Today In Disney History ~ June 4th
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a dark ride based upon the film of the same name, itself based on the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. The attraction exists in slightly different forms at the Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland Park. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, located in Tokyo Disneyland, is an entirely different “E-ticket class” attraction, featuring full audio animatronics and a trackless ride system. Because of legal and licensing issue,
After the rise in popularity of Walt Disney’s film adaptation of Winnie the Pooh, Disney Imagineers made plans in the late 1970s for a Winnie the Pooh attraction at Disneyland’s soon-to-be renovated Fantasyland. However, in 1983, when the renovated Fantasyland reopened, a Winnie the Pooh attraction was notably absent.
Seven years later, during a period when the character was undergoing a resurgence in popularity, plans for a Winnie the Pooh attraction were approved at a different park: Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Planners instead decided to utilize an existing structure: that of the Fantasyland attraction Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
The ride was retained during the Fantasyland expansion, during which it received a new queue resembling the Hundred Acre Wood. Called Pooh’s Interactive Queue, it incorporates a playground with children’s games, allowing some members of a party to play while others hold space in line.
An original plan from the mid-1990s placed an indoor and outdoor light boat ride featuring a Winnie the Pooh theme at Disneyland. This plan was shelved by 1999. So, a new dark ride was planned. However, Disneyland is the only resort of all five Disney Resorts to have little room for expansion. The solution to open this attraction in the park was to utilize a current attraction, replacing it with this new ride.
Fantasyland was ruled out because it contained the least amount of available space and because of the age of its buildings; park managers anticipated that the attraction would be popular and decided to place it in an area that could better accommodate the crowds. Critter Country, a small parcel between New Orleans Square and Frontierland was ultimately chosen, since Winnie the Pooh already had his own greeting area in that land. The area already featured two popular attractions, Splash Mountain and Country Bear Jamboree, the latter being the first attraction to open in the land (then Bear Country) in 1972.
Imagineers chose to replace the Country Bear Jamboree with Pooh due to its lack of popularity. This required major excavation for space and leveling for the ride. When news of the former attraction’s demise broke, many fans were once more upset at the loss of another classic attraction and again sought to change the park managers’ minds. However, management decided to continue as planned. As a tribute, the heads of Max the deer, Melvin the moose and Buff the buffalo are mounted in the wall inside the ride.
The budget for the attraction was set at a reported $30 million, most of it dedicated to reformatting the Country Bear Jamboree show building. When it finally opened in 2003, it received large promotions by park management and lines were somewhat long at first, but quickly dropped off.
Its turnover rate with guests was low compared to older dark rides in Fantasyland with shorter wait times than comparable Fantasyland attractions, even on busy days. Those critical of this ride point to these shorter wait times as evidence that the ride is not as well liked as other classic dark rides. Advocates, on the other hand, claim that the discrepancy in wait times is due solely to the ride’s out-of-the-way placement. In either case, out of the four versions of this attraction found at various Disney parks, this one is considered the least popular in terms of attendance.
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