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 issues, it was decided not to use the character of Christopher Robin either visually or to have his voice.
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.
Following the success of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, plans were made for a new section of the park located behind Fantasyland. Called Mickey's Toontown, this section of the park would recreate the Toontown that was seen in the film. One of the rides that would have gone on the east side of this land was a Winnie the Pooh dark ride in which guests would ride in "spinnable" honey pots (much like the Mad Hatter teacup ride in Fantasyland) through what was conceptualized as the best scenes from the three Winnie the Pooh featurettes. The ride fell through before it could be made, though, and the space that this ride was to have taken up and vehicle design of this ride were worked into Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.
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. Another common complaint is that the ride was seemingly created to funnel guests into a major gift shop, as the ride exits next to Pooh Corner. 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.
Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in September 2005, opened with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as the only dark ride in Fantasyland (the only other dark rides in the park are Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters and Mystic Manor). It was the only dark ride in the Hong Kong Fantasyland until the opening of It's a Small World in 2008. It is most similar to the first version at the Magic Kingdom. It remains one of the most visited attractions in Fantasyland, frequently running out of fastpasses and having wait times over 120 minutes on peak days.
Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in June 2016, opened with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Once again, it is similar to the Magic Kingdom version, but mostly identical to the Hong Kong version.
The ride vehicles go out of the load area, and arrive near a giant story-book showing Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. The vehicles arrive in the Hundred Acre Wood during a rather blustery day (thus placing the events of the ride at Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, instead of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, which is considered the beginning of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), with Piglet holding onto a broom while being spun around. Pooh is holding onto a balloon while trying to reach for some honey, while Eeyore patronizes him. Meanwhile, Roo begins to be blown away as Kanga holds onto him.
In Owl's home, everything is scattered about, including a rather curious picture of J. Thaddeus Toad himself handing a deed over to Owl. There is also a picture of Pooh greeting Moley (Mr. Toad's sidekick), which is flat on the floor to the right. These were placed as a subtle tribute to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the ride that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaced at the Magic Kingdom (another tribute to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at the Magic Kingdom comes in the form of a Mr. Toad statue in the Pet Cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square).
The ride then passes a second giant storybook page, where suddenly Tigger bounces out, whilst the ride vehicles begin to bounce like Tigger. The ride follows Tigger through the Hundred Acre Wood, where he randomly pops up. Tigger bounces upside down at one point, before the ride moves on to Pooh's home. It transpires that Tigger has pinned Pooh to the floor as he tells him about Heffalumps and Woozles. Once in Pooh's house, Pooh falls asleep, and magically floats up into the sky, as the room blackens and is lit up by fibre optics (Pooh's floating is achieved with a Pepper's ghost illusion).
The ride vehicles then move into a strange room as Pooh floats through. There are honey pots with eyes and mouths, while giant woozles with jack-in-the-box necks move in front of the guests. The ride moves round some very strange objects: a purple woozle lights a heffalump, causing a giant smoke ring to come from its trunk (in both the Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland versions, it was replaced with a heffabee taking a picture of a tan heffalump in a green uniform), and a giant heffalump has holes that reveal the way out of the heffalump scene. Other funhouse effects are seen as the vehicles make an escape out of the Heffalump and Woozle room, indicated by a watering can pouring (fake) rain on the riders.
After this the vehicles arrive in a room painted with rain and cloud patterns, as thunder and lightning go off, and then reenters the Hundred Acre Wood, which is experiencing the rainstorm. The ride vehicles begin to "float", although this is achieved by moving the vehicles at a steady speed. Eeyore complains about the wind and then about the rain. Gopher squirts water out of his mouth. Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Tigger and Owl attempt to save Piglet from floating away, and the ride vehicles move to find Pooh flying around owing to the wind.
The vehicles move into the final scene, where everyone apart from Pooh is celebrating that the rain has gone away. Piglet was a sculpted figure with movement, while Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo are illustrations on the wall behind. The vehicles move past Pooh enjoying a load of honey, and then go past a page that reads "The End" before arriving back in the load area.
Upon leaving the outdoor load area, the ride vehicles arrive indoors into the Hundred Acre Wood where Pooh is again trying to get the honey with the balloon. With Eeyore and the other characters is Gopher who appears out of his hole to greet the guests. The ride vehicles move into the rain scene, moved from the second to last scene in Florida's to the second scene in California's. Most of the things at this point are identical to Florida's version. The ride vehicles move into the shortened Tigger scene, before moving to Pooh's bedroom where a similar part to that in Florida's version concurs.
The ride vehicles move into the Heffalump and Woozles dream sequence where the woozles with jack-in-the-box necks watch the guests. A pink Tigger pins Pooh to the floor near some honey. Some of the effects at this part of the ride are similar to Florida's. Another Pooh bobs up and down in a balloon suspended above a swirling whirlpool of honey. The mechanism was the one which once lowered "Teddi Barra" from the ceiling in Country Bear Jamboree, the Audio-Animatronic theater presentation previously housed in the show building.
As the ride vehicles leave this scene, a subtle tribute to Country Bear Jamboree is suspended above the archway. The trophy heads of Max the buck, Buff the buffalo and Melvin the moose, audio-animatronics from Country Bear Jamboree, can be spotted if you look up and backwards while leaving the Heffalump/Woozle room. The heads (once believed to have been taken from theatre 2 of the Country Bear Playhouse) are actually the static (non-animatronic) ones from the Mile Long Bar that once resided across from the Playhouse. The vehicles enter the start of the finale scene where Pooh is enjoying a smackerel of honey. The Heffalumps can be seen flying off into Pooh's dreamland, prior to several of Pooh's friends tell him to wake up. Proceeding on, the ride passes Pooh's bed, before moving on to show Pooh's friends (this time all sculpted figures with movement) celebrating his birthday. As the vehicles move to the load area, several of the gifts Pooh received for his party are shown, and are moved back as the vehicles continue until they finally reach the load area.
NOTE: The attraction at Magic Kingdom marked the final time Winchell would provide Tigger's voice in his lifetime, as his voice had become too raspy and Cummings would subsequently take over.