Fans Overwhelmingly Defend Iconic Country Bear Jamboree Against Controversial Accusations

in Walt Disney World

Two animatronic characters on stage: a bear in a white vest and bow tie performing in front with country bear jamboree audio, and a monkey in a top hat on a podium behind

Credit: Disney

Over the years there have been a plethora of changes made in Disney parks in order to make them more inclusive and family-friendly, often to arguments and cries of “wokeness.” One of the most recent and well-known examples is the change of Song of the South-inspired Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. As a company, Disney tries its hardest to avoid as much controversy as possible and often prefers to cling as close to social acceptance as possible while still attempting to tell new and exciting stories across all their products.

Since its opening day in 1971, Country Bear Jamboree has been a beloved classic attraction that combines animatronics, knee-slapping comedy, and catchy country tunes. Located at Grizzly Hall in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, the show continues to draw in hundreds of guests each day, whether for its “beary” good time or its cool A/C. While the attraction was also previously found in Critter Country at Disneyland, it closed down several years ago, with the only other Country Bear location to be found at Tokyo Disneyland. Featuring a variety of musical acts and iconic bears, the show has made its way into the hearts of millions, despite its supposed controversial elements.

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
Credit: edenspictures, Flickr

In a Reddit thread titled “What is the Problem with Country Bear Jamboree?” posted by user u/TheCreeptonian, the user expressed their confusion when their friend shared their opinion on the show. u/TheCreeptonian explains “he told me that it’s good that it is getting redone because the songs were racist, sexist, and downright horrible.” According to the original poster, while they understood that the songs could be seen as outdated, they didn’t understand how the show could be “horrible” all things considered.

What is the problem with country bear jamboree?
byu/TheCreeptonian indisney

Most of the comments were positive and defended Country Bear Jamboree despite its age. Many noted that the show’s humor is a product of its time, reflecting a simpler time and, in fact, has already removed more problematic aspects of the show. u/jcharles pointed out “I know for sure the only problematic part of the show used to be the elk, moose, and bison catcalling the girl singers. But Disney just cut their audio out. If you go back watch them from time to time, they still “act out” the lines but nothing comes out.” 

One possibly valid concern was the naming of one of the bear characters. u/not_steve pointed out that one of the bears is called “Liver Lips McGrowl” and u/newimprovedmoo clarified that “It can have anti-Black connotations, the term refers to prominent purplish-brown lips like Black people stereotypically have.” In defense of the show, u/Imaginary_Roof_5286 responds with “But I think the original character was a parody of Elvis & other “crooners”. I think anyone offended is missing the cultural context.”

Country Bear Jamboree
Credit: Disney

A complete retheme of the attraction could very well be in the future of the ride, despite how iconic it is. Disney is usually very reluctant to do complete overhauls of actual opening-day attractions, often opting to do slight rethemes or non-invasive updates. While to the average guest Country Bear Jamboree has faded into the background along with other sit-down shows like The Enchanted Tiki Room or Carousel of Progress, it has ingrained itself into the fabric of the parks for so long. 

Last month, it was revealed the Country Bear Jamboree would be getting an overhaul sometime next year with all-new songs and an all-new show. While keeping the blue-grass and country music elements, the new songs will be revamped Disney songs, including “The Bear Necessities.” Liver Lips has also been renamed to Romeo McGrowl as part of the update. The announcement was met with mixed reactions, as many said it was about time the classic attraction received an update while others expressed outrage at such a drastic change. Hopefully, the promise of a brand-new show will continue to draw crowds to the show, even those who have already seen the “classic” version.

country bear jug band
Credit: Disney Parks

Despite the varied opinions expressed in the thread, it’s clear that the Country Bear Jamboree continues to hold a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans. Despite it’s potentially controversial content and inspiration, it’s still a Disney World classic, one that Walt himself had a hand in designing. Although the show no longer exists in Disneyland, it lives on at Walt Disney World, and continues to be a quiet classic with a fan base as diverse and colorful as the animatronic bears themselves.

What do you think about Country Bear Jamboree? Is it a classic or controversial? Let us know in the comments below!

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