Country Bear
“E” Ticket

“Howdy folks! Welcome to the one and only, original Country Bear Jamboree, featuring a bit of Americana—our musical heritage of the past.”

—Henry, your host

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

“The Bear Band bears will play now,
in the good ol’ key of G.
Zeke and Zed and Ted and Fred,
and a bear named Tennessee.”

It’s called the Country Bear Jamboree, but in addition to 17 bears, there’s a raccoon, a bison, a moose, and a stag deer. They all hope you’ll enjoy the show.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

“Every time I meet a guy who gets me shook,
all I ever get from him’s a dirty look.
It’s the same way everywhere I’ve found...
all the guys who turn me on turn me down!”

Here are some of the songs you’ll enjoy in this fast-paced musical variety show:

  • “The Five Bear Rugs,” performed by Henry, introducing the band
  • “My Woman Ain’t Pretty, but She Don’t Swear None,” performed by Liver Lips McGrowl
  • “Mama, Don’t Whup Little Buford,” performed by Henry and Wendell
  • “Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine,” performed by Trixie
  • “Pretty Little Devilish Mary,” performed by the Five Bear Rugs
  • “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?” performed by Terrence
  • “All the Guys that Turn Me On Turn Me Down,” performed by the Sun Bonnets—Bunny, Bubbles, and Beulah
  • “Heart, We Did All that We Could,” performed by Teddi Barra, descending on a swing from the ceiling
  • “Blood on the Saddle,” performed by the unbearable Big Al
  • “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” performed by Henry, who is joined by Sammy the hat racoon
  • “Blood on the Saddle,” performed again by Big Al
  • “Ole Slewfoot” (“He’s big around the middle and he’s broad across the rump”), performed by almost all the other bears, trying to drown out Big Al.
  • “Come Again,” performed by Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin.
Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 1974

“There was...
blood on the saddle,
and blood all around.
And a great big puddle
of blood on the ground.”

We hope that you’ll be comin’ back again!

In 1972, Country Bear Jamboree opened in Disneyland as the centerpiece of the park’s newest land, Bear Country. It was the first Disneyland attraction to be cloned from a Walt Disney World attraction.

Here’s how the Spring 1972 issue of Disney News introduced an article about the attraction:

One of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World in Florida is the country-western musical mish-mash known as Country Bear Jamboree. It stars the wildest bunch of foot-stompin’, knee-slappin’ rip-snorters ever to lumber out of the north woods. And this spring, the “rip-snorters” are coming to Disneyland, bringing with them, along with their lack of talent, a whole new land to the “happiest place of earth”: Bear Country.

Even though Country Bear Jamboree first opened in Florida, an earlier version of the show was meant for California—but not for Disneyland.

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

The history of Country Bear Jamboree goes back to when Walt Disney was alive.

As one of his final projects, Walt planned Mineral King, a mountain resort for a site in Sequoia National Forest. Walt was confident that guests would enjoy skiing, hiking, and other daytime outdoor activities. But he was concerned that those guests would leave the property at nightfall, taking their wallets with them. He would need to offer reasons for them to stay.

Here’s how the book Disneyland: the Nickel Tour (by Bruce Gordon and David Mumford) explains what happened next:

So Walt commissioned [Imagineer] Marc Davis to come up with shows that would keep those folks (and their money) right there at Mineral King. “Walt thought maybe we should have a show that had something to do with bears,” Marc recalled. “Lots and lots of bears.”

Marc went to work sketching musical bears whose personalities might be bigger than their talent. Walt Disney’s Mineral King project was never built, but good Imagineering ideas tend to resurface.

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Henry at Magic Kingdom Park

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Trixie at Magic Kingdom Park

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Wendell at Magic Kingdom Park

In 1971, the Country Bear Jamboree opened as one of the original attractions of the new Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The response there was enthusiastic. Guests waited in long lines to see the show in a single theater at the Magic Kingdom.

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Big Al at Magic Kingdom Park

The Disneyland version had twice the capacity of the original Magic Kingdom version. Also, shows started twice as often. These twin accomplishments were possible because of twin theaters with two identical Audio-Animatronic casts.

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

cover scan © Walt Disney Productions

Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide with Country Bear Jamboree on the cover

Country Bear Jamboree was the first new ticketed attraction at Disneyland since the Haunted Mansion in 1969—not counting Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes in 1971, which was essentially just a new name for Indian War Canoes. Disneyland guests had been accustomed to a steady stream of new attractions since Disneyland opened in 1955, and the attraction “drought” of 1970 and 1971 was unexpected. The reason, of course, was that Walt Disney Productions had focused its limited resources on Florida.

At Magic Kingdom Park, Country Bear Jamboree was sponsored by Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay for its first ten years. The show opened without a sponsor at Disneyland, but host bear Henry would still announce, “Just refrain from hibernatin’… and we’ll all enjoy the show, cause we got a lot to give!”—a reference to Pepsi Cola’s 1969-1973 slogan, “You’ve got a lot to live, Pepsi’s got a lot to give!”

Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland

“E’ coupon page scan © Walt Disney Productions

“E” Ticket attractions in the Fall-Winter 1972-73 Disneyland Guide

Country Bear Jamboree required an “E” coupon, the highest category of Disneyland tickets.

In 1975, the Bears at Disneyland found a sponsor, Wonder Bread. The 15-year sponsorship also included the nearby Hungry Bear Restaurant.

A seasonal show, Country Bear Christmas, premiered in 1984, and returned regularly during the holidays.

In 1986, Disneyland’s original Country Bear Jamboree “went to Yesterland.” A new vacation-themed show, the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, replaced it. The attraction’s new name was often listed as Country Bear Playhouse—presumably to allow other updated shows, but that never happened.

Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2003

Former Country Bear Jamboree, now the home of a different bear

Disneyland’s Country Bears were evicted by a Disney star of the same genus—the short, and stout, and highly popular bear, Winnie the Pooh. Having successfully evicted Mr. Toad from Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pooh Bear decided to do the same to his ursine brethren at Disneyland.

The Bears continued to perform the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown at Disneyland until September 9, 2001. The Country Bear Playhouse went dark forever.

The Country Bears at the El Capitan on Hollywood Blvd

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Disney’s The Country Bears at the El Capitan on Hollywood Blvd.

What’s odd is that Disneyland closed the attraction even though Walt Disney Pictures had a film in production, The Country Bears (2002), based on the attraction. There would be no Disney synergy for the Bears.

You can still see the Bears perform.

Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Bear Band and Henry at Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom Park in Florida has an abbreviated version of the original show. When it returned from a refurbishment in October 2012, it was 5 ½ minutes shorter. Most of the banter is gone. Some songs were trimmed or removed. The single theater can handle more guests over the course of a day.

Country Bear Theatre at Tokyo Disneyland

Photo by Robert Parker, 2013

Country Bear Theatre at Tokyo Disneyland

At Tokyo Disneyland, three different shows rotate through the theater each year: the original “Country Bear Jamboree,” with the banter in Japanese, during the first half of the year; “Vacation Jamboree” during the summer and fall; and “Jingle Bell Jamboree” at the end of the year.

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Bear Vacation Hoedown
Mile Long Bar

© 2024 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated March 19, 2024

Photographs from 1974 taken without a flash, using GAF 500 color transparency film.