Winds of Change in the 100 acre wood

Okay. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Then read this.

Maybe it’s just the impossibly cozy nature of the ‘hood, but for 80 years there has been no change in the resident line-up of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Guess who’s coming for honey? As part of a barrel-full of Winnie the Pooh anniversary events, Disney is working on a new animated series that will replace Christopher Robin with a "tomboyish" 6-year-old girl.  

Alright. You calm? This is so wrong I just don’t even know where to begin. Well, let’s start with one factual error in the story. First Disney does have a history of messing with the Pooh characters. They introduced Gopher in the 1977 ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh’ movie. They have also tweaked the personalities and look of the characters overtime, call it artistic license. However, they have never gone as far as completely replacing one of the characters just to ‘raise ratings’. If they really wanted to raise ratings, why not by the rights to Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes and switch him out with Christopher Robin.

Disney over marketed Winnie-The-Pooh merchandise with his numbers surpassing Mickey Mouse’s at times. But the over exposure has done damage to the brand; Pooh themed stores in the theme parks have been shuttered or rethought, the new Pooh ride at Disneyland was mostly a dud, and the Heffalump movie (which introduced another new character, btw) has only done so-so for the company. Now they want to stretch sales at the expense of the brand. That’s never a wise thing to do.

I hope Disney re-evaluates before they clearly jump the shark with this move. Fine, introduce a new character to the 100 acre wood. The audience will eventually believe that someone else besides Christopher Robin can see his stuff animals as real. But don’t axe the young boy just because you think he won’t drive toy sales. Compliment him and respect the universe that A.A. Milne so carefully crafted. Overtime audiences will grow to accept the new character, as they have with Gopher, or the new character will fade away naturally. But don’t mess with the brand.

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