D-Tales #11: Hidden Disney History at Winnie the Pooh brings back 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Toad

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

There are tributes hidden all over Walt Disney World attractions, if you just know where to look. In Fantasyland, the Winnie the Pooh dark ride has its own history of moving around as well as paying tribute to many beloved Disney pieces of the past.

Take the large artificial tree at the entrance to Winnie the Pooh. Do you know what little secret lies inside?

Winnie the Pooh

The secret is this little design, hidden in plain sight above one of the doorways (as seen from inside the tree):

Winnie the Pooh

You may recognize it as the shape of the submarine Nautilus, from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Why is this here? Because Fantasyland used to be home to a submarine ride of that same name, and this tree provides a tribute to that former ride.

Winnie the Pooh

But that’s not the end of the story. Where it stands now, the tree is NEAR where the submarine ride was. But when this tree was first built, it was in the exact spot of the 20,000 Leagues lagoon. The tree was constructed for Pooh’s Playful Spot, a rubberized playground for toddlers, across the way from the Pooh ride. In that location, the submarine tribute made perfect sense. This playground is now home to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (part of it, anyway), and the tree was moved to join the Pooh ride’s facade.

Winnie the Pooh

Inside the ride, you’ll find other tributes. The most famous of them is a painting on the floor of Owl’s house, where Mr. Toad is handing a piece of paper to Owl. On the paper is the word DEED, the implication being that Mr. Toad, whose dark ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was in this building before Pooh, is now handing over the deed to the building to the gang from the Hundred Acre Woods.

Winnie the Pooh

In the same room, look around the floors for another painting, this one showing Moley – another character from Mr. Toad. And a third painting shows Owl wearing a handlebar mustache and a straw hat, the spitting image of Winky, yet another character from Mr. Toad.

Winnie the Pooh


About Kevin Yee

If you like D-Tales, you’ll love Kevin Yee’s book Walt Disney World Hidden History (second edition, 2014). This softcover book tracks Disney “hidden history” — remnants of former attractions and tributes to Imagineers as well as other Disney officials — hiding in plain sight in the parks. There are over 300 entries in the book! Whether tribute or remnant, each item discussed starts with something visible in today’s parks; the idea is that this is something you could visit and see with your own eyes, and then appreciate the historical thinking behind it. Since most visitors aren’t local, the book includes a photo of every item discussed so you’ll know what to look for. The softcover book has a digital counterpart with the Kindle version. (You can also read a Kindle book on PC or Mac even without a Kindle device – the software itself is free.)

Kevin is also the author of the recently-published book The Unofficial Walt Disney World ‘Earbook 2014, an annual publication ($12.99) that tracks all the additions and removals from the WDW parks, providing full-color photo-rich retrospectives of everything. Things added in 2014 include Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Concert in the Wild, Harambe Nights, Frozen Summer Fun, Villains Unleashed, Marketplace Co-Op, Exposition Park, Happy Hound, Harambe Theater, Isle of Java, It All Started With a Mouse, Lilo’s Playhouse, Meet Baymax and Hiro, Memento Mori, Move It Shake It Dance and Play It, Spice Road Table, United World Soccer, Tinker Bell’s Garden Theater, Trattoria al Forno, Pineapple Lanai, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, Rock Your Disney Side Party, and Smokehouse.

Meanwhile, the following items were removed from Walt Disney World: Maelstrom, Studio Tram Tour, Camp Minnie-Mickey, American Idol Experience, Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, Ride the Comix, Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade, AFI Showcase, Heritage House, Kouzzina, L.A. Prop Cinema Storage, Lefty, Moana Mickey’s Arcade, Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook, RIDEMAKERZ, Team Mickey, Yankee Trader, Wyland Gallery Babycakes NYC, Blink by Wet Seal, and Bodie’s All-American.

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