Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree: The Seasonal Versions Not Seen Anymore. History, GREAT Videos, & MORE!

If you’re a Disney fan, there’s potentially a big problem when you read the various Disney blogs out there that claim to deliver “news” – they don’t always do that. Some blogs repeat stuff that a Disney bus driver’s second cousin’s best friend mentioned. Others allude that things are happening but never outright say they are. And yet others just make crap up.

The Walt Disney Company has usually been very closed-lipped about what’s said on those so-called “viral” Disney sites but in a change of the status quo in recent weeks, they squelched two rumors that had been spread by what they described as an “unscrupulous source.” The first rumor was about The Enchanted Tiki Room closing (spoiler: it’s not closing) and the other one was about the Country Bear Jamboree

That post got me thinking about this iconic attraction and its rich history in Disney parks. And boy, does it have history! Take a look…

The Country Jamboree was one of the original attractions when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, and proved to be so popular that they opened it in Disneyland as well, in 1972. Here’s the original Walt Disney World version, complete with hand clappin’, foot stompin’, corny jokes and singing along:

Both the east and west coast attractions were so well received that they also opened a version in Tokyo Disneyland, in 1983. And friends, trust me…you have not heard The Country Bear Jamboree until you’ve heard it in Japanese 😉

Still as popular as ever, the attraction was given a Christmas holiday overlay at Walt Disney World and Disneyland during the holiday season of 1984. Temporarily renamed the Country Bear Christmas Special, it was the first time a Disney attraction was given a “new look/sound” for a season. Since that time, the Haunted Mansion and It’s A Small World at Disneyland have made Christmas overlays an annual tradition, but the Country Bear Jamboree was the first to do it, years and years earlier.

The Christmas show premiered at Tokyo Disneyland in 1988, as the Jingle Bell Jamboree:

Still a popular attraction (and apparently with cash still flowing), an updated version of the attraction, called the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, debuted at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 1986. However instead of trading out with the original version, the Vacation Hoedown took up semi-permanent residence, only leaving for the seasonal Christmas show.

Walt Disney World’s Vacation Hoedown overlay was replaced with the original County Bear Jamboree version in 1992.

The “Vacation Jamboree” (as it’s called) version opened at Tokyo Disneyand in 1994 and this version is the most different from its U.S. counterparts, with some different songs and more spoken lines from the main character, Henry.

In 2001, the Vacation Hoedown show closed at Disneyland, to make way for the Winnie The Pooh attraction (I’ve ridden that Winnie The Pooh attraction – boy, did they get a bum deal! The Tokyo Disneyland version is SOOOOO much better!).

After the 2005 holiday season, the Christmas overlay was stopped at Walt Disney World. Rumor varied from “Guests have told us they want to see the original version,” to the show wasn’t popular enough to justify changing the show seasonally anymore, to copyright issues with some of the songs in the show. Whatever the case, ever since then, only the original Country Bear Jamboree has played at Walt Disney World.

Tokyo Disneyland still plays all three versions, depending on the season.

Finally, for you completests out there, the WDW version of the attraction was cut by a 4 or 5 minutes in 2012. Here’s the “new” version:

The Country Bear Jamboree has admittedly not had huge audiences for quite a while. In fact, the only time I see it crowded anymore is during Gay Days, when event participants, particularly “bears” (a beloved self-description of a heavy, furry [hairy] gay man), have an annual get-together to watch the show at 1pm (and again, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a theater full of bears sing along to, “All The Guys Who Turn Me On Turn Me Down.” ;-))

I suppose the lack of crowds is possibly why the rumor by that “unscrupulous source” got started. Whatever the case, Country Bear Jamboree is still one of the original attractions at Walt Disney World’ Magic Kingdom, so for that nostalgic reason alone, I hope it stays for a good, long time.

After all, lots of people wouldn’t be able to “bear” it if it was gone.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 thoughts on “Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree: The Seasonal Versions Not Seen Anymore. History, GREAT Videos, & MORE!”

  1. I miss the old “Thank god I’m a Country Bear” cover of John Denver. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard it in decades.

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