Retired or Extinct Disneyland Rides, Exhibits, & Attractions I Miss Most - Disney's Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 2001

Artist's Concept of Disney's Mineral King Resort

A 1960's Artists Rendering of what the "Disney Mineral King Ski Resort" might have looked like.
A 1960's Artists Rendering of what the "Disney Mineral King Ski Resort" might have looked like.

Some Kind Of A Bear Band

In the mid-1960s, Walt Disney was making plans to build a ski resort in the southern half of the Sequoia National Forest that he was tentatively planning to name the Disney Mineral King Ski Resort. Knowing that he wanted to provide an interactive show as entertainment for his guests, and that he wished for the animatronic show to feature some sort of a bear band, Mr. Disney turned the project over to long-time Disney Imagineers Marc Davis and Al Bertino. The Davis and Bertino team came up with many different concepts for the proposed bear band show, which included among other ideas, a bear marching band, mariachi band and a Dixieland Jazz band before shortly before Mr. Disney's death in mid-December 1966, they hit upon an idea that made Mr. Disney laugh, and won his approval. This concept for a group of bears with a country twang would serve as the springboard for what would later become the Country Bear Jamboree.

The plans for the resort fell apart after Mr. Disney's death, but the idea of putting on an interactive bear show lived on. The original concept was for the show to be a part of a dinner theater or restaurant attraction where the bears were the house band, but without the ski lodge as a venue, a plan B was needed. The Imagineering team set their sights on a 1971 opening in Frontier Land at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, and breathed new life into the project by calling in fellow imagineers and 1996 Disney Legend Honorees, Xavier Atencio and George Bruns to write the script and the songs.

The show opened up to rave reviews, and the response was so overwhelming that the Disney team began immediately to make plans for duplicating the show and bringing it to Disneyland.

Disneyland's Country Bear Playhouse

Entering Disneyland's Bear Country

"A Honey of a Place since "72" Permits Must be Obtained For Tree-Climbing, Fishing, Scratching, and Hibernating(Permanent Residents Excepted) No Permit Necessary For Feeding Bears J Audubon Woodlore Park Rangers, Ursus Americanus NATURALIST
"A Honey of a Place since "72" Permits Must be Obtained For Tree-Climbing, Fishing, Scratching, and Hibernating(Permanent Residents Excepted) No Permit Necessary For Feeding Bears J Audubon Woodlore Park Rangers, Ursus Americanus NATURALIST | Source

Disneyland's Bear Country 1972-1988

Bringing the bears to the Anaheim park would take some doing. To begin with, where would they put them? After looking around, it was decided that the only solution was to build a new land. The Disney Imagineers settled on the site just beyond the Haunted Mansion, which had once been the home of the old Indian Village, and with a 1972 open date in their sights, they got to work creating Bear Country, a land that was reminiscent of the old Great Northwest.

To achieve an old Northwestern feeling, they planted 265 trees, including redwoods, pines, birches, and evergreens. Facades were built in a style reminiscent of the old logging and mining towns of a hundred years ago. The new shows home was a replication of an old time barn called The Country Bear Playhouse, a state-of-the-art theater, where for the first time in Disney history, two identical theaters would house two identical copies of the same show. Bear Country cost eight million dollars to build, The sign near the entrance read;

"BEAR COUNTRY,

"A Honey of a Place since "72",

Permits Must Be Obtained For Tree-Climbing, Fishing, Scratching, and Hibernating

(Permanent Residents Excepted)

No Permit Necessary For Feeding Bears"

J. Audubon Woodlore, Park Ranger,

URSUS AMERICANUS,

NATURALIST"

In all, Bear Country consisted of only three attractions, The Bear Country Jamboree, The Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, and Teddi Barra's Arcade; two restaurants, The Golden Bear Lodge,(which is now Hungry Bear Restaurant), and Mile Long Bar, (which is now the Briar Patch Bar), and of course there was Rufus.

Rufus was the never seen, but always heard, projectionist and lighting bear, for the Bear Country Jamboree, he lived in a cave, very near to where the first drop in the Splash Mountain attraction is now, and outside of that cave was a sign that said "Quiet! Sleeping Bear." When I was little, I used to insist on stopping right there on the walk way, underneath the cave, so that I could listen to Rufus snore.

in 1988, "Bear Country" was renamed "Critter Country" to accommodate all of those other critters who were set to arrive with the new "Splash Mountain" attraction that opened in 1989.

Country Bear Jamboree Poster
Country Bear Jamboree Poster | Source

Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 1986

The Country Bear Jamboree opened in the days when you still had to buy individual tickets for attractions in the park and was an E ticket attraction. An audio-animatronic show that featured a cast of seventeen bears, the talking heads of an American bison, a stag, and a moose, and one raccoon. Singing a list of original American folk and country songs. The Characters rose up to the stage on a platform, appeared from behind a curtain, and in one case, descended from the ceiling on a rose covered swing. Sponsored by Pepsi-Cola and Frito Lay , and later by Wonder Bread, it was fifteen minutes and fifty-five seconds of a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, knee-slapping good time.

Your Host for the Country Bear Jamboree Henry
Your Host for the Country Bear Jamboree Henry | Source

The Cast Of Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree 1972 -1986

(click column header to sort results)
Name  
Role in Show  
Voiced By  
Description  
Henry
Master of Ceremonies
Disney Legend, Pete Renaday & Akira Takarada (Tokyo Disney)
Henry is a friendly brown bear who wears a grey top hat, starched shirt front, and a string tie. He is rumored to be having a backstage romance with Miss Teddi Barra, and is often seen in the company of a raccoon
Liver Lips McGrow
Plays Guitar
Jimmy Stoneman
Liver Lips may be the funniest looking of all of the bears. He is a brown bear, and he gets his name from his very large lips. When he is not performing, he likes to go out into the Disneyland park and do meet and greets with his friends Big Al,Tennessee, & Ernest
Shaker, (whose name is really Terrence
Plays Guitar
Van Stoneman
Terrance/Shaker is a very tall bear with tan fur, (in the Disneyland show it is grey) He wears a miner's cap
The Sunbonnet Trio
Sing
Bubbles is voiced by Loulie Jean Norman Bunny is voiced by Jackie Ward Beulah is voiced by, Peggy Clark
The Sunbonnets are identical triplets with brown fur who come from Florida. Bunny stands center stage, while sister Bubble stands to the audience's right, and sister Beulah stands to the audience's left. They wear identical blue bonnets and matching dresses
Gomer
Plays Piano (Piano has a honeycomb on it)
Gomer never really sings
Gomer is a tall brown bear. He wears a collar and a tie, and he is considered Henry's right hand bear.
Zeke
The leader of the bear band, The Five Bear Rugs, plays banjo and taps on the dishpan
Dallas McKennons Oct 1971 –July 1975   Randy Sparks 1975-2001
Zeke is a grey bear with glasses who wears a tan top hat
Zeb
  Plays Fiddle in the band The Five Bear Rugs
A member of the Stoneman Family
Zeb is a brown bear with a light brown stomach, he wears a bandanna around his neck
Ted
Blows on the Corn Jug & Plays the washboard in the band The Five Bear Rugs
 
Ted is tall and skinny with brown fur. He wears a vest with a brown hat
Fred
Plays the mouth harp in the band The Five Bear Rugs
 
Fred is the biggest of all of the Five Bear Rugs, which is ironic since he plays the smallest instrument. He is a brown bear and he wears blue jeans held up with suspenders and a striped red and white tie
Tennessee
Plays the Thing with one string in the Five Rugs band
A member of the Stoneman Family
Tennessee's fur is brown, and he wears a blue bandanna (Red in Tokyo Disney and Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom) around his neck.
Baby Oscar
Mentioned in the 1971 album that he is Zeb’s son
He doesn’t play an instrument he never says a word other than to mumble uh-huh
Baby Oscar is a brown bear cub and he always has his teddy bear to keep him company
Wendell
Plays the Mandolin
Bill Cole
Wendell is a hyperactive golden brown bear. He has a massive overbite and buck teeth.
Trixie
Sings
Cheryl Poole
Trixie is a very large brown bear. She wears a blue bow on her head, a blue tutu around her middle and holds a blue handkerchief in her hand. She is said to have a slight crush on Henry
Teddi Barra
Sings She is unique in that she never appears on stage, she instead descends from a hole in the ceiling on her swing which is decorated with pink roses
Roni Stoneman
She is a brown bear. She wears a blue hat with a pink feather, and a long pink boa around her neck
Ernest
Plays the fiddle
Van Stoneman Oct 1971 - Jul 1975) Randy Sparks (1975-2001)
Ernest is a brown bear. He wears a derby and a red polka dot bow tie around his neck. He is often seen in the Disneyland park in the company of his friends Liver Lips Mc Growl, Big Al, and Tennessee
Big Al
Plays an always out of tune guitar
Tex Ritter
Big Al is grey with a light grey belly. He is the fattest of all of the Bear Country bears. He wers a tan hat and a red vest
Rufus
Lighting & Projectionist Bear
 
Rufus is not a performer, but is instead the Projectionist and lighting bear, He is never seen, but is heard throught out the show running around backstage, he is always out of breathe. When Rufufs isn't workng the lights for the Country Bear Jamboree, he can be found sleeping in his cave.
The Cast Of Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree 1972 -2001
4 Of Disneyland's Country Bears Big Al, Tennessee, Ernest, and Liver LIps McGrowl.
4 Of Disneyland's Country Bears Big Al, Tennessee, Ernest, and Liver LIps McGrowl. | Source
Buff, Max, and Melvin The Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 2001
Buff, Max, and Melvin The Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 2001 | Source

The Cast of The Country Bear Jamboree Who Were Not Bears

Name
Role in Show
Voiced By
Description
Buff
Considered the leader of the Animal Heads
Thrul Ravenscroft
He is the head portion of an American Bison
Max
 
Peter Renaday (Who also voices Henry
Max is the head portion of a stag
Melvin
Considered the Dopey of the Animal Heads
Bill Lee
He is the head portion of a Moose He often makes good-natured jokes
Sammy
He likes to cuddle around Henry’s top hat like a coon skin cap
Bill Cole (who also voices Wendell)
He likes to cuddle around Henry’s top hat like a coon skin cap
 
 
 
 
The Five Bear Rugs Disney'land's Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 2001
The Five Bear Rugs Disney'land's Country Bear Jamboree 1972 - 2001 | Source
The Incomparable Miss Teddi Barra Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree
The Incomparable Miss Teddi Barra Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree | Source
The Sun Bonnet Trio  Bubbles, Bunny, Beulah
The Sun Bonnet Trio Bubbles, Bunny, Beulah | Source

Songs From The Country Bear Jamboree

Name Of Song
Performed By
 
Pianjo
Henry
Accompanied by Gomer on Piano
Bear Band Serenade
Henry & The Five Bear Rugs,
Accompanied by Gomer on Piano
Factured Folk Song
Henry & Wendell
 
My Woman Ain't Pretty (But she don't swear none)
Liver Lips McGrowl
 
Mama, Don't Whip Little Buford
Henry & Wendell
 
Tears WIll Be The Chaser for My Wine
Trixie
 
Pretty Little Devilish Mary
The Five Bear Rugs
 
How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?
aker (Whose real name is Terrence
 
uys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down
The Sun Bonnet Trio
 
If You Can't Bite, Don't Growl
Ernest
 
Heart, We Did All That We Could
Teddi Barra
 
Blood on the Saddle
Big Al
 
The Ballad of Davy Crockett
Henry & Sammy
 
Ole Slew Foot
The Country Bear Jamboree Cast
Except for Trixie and Ernest
Come Again
Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, & Melvin
 

The Original Country Bear Jamboree

The Country Bear Christmas Special 1984 -2001

Fueled by the success of the original show, the powers that be, in this case the Disney Imagineers, thought it would be a great idea to add a second show to the lineup, and so, The Bear Country Christmas Special, debuted just in time for the 1984 holiday season.

The show, which was described as; “a mesh of different traditional Christmas Carols, some more modern songs, and original “bear-ols” sung by bears with bit o' country twang" was a success, and was also the first time that an attraction in any Disney park became interchangeable during the year.

The show began with Buff, (The head portion of an American Bison), Max, (The head portion of a stag, and Melvin, (The head portion of a moose), arguing over who should sing Ruldoph the Red Nosed Reindeer. “The Country Bear Christmas Special,” would go on to continue rotating with The Country Bear Jamboree until the end of Jamboree’s run in 1986.

Songs From "A Country Bear Christmas Special"

SONG
PERFORMED BY
 
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Melvin
 
It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas
Henry
Accompanied By Gomer
Tracks in the Snow
The Five Bear Rugs & Henry
 
12 Days of Christmas/Oh What a Christmas
Wendell
 
The Hibernating Blues
Trixie
 
Deck The Halls
The Five Bear Rugs
 
Rock and Roll Santa
Liver LIps McGrowl
Accomapanied By Gomer
Blue Christmas
Terrence
With his penguin
Sleigh Ride
The Sun Bonnet Trio
 
Hungry as a Bear
Ernest & The Five Bear Rugs
 
The Christmas Song
Henry & Teddi Barra
 
Another New Year
Big Al
 
Let it Snow/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer/ Winter Wonderland
CAST
Except for Ernest and Trixie

The Country Bear Christmas Special 1984 - 2000

The County Bear Vacation Hoedown 1986 - 2001

The Disney summer season of 1986 would signal both an end and a beginning, as both Disneyland and Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom said good-bye to “The Country Bear Jamboree,” and premiere a whole new Country Bear show, The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. The intention was to provide two seasonal shows that could be rotated in and out based on the season. Both the new “Country Bear Vacation Hoedown” and “The County Bear Christmas Special” were created, directed, and animated by Dave Feiten and Mike Sprout. The new show utilized the same familiar figures, changing only their clothes and of course the songs that they sang.

The show was so poorly received by fans at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, that the Disney Corporation announced the return of the original show in 1991 for its 20th anniversary, and though there were rumors that “The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown” would return to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 2002, it never did. “The Country Bear Jamboree” and The Country Bear Christmas Special” would go on to rotate through the end of the Country Bear’s run in Florida in 2005.

Back in Anaheim, the introduction of the new show, was supplemented by the changing of the name of "The Country Bear Playhouse" to reflect upon it's current sponsorship, to "The Wonder Bread Country Bear Playhouse" (Wonder Bread had begun sponsorship of The Country Bear Jamboree" in 1975).

2001, would signal the last summer run for the "Country Bear Vacation Hoedown" at the Disneyland park in Anaheim. The theater went dark on September 9, 2001 following a last day of last performances that were ten minutes apart, and were standing room only, to make room for "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" which opened in April 11, 2003.


Songs From "The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown"

SONG
PERFORMED BY
 
The Great Outdoors
The Five Bear Rugs & Henry
 
Life's No Picnic Without You
Trixie
 
On the Road Again
Wendell
Complete with vacation slide show
We Can Make It To the Top
Liver Lips McGrowl
 
California Bears
The Sunbonnet Trio with Max, Buff, and Melvin
Accompanied by Gomer on Piano
Two Different Worlds
Terrence/Shaker
With his girlfriend, and octopus named Delores
Rocky Top
The Five Bear Rugs
 
Nature
Ernest
 
Signing in the Rain
Teddi Barra & Henry
 
Ghost Riders in the Sky
The Five Bear Rugs
 
On My Way To Your Heart
Big Al
 
Thank God I'm a Country Bear
Cast
 

The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown 1986 - 2001

The End of The Country Bear Era at Disneyland

The End of An Era Sign on Country Bear Playhouse Announcing Final Shows September 9, 2001
The End of An Era Sign on Country Bear Playhouse Announcing Final Shows September 9, 2001 | Source

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Comments 6 comments

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco

I always loved the Bear Jamboree. It was my favorite show when I was a child. I hope they bring it back as I miss it every time we go to Disneyland. Thanks for the great trip down memory lane!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Robin - You are very welcome! I come from a family of Disney Junkies, (myself included) and growing up less than 10 minutes from the park, a lot of my favorite childhood memories are centered there. I was there last week with my youngest daughter and my nephew (they are both 4) for his farewell visit before moving to Denver, and got all nostalgic for the attractions of my childhood that they are missing out on, which brought up the idea for the Top 5 I miss most. They were supposed to be for the April contest, but a case of strep throat got in the way. I really miss Country and while I think that the Pooh attraction is great, I don't think that it was a fair trade. I really hope that the rumors are true, and that the current revamp of California Adventure will include bringing those bears out of hibernation!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...allow me please to post this hub on my homepage at Facebook and you will receive a direct link back here.

I was blessed by the best parents in the world and also as my two best friends - and twice we went to Disney World in Florida and had the time of our lives - so yes I have seen the Country Bear Jamboree at least 3 or 4 times so what lovely lovely memories this brings back for me - and what a labor of love you have been into it - Disney should hire you on the spot as their public relations guide because this is a world class hub - so essential in every way ......the child in me has come alive - you are truly a hubgem!!!!!!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

epi - Thank you ever so much! You humble me with your kindness, and inspire me to write great things! I would be honored to appear on your facebook page! Thank you again, your support is greatly appreciated and means the world to me!


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

I love DisneyWorld, but I have never been to DisneyLand. I hear there are plans to retire Carousel of Progress. I would hate that -- but maybe they should move it out of Tomorrowland.

Disney is truly magical!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Truckstop Sally - At Disneyland, the Carousel of Progress has been gone for a very long time. It became America Sings in the mid-seventies, and then sat empty for several years in the eighties and early nineties, it eventually re-opened as Innoventions, which is somewhat similar to the Carousel of Progress, but is more geared toward the interactive. Thanks so much for the time spent reading this, and for your kind words and support, they are always appreciated!

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