Disney Performer Dies on Stage Mid-Show

in Walt Disney World

Black and white image of a group of people in casual attire standing and blocking a walkway in a park-like setting with trees and Disney-style wooden buildings in the background.

Credit: @ericthomaschu

Guests were rushed away from a performance of the Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park when one of its performers died onstage. Disney cast members quickly evacuated the theater and closed the curtains, suggesting another possible reason for its ongoing retheme into the Country Bear Musical Jamboree.

Henry Bear Country Bear Jamboree
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort’s original Country Bear Jamboree closed in January to make room for the modernized version, which will open later this summer. The bears that Disney Park fans know and love are learning a new setlist full of all-new and classic Disney songs stylized like classic Nashville country music.

“If you’ve been too busy trottin’ through the wild west and have missed the news, the Country Bears are getting ready to put on a new show that pays homage to the Opry-style shows of Nashville,” Disney Parks Blog wrote. “While the Country Bear Musical Jamboree will include easter eggs from the beginning to the end including a familiar tune fans may remember, the bears will sing new, reinterpreted Disney tunes in different genres of country music – like bluegrass, pop-country, Americana, rockabilly and other styles.”

Alongside the new setlist and other refurbishments, Walt Disney Imagineers vowed to remove culturally insensitive parts of the original Country Bear Jamboree. For example, they renamed Liver Lips McGrowl to Romeo McGrowl, replacing what is now considered a derogatory and offensive racial slur historically used against Black people. Big Al, Trixie St. Claire, Wendell, Shaker, and other animatronics will not take on new identities.

Beyond outdated lyrics and inappropriate language, a recent Disney Park guest report suggests yet another reason behind the Country Bear Jamboree closure. According to Redditor u/mikochu, Disney cast members once had to evacuate the theater due to a disturbing animatronic malfunction.

Country Bear Jamboree seen from the audience
Credit: Disney

The guest explained that one animatronic “came undone,” dying in front of dozens of guests.

“They closed all the curtains and had us leave the theater,” they wrote.

Big Al Country bear Jamboree
Credit: Disney Parks

Little did the guest know, their experience foreshadowed the Country Bear Jamboree’s lackluster final day. As thousands of guests lined up to experience one final performance, Disney cast members revealed that the final show was canceled due to technical difficulties. Some guests who waited all day were unable to experience the attraction.

Keeping up with decades-old animatronics was increasingly tricky for maintenance cast members. The retheme could hypothetically give Imagineers time to update the bears and make them easier to maintain.

Have Disney cast members ever evacuated your family from an attraction at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort? In the comments, share your experience with Inside the Magic. 

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