Country Bear Jamboree
(October 1, 1971 - present)
History and photos of the Country Bear Jamboree show in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The Country Bear Jamboree opened its doors on October 1, 1971, as an original attraction in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Country Bear Jamboree is a musical show featuring a cast of Audio-Animatronic bears and other critters found in the woods. The show itself takes place in Grizzly Hall, a structure dating back to 1898.
The concept behind the Country Bear Jamboree began in the mid 1960s when Disney was looking at expanding with a ski resort located in the Mineral King Valley in California's Sequoia National Park. Walt Disney wanted a show of an Audio-Animatronic bear band to entertain the resorts guests. A few days before his death on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney himself got a chuckle from the concept drawings of what the comical bear band would look like.
Country Bear Jamboree was an immediate hit when it opened with the rest of the Magic Kingdom in 1971. The show was so successful that it was added to Disneyland in 1972, and later Tokyo Disneyland in 1983.
The Country Bear Jamboree takes place in Grizzy Hall. Upon entering the holding room we see a variety of portraits of the show's bear performers.
WARNING --- SPOILERS!
The audience sits on long padded rows of bench seats in the theater. In front of us are five individual stages for the bear performers. Off to the right side of the theater are three animal heads on the wall: Melvin (a moose), Buff (a bear), and Max (a deer).
Suddenly the three animal heads come to life and tell Henry (the host bear who has a raccoon (Sammy) in the top of his hat) to start the show. He does so and Gomer helps him out by playing his piano.
The bears go through their routines and sing a variety of country-themed songs, many of them humorous in nature. Some of the songs include "Bear Band Serenade," "Mama, Don't Whip Little Buford," "Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine," "How Long Will My Baby Be Gone," "Blood on the Saddle," "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," and the grand finale song "Ole Slew Foot." In the case of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," the lyrics were changed from "killing a bear" to "taming a bear when he was only three."
In addition to Henry and Gomer, the bear cast includes Liver Lips McGrowl, a brown bear with very large lips and he plays the guitar; Wendell, a golden brown bear who plays the mandolin; Teddi Barra, a brown bear who descends from the ceiling and sits on a swing; Ernest, a brown bear who plays a fiddle; Terrence, a tall bear with tan fur who plays a guitar; Trixie, a large brown bear who wears a tutu, carries a handkerchief, and holds a glass of wine; Big Al, an old and large bear who wears a red vest, plays an out-of-tune guitar, and tends to get lost in his thoughts; The Sun Bonnet Trio, three bears named Bunny, Bubbles and Beulah; and The Five Bear Rugs - Zeke, Zeb, Ted, Fred, Tennessee, and Baby Oscar (with his teddy bear).
END OF SPOILERS!
Country Bear Jamboree saw its first change in the winter of 1984 with the addition of the Christmas special. This seasonal version of the show has Grizzly Hall and the bears decorated in Christmas theming, and the bears sing variations of classic Christmas carols.
1986 saw the conversion of Country Bear Jamboree into the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. The bears are now on vacation, and they bring their country charm (and hilarious antics) with them. Songs in this version of the show included "The Great Outdoors," "On the Road Again," "California Bears," "Rocky Top," "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," and "Thank God I'm a Country Bear."
The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown was performed during most of the year, and the show still changed for the annual Christmas special. The park guests weren't that pleased with the vacation version of the show, and the Country Bear Jamboree was changed back to its regular version in 1992.
These days, Country Bear Jamboree is still a fairly popular show for guests in the Magic Kingdom. Take note that the show tends to be more popular during the heat of the day in the summer, and during those brief cold snaps in the winter. As we know, extremes in temperature tend to send people indoors to seek temporary comfort.
If you're looking for a different type of show in the Magic Kingdom, then you should definitely check out the Country Bear Jamboree. The bears and other animals look great, their antics are pretty entertaining, and the music isn't bad. This is not a scary show, and a lot of kids (and their parents) love seeing the animatronic bears performing on stage.
|TRIVIA||The success of the Country Bear Jamboree inspired the making of The Country Bears, a live-action Disney movie that was released in 2002.|
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