local town beauty, Katrina Van Tassel, a beautiful young daughter of a wealthy farmer, much to Brom Bones's displeasure. Ichabod has his eye on the Van Tassel wealth. His subtle rivalry decides that he is a little too successful and needs "convincing" that Katrina is not for him. After a number of unsuccessful efforts, the situation changes when Brom decides to take advantage of Ichabod's superstitions. Brom musically tells the tale of the Headless Horseman to frighten the teacher. That Halloween night, Crane's lonely ride home becomes more lively than he ever imagined as he encounters the terrifying phantom and is mysteriously missing the next morning. Later this Sleepy Hollow portion of the film was separated from the companion Mr. Toad film, and screened, aired, marketed, and sold separately as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow beginning in 1958.
During the 1940s, much of Disney's feature output was made up of so-called "package films". Beginning with Saludos Amigos in 1943, Disney ceased making feature films with a single narrative, due to the higher costs for such films, as well as the drain on the studio's resources caused by World War II, even though almost all of these package films were fairly successful. Instead, Disney features would have two or more stories linked together through a variety of means. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was the last of these "package" films, and Disney returned to single narrative features with 1950's Cinderella.
Worldwide release dates
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was released in Mexico, on October 10, 1951.
Subsequent usage and home video release
- Main article: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (video)
For many years following its original release, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was not available for viewing in its original form. The two segments had been split up by Disney in the 1950s and were usually seen as individual items. When first released on home video, the Ichabod segment was released as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Toad segment as The Wind in the Willows, taking their names from the original stories.
Some of the scenes were cut when the stories were split up.
The Wind in the Willows
- Part of the introduction was cut because of the new music added.
- The part where McBadger confronts the angry townspeople who are suing Toad, although in some home video releases this part is intact.
- And they cut when in the papers where McBadger, Rat and Mole are reopening Toad's case.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad received its first complete home video release in 1988, when it was released by Walt Disney Home Video on laserdisc. A subsequent complete release on VHS followed in 1999 (and was the last video release in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line and although Pinocchio was not released in the series, some copies of the 1999 60th anniversary edition seem to feature the logo for the series, resulting as a video editing error, due to the fact that the print logo does not appear on this movie and that it came out October 29, 1999, which was after The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad came out on May 25, 1999) with a DVD appearing in 2000. The movie was released on Blu-ray and in a 2-Movie Collection with Fun and Fancy Free on August 12, 2014.
Perhaps the greatest legacy left behind by the film would be the Fantasyland dark ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. An opening day attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, it veers away from a direct retelling of the story in favor of focusing on Toad's motor-mania landing him in court and the pits of hell. The Disneyland attraction underwent an update in 1983 that gave it a Toad Hall-based facade. The Magic Kingdom version, utilizing two tracks, was removed in 1998 to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which was faced with great fandom backlash. Toad still lingers in Magic Kingdom with references to Toad being included in the Pooh attraction, the Haunted Mansion's Pet Cemetery, and a card for the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game (with the Headless Horseman also being part of the set).
The Sleepy Hollow segment became an element of Disney's various Halloween celebrations. The Headless Horseman headlines to Boo to You parade for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom was featured in haunted hayrides held at the Fort Wilderness Campground and at Hong Kong Disneyland, was the focus of the 2011 Haunted Halloween celebration.
In 2000, the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection, which is a collection of officially released Disney statue and pin merchandise (not to be confused with the Walt Disney Classics Collection, which was a video series of Disney animated features in the 80s and early 90s), released 3,500 limited edition statue sets of the two main Sleepy Hollow characters Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. The figures were originally sold for $695 together as a set. The pair has since been retired from the collection and its value has risen dramatically each year.
- Eric Blore - Mr. Toad
- Colin Campbell - Mole
- Claud Allister - Water Rat
- Campbell Grant - Angus MacBadger
- Basil Rathbone - Narrator (The Wind in the Willows)
- Bing Crosby - Narrator (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Ichabod Crane, and Brom Bones
- J. Pat O'Malley - Cyril Proudbottom
- John McLeish - Prosecutor
- The Rhythmaires - Sleepy Hollow Villagers
- Ollie Wallace - Mr. Winkie, Gang Leader
- Leslie Denison - Judge, Weasel #1
- Edmond Stevens - Weasel #2
- Pinto Colvig - Ichabod Crane (screams)
- Clarence Nash - Ichabod's horse
- Frank Thomas (Ichabod Crane)
- Ollie Johnston (The District Attorney, Ichabod Crane)
- John Lounsbery
- Wolfgang Reitherman (Headless Horseman chase scene)
- Milt Kahl
- Ward Kimball