The Country Bear Jamboree can be found in Walt Disney World’s Frontierland, as well as the Tokyo Disneyland theme park at Tokyo Disney Resort in Chiba, Japan.
The attraction is a stage show, with audio-animatronic figures of singing and dancing bears performing, what else? Country Music. Characters rise up to the stage on platforms, descend from the ceiling, and appear from behind curtains. The audience includes audio-animatronic animal heads (Max, Melvin and Buff), mounted on the walls who interact with the characters on stage.
Due to overwhelming popularity, The Country Bear Jamboree was given two “spin-off” shows which appeared during the summer and winter seasons at Disneyland. They were called The Country Bear Christmas Special in 1984 and The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown in 1986.
Country Bear Jamboree Trivia, Secrets and Fun Facts
Grand opening: October 1, 1971 (Opened with Magic Kingdom)
Designer: WED Enterprises
Number of Audio-Animatronics: 20
Show length: 15:55
Original ticket required: “E”
The Country Bear Jamboree is a 15 minute Audio-Animatronics show that is hosted by Henry, who introduces and sings songs with some of the other hilarious, yet quite talented, country bears.
You don’t have to love (or even LIKE) country music to enjoy the Country Bear Jamboree. Located directly across from the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery, the Country Bear Jamboree is a hysterical 15-minute stage show performed by various Audio-Animatronic characters.
Henry, your host, introduces you to the 18 bears that perform in the show, and appear from all around (and above) the theater. Each of the bears has a unique, distinctive personality (You gotta love Big Al), as well as mannerisms and (dare I say), “style” of dress. They can sing (some of them), laugh, talk and even play musical instruments.
This show opened in 1971 as one of the original attractions in Walt Disney World, although it was originally planned for a ski resort which was never built by Disney. During its planning stages, the Imagineers toyed with a variety of musical types, including Dixieland, “hillbilly,”and finally, country. In fact, the songs were written first, and then the Imagineers developed the bears to match them!
According to the sign above the entrance, Grizzly Hall, the home of the Country Bears, was built in 1898.
Walt Disney World opened in 1971 with the original Country Bear Jamboree show. The attraction was replaced by the “Country Bear Vacation Hoedown” in the 1980s. For the park’s 20th Anniversary, the original show was brought back. During the holiday season, however, the bears still perform their Christmas Show.
Sammy is the name of the live raccoon atop Henry, your host’s, head in the Country Bear Jamboree. During the show’s finale, Sammy pops up and invites you to “all come back, ya hear?”
Big Al looks about as depressed as he does large, as he belts out his signature song, “Blood on the Saddle” during the Country Bear Jamboree. Big Al was voiced by legendary country music star Tex Ritter, and “Blood in the Saddle” is also the name of a CD collection of his recordings made from 1932 to 1947.
“My Woman Ain’t Pretty, but She Don’t Swear None,” is performed by Liver-Lips McGrowl. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” is performed by Henry, and “He’s Big Around the Middle and He’s Broad Across the Rump,” is performed by almost all the other bears, trying to drown out Big Al’s singing!
The three talking animals on the wall of the Country Bear Jamboree are Melvin the Moose, Buff the Buffalo, and Max the Deer. In the Disneyland version of the Jamboree, held in the Country Bear Playhouse, the heads were in opposite locations.
In the late 80’s, the original Country Bear Jamboree was replaced with the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown show. The Vacation Hoedown show played for a few years at Walt Disney World before the Jamboree show returned.
The Country Bears movie was loosely based on The Country Bear Jamboree in which the bears have to save Country Bear Hall from demolition by a benefit concert. Ironically, the Disneyland version closed shortly before the movie came out.
This attraction was originally sponsored by Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay for a few years. Not only did the show mention their sponsorships, but at the beginning, Henry even mentions part of Pepsi’s old slogan at the time (“You’ve Got a Lot To Live; Pepsi’s Got a Lot To Give!”) by saying, “Just refrain from hibernatin’ and we’ll all enjoy the show, ’cause we’ve got a lot to give.” When Pepsi’s sponsorship of the attraction was dropped, only the mention by Henry of its sponsorship was dropped, but such was not the case for his introduction that included part of the slogan. It’s still part of the attraction even today.
The show was removed from Disneyland on September 9, 2001 to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The Audio Animatronic structure used for Big Al was reused to make up the structure of the Oogie Boogie Audio Animatronic in the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction at Disneyland.
Songs heard in the attraction (sung by) :
- “Pianjo”- Gomer and Henry
– “Bear Band Serenade” – The Five Bear Rugs, Gomer and Henry
– “Fractured Folk Song” – Henry and Wendell
– “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Sware None)”- Liver Lips McGrowl
– “Mama, Don’t Whip Little Buford” -
– “Tears Will Be the Chaser For My Wine” – Trixie
– “Pretty Little Devilish Mary”- The Five Bear Rugs
– “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone”-
– “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down”- The Sun Bonnets and Gomer
– “If Ya Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – Ernest
– “Heart, We Did All That We Could”- Teddi Barra
– “Blood on the Saddle”- Big Al
– “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”- Henry and Sammy
– “Ole Slew Foot”- All of the Bears (minus Ernest and Trixie), Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin
– “Come Again”- Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin
A curtain opens to reveal each bear for their respective song(s), except for:
Wendell (rises from the stage)
Teddi Barra (descends from the ceiling)
Gomer (ascends from the stage)
The Sun Bonnets (ascend from the stage)
The Country Bear Jamboree Cast:
Buff - Buff is, of course, a buffalo, and is the largest of the three heads on the wall. He was voiced by Disney legend the late Thurl Ravenscroft.
Max – Max is the head of a stag and is voiced by Peter Renaday.
Melvin – Melvin the moose is a little “slow”, and was voiced by Bill Lee.
Henry - The host of the show. He wears a black top hat, in which “Sammy” resides. He was voiced by Pete Renaday. Rumor has it that he and Teddi Barra are a couple.
Liver Lips McGrowl - This guitar playing bear gets his name from… well.. his large lips. He was voiced by Van Stoneman.
Wendell - Wendell is a brown bear who plays the mandolin. He sports a blue bandana and a light brown hat. You can pick him out pretty easily – he’s the guy with the buck teeth and overbite! He was voiced by Bill Cole.
Teddi Barra - “Swingin’ Teddi Barra” never appears onstage, as she is sings from her swing, which is lowered from an opening flower in the ceiling. She is brown, and wears a blue hat with a pink feather, and a pink boa around her neck. She was voiced by Patsy Stoneman.
Ernest – Ernest is the brown bear in a derby and polka-dot tie playing the fiddle. He was voiced by Van Stoneman from October 1971 until July 1975. At that time, Randy Sparks re-recorded his vocals. Stoneman’s recording can still be heard on the 1971 record and 2003 Walt Disney World CD.
Terrence (aka Shaker) – Terrence is the tall, tan bear wearing a miner’s cap and playing the guitar. He was voiced by Van Stoneman.
Trixie - Trixie is lovable brown bear with a blue tutu. She has a blue hankie in one hand, and the only “alcholoic drink” you can find in the Magic Kingdom in the other – a glass of red wine. She was voiced by Cheryl Poole.
Big Al – Everyone’s favorite, Big Al is a grey bear who plays his guitar on one of the side stages. He was voiced by the legendary Tex Ritter.
Sammy - Sammy can be found peeking out of Henry’s top hat and was voiced by Bill Cole.
The Sun Bonnet Trio – Because the sisters are triplets, they all have brown fur and wear matching blue bonnets and dresses
Bunny – Bunny is voiced by Jackie Ward.
Bubbles – Bubbles stands next to Gomer between her sisters and was voiced by Loulie Jean Norman.
Beulah – Beulah was voiced by Peggy Clark.
Gomer – Gomer plays the piano, but never sings. The piano has a honeycomb and moving bumblebee on top of it. He is brown and wears a collar with a blue tie.
The Five Bear Rugs
Zeke - The leader of The Five Bear Rugs, Zeke plays a banjo and taps on his dishpan with “a real ole country beat”. He is grey, wears glasses and dons a grey top hat. He was voiced by Dallas McKennon from October 1971 until July 1975. At that time Randy Sparks rerecorded his vocals. McKennon’s recording as Zeke can still be heard on the 1971 record and the 2003 WDW CD.
Zeb – Zeb plays the fiddle and has a bandana around his neck and a miner’s hat. He is voiced by a member of the Stoneman family.
Ted – Ted is a tall bear who plays the cornjug and washboard. He can be seen wearing a vest and brown hat.
Fred - Fred may be the largest bear, but he plays the smallest instrument – a mouth harp. He’s got blue jeans and suspenders as well as a red and white striped tie.
Tennessee – Tennessee Bear plays the “thang”, which sounds just like a guitar, but it only has only one string. He wears a red bandanna and was voiced by a member of the Stoneman family.
Baby Oscar - Oscar appears but plays no instrument. In fact, he never says a word. He is a tiny brown bear and can be seen holding his even tinier teddy bear.
Rufus - Rufus runs the projections and lights, and can not be seen in the show (although sounds of him backstage can be heard from time to time).