Episode 054 – The Country Bear Jamboree

  • Recorded 8/8/18
  • Remember the Magic – The Country Bear Jamboree
  • History
    • December 1965, Walt Disney was pressing forward with Mineral King, a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains
    • As part of the evening entertainment, an animatronic show was being developed
    • The project was assigned to Marc Davis
      • One day Davis was working on drawings of the characters in his office. Walt Disney walked in and saw the drawings and laughed because he loved the characters. On Disney’s way out he turned to Marc Davis and said good-bye, which he was known never to say. That was the last time Davis saw Disney, who died a few days later.
    • With ski resort progress slow, the show was refined and designed to be a unique attraction at the then still being planned Walt Disney World Resort
    • Frontierland would receive a much needed marquee attraction
    • A 15 minute dance hall style show was designed
    • Imagineer X Atencio (Yo-Ho & Grim Grinning Ghosts) and musical director George Bruns created songs for the bears to sing
    • 24 animatronic figures were built, plus another three for outside the theater
    • The show opened on October 1, 1971 and was a huge draw in an otherwise sparsely populated corner of the park
      • Shootin’ Arcade, Tom Sawyer Island, WDW Railroad
    • Shares a building with the Enchanted Tiki Room
    • Theater exits into the “Mile Long Bar’ instead of a gift shop, where three stars from the show would hold their own mini show
    • Pepsi and Frito Lay were the original sponsors from 1971 – 1981 (Pepsi was available at Pecos Bill’s until 1990)
    • It closed in August 2012 for a refurb; when it reopened in October 2012, it was shortened by 4 1/2 minutes.
      • Introduction was shortened, and some dialogue throughout the show was cut, along with two songs: “Pretty Little Devilish Mary” and “Fractured Folk Song”
    • In the MLB, Max, Melvin, and Buff animatronics were hanging and would talk and sing to the guests as they left the theater
    • From May 1986 through February 1992, the show was replaced by the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown
    • November 1984, the Country Bear Christmas Special was introduced for the holiday season and ran every year through 2005
      • Took 4-6 days to install and remove
      • Was the first attraction to change for the holidays
    • There was a CBJ in Disneyland From 1972-2001 (replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh)
      • It was the first WDW attraction to be replicated at Disneyland
      • Because of the popularity of the show in Florida, two theaters were built at Disneyland
      • From 1986-2001, it was the CBVH
    • Tokyo Disneyland’s opened with the park and still operates. It’s the same as WDW’s version, except the animatronics are more modern and look more real, and like at Disneyland, was built with two theaters
      • Tokyo still has all three versions of the show at different times of the year
  • Attraction
    • Bears (18): Henry, Liver Lips McGrowl, Wendell, Teddi Berra, Ernest, Terrence, Trixie, Big Al, Sun Bonnet Trio (Bunny, Bubbles, Beulah), Gomer, The Five Bear Rugs (Zeke, Zeb, Ted, Fred, Tennessee), Baby Oscar
    • Show
      • The show is basically a continuous string of short country songs sung by the various bears. As each bear sings their song, a curtain opens to reveal them, except in the case of Wendell, Gomer, and the Sun Bonnet Trio (all of whom rise from the center stage), and Teddi Barra (who descends from the ceiling).
      • The show begins with Max, Buff, and Melvin telling Henry to get on with the show. Henry then asks Gomer to give him a “little intro”, and the jamboree begins.
    • Songs
      • Current Disney World version:
      • “Pianjo” (Don Robertson) – Gomer and Henry
      • “Bear Band Serenade” (Lyrics: Xavier Atencio, Music: George Bruns) – The Five Bear Rugs, Gomer, and Henry
      • “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” (Tommy Collins) – Ernest and the Five Bear Rugs
      • “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Swear None)” (Frankie Starr & Paul E. Miller) – Liver Lips McGrowl
      • “Mama, Don’t Whip Little Buford” (Burns & Haynes) – Henry and Wendell
      • “Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine” (Dale Davis & Leroy Goates) – Trixie
      • “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone” (Buck Owens) – Terrence
      • “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down” (Plott & Powell) – The Sun Bonnet Trio
      • “Heart, We Did All That We Could” (Ned Miller) – Teddi Barra
      • “Blood on the Saddle” (Everett Cheetham) – Big Al
      • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” (Tom Blackburn and George Bruns) – Henry and Sammy
      • “Ole Slew Foot” (Howard Hausey) – Cast (minus Ernest and Trixie, who do not appear onstage, and Big Al, who reprises “Blood on the Saddle”)
      • “Come Again” (Tom Adair & George Bruns) – Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin
  • Country Bear Vacation Hoedown
    • Show
      • This special variation of the classic show features the Country Bears celebrating the many joys of summer and the great outdoors. Its opening is different from the other shows because Max, Buff, and Melvin do not talk at the beginning Instead, the five Bear Rugs can be heard tuning up their instruments. Zeke calls for Rufus to turn on the lights, and then the show begins with “The Great Outdoors”. In the Japanese version however, instead of hearing the five Bear Rugs tune up, Max, Buff & Melvin continue the trend of having the first bit of dialogue (although it’s in Japanese)
    • Songs
      • “The Great Outdoors” – The 5 Bear Rugs and Henry
      • “Life’s No Picnic Without You” – Trixie
      • “On the Road Again” – Wendell
      • “We Can Make It To the Top” – Liver Lips McGrowl
      • “California Bears” – The Sun Bonnets, Gomer, Max, Buff, and Melvin
      • “Two Different Worlds” – Terrence the Shaker (with Dolores the octopus)
      • “Rocky Top” – The 5 Bear Rugs
      • “Nature” – Ernest the Dude
      • “Singin’ In the Rain” – Teddi Barra and Henry
      • “Ghost Riders In the Sky” – The 5 Bear Rugs
      • “On My Way To Your Heart” – Big Al
      • “Thank God I’m a Country Bear” – Cast
  • Christmas Show:
    • Show
      • The show includes many different traditional Christmas carols, more modern songs, along with some original Christmas “bear-ols” all sung by the bears in a country twang. The show begins as always with Melvin, Buff, and Max. As the three argued over who gets to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Henry appears onstage and starts the show.
    • Songs
      • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Melvin
      • “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” – Henry and Gomer
      • “Tracks in the Snow” – The 5 Bear Rugs and Henry
      • “12 Days of Christmas (Oh What a Christmas)” – Wendell
      • “The Hibernating Blues” – Trixie
      • “Deck the Halls” – The 5 Bear Rugs
      • “Rock and Roll Santa” – Liver Lips McGrowl and Gomer
      • “Blue Christmas” – Terrence (with his penguin)
      • “Sleigh Ride” – The Sun Bonnets, Melvin, Buff, and Max
      • “Hungry as a Bear” – Ernest and The 5 Bear Rugs
      • “The Christmas Song” – Henry and Teddi Barra
      • “Another New Year” – Big Al
      • “Let It Snow/Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Winter Wonderland” – Cast

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