Real-life bear closes much of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

September 18, 2023, 1:05 PM · Looks like someone is trying to get an early start on the new Country Bears show at Walt Disney World.

Earlier this month, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro announced that the Magic Kingdom would be getting a new version of its Country Bear Jamboree show next year. But one bear decided today that it didn't want to wait for 2024 before taking the stage at Disney.

Magic Kingdom cast members discovered a black bear next to the Rivers of America this morning, prompting Disney to keep the west side of the park closed past its scheduled opening time.

Back in my day, the opening lead at Tom Sawyer Island would take a ride around the island before park opening to check show quality, which included making sure that any wildlife hadn't gotten into the park. I've never heard of a bear in the Magic Kingdom before, but one morning we did have to go to e delayed opening for Tom Sawyer Island and all the river attractions due to a family of alligators on the TSI dock. [See my cast member story, Sometimes, Mother Nature runs the show.]

With most of the west side of the park closed, wait times soared elsewhere in the park this morning before Disney, in consultation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, decided to open Adventureland and Liberty Square around noon today, with some Frontierland attractions following soon after.

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is aware of a black bear reported in a tree on Walt Disney World property at the Magic Kingdom," the commission said in a statement release to the press. "Biologists with the FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are on scene. In most cases, it is best for bears to be given space and to move along on their own, but given this situation, staff are working on capturing and relocating the bear."

Yeah, not even bears get get to sneak into Disney World for free.

The Walt Disney World Railroad, which runs north of the Rivers as it circles the park, and Rivers attractions remained closed as of early afternoon.

By the way, a reader on LinkedIn drew my attention to one of the changes that Disney quietly revealed about the upcoming Country Bear Musical Jamboree. In the new attraction poster that Disney released, the character Liver Lips McGrowl has been renamed Romeo McGrowl.

Country Bear Musical Jamboree poster
Image courtesy Walt Disney World

I don't know the etymological origin of the aspersion "liver lips," but I'm just going to assume the worst about it. Not that it matters, because I suspect most audience members wouldn't get the implication behind the description, anyway. The name "Romeo" better communicates that this is a bear "on the prowl," if you will.

In case you missed the news on all the other Destination D23 reveals this year, here is our round-up: Walt Disney World reveals big changes for Animal Kingdom.

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Replies (12)

September 18, 2023 at 1:23 PM

Wow! The Disney Marketing Team is really getting the message out about those "Florida Resident" deals!

September 18, 2023 at 1:46 PM

Man, the Pooh jokes alone are writing themselves....

September 18, 2023 at 1:47 PM

While details of this story remain unclear, some folks say he looks a lot like me.

September 18, 2023 at 1:48 PM

Could have been a preemtive castmember audition for the new CBJ show.

September 18, 2023 at 2:13 PM

Okay, I know Disney is into live-action remakes but was anyone asking for one of "Brother Bear?"

September 18, 2023 at 2:34 PM

He could bearly contain his excitement to visit until he saw the prices for genie+ and decided to climb a tree instead.

(groans from crowd heard with intermittent coughing and a baby crying)

September 18, 2023 at 4:45 PM

Wherever he wanders, wherever he roams. He couldn’t be fonder of his big home.
Look for the bare necessities.

September 18, 2023 at 5:28 PM

All I'm saying is, the RCID kept the Magic Kingdom bear-free for 56 years.

September 18, 2023 at 5:46 PM

When asked for comment, the bear said “oh bother!”

September 18, 2023 at 6:29 PM

You get the blue ribbon so far

September 18, 2023 at 11:15 PM

I would inquire about the HHN bear’s whereabouts this morning.

September 19, 2023 at 3:48 AM

RELATED STORY: The web's swarm of Universal fanboys have blown up all over social media claiming that Universal would've have gotten rid of the bear faster -- although they admitted the entire capture would've been projected on screens.

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