Happy Birthday Winnie the Pooh!

95 years ago, our friend Winnie the Pooh was born, thanks to the pen of British author Alan Alexander Milne. Since then, the charming little bear has come a long way

Winnie the Pooh was born on a Thursday. This is of little importance to our story, but in a world where the ridiculous is essential and the essential boring, this information is certainly relevant. All the more so as his birthday falls on a Thursday this year!

Just as unlikely is the origin of his name – inspired by a London Zoo bear named Winnipeg in memory of the hometown of the bear’s first owner, a veterinarian in the Canadian army named Harry Colebourn, who entrusted the bear to the venerable institution. It was a great success, especially with a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne, which gave his father, an author, the idea of naming the main character in a collection of stories he was writing about his son’s stuffed animals. This Winnie the Pooh wasn’t particularly intelligent, but Europe – still marked by the war – was in great need of rediscovering an innocence that won the public over as soon as the book was published on October 14, 1926.

A few years later, Walt Disney – who had lost none of his childlike spirit – heard his daughter laugh out loud when reading these stories, which made him want to re-tell them through the art of animation. He decided to make not one but three films and asked his best artists to participate. He also became intensely involved in the project, contributing many humorous and heart-warming ideas. At first, some grumblers did not understand this curious undertaking, but Walt stood firm and the success of his films proved him right. One of them – Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) – even won an Oscar, the highest prize for filmmakers on the other side of the Atlantic, thus putting a definitive stop to all the naysayers. Then, in 1977, the three short films were combined into a single feature film, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the prelude to many more animated films.

This was all it took for Imagineers and show creators at Disney Parks around the world to tell the same adventures through their art. They invited Guests to plunge into the heart of the Hundred Acre Woods in the attraction The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in both the United States and China. In Tokyo Disneyland, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt inaugurated the first trackless scenic ride, the system later used for Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland and Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris. And at Shanghai Disneyland, a completely different attraction called Hunny Pot Spin pays tribute to this funny little bear in a wonderfully whirling experience aboard a honeypot!

At Disneyland Paris, Winnie the Pooh is honored through numerous shows and experiences, be it during fun encounters on the paths of Disneyland Park or on stage. In particular, he was featured in Winnie the Pooh and his Friends at the Royal Castle Stage from 1998 to 2005, and then at Fantasy Festival Stage from 2006 to 2011. While the first version of this show paid a vibrant tribute to the 1977 classic, the second version was enhanced with stories and songs from more recent productions such as Winnie The Pooh 2: The Big Journey (1997) and The Adventures of Tigger (2000). For the occasion, a new song was written by composer Vasile Sirli (“Claque des Doigts“), to help Piglet face his fears with a courageous melody!

Friendship is at the heart of Winnie the Pooh’s stories, and it was only natural that he should also be in good company on the Dreams of Friendship float for Disney Dreams Parade (2007-2012), a little party straight out of the pages of a book. 

No doubt we’ll be celebrating today…

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