Walt Disney World guests seeking to celebrate Groundhogs Day today may have a difficult time finding any weather-prognosticating creatures as Central Florida lies far south of the groundhog’s natural habitat, but there are still other ground-dwelling rodents to be found in the parks. For example, a trio of gophers can be seen invading Rabbit’s Garden in the queue for Magic Kingdom’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” if one knows how to make them appear. Among the interactive elements added to this Fantasyland queue during its 2010 refurbishment, kids can trigger these gophers to pop out of their holes by standing on certain spots marked on the ground. Each of these critters may look slightly different, but fans of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh films would certainly recognize a family resemblance between them and the Gopher who appears inside “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” attraction as well as the 1977 film of the same name.
First appearing in the 1966 featurette “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree,” Gopher’s origin is a unique among the characters in that first animated Pooh outing in that he is a purely Disney invention. While Pooh Bear and most of the other residents of The Hundred Acre Woods first appeared in the books of author A. A. Milne, Gopher did not and is not shy about saying so. When initially offering his services as an “excavation expert” to Pooh and Owl in the film, he makes sure to mention that he’s “not in the book” just before handing Owl his business card , cleverly referencing both the fact that his telephone number is not listed in the phone book and that he was not a part of the original Winnie-The-Pooh book. Apparently popping in and out of holes isn’t the only way that this Gopher knows how to work on multiple levels.