Howdy folks! Welcome to the one and only, original, Country Bear Jamboree – featuring a bit of Americana, our musical heritage of the past. And right now, I give you a sordid assortment of executioners of music and song. The Five Bear Rugs… Hit it, boys!
The Country Bear Jamboree, nestled into Frontierland, continues to be an extremely silly revue of days gone by. Filled with corny jokes, unique songs, and beloved animatronics, there’s something for everyone at this Disney Park show! Here’s what we love about these good ol’ country bears!
What We Love About The Country Bear Jamboree
The bears of Frontierland have become such a staple of Florida’s Magic Kingdom that theatres continue to fill with Disney Guests about every half hour of the operating day. Entertained with an old-timey revue, the Guests sit in an air-conditioned space on cushy benches, ready for laughs (and if you’re a regular) a singalong!
It’s So Bad… It’s Good
But have you ever seen something that was so bad it was good? The Country Bears may just be that show. The Country Bear Jamboree show is about an 11-12 minute presentation started by a Disney Cast Member at a microphone, reminding you to sit down and refrain from refreshments. After that, the terrible clicking of the antique taxidermied animal animatronics begins with corny dad jokes as a warm-up.
Hey, Henry, what’s holdin’ ya up? Let’s get on with the show!
Now, Buff, be patient…
Yeah, we ain’t goin’ anywhere anyhow. We’re kind of hung up here!
After that, we meet our host, Henry Bear. Henry takes us through various songs that are woven together in his presentation. Various bears including Big Al, Liver Lips, Little Buford, Wendell, Trixie, Teddi Barra, and the Sun Bonnet gals. Oftentimes, words appear on the screen so you can sing along. Towards the end of the review, the bears can’t take turns, and the show begins raucously combining all the songs into one to get Big Al to hush up. It’s funny, slapstick, musical and more.
Sometimes, the lyrics of the outdated songs catch Disney Guests off-guard, and they dislike the show because of it. But following the footsteps of the 1930s censorship rules, Henry Bear apologies or makes excuses for each of the jokes, creating a forgiving attitude. The same was done with Betty Boop and other 1930’s cartoon characters.
It Was One of Walt’s Last Attraction Designs
Of course, we all know that Walt Disney had a hand in creating the Floridan Resort. After the opening of Disneyland Park in 1955, he looked for a bigger and better project, securing plots of land in central Florida. While creating Magic Kingdom, he was also musing about the creations of EPCOT and CalArts.
He approved of and set into motion Walt Disney World attractions like the Walt Disney World Railroad, and the Haunted Mansion, while the sketches and ideas for Country Bear Jamboree also had his blessing. While the sketches and the Disney Imagineer’s design ideas made him laugh, he never got to see the actualized show, despite creating it for a ski resort that was never to be.
Country Bear Jamboree Is World-Wide
We can give Big Al and the gang a hand for inspiring a part of Disneyland Resort to be expanded and named “Bear Country” in 1988. Later called Critter Country when Splash Mountain was added, this land was positioned around the Country Bear Jamboree and Country Bear Playhouse in the back corner.
The great success of Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort attraction initiated this replica in California, which sadly closed in 2001. Remnants of this country music attraction can still be seen when riding Winnie the Pooh. Look backward on a portion of the ride, and you can still see the taxidermied animatronics on the back wall.
Though the attraction was demolished and redesigned at Disneyland Park, Tokyo Disneyland still retains a version of the backwoods show. 1983 brought the Country Bear Jamboree to Japan, in a duplicate form of Disneyland’s theater. According to the DisneyParks.Fandom.com, after the Carousel of Progress, this show is the second-longest running stage show in the history of Disney attractions.
Related: Secrets of the Carousel of Progress
The Best Country Bear Jamboree Fun Facts
- There used to be a Christmas Overlay! The Country Bears show was once so incredibly popular that Imagineers created a Christmas special version. All the bears donned holiday outfits and props and sang Christmas songs. That Country Bear Christmas attraction overlay only ran at Magic Kingdom during the holidays from 1984 through 2006. We would love to see it again!
- The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown: Holidays not enough? The Country Bears also staged a summer vacation jamboree overlay, wearing bathing suits and singing summery songs. This show was short-lived but can still be seen at Tokyo Disneyland.
- Country Bear Jamboree was initially intended for a snowy ski resort. Apparently, Walt Disney had plans to create a ski resort that would host the Country Bears attraction. Set among the hills of the California Sequoia National Park, plans began in September 1966, but with Walt Disney’s death on December 15, 1966, the snow resort was never built. Imagineers of the late 1960s kept the Country Bear attraction alive and added it to Magic Kingdom’s opening day offerings.
- The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game included a holiday card at Halloween featuring the jug band and Henry Bear. The Not So Scary Halloween party release cards were collectibles and sold online for high value. This particular card was the 11th party card.
- The show was originally sponsored by Frito-Lay and Pepsi! Henry Bear included lines during the show that alluded to the company’s slogan at the time, “we’ve got a lot to give.” The line persisted despite attraction changes and wasn’t removed from the script until 2012 when the audio tracks received a refurbishment and the show was shortened.
- There’s a rumor that Disneyland’s Big Al animatronic was reused as Oogie Boogie in the Haunted Mansion’s Nightmare Before Christmas overlay… you have to admit, they are eerily similar!
- Several of the Bears from the attraction are known to host Meet and Greets in the street in front of the theatre. You might also spot them waving to you from the balcony of the building!
- This stage show has been so popular that Disney made a film tribute to the attraction called The Country Bears (2002).
From the Walt Disney World Website, we get a description of the show:
This Hootenanny is a Real Hoot: Step inside the rustic theater known as Grizzly Hall and take your seat before the lights dim. Clap along as 18 Audio-Animatronics hillbilly bears play and sing during this 16-minute, foot-stompin’ cele-bear-tion. You’ll hear a medley of original and classic tunes—all performed by the zaniest critters in the woods.
Overflowing with humor, heart and a few surprises, this crowd-pleasing show features a down-home, southern sensibility you and your cubs will love.
Walt Disney’s Pawprints: Country Bear Jamboree is one of the very last attractions that Walt Disney personally helped develop. Originally planned for a never-built Disney ski resort in Mineral King, California, the show with the singing bears happily moved out to Florida in 1971 and has been performing daily at Magic Kingdom park ever since.
What do you love most about the Country Bear Jamboree? Leave us a comment below!