Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree

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Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree poster 2.jpg
One of theatrical release posters. Piglet and Tigger, who did not appear in the film, here more closely resemble their appearance in the E. H. Shepard illustrations.
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWalt Disney
Story by
Based onStories written
by A. A. Milne
Narrated bySebastian Cabot
Music byBuddy Baker
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • February 4, 1966 (1966-02-04)
(USA) (with The Ugly Dachshund)
  • April 18, 1966 (1966-04-18)
(UK) (with Peter Pan)
Running time
26 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$6.2 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree is a 1966 animated featurette based on the first two chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, produced by Walt Disney Productions, and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution on February 4, 1966 as a double feature with The Ugly Dachshund. It was the last short film produced by Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, ten months after its release. Its songs were written by the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman) and the score was composed and conducted by Buddy Baker.

Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was the first animated featurette in the Winnie the Pooh film series, in which it was later added as a segment to the 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

It featured the voices of Sebastian Cabot as the narrator, Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh, Junius Matthews as Rabbit, Bruce Reitherman as Christopher Robin, Clint Howard as Roo, Barbara Luddy as Kanga, Ralph Wright as Eeyore, Howard Morris as Gopher, and Hal Smith as Owl.


One morning, Winnie-the-Pooh, a honey-loving bear who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood, is disappointed to find that he is all out of honey pots. He hears a bee fly by and decides to climb a nearby honey tree, but as he reaches the beehive, a branch he is sitting on breaks, causing him to fall into a gorse bush below. Unwilling to give up his quest for honey, Pooh visits his best friend Christopher Robin and obtains a balloon from him, intending to use it to float up to the beehive. Before floating up to the beehive, Pooh first rolls around in a mud puddle, hoping to trick the bees into believing he is a Little Black Rain Cloud. When he reaches the beehive, Pooh pulls out some honey and eats it without noticing that it is covered in bees. The bees fly around inside his mouth, causing him to spit them out, one of which is the queen bee whom he kicks into the mud puddle below. Shortly afterwards, Pooh's disguise starts to drip, and the other bees start to attack him. The queen bee sees this and angrily flies up and stings Pooh on the bottom. The sudden hit causes Pooh to swing up and down and get stuck in the beehive, causing the queen bee to laugh hysterically at Pooh's expense. The other bees then shove Pooh out of the beehive before chasing both him and Christopher Robin away.

Still hungry for honey, Pooh decides to visit his friend Rabbit's house. Rabbit reluctantly invites Pooh in for lunch. Pooh greedily helps himself to all the jars of honey available, satisfying his hunger. He then tries to leave, but gets stuck in Rabbit's front door due to both the door's small size and his fat stature as a result of his overeating. When Rabbit finds Pooh stuck, he tries to push Pooh through by himself, but cannot. He rushes off to get help and returns with Christopher Robin; they both try to pull Pooh out but fail. Christopher Robin suggests that they try pushing Pooh back, but Rabbit disagrees, so Christopher Robin decides that they must wait for Pooh to get thin again to the point where he can slip through Rabbit's front door. In the meantime, Rabbit decides to decorate Pooh's bottom so he will not have to face looking at him being stuck for so long, but when he tries to paint a moose's face, it tickles Pooh and causes him to chuckle, which messes up the look. While Rabbit is doing this, Kanga and Roo visit Pooh and give him some honeysuckle flowers. Pooh sniffs the flowers, which cause him to violently sneeze and completely destroy the decorations on his bottom, much to the dismay of Rabbit, who mutters to himself his regret of inviting Pooh to lunch (as he says, "Why did I ever invite that bear to lunch? Why, oh, why, oh, why?"). Rabbit is also forced to put up a "Don't feed the bear!" sign (forbidding anyone to feed Pooh at all) after Pooh tries to get honey from his friend Gopher late one night.

Several mornings later, a depressed Rabbit leans against Pooh's bottom and feels him move a bit. Rabbit rejoices, knowing that Pooh has gone thin, and he and Christopher Robin gather their friends to help free Pooh. Everyone except Rabbit pulls from outside while Rabbit pushes from inside. After many pulls and pushes from both sides, Rabbit finally shoves Pooh with a running start, causing Pooh to be launched free from Rabbit's door and into the air, only to land headfirst into the hole of another honey tree, scaring the bees away. Although his friends offer to free him, Pooh does not mind being stuck again, as his being stuck headfirst in the tree means he can now gorge himself on the vast amount of honey stored inside the honey tree.

Voice cast[edit]


Walt Disney first learned of the Winnie the Pooh books from his daughter, Diane. "Dad would hear me laughing alone in my room and come in to see what I was laughing at," Diane later recalled. "It was usually the gentle, whimsical humor of A. A. Milne's Pooh stories. I read them over and over, and then many years later to my children, and now to my grandchildren."[2] As early as 1938, Disney expressed interest in obtaining the film rights to the Pooh books by first corresponding with the literary agency Curtis Brown. In June 1961, Disney acquired the film rights. By 1964, Disney told his animation staff that he was planning to make a full-length animated feature film based on the books. A meeting was held with senior staff members to discuss the proposed film. However, during the meeting, Disney decided not to make a feature film, but instead a featurette that could be attached to a live-action film.[3]

For the first film, Walt and his collaborators turned to the first two chapters of the first book, "In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some honey Bees, and the stories Begin", and "In which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place".[4] The scene where Rabbit deals with Pooh's being part of the "decor of his home", was not from the original book, and was reportedly contemplated by Disney when he first read the book.[5] Following the mixed reception of Alice in Wonderland (1951), he turned the project over to staff members who were nonchalant with the original stories. He selected Wolfgang Reitherman to direct the project in hopes of Americanizing the characters and including more humor. Reitherman cast his son, Bruce, to voice Christopher Robin and the character of Gopher, who does not appear in the original stories, was added to the cast. Because other "Nine Old Men" animators were working on The Jungle Book (1967), only Eric Larson and John Lounsbery were assigned to animate the characters. Other character animators such as Hal King, John Sibley, and Eric Cleworth were brought onto the project.[6]


Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
Soundtrack album by
LabelDisneyland Records
ProducerSalvador Camarata

All songs were written by Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote most of the music for the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise over the years, subsequently incorporated into the 1977 musical film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is an amalgamation of the three previous Winnie-the-Pooh featurettes including "Honey Tree". The score, which was composed by Buddy Baker, drew inspiration from Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and had different instruments represent the characters: baritone horn for Pooh, bass clarinet for Eeyore, flute for Kanga, piccolo for Roo, clarinet for Rabbit, oboe for Piglet, French horn and ocarina for Owl, and bass harmonica for Gopher.[7]

The insight and inspiration for the Pooh songs came from an unlikely source, as is explained in the Sherman Brothers' joint autobiography, Walt's Time:

Walt (Disney) said 'Read the Pooh stories and let me know what you think.' We tried, but the stories just weren't coming through to us. At that time designer Tony Walton was working on Poppins. He was English born, and he was about our age, so we asked him to give us some insight on the Pooh character. His eyes lit up. 'Winnie the Pooh?', he said. 'I love Winnie the Pooh! Of course I'll help you!' Three hours later, he was still talking about Pooh, inspiring us no end. He explained how he had been a chubby little boy, and had felt very insecure. But Winnie the Pooh was his buddy, because Pooh was pudgy and proud of it. Pooh was probably the only character in the world who exercised to gain weight! Pooh was a wonderful, lovable friend who would never let you down or turn his back on you. Soon, we started to fall in love with Pooh ourselves. Our songs for Winnie the Pooh were truly a love affair, thanks to A. A. Milne and to Tony Walton.[8]

In advance of the featurette's theatrical release, Disneyland Records released several LP albums accompanied with a read-along book. The first one, titled Walt Disney's Story of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, also known as the "Storyteller" version, was released in May 1965. It contained a narration of the story from Sebastian Cabot along with dialogue and sound effects from the featurette itself along with the songs. A second double-sided album was released which featured a soundtrack of the featurette's songs.[9] Among those listed was "Mind over Matter" in which the characters encourage Pooh to think about getting thinner again. The song was later reworked into the "Heave Ho" song in the final film.[10] Another song titled "Kanga's Lullaby" is sung by B.J. Baker, but according to historian Dave Smith, the song was added as extra material for the album.[11]

All tracks are written by The Sherman Brothers.

1."Winnie the Pooh"Disney Studio Chorus 
2."Up, Down, Touch the Ground"Sterling Holloway 
3."Rumbly in My Tumbly"Sterling Holloway 
4."Little Black Rain Cloud"Sterling Holloway & Bruce Reitherman 
5."Mind Over Matter"Disney Studio Chorus 


The film was released on February 4, 1966 in Florida, and was later spread all over the United States days later, as a supplement to Disney's live-action feature The Ugly Dachshund. It would later be included as a segment in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which included the two further Pooh featurettes, released on March 11, 1977.

During the fall of 1966, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was re-issued for the second time in America, as a supplement to Disney's live-action feature The Fighting Prince of Donegal.[12] Since the film became so popular in America, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was reused twice in local city theaters during 1967 as an extra feature to Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. in Spokane, Washington and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin in Philadelphia.[13][14]

The film had its network premiere on March 10, 1970 as a television special on NBC.[15] The film became a popular annual repeat for most of the decade until its last showing on November 25, 1977. That same year, NBC had also acquired the broadcasting rights to Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,[16] which premiered on October 4. Additionally, the specials were sponsored by Sears, who was then the exclusive provider of Pooh merchandise.[17]

On March 16, 1986, the featurette was shown for the first time on ABC as part of the Disney Sunday Movie television program along with two cartoons, a Chip 'n' Dale cartoon Chicken in the Rough (1951) and a Donald Duck with Chip 'n' Dale cartoon Chips Ahoy (1956). Originally on that day, the company was supposed to run the 1973 film Robin Hood but due to an ABC News Special Report on President Ronald Reagan's telecast speech on updated information about Nicaragua and Central America later that day, ABC decided to reschedule the film and ended up playing Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and the 2 cartoons enable to broadcast President Reagan's telecast speech afterwards. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and the 2 cartoons were later reran on ABC for the second time on September 7, 1986. The film later returned to NBC on January 21, 1990.[citation needed]

Cancelled theatrical re-release[edit]

On December 5, 2011, Don Hall, who directed the 2011 Winnie the Pooh feature film, revealed that Disney originally planned to release a remastered version of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree featuring scenes deleted from the original version. However, the idea was discarded in favor of a new film due to lack of enough deleted footage to "make it worthwhile".[18]


The short initially received mixed reception.[19] Howard Thompson of The New York Times said that "[t]he Disney technicians responsible for this beguiling miniature have had the wisdom to dip right into the Milne pages, just the way Pooh paws after honey...The flavoring, with some nice tunes stirred in, is exactly right—wistful, sprightly and often hilarious.[20] Kenneth Tynan of The Observer felt "The sedate foolishness of Pooh is prettily captured, and there are very few offensive additions. Purists, however, will rightfully baulk at such innovations as the stammering gopher and the songs, in one of which Pooh is made to sing: 'Speaking poundage-wise / I improvise my appetite when I exercise.'"[21] E. H. Shepard felt the replacement was "a complete travesty", and Felix Barker of The Evening News ran a campaign opposed to the change.[22] A. A. Milne's widow, Daphne, is said to have liked it.[19]

Winnie the Pooh featurettes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966". Variety. January 4, 1967. p. 8.
  2. ^ Fanning, Jim (February 4, 2016). "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree: Did You Know?". D23. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  3. ^ Finch 2000, pp. 33–35.
  4. ^ "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree: Behind The Very First Winnie the Pooh Film". Oh My Disney. August 9, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  5. ^ Finch 2000, p. 38.
  6. ^ Finch 2000, pp. 37–39.
  7. ^ Brandon, Emily (October 28, 2015). "8 Things You Didn't Know About Winnie the Pooh". Oh My Disney. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  8. ^ Sherman, Robert; Sherman, Richard (1998). Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Camphor Tree Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 978-0964605930.
  9. ^ Ehrbar, Greg (April 26, 2016). "Disney's "Winnie the Pooh & The Honey Tree" on Records". Cartoon Research. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Hischak, Thomas S.; Robinson, Mark A. (2009). The Disney Song Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0810869387.
  11. ^ Smith, Dave (2012). Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered. New York: Disney Editions. ISBN 978-142315370-2.
  12. ^ "Theater Notes". The Baltimore Sun. September 19, 1966. p. B4. Retrieved August 27, 2020 – via
  13. ^ "Lt. Robin Crusoe-Winnie the Pooh movie advertisement". The Spokane Chronicle. May 11, 1967. p. 18. Retrieved August 27, 2020. open access
  14. ^ "Tonight's the Night to Go Out to a Movie! Neighborhood Theatre Guide". The Philadelphia Inquirer. March 12, 1967. p. 4. Retrieved August 27, 2020 – via
  15. ^ "'Pooh' Special Set March". February 2, 1970. Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 18. Retrieved August 27, 2020 – via open access
  16. ^ "Disney Plans Special on Children's Tale". Fort Lauderdale News. February 20, 1970. p. F17. Retrieved August 27, 2020 – via open access
  17. ^ Fanning, Jim (February 4, 2010). "All Facts, No Fluff and Stuff". D23. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2016.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  18. ^ 'Winnie the Pooh': How the Disney Classic Became New Again
  19. ^ a b Finch 2000, pp. 49–50.
  20. ^ Thompson, Howard (April 7, 1966). "A Disney Package: Don't Miss the Short". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  21. ^ Tynan, Kenneth (March 27, 1966). "A ram in wolf's clothing". The Observer. p. 25. Retrieved July 2, 2020 – via open access
  22. ^ Robb, Brian J. (2014). A Brief History of Walt Disney. Little, Brown Book Company. ISBN 978-1-472-11072-5.


  • Finch, Christopher (2000). Disney's Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear. Disney Editions. ISBN 978-0786863525.

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