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Fridays with Jim Korkis: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh



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 yourfirstvisit.net.

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH IN MAGIC KINGDOM

By Jim Korkis

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a sweet and gentle dark ride in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland based upon the 1977 Disney film of the same name inspired by the A.A. Milne books about a silly old bear named Pooh and his friends.   It opened June 4, 1999 in the same ride building that formerly housed Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Owl’s home includes a picture on the wall of J. Thaddeus Toad handing a deed over to Owl, and on the floor to the right is a picture of Pooh greeting Mr. Toad’s friend, Moley. Imagineers placed these pictures as a tribute to the former attraction.

Imagineer Robert Coltrin, concept designer and co-art director of the attraction, said “Imagineering had been wanting to do this for a long time. With Pooh now more popular than ever, the timing couldn’t be better.”

Imagineer Lori Coltrin, Robert’s sister who was a production designer and co-art director of the attraction, said, “We wanted to bring the warm and friendly feeling of the original films to life.”

Disney Legend Buddy Baker, who wrote the original film orchestrations, also arranged the music for the attraction. Paul Winchell, the original voice of Tigger, recorded the voice of the character for the attraction encouraging even the ride vehicle to bounce along through the story. This was Winchell’s last performance as Tigger before he retired in 1999.

Disney Legend Richard Sherman, who with his brother Robert composed the music for the Pooh films, plays the kazoo in the “Heffalumps and Woozles” scene. Jim Cummings provides the voice for Pooh, as he does in the more recent films since the passing of original voice Sterling Holloway, and Tress MacNeille does the voice for Kanga.

One of the major construction changes from the original Mr. Toad ride was the height of the walls, which more than doubled from the previous attraction. This was done to create better acoustics and prevent sound from spilling over between scenes.

Another significant change was to the track layout, so that the scenes in the new attraction were larger and took longer to experience. This was done so that guests got to hear more of the classic songs such as The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers as they journeyed through scenes from the films in the motion enhanced honey pot Omnimover ride vehicles.

The attraction pre-boarding area features giant pages from a storybook, an idea inspired from the original films where the pages served as a transition to different story segments. The intent was that guests got “lost” in the pages and became part of the story.

The story includes a blustery day in the 100 Acre Woods, bouncing along with an enthusiastic Tigger, a dream encounter with Heffalumps and Woozles (utilizing the Pepper’s Ghost illusion), awakening to a torrential rain storm with fiber optic raindrops and then a party for Pooh to celebrate the sun returning.

An interactive queue was installed in 2010 that allows guests to be entertained as they wait in line by playing in Rabbit’s garden, spinning musical flowers, tinkering with toys, and making shapes on a digital “hunny” board. The attraction exits into Hundred Acre Goods, a merchandise shop selling Pooh related merchandise.

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Final Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Historical Highlights!

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