On June 23, 1995, Pocahontas was released on American screens, and a few months later, this new Disney Princess had her appearance at Disneyland Paris. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the movie, we take a look at the different evocations of Pocahontas across the Park.
Inspired by real events, Pocahontas tells the story of an impossible love between an English colonist who came to the New World looking for adventure, and the daughter of the local tribal chief, who must protect her people from these invaders. On the production side, the film brings together the best of the Walt Disney Animation Studios, such as co-director Eric Goldberg, creator of Aladdin’s Genie, and animator Glen Keane (Ariel, The Beast, Aladdin), not to mention composer Alan Menken.
Pocahontas was released in France on 22 November 1995, and for the occasion, a pre-parade was created at Disneyland Paris. The English settlers preceded the impressive Susan Constant, the Virginia Company ship with Governor Ratcliffe and his drums playing live, followed by the Powhatan tribe and a majestic float welcoming Pocahontas, her friends Flit and Meeko, John Smith and the mischievous Grandmother Leaf.
The film also inspired the Disneyland Paris directors to create a landmark production, Pocahontas – The Show, which opened on 12th May 1996. For the occasion, Frontierland acquired a new theatre. Since July 1993, a small stage had been used mainly for country music groups, musicians and dancers. Disneyland Paris then planned to develop this venue by building covered bleachers and a much larger stage. Chaparral Stage became The Chaparral Theater.
The setting of Pocahontas – the Show is particularly impressive. A river on which the heroine can navigate in her canoe, the waterfall, the ship and the special effects – flames, smoke and jets of leaves symbolising “wind air”. The concept of the show is also innovative in its interactivity. It allows the audience to participate in the creation of a film inspired by the Disney animation classics. Choreography and singing are part of the show, which is both impressive and romantic, recreating the greatest scenes of the movie.
Pocahontas, the Show ran at The Chaparral Theater every summer until 1999.
Other references to Pocahontas can be found in the history of Disneyland Paris. In 1996, the Pocahontas Indian Village playground (renamed Frontierland Playground in June 2019) opened at the landing of the Indian Canoes attraction (1992-1994).
From 2002 to 2019, the Art of Disney Animation attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park featured, among other things, a film, “Drawn to Animation”, revealing some secrets behind the creation of Disney characters. It revealed that Pocahontas was originally supposed to have a third pet, in addition to Meeko and Flit: a turkey named Red Feather, who could talk. The character was eventually removed from the script, on the one hand to not multiply the heroine’s sidekicks, and on the other hand to keep the film’s realistic style.
Last but not least, in the show The Forest of Enchantment: A Disney Musical Adventure (2016-2017), Pocahontas introduces John Smith to the bond between all beings and nature in a particularly pure scene, featuring the song “Colors of the wind” / “L’air du vent” by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken.
25 years later, the message of Pocahontas about tolerance and respect for nature has not changed a bit…