The Country Bear Jamboree has been a favorite Disneyland attraction for decades. What fans might not know is the rich and touching history behind it.
In the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, there is a famously-loved, popularly-visited attraction called the Country Bear Jamboree.
The Country Bear Jamboree is an inviting jolly western and country musical revue featuring a cast of musical singing bears to entertain its audience. While many have come to love this attraction, not a significant percentage know the history behind it, nor do they know its origin.
The Cinderella Castle in the Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park in 2017. I Photo: Getty Images.
The dinner show was first brought into existence in the 70s. Walt Disney, the grandmaster, and pioneer of the American animation industry, first wanted the revue to be part of his California Mineral King Ski Resort, which he started working on in the 60s.
The general sketch was to have a band of bears that would sing and entertain the guests while they had dinner. It was a great plan, just like many of Walt’s, but sadly, he did not live long enough to see this one come to pass. He died in 1966 before the final attraction was brought to life.
The late Walt’s dream for the California Ski Resort did not come to pass as the plans fell through after his death, but his team, the Imagineers, continued to work on the sketches for the musical bears.
They gave the idea a little country and western zing and fixed them in a restaurant at the Florida Magic Kingdom theme park for the grand opening in 1971. Walt was right, people loved the singing bears.
Longtime Disney composer, George Bruns, composed the music that the electronic bears played for the dining guests, and the attraction became such a spectacle that they replicated the singing group at the Disneyland park in California when it opened in 1972.
The singing bears soon crossed international borders when they were replicated in the Japanese Disney park, Tokyo Disneyland, in 1983.
Today, several decades later, the Country Bear Jamboree stays a-jamming. When tourists go visiting the Disney theme parks, the thrill rides, incredible 3-D effects, and eye-catching boat rides tend to snag them, unlike the Country Bear Jamboree, which seems a bit uninteresting from the outside.
But once they venture into the attraction, there is an entirely different world on the inside. The charm of the music fest is what keeps its tourists enchanted all through and certainly why visitors would never want to let go.
The bears were even brought to life in the Walt Disney produced 2002 family musical comedy film starring actors like Haley Joel Osment, Diedrich Bader, Candy Ford, and Queen Latifah.
There is a certain sense of simplicity, nostalgia, humor, and, of course, the great music that makes its visitors want to stay awhile. Walt Disney might not have live long enough to see his beautiful plan come to fruition, but he sure would be proud!