The idea for the Country Bear Jamboree was born out of Walt Disney’s involvement in the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California. Struck by the area’s alpine beauty, Disney envisioned a family-oriented ski resort in California’s Sequoia National Forest. As part of this vision, he wanted to include some form of Disney entertainment for guests after sunset.

Disney assigned the project to Marc Davis, a key figure at WED Enterprises, who had been instrumental in developing characters for other popular Disney attractions. Davis, along with Al Bertino, came up with several concepts, including a bear marching band and Dixieland bears. The final concept was a country-western persona for the bears, which would be featured in a musical revue at the resort. However, the ski resort idea never came to fruition, and the concept for the bear band was shelved until the planning for Walt Disney World began. The Country Bear Jamboree opened its doors in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971.

The Country Bear Jamboree was an immediate hit on opening day at Walt Disney World. The show was so well-received that Imagineers immediately planned to make a replica of the show for Disneyland.

Original Attraction Characters and Songs:

  • Loulie Jean Norman: “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down”
  • Teddi Barra: “Heart, We Did All That We Could”
  • Big Al: “Blood on the Saddle”
  • Henry and Sammy: “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” (sung in Japanese)
  • Don Robertson: “Pianjo”
  • Homer & Jethro: “Fractured Folk Song”
  • Tex Ritter: “My Woman Ain’t Pretty”

What many folks don’t know is that the character voices were offered up by some titans of Country Music at the time such as The Stoneman Family, Tex Ritter, Wanda Jackson, and Jean Shephard.

In May of 1986, a temporary overlay was produced for the attraction titled “Country Bear Vacation Hoe Down.”

The attraction also served as inspiration for the 2002 movie “The Country Bears”, paving the way for other attractions-to-film projects such as “The Haunted Mansion” (2003), the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series (2003-2017), and “Jungle Cruise” (2021).

On Friday, January 26, 2024, Walt Disney World said goodbye to the most recent version of the Country Bear Jamboree. The attraction closed for refurbishment on January 27, 2024, to begin work on updating the show with a fresh new act.

The reimagined show, called the Country Bear Musical Jamboree, is set to open in the summer of 2024. The new show will pay homage to the Opry-style shows of Nashville, with the bears singing new, reinterpreted Disney tunes in different genres of country music.

Huge thanks to Ben, Sammyland, Matt Kempf, Terri Stanier, Hillary_JW, and Brin5 for sharing their photos with us to use in the gallery below!

Country Bear Jamboree January 2024 4K Multi-Angle

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