A History of Disney's Country Bear Jamboree

The Country Bear Jamboree is one of the most historic Disney rides at Walt Disney World, one of few in the park Walt Disney himself had his hands directly involved in the design process of.

The Country Bear Jamboree was originally planned for a Mineral King ski resort while Walt Disney was still alive. It was planned as a dinner theater show at the resort. While it would never get built in its originally planned setting due to new regulations in its planned location, it would end up being one of the only original attractions at Disney World that Walt Disney partially oversaw prior to his death.

A few days before he died, Walt visited Imagineers working on the project and laughed at preliminary drawings of several of the characters. He then left and said goodbye, something Disney was known not to do.

As the Magic Kingdom was planned after Walt's death, the Country Bear Jamboree was revived for Frontierland at the park.

It ended up becoming one of the most popular original attractions at the park, becoming the first ride from Disney World to be copied to the original Disneyland, being added in the newly rethemed Bear Country. It was popular enough that this version was built with two theaters.

The attraction would also come to Tokyo Disneyland when it opened. It also got the two theater version from Disneyland.

Eventually, this attraction would become the first Disney attraction ever to get a seasonal overlay. A Christmas version came to all three starting in 1984, and would play every year at the parks. It would be so successful it would lead to a summer vacation themed version to be developed as well.

The Vacation Hoedown version would have spotty popularity. It would be a success at Tokyo Disneyland. In Disneyland it was so popular it permanently replaced the original show. But in the Magic Kingdom it was much less popular than the original show and ended up being discontinued.

In the early 2000s, the Disneyland version of the attraction would close to make way for a Winnie the Pooh dark ride. It was still popular at the time, but not popular enough to warrant a massive two theater building in a park that was running out of space.

At about the same time a film based on the attraction came out and flopped, as did most of Disney's films based on their rides.

The Christmas version would eventually stop being run in the US. No official reason was being given but it is believed Disney ran into an issue with the rights of one of the songs in the show.

All three versions continue to play to this day in the Tokyo version of the show.

In 2012, Disney would shorten the Magic Kingdom version of the show and give the effects a slight refresh.

Disneyland still has the Country Bears show up as meet and greet characters from time to time.

The Country Bears was one of the last built Disney attractions that Walt Disney himself directly had a hand in. At its height, it was in three Disney Parks, and had two seasonal versions of the show playing alongside the original. The future of this attraction looks bright amid an officially dispelled rumor of its replacement and a sold-out limited edition plush.

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