Lost Disney: Bear In The Big Blue House

Bear In The Big Blue House Playhouse Disney Live on Stage

Bear In The Big Blue House was one of the early shows created exclusively for Playhouse Disney and it was a massive success. But today it is almost entirely forgotten by the company that created it. Absent from the Disney Plus streaming service, and banished from the Disney Parks.

So how did this happen? How did this once-beloved Disney children's series fall into obscurity? 

This is a new series here at TPE where we explore once-popular Disney shows and movies that are now completely ignored by the company.

Bear In The Big Blue House initially premiered on Playhouse Disney in October of 1997 and was an instant success. Its caring, musical nature made it hit among young children, and autistic children, and it continued to air in syndication for almost a decade until May of 2007 in the US, something that is insane for an original Disney children's series. A more modern show with a similar longevity was Phineas and Ferb, but this was a children's series, not a preschool series, broadening its appeal.

It was produced in cooperation between Disney and Jim Henson (the company not the person) and filmed four seasons over the years, but it had a major problem midway through production that would cause its run to be cut short.

Its final season would start airing in 2002, but would not finish airing until 2006. This was due to the sudden death of cast member Lynne Thigpin who played Luna, the moon who would sing The Goodbye Song with Bear at the end of every episode. This would cause an extended hiatus of the show, and the rumored cancelation of an in the works Bear In The Big Blue House movie. Her death would not cause the cancelation of the show as it was already planned to end, but it certainly didn't help the longevity of Bear in the Big Blue House as a brand. The show ended with the remaining episodes being aired and a short-lived spin-off being created in part to capitalize on the success of the show without needing the full cast.

During its height, it had attractions in two Disney Parks, and Bear would even appear in parades at Disney's Hollywood Studios, something almost unheard of for a television show.

The show would disappear from Disney altogether following the end of its syndicated runs on Playhouse Disney, although the Bear In The Big Blue House version of Playhouse Disney Live On Stage would remain open into 2008.

The major reason often discussed is issues with the rights, considering the show's production with Jim Henson. But this was actually the only additional property included in Disney's deal to buy The Muppets in 2004, so they do own the series outright unlike other Playhouse Disney shows like Rolie Polie Olie.

Disney simply has not used this series for no public reason. Other Playhouse Disney shows like Out of the Box have appeared on Disney Plus, but not Bear In The Big Blue House. Now there is always a possibility that there is a problem behind the scenes, maybe with the music rights, but it has never been stated.

This show is a weird formerly popular Disney property that gets no love. In a world where every old show seems to be getting a ton of nostalgic merchandise, Bear is continually ignored, leaving it more forgotten by the day. Hopefully, Disney will at the very least upload the series to Disney Plus so it isn't lost altogether. It helped launch their preschool television channel that continues to operate, albeit under a different name, to this day, and it does not deserve to become lost media.