The Spirit of Pocahontas Yesterland
Photo of Spirit of Pocahontas banner
The Fantasyland Theatre takes on a Frontierland look.

Have a seat in the open-air Fantasyland Theatre. Take a moment to admire the stage, which represents sacred ceremonial grounds in a Virginia forest. There’s a flash of fire, and the show begins.

Photo of Spirit of Pocahontas stage with fire
A fire burns before the performance begins.

Instead of just presenting a condensed, live version of Disney’s animated Pocahontas, the show creatively retells the story from the perspective of the storyteller Werowance and the Powhatan tribe. They bring to life the legend of Pocahontas. When Pocahontas is summoned, Werowance takes on the role of her father, Chief Powhatan.

To represent the English settlers, members of the tribe don silver ceremonial masks. But the part of English adventurer John Smith calls for more than a silver mask. Werowance makes John Smith materialize from a burning campfire.

Photo of the Spirit of Pocahontas stage and audience
The stage set is large and elaborate.

Throughout the show’s half hour, you’ll be dazzled by talented performers, clever special effects (including fire and wind), and the memorable score and songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. The songs include the Oscar winner for Best Original Song of 1995, “Colors of the Wind.”

Photo of John Smith, Pocahontas, and Grandmother Willow
Grandmother Willow offers guidance.

In a particularly effective scene, the puppet face of Grandmother Willow appears on a huge willow tree to offer guidance to Pocahontas and John Smith.

Photo of Pocahontas being carried
Pocanhontas is carried around the stage.

Don’t expect to see Meeko and Flit, who provided much a the film’s humor and its appeal to children. They’re not in the show.

Photo of the Spirit of Pocahontas dancer
The Spirit of Pocahontas has talented dancers and elaborate choreography.
 

The Spirit of Pocahontas opened at Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre on June 23, 1995, the same day that Disney’s 33rd full-length animated feature, Pocahontas, opened in movie theaters.

Disneyland’s stage version of Beauty and the Beast was a tough act to follow, and adapting Pocahontas for the stage was a real challenge. Disneyland Entertainment was up to the challenge.

Although only 17 performers appeared in The Spirit of Pocahontas per performance, the show looked lavish and polished. By telling the story through the storyteller and the tribe, the creative team delivered a show that worked well on stage, while dealing with the budget realities and performance length constraints of a theme park show.

Photo of the Spirit of Pocahontas shop in Frontierland
The Spirit of Pocahontas Shop in Frontierland.

The final performance of The Spirit of Pocahontas was September 4, 1997. Its long run is testimony to its popularity and quality—although cynics suggested that the show was kept around to help Disneyland promote the mountains of unsold Pocahontas merchandise that filled the park’s shelves and warehouses.

During the first half of 1998, the formerly open-air Fantasyland Theatre grew a tent roof. The first new show under the Fantasyland Theatre tent roof was Disneyland Presents Animazement - The Musical.


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Updated February 6, 2009.

Photograph of The Spirit of Pocahontas banner: 1996 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of The Spirit of Pocahontas stage with fire: 1996 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of The Spirit of Pocahontas stage and audience: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of John Smith, Pocahontas, and Grandmother Willow: 1995 by Werner Weiss. Photograph of Pocahontas being carried: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of The Spirit of Pocahontas dancers: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of The Spirit of Pocahontas shop in Frontierland: 1996 by Mike McKiernan.