Country Bear
“E” Ticket

“Howdy folks! Welcome to the one and only, original Country Bear Jamboree, featuring a bit of Americana—our musical heritage of the past.”

—Henry, your host

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

“The Bear Band bears will play now,
in the good ol’ key of G.
Zeke and Zed and Ted and Fred,
and a bear named Tennessee.”

It’s called the Country Bear Jamboree, but in addition to 17 bears, there’s a raccoon, a bison, a moose, and a stag deer. They all hope you’ll enjoy the show.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

“Every time I meet a guy who gets me shook,
all I ever get from him’s a dirty look.
It’s the same way everywhere I’ve found...
all the guys who turn me on turn me down!”

Here are some of the songs you’ll enjoy in this fast-paced musical variety show:

  • “The Five Bear Rugs,” performed by Henry, introducing the band
  • “My Woman Ain’t Pretty, but She Don’t Swear None,” performed by Liver-Lips McGrowl
  • “Mama, Don’t Whip Little Buford,” performed by Henry and Wendell
  • “Tears Will Be the Chaser for My Wine,” performed by Trixie
  • “Pretty Little Devilish Mary,” performed by the Five Bear Rugs
  • “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?” performed by Terrence
  • “All the Guys that Turn Me On Turn Me Down,” performed by the Sun Bonnets—Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah
  • “Heart, We Did All that We Could,” performed by Teddi Barra, descending on a swing from the ceiling
  • “Blood on the Saddle,” performed by the unbearable Big Al
  • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” performed by Henry, who is joined by Sammy the hat racoon
  • “Blood on the Saddle,” performed again by Big Al
  • “Ole Slewfoot” (“He’s big around the middle and he’s broad across the rump”), performed by almost all the other bears, trying to drown out Big Al.
  • “Come Again,” performed by Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin.
Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

“There was...
blood on the saddle,
and blood all around.
And a great, big puddle
of blood on the ground.”

We hope that you’ll be comin’ back again!

In 1972, Country Bear Jamboree opened in Disneyland as the centerpiece of the park’s newest land, Bear Country. It was the first Disneyland attraction to be cloned from a Walt Disney World attraction.

Here’s how the Spring 1972 issue of Disney News introduced an article about the attraction:

One of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World in Florida is the country-western musical mish-mash known as Country Bear Jamboree. It stars the wildest bunch of foot-stompin’, knee-slappin’ rip-snorters ever to lumber out of the north woods. And this spring, the “rip-snorters” are coming to Disneyland, bringing with them, along with their lack of talent, a whole new land to the “happiest place of earth”: Bear Country.

Even though Country Bear Jamboree first opened in Florida, an earlier version of the show was meant for California—but not for Disneyland.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park (2007 photo)

The history of Country Bear Jamboree goes back to when Walt Disney was alive.

As one of his final projects, Walt planned Mineral King, a mountain resort for a site in Sequoia National Forest. Walt was confident that guests would enjoy skiing, hiking, and other daytime outdoor activities. But he was concerned that those guests would leave the property at nightfall, taking their wallets with them. He could need to offer reasons for them to stay.

Here’s how the book Disneyland: the Nickel Tour (by Bruce Gordon and David Mumford) explains what happened next:

So Walt commissioned [Imagineer] Marc Davis to come up with shows that would keep those folks (and their money) right there at Mineral King. “Walt thought maybe we should have a show that had something to do with bears,” Marc recalled. “Lots and lots of bears.”

Marc went to work sketching musical bears whose personalities might be bigger than their talent. Walt Disney’s Mineral King project was never built, but good Imagineering ideas tend to resurface.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Henry at Magic Kingdom Park (2011 photo)

With the change of geography from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Central Florida, the cast has given some connections to Florida. Henry would introduce Trixie as “a special treat out of Tampa.” He would introduce Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah as “those little Sun Bonnets from the Sunshine State.”

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Wendell at Magic Kingdom Park (2007 photo)

In 1971, the Country Bear Jamboree opened as one of the original attractions of the new Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The response there was enthusiastic. Guests waited in long lines to see the show in a single theater at the Magic Kingdom. The sponsors were Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay, two business units of PepsiCo, Inc. (formed in 1965 when Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay merged).

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Big Al at Magic Kingdom Park (2007 photo)

The Disneyland version had twice the capacity of the original Magic Kingdom version. Also, shows started twice as often. These twin accomplishments were possible because of twin theaters with two identical Audio-Animatronic casts.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide with the Country Bear Jamboree on the cover

Country Bear Jamboree was the first new ticketed attraction at Disneyland since the Haunted Mansion in 1969—not counting Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes in 1971, which was essentially just a new name for Indian War Canoes. Disneyland guests had been accustomed to a steady stream of new attractions since Disneyland opened in 1955, and the attraction “drought” of 1970 and 1971 was unexpected. The reason, of course, was that Walt Disney Productions had focused its limited resources on Florida.

Although Country Bear Jamboree opened without a sponsor at Disneyland, host bear Henry would still announce, “Just refrain from hibernatin’... and we’ll all enjoy the show, cause we got a lot to give!”—a reference to Pepsi Cola’s 1969-1973 slogan, “You’ve got a lot to live, Pepsi’s got a lot to give!”

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

“E” Ticket attractions in the Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide

Country Bear Jamboree required an “E” coupon, the highest category of Disneyland tickets.

In 1975, the Bears at Disneyland found a sponsor, Wonder Bread. The 15-year sponsorship also included the nearby Hungry Bear Restaurant.

A seasonal show, Country Bear Christmas, premiered in 1984, and returned regularly during the holidays.

In 1986, Disneyland’s original Country Bear Jamboree “went to Yesterland.” A new vacation-themed show, the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, replaced it. The attraction’s new name was often listed as Country Bear Playhouse—presumably to allow other updated shows, but that never happnened.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Former Country Bear Jamboree, now the home of a different bear (2001 photo)

Disneyland’s Country Bears were evicted by a Disney star of the same species—the short, and stout, and highly popular bear, Winnie the Pooh. Having successfully evicted Mr. Toad from Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pooh Bear decided to do the same to his ursine brethren at Disneyland.

The Bears continued to perform the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown at Disneyland until September 9, 2001. The Country Bear Playhouse went dark forever.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Disney’s The Country Bears at the El Capitan on Hollywood Blvd. (2002 photo)

What’s odd is that Disneyland closed the attraction even though Walt Disney Pictures had a film in production, The Country Bears (2002), based on the attraction. There would be no Disney synergy for the Bears.

You can still see the Bears perform at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

Click here to discuss this page on the Yesterland Discussion Forum at MiceChat!

Bear Vacation Hoedown
Bear Country

© 1998-2013 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated April 26, 2013.

Photograph of the Five Bear Jugs at Country Bear Jamboree, Disneyland: 1974 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of the Sun Bonnets at Country Bear Jamboree, Disneyland: 1974 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Big Al Country Bear Jamboree, Disneyland: 1974 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Country Bear Jamboree at Walt Disney World: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Henry at Walt Disney World: 2011 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Wendell at Walt Disney World: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Big Al at Walt Disney World: 2007 by Werner Weiss.
Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide cover © Walt Disney Productions.
Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide “E’ coupon page © Walt Disney Productions.
Photograph of Winnie the Pooh attraction at Disneyland: 2001 by Allen Huffman.
Photograph of El Capitan Theater: 2002 by Werner Weiss.
Photographs from 1974 taken without a flash, using GAF 500 color transparency film.