By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends was a twelve minute show that opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom April 22, 1998 and closed September 27, 2008. It was performed in the three hundred and fifty seat Grandma Willow’s Grove theater in the Camp Minnie-Mickey area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is now home to Pandora – The World of Avatar.

The show was inspired by the 1995 Disney animated feature film Pocahontas. It was rushed into production so quickly that Disney at first listed it as “Meet the Characters” rather than a stage show in the park guide.

The show was originally called Colors of The Wind, Friends from the Animal Forest, but that was an awkward title that didn’t mention Pocahontas. In fact, early guests just called it the “Pocahontas Show,” so Disney changed the title.

The genesis of the show came from the animal education cast at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was meant to be similar to the animal meet-and-greet shows at zoos and other animal parks, where a trainer or two brings out one animal at a time and talks about the animal’s characteristics to the audience.

However, Disney is a storytelling company, and decided to provide an upgraded experience even though the show was intended to be just a placeholder to run for two years or so until Beastly Kingdom was built in the same location. The script was written by Michael Korkis, Bob Glickman and David Duffy, and originally directed by Korkis.

The show was written to utilize the natural behaviors of the animals. The animals sometimes decided they didn’t want to appear which is why so many different types of animals rotated throughout the years in the show.

A live character performer portrayed Pocahontas, and there were two puppeteers who were underneath the stage to operate Sprig and Grandmother Willow. Grandma Willow came from the Disneyland Spirit of Pocahontas show that closed in September 1997.

Pocahontas is worried that the forest is being cut down indiscriminately and runs to Grandma Willow for advice. She reminds Pocahontas of a prophecy that one creature has a special gift to protect the forest but that Pocahontas herself must discover the identity of that creature.

One at a time, several different animals wander onto the stage including at different shows a raccoon, a snake, rabbits, opossums, a skunk, a porcupine, rats and a turkey. Pocahontas talks about what people can learn from each creature. “Every animal has knowledge to share with those who are willing to learn.”

Finally, Pocahontas realizes that the creature of the prophecy must be human beings. “Humans can destroy the forest, but we can also save it. The Earth is our home too. If we take care of it, it will take care of us!”

Since the show was designed for young children, with special seating for them in the first four rows of the theater, the message had to be simple and clear. The show proved so popular that eventually DAK occasionally offered Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends Animal Training Show where the animal handlers demonstrated how they trained the animals for the show.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, The Unofficial Walt Disney World 1971 Companion: Stories of How the World Began, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.



Follow on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!



Have a thought or a question?...

Comment by typing in the form below.

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2020 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.