Walt Disney World trims its Country Bear Jamboree

October 18, 2012, 10:25 PM · Disney's made some changes to the Country Bear Jamboree.

The musical animatronic show just came back from a refurbishment, but Disney did more than just clean the bears' fur and change the lights. They've cut nearly a third of the show, from reader reports, including the entire "Devilish Mary" song, as well as much of the banter between the characters during the show.

Here's a video of the original show, as seen last year:

And here's a video that Walt Disney Imagineering released toady, talking about the changes. Well, most of them.

I guess they left out the part about leaving out part of the show? How meta. Still, the Country Bear show wasn't exactly thrilling audiences. Theme Park Insider readers have rated it a 6 - far below the average for attractions in the Magic Kingdom. Clearly, Disney had room for improvement. But will cuts and freshen backgrounds be enough to restore this show's popularity? Or should Disney have gone all the way and created an all-new Country Bear show?

Disney's done that before, with the Vacation Hoedown show that replaced the original Country Bear Jamboree in the late 1980s and early 1990s. (That's the show I watched several hundred times as a cast member at Walt Disney World during that time.) If you want to see that show, or the full-length original, or the Christmas version for that matter, you'll have to visit Tokyo Disneyland, which plays all three shows during the year.

Have you seen the new version of the Country Bears yet? If so, what do you think?

Replies (14)

October 18, 2012 at 10:31 PM · Toady, eh? Freudian slip?
October 19, 2012 at 1:50 AM · Are they trying to increase capacity for November and December, if their expecting a tsunami of crowds with the combination of the holidays and the new Fantasyland opening?
October 19, 2012 at 3:47 AM · Gotta admit, I don't even remember "Devilish Mary". I've only seen the show at Disneyland and, not to beat a dead, uh, bear, I really miss it. Especially with the temps we've have. ;-)
October 19, 2012 at 4:03 AM · I'm not overly impressed by this move by Disney to shorten the show. Although I am delighted to see that they've invested in a nice refurb programme.
I think we still need to keep at least one foot in the past: to keep the Disney ethic alive and keep the Country Bears alive too.
It's not all about the fast and the furious and the adrenalin fuelled new ventures. I know that they are important and I'm all for moving forward. But I don't agree with the wanton abandonment of the kind of sound family entertainment that things like the Country Bears bring to the Park.
I'm concerned that the shortening of the show might lead to the first step to discarding it altogether and, in my humble opinion, WDW will be the poorer for it. Dare I say that some of the Magic will be lost from the Kingdom if and when the Bears leave.
Let's hope that their investment in this attraction bodes well for the future and it doesn't end up as hunting season.
October 19, 2012 at 3:58 AM · Your Kidding me? Does anyone know whats going on at WDW? They trimmed shows over the years at all the parks. So at this point why bother to even go to them?
October 19, 2012 at 4:45 AM · I never really liked Devilish Mary ti begin with (or most of the show for that matter), so does this mean I can survive longer?
October 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM · I posted a thread in the forum about this a while back.
October 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Could be worse. They could make another movie.

In my handful of visits to MK, I never wanted to see the show..it held no appeal for me whatsoever. I remember, on my first visit in the mid-1970's, my Mom went to see it by herself, while my Dad took me and my sister and brother on Haunted Mansion.

October 19, 2012 at 9:38 AM · To me, trimming the show a bit is ok, they did it to Tiki Room too...it probably gives almost the same experience, but just tightening it up a bit.
October 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM · The Country Bears just need to go for good. When MK put in Pooh, they should have kept Toad and kicked out the bears. Toad with the dual track was an amazing ride. The Bears are such a tired, dated show, it's time for a new animatronic ride or attraction.
October 19, 2012 at 10:08 AM · This show is probably seen, mostly, by returning guests, the biggest demografic. To shorten the show will give them more time to shop and eat.
I wouldn't want to see it for a second time but lessening an attraction has lead to a better one. Look at Immagination.
October 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM · No matter. I think it is aimed at children, most of which will be seeing it for the first time.
October 19, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Cake decorators! I love the fact that the show has a fresh coat of paint, but why not add some new songs instead of just cutting some out. Maybe introduce a new character or two to make it really feel fresh. By the way, how about upgrading the actual animatronics under all of that new fur and clothing you're bragging about imagineers. The ones in the show now, move like they're underwater and don't match the frenetic feeling of some of the songs. It's yesterdays tech. I guess next gen-tech initiative is code for interactive queues, fancy meet and greets, glowing ear hats and Super Duper X-Fast Pass to the tenth power tech. Get some AA's in there that really move, add some characters and a few new songs and then you've piqued my interest. Whatever happened to Walt's concept of plussing?
October 19, 2012 at 7:23 PM · I think this show suffered from a few issues that this editing cleared up. First, the reference material, country and western music from the 50's and 60's, is a bit far removed from today's mainstream culture. Second, the pacing was slow and stilted. I never felt like the timing was right on the banter between characters. And finally, the effects had lagged behind where other attractions received updates. Aside from clearer audio and smoother mechanics, the show never got any more engaging than the day it opened.

While I definitely have a penchant for nostalgia,I think this may have been a wise move. Like a previous poster wrote, other attractions have gone under the knife in similar ways and come out that much better. I think that this is in fact a clear example of Disney's work ethic:

"Whenever I go on a ride, I'm always thinking of what's wrong with the thing and how it can be improved." - Walt Disney

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