This one was fun to record!
The story of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is so simple. Mr. Toad drives around recklessly and goes to hell for his actions. That’s all it is! The first 85% of the ride is elaborations on what it means to be reckless in a car, and the remainder is a guilty verdict and demons. If we’re using this as our base for a new ride, there’s not a lot to work with, but there is a lot of room for elaboration.
My first thought was to flip this around. Maybe, instead of being reckless, the main character is generous? Can we tell an interesting story about someone who is so over-the-top empathetic that they are somehow forced to change their behaviors? Maybe it’s someone who is very kind but also ignorant to the consequences of their actions—someone who opens the door for this person and accidentally slams that person in the face. Maybe all the people being helped and not-so-helped come together at the end to help our hero even harder than they’re helping everyone else, gently stopping them from causing more grief.
I think there’s something to this and it could be a fun short story, but it doesn’t immediately lend itself to a dark ride. As we discussed last week, dark rides require constant motion, quick changes from one short scene to the next. Mr. Toad’s incessant driving isn’t just a plot point; it’s also the way the story is delivered. I want the motion of this ride to be inherent to the story; I want to tell a story that only makes sense if we’re constantly moving through it. Can we preserve that quality and tell a story that is the opposite of Mr. Toad?
I was talking this over with my girlfriend Amy and she had a great idea: maybe it’s somebody who misses an important delivery for their kid who then chases after the delivery truck, hijacks it, and races back home? This has that careless-selfless thing, it has a lot of motion, and it has plenty of opportunities for jokes. That’s it! Thanks Amy!
From this pitch the story started flowing. We’re on a suburban street, passing the front door of a little house. There’s a "Sorry We Missed You" note on the door, and Mom rushes out, her child looking out the window, both of them waving and shouting after a delivery truck. She borrows a skateboard from a neighbor kid on the sidewalk and starts speeding after the truck, not letting anything slow her down: hedges, mailboxes, a dog walker and a bunch of dogs that hate skateboards. The truck turns right; Mom grabs onto a post holding up a bird feeder and makes a quick pivot.
As she disturbs the bird feeder, a startled squirrel takes notice and hops on the skateboard. This startles her, and she looks down at it, trying to shoo it away, not noticing that she’s headed right for a plastic slide set up in a front yard. Suddenly, Mom, the skateboard, and the squirrel are all tumbling through the air, and she realizes that this works in her favor, proceeding to dive right into the back of the parked truck! We follow her in, rattling around packages and headed to the driver’s seat. The truck driver is standing on somebody’s porch confused as Mom shouts, “Sorry! I’ll bring it right back!” She shifts into gear, the squirrel braces on the dashboard, and we’re making a screeching 180° turn at the end of a cul de sac.
These trucks aren’t really designed for screeching 180° turns and Mom realized this a bit too late. So now we’re swerving and careening all the way back: straight through the bird feeder as a second flock of birds flies away; through a new truck-shaped hole in the neighbors’ hedges; and past the dogs, barking even louder, who we see have managed to tie their walker to a street sign with their tangled leashes; Mom slams the brakes as she reaches her home and gradually the truck starts to tip…and…slam!
We’re back in the front yard, truck on its side, packages everywhere. Mom rips the sign off the door. She’s looking at one of the upturned boxes, and we follow her gaze, to see her child come racing out on a brand-new tricycle, ready to rip up the neighborhood some more.
That’s it! What do we think? Next week, sketches and maybe some floor plan ideas. Oh, and one more thing: I don’t know what to call this. Do you have an idea? Leave a comment, and I’ll see you on stage!