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Country Bear Jamboree DSI: Disney Scene Investigation, Trivia Contest and more!

Hello and welcome to The WDW Radio Show – Your Walt Disney World Information Station. I am your host, Lou Mongello, and this is show #275 for the week of May 20, 2012.

We’ll take a close look at another one of Walt Disney World’s opening day attractions in a segment that is part DSI: Disney Scene Investigation and part Wayback Machine, as it has remained almost exactly the same as it appeared on October 1, 1971. Join us as we explore the history, stories, details, characters, music and more at the Country Bear Jamboree. Then be sure and share your comments in the show notes about some questions we have for you.

I’ll have the answer and winner for last week’s Walt Disney World Trivia Question of the Week, and pose a new one for your chance to win a Disney prize package.

Stay for a few quick announcements, including updated event information including our WDW Radio Meet in NYC in June, and our private dinner at the “American Adventurers Club.” I’ll then play more of your voicemails at the end of the show. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio Show.

Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!

Information and Links from This Week’s Show:

Question for YOU: Should the Country Bear Jamboree stay in its original, classic form or be “updated” for a new generation? – Share your thoughts in the comments section below

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24 thoughts on “WDW Radio Show #275 – May 20, 2012”

  1. Jennifer Archer says:

    Country Bear Jamboree is TIMELESS! It should remain the same. It is an absolute must do for my family everytime we are in the magic kingdom. It is so fun and it just makes me happy. I love those bears!

  2. Ana Kurland says:

    I love, love, love the original (and can recite it by heart) and don’t want any changes. I even used to have the Christmas and Summer versions. I say keep the original.

  3. Dave says:

    I can see where a purist would want it just like it is. I think they could update it to perhaps reflect a few references that the audience might recognize more immediately and it wouldn’t hurt. But what they really shouldn’t do if they tried it is to modernize it.

    It has to stay with that mountain banjo and jug band sound and maybe do some new jokes, but none that can date it (think: AVOID a new character called Justin Beaver at all costs!) and more importantly, stay with the spirit of the original (think: Avoid Under New Management syndrome at all costs!).

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and maybe they have fixed it since, but last I was there, it seemed like the animatronics were getting a bit creaky and the sound was very uneven, so stuff like that could use a fresh start. I can’t imagine people objecting to a more fluidly moving bear that is better synched to the music, etc.

    Here’s where people might get totally off my train of thought, though. I think it would be a great place to make an effective use of the Turtle Talk/Laugh Floor/Push the Trashcan technology. I don’t suggest that it should be the focus of the show or change it all that much (my thought is NO jokes would told by the actor), but if you could add just a dab of live audience awareness by a bear, it would really pull the audience in to complete the experience. No big movie screen or anything, just a singer/actor behind the scenes that’s able to see that a girl in yellow/man in blue/whoever is dancing/clapping over there and somehow have it be part of the song and/or show. If they use it subtly, I don’t think it would interfere, and bring it on home. Again, it would just be an enhancement, not the featured spectacle of the attraction like Turtle or Laugh Floor.

  4. I love Country Bear Jamboree and I know I am going to sound like an old fogey but I would be perfectly content if it stayed the way it is forever, aside from cosmetic refurbs.

  5. Sam gennawey says:

    I had the chance to discuss the attraction with Ron Miller during the Mineral King presentation at The Walt Disney Family Museum. As the primary motivation for the ski resort was to give Walt’s wife a place she would love to visit they were concerned that children would have nothing to do in the evening. So a show that could change with the seasons was thought to be the best solution. Mineral King would have been the first ski resort to make more money in the summer than the winter.


  6. MDDisneyFans says:

    I’m ashamed to say that my wife and I are seasonal pass holders and I’ve never been to Country Bear Jamboree! Honestly, we just walk by it and never stop. But after hearing this episode I told my wife when we go in June for our anniversary we are going. I’m excited. I love knowing the history to the different attractions. I can’t wait!

  7. Loren says:

    You don’t know how lucky you are…
    I wish they would have kept Country Bear at Disneyland, I loved that show! Now that I am in my 30’s I think I would enjoy Country Bear even more just because sitting down for 15 minutes is a valuable thing when you are in the parks. As for changing it, I think the Tiki Room in WDW should be enough evidence aginst that! So no Country Bears for me unless I travel to Florida, but we do have the awesome Tiki Room pre-show (and you can take your Dole Whip floats inside too!)

  8. Noah says:

    Country bear should stay the same it is a classic love it

  9. elbug10 says:

    Keep those bears the same, dag nabbit! 😉 The occasional refurb for minor repairs and upkeep is fine, but it’s timeless, and much like The Jungle Cruise, you shouldn’t mess with a classic. If it ain’t broke…

    I was in an antique shop in Vermont a few years ago and came across a Country Bears book. It’s a children’s Whitman book, the little square kind you used to beg your parents to buy you at the supermarket. It is called “Big Albert Moves In” and is copyrighted 1971 and says Walt Disney World Florida, Authorized Edition. It’s the story of how Big Al came to WDW by means of procrastinating and not preparing for winter like the other bears (“he was a careless bear”) and how he kept going farther and farther south until he came upon “a beautiful place filled with pretty shops and balloons and popcorn wagons and ice cream stands”. He walked down a street and “no one seemed to notice that he was a bear”. He soon came to “a theater filled with musical bears”. The bear playing piano invited Big Al and his guitar to “come in and join the Country Bears Jubilee”! I’m guessing the book was originally sold in the parks as a souvenir. It was probably originally no more than $1 or so. I paid around $7 for it, and it is one of my favorite collectibles. Was the attraction ever called Country Bears Jubilee?

  10. Rich T says:

    The Vacation Hoedown was an update done right; it used country/pop songs that had already proven timeless (Rocky Top, Ghost Riders in the Sky, Thank God I’m a Country Bear) and I loved hearing Max, Buff and Melvin doing the backing harmony on “California Bears.” The show also made great use of dimensional sound, with the unseen Rufus stomping around backstage flipping switches and changing scenery. Since it stayed so long at Disneyland, I really grew to love that incarnation.

    That said, the original has “Blood on the Saddle.” End of discussion; the original wins. It also has the mounted heads singing to you as you exit. The original should be the one that stays at WDW indefinitely.

    Dang that Pooh Bear! If they’d kept that twin theater at DL, it would have really helped soak up some of those insane AP-driven crowds that park gets these days! The DL Pooh ride usually just sits there with no wait/few riders.

    And, Dave, I think your interaction idea is brilliant!

  11. Callie Conrad says:

    Country Bear Jamboree is a classic attraction. That being said, I would only want to see it refurbished in a way that would leave the original script the way it already is, with the classic songs and such. I actually haven’t seen the show in awhile and usually only watch it once every few visits. Here’s a tip: Not the best thing to do at 2am during EMH.

  12. Tim says:

    I think the Country Bear Jamboree should remain the same because it fits Frontierland well. It has a great script and music. Disney attempted to change the show before and it didn’t work. The original show is a classic!!


  13. Julia says:

    No! it should stay how it is now! The original is perfect. Disney is changing to many of their original rides!

  14. Juan Vaca says:

    I think it’s okay to keep it the same but update the technology behind it. The last thing I would hate so see is a broken down attraction on its last leg. New furs and cleaner movement is all good with me. I would not like it to remind me of a chuck e cheese venue.

  15. The details of story found in the Country Bears are a perfect fit of fantasy in Frontierland and that makes it a necessary element there. I hesitate to say it could or should be updated. Tiki has shown us that you have to be careful when making music and dialogue more current. Relying on current language trends and slang all too soon becomes tacky and outdated. A good-hearted groan is a better reaction to a corny joke than an eyeroll. Untouchable? Walt himself said the park would always be changing and improving. So maybe they need to clear out a space in the middle of the theatre and bring guests up to square dance! You know, I like that idea. Instead of changing what’s going on on-stage, maybe they should change what’s going on with the audience.

  16. Brian says:

    I loved all the versions of the Country Bears. It is too bad that FL doesn’t have a 2nd theater that they could use seasonally for the Vacation Hoedown, and the Christmas Special, while still having the original playing in theater 1 year-round.

    I also enjoyed some of the old stage shows that featured some of the Country Bears. I really enjoyed the Minnie’s Country Christmas show that featured Melvin your Chris-moose, Wendel, Shaker, and Liverlips.

  17. Amy M says:

    We finally had the chance to take our kids to Disney World last year and we all loved the country bear jamboree. I believe the setting and sounds should stay the same but change up some of the jokes and maybe add even more music. That way everyone will have something fresh to look forward to and the show could even last a little longer with a little more music.

  18. Darryl McCormick and friend of the show says:

    I love all Disney Parks and have had 24 trips to Disney and over 100 days in the parks. I am a Disney Maniac. However, there are a few attractions that I don’t get. The Bears are inhabiting space that could be better used by something else. I would “repurpose” this area!

  19. Damon says:

    The reason why the show works is because of its corniness, so I say apart from some maintenance keep it as is.

  20. Jenn says:

    We just came back from WDW and my favorite attraction at Magic Kingdom was the Tiki Room. After several disappointing years of being “Under New Management,” I realized just how special the original show is. I hope the Country Bears never undergo a similar transformation of any kind. Want to freshen it up a bit? Give the waiting area before the show some sparkle, a la The Muppets 3D pre-show (I enjoy the pre-show as much as I do the actual attraction). But to quote Lou, please don’t mess with the DNA. Those bears have Walt’s fingerprints on them. At the risk of sounding like Sam the Eagle, modernizing the Country Bears would be un-American!

  21. Donna says:

    I love the Country Bear Jamboree just as it it, but it does strike me as a perfect attraction to have seasonal “variations on the theme.” Not completely different shows per se, but something like the Vacation variation for the summer, maybe a Christmas piece, etc. I think it just lends itself to that.

  22. (Big) Al Sandal says:

    Keep my namesake just as it is, with the exception of changing it to Christmas around the holidays!

  23. Scott R says:

    Love the ride…but the audio is poor and needs a refurb.

  24. Chuck Zitta says:

    First saw The County Bear Jamboree at Disneyland in 1973. Gotta watch out for that Pooh guy! Hilarious! Absolutely love this attraction. It’s one of Disney’s timeless wonders, that IMO, should remain as it is. It’s so well done, and so well placed (in Frontierland) that my boys enjoyed it just as much – when they were young – as I did when I was a young boy. This proves (to me at least) that The Country Bear Jamboree needs nothing more than a little refurbishment once in a while to remain successful for generations to come. And I should mention that is still resonates with my boys (who are older now) and me as well :0) Pure Disney magic. I will say, I agree with some of the other comments above, that a little something extra added in for the Holidays would be a nice touch, while still maintaining the integrity of the attraction.

    Thanks again for another awesome show, Lou and Ryan!!!