Theme Park Insider

Disney celebrates 45 years of the Country Bear Jamboree

August 23, 2016, 10:02 AM · As the Walt Disney World Resort prepares for its 45th birthday this fall, Disney is saluting the attractions that opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971.

One of those is one of my former homes at Disney, the Country Bear Jamboree, which Disney is featuring this week. I got a 5/5 on Disney's Country Bear Jamboree trivia quiz, but since I spent a day doing nothing but learning "Bear Band" trivia when I started working at the show, then ended up watching the various versions of it more than 1,000 times during my stint with the company, anything less would have been pretty, well, embearassing.

(Sorry.)

Anyway, here's some more fun stuff about our favorite singing bears that you won't find on the official Disney blog.

The Country Bear Jamboree debuted at Walt Disney World before being copied at Disneyland, flipping the script for most classic Disney theme parks attractions. But the Country Bear show wasn't originally envisioned for Disney World. The show first was designed for a ski resort that Walt Disney wanted to build in Mineral King, California. After Walt's death, the Disney board of directors decided that it couldn't go ahead with both the Mineral King and Florida projects. So it canceled the ski resort and chose to build the Walt Disney World Resort instead. But the Country Bear concept survived and was added to the plans for the Magic Kingdom.

Working an animatronic show might not seem like the most exciting job at Disney World. But it did offer some interesting challenges in learning how to manage a queue filled with people without making anyone mad. And when animatronic shows such as the Country Bear Jamboree break down, they can do so in absolutely hilarious ways. No one's in danger when the Country Bear show breaks down, of course — the biggest danger the show poses might be when the show doesn't stop, and your poor operator is stuck in the theater watching show after show after show.

(These stories and more appear in my book about working at the Walt Disney World Resort, Stories from a Theme Park Insider. If you're looking for a few laughs — and want to keep me off the streets — go ahead and buy a copy!)

Current Disney World visitors might now know this, but there are three versions of the Country Bear show: the original Jamboree, the summer-themed Vacation Hoedown and the holiday-themed Christmas Special. Disney World no longer shows anything but a slightly-truncated version of the original, but you can see the other two show at Tokyo Disneyland. Or if you can't afford that trip, you can watch our video of the Christmas show in Japan.

Happy (early) birthday, Country Bears!

Replies (8)

August 23, 2016 at 3:17 PM · When I was young and in my prime I was given the LP of the show as a gift and now I have it on iTunes. Like many, I know the entire show by heart and find it really sad that it no longer runs in its entirety at WDW.
I got to see the vacation version at TDL last summer. It was fun to see a different version in a different language. The theater was packed in Tokyo, something you barely ever seen in Florida anymore. I just hope the show continues to run at Walt Disney World. It may seemed dated, but they've still got a lot to give.
(P.S. - in your head, you sang the first line of my comment in character voice...didn't you?)
August 23, 2016 at 1:44 PM · I understand that maybe it wasn't drawing crowds at Disneyland, but it's still much more than a shame that it closed for a half-hearted Winnie the Pooh ride. The only way Disney could redeem itself is to include the bears somehow in the Grizzly River Run.
August 23, 2016 at 2:33 PM · Disneyland should bring back CBJ. With Star Wars Land likely to bring record crowds to the park, it needs to offer as much as it can besides a multi-hour wait to ride one Star Wars attraction once. The return of a classic ride would be a welcome addition. Disney needs to show they still care about preserving and returning long time Disney staples, in order to make up for changes such as shrinking the ROA, getting rid of Towor of Terror, and closing the Court of Angels to the public. Maybe build a new, one track home for Pooh, but no matter what happens, the ride isn't popular enough for two tracks.
August 23, 2016 at 9:42 PM · Too late to bring it back to the original location. They should consider adding them to Grizzly Rapids Ride in California Adventure. Turn the ride into a musical. Maybe add it to the queue line. They closed the ride before the movie debut. I always thought closing it was premature.
August 24, 2016 at 9:05 AM · Anon Mouse - I have had the same thought - put it over in the GRR area or in the Grand Cal. The GRR land is my favorite area in DCA and one of the best imagineered lands of late, I think.
August 24, 2016 at 4:48 PM · I got the pleasure to work CBJ at WDW during a cross-u opportunity trade off because I begged to work a shift at the Haunted Mansion. Saddened me greatly when DLR removed it in favor of Pooh which was nothing more a dumbed down ride to support a gift shop. The classic audio A's are fading away.
August 25, 2016 at 10:28 AM · Underrated show, and no WDW visit is complete without spending some time with those charming AAs.
August 27, 2016 at 7:30 PM · I saw it first time, in WDW, in 1974. Still very fresh at that moment :-)

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