Why the Country Bear Jamboree is the Most Historic Ride in the Magic Kingdom

Country Bear Jamboree Finale Magic Kingdom 2018

Rumors of the Country Bears demise are circulating, so I thought it was time to take a deeper look at the history of this attraction and why it matters to the Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland has often been lauded about for its charm, all the little details, and experiences beyond the rides that make the park special. This is something that hasn’t really transferred over to other parks but makes the original special. Many have claimed this charm to be residual of Walt Disney’s own influence on the park. One of the few places, in my opinion, in the Magic Kingdom with this charm, is the Country Bear Jamboree.

This ride was not originally designed for Disney World. Instead, it was designed entirely for a different Disney project, the proposed Mineral King Ski Resort. Much like the original plans for the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Country Bears would have a dinner show in this resort. 

This show was being designed by Imagineer Marc Davis, the man behind the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and more. A few days before Walt’s death he came in to check on Marc Davis, looking at the early character designs for the show. He laughed at them then said goodbye as he left, something he was known never to say to anyone. A few days later he passed.

Now, the Mineral King Ski Resort never got off the ground, but this project was moved to Walt Disney World, where it was one of two opening day Magic Kingdom original animatronic shows, the other being the extinct Mickey Mouse Revue which Walt Disney also had a hand in.

The ride was a smash hit. So much so that it became the first ride from Disney World to be added to the original Disneyland, becoming a part of the all-new Bear Country.

It even received two seasonal updates, Vacation Hoedown, and Christmas Special, which ran in Disneyland until the attraction closed, in Disney World until 2005 (or 1992 for Vacation Hoedown). Both seasonal versions continue to play in the Tokyo version of this attraction.

This attraction remains one of the only areas of the Magic Kingdom with Walt Disney's personal touch and approval. It is a vital part of Disney history beyond just the Magic Kingdom.