Mile Long Bar at Bear Country

and Brer Bar at Critter Country
Mile Long Bar, Disneyland

Photo by Marion Caswell, 1975, courtesy Dennis Caswell

You’ve just left the Country Bear Jamboree. You’re in the back of Bear Country, outside of the John Colter Building. It has a sign promising a Mile Long Bar.

John Colter was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and is said to have been the first person of European descent to enter what became Yellowstone National Park. Perhaps you remember “The Ballad of John Colter” (lyrics by Tom Blackburn, music by George Bruns) from Walt Disney’s Westward Ho the Wagons! (1956).

Who knew John Colter was also the landlord of a bar in Bear Country?

The building doesn’t look big enough to hold such an incredibly long bar—even if you include the adjacent Wilderness Outpost and Teddi Barra’s Swingin’ Arcade.

Mile Long Bar, Disneyland

Photo by Bill Nelson, 1973

Shop, arcade, and bar

Now go inside. Step up to the Western stand-up bar. There’s a brass footrail and another brass rail higher up—perhaps for your elbows. Look to the left. The bar and the brass rails go on forever, although everything gets darker in the distance. Now look to the right. Same thing.

Mile Long Bar, Disneyland

Photo by Marion Caswell, 1977, courtesy Dennis Caswell

To the right

As you look to the left and right, you’ll see a lot of people wearing exactly the same clothes as you. They could be your identical siblings, except every other one of them combs their hair or carries their bag on the opposite side.

Mile Long Bar, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1998

To the left

Don’t try to walk to the other end of the bar. You’re likely to find a small table blocking your path. If it wasn’t there, you might walk into yourself—except you would hit glass first.

You’ve already figured out the bar isn’t really a mile long. It just looks that way because of a mirror at each end.

The reason the bar gets darker in the distance is that even the best mirrors don’t reflect 100%. With each “bounce,” they absorb a bit of light.

You might expect whiskey and beer at a Western bar, but you won’t find such potations here. There’s Pepsi and apple cider. Perhaps you’d rather cool off with ice cream or a frozen banana.

Mile Long Bar, Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1998

Melvin keeping his eyes on things

Above the bar, hunting trophies Melvin the moose, Buff the buffalo, and Max the buck deer keep their eyes on the place. You might think that if you wait long enough, they’ll talk and sing. Nope. If you want a performance from them, head back to the nearby Country Bear Jamboree—or to the Mile Long Bar at Yester Magic Kingdom Park.

Mile Long Bar opened at Disneyland on March 4, 1972, the same day as Bear Country and the Country Bear Jamboree.

Country Bear Vacation Hoedown at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 2001

Brer Bar (1989–2002)

With the 1989 opening of Splash Mountain, Bear Country became Critter Country, and the Mile Long Bar became Brer Bar—a reference to Brer Bear in The Song of the South.

Inside, the decor of Brer Bar was essentially the same as Mile Long Bar, with mirrors for the “mile-long” illusion and Melvin, Buff, and Max above the bar. After all, the Country Bears were still preforming Country Bear Vacation Hoedown next door at the Country Bear Playhouse. (The two photos from 1998 are actually from Brer Bar.)

In 1990, Disney and Coca-Cola entered into a 15-year contract to make Coke products the exclusive soft drinks at all Disney parks. That was the end of Pepsi products at Mile Long Bar / Brer Bar.

Pooh Corner at Disneyland

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2009

Pooh Corner (2003–present) in the former Mile Long Bar / Brer Bar

Pooh Corner Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Candy at Pooh Corner at Disneyland

The Country Bear Playhouse was shuttered September 9, 2001, so the building could be reused for a new ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Since 1995, there had been a small Pooh Corner shop where Critter Country’s Crocodile Mercantile had been, but a Pooh ride could feed a Pooh superstore. There was a perfect place to put it: Brer Bar and the spaces adjacent to it, including the old Pooh Corner.

The Pooh ride opened April 11, 2003. Its exit pointed guests toward a corner entrance into the new Pooh Corner. Guests could buy all sorts of Winnie the Pooh merchandise, as well as candy.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2019

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, the former Mile Long Bar at Magic Kingdom Park

Walt Disney World also had a Mile Long Bar—before Disneyland did. When Magic Kingdom Park opened October 1, 1971, the exit from Country Bear Jamboree in Frontierland sent guests into the original Mile Long Bar. The big difference there was that Melvin, Buff, and Max were performing animatronics.

Florida’s Mile Long Bar closed January 5, 1998, to be combined with the Pecos Bill Cafe next door. The renamed Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe opened May 1998.

Mile Long Bar in Westernland at Tokyo Disneyland

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Mile Long Bar in Westernland at Tokyo Disneyland (defunct)

Hungry Bear Restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland

Photo by Eric Lynxwiler, 2015, used with permission

Hungry Bear Restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland, expanded into Mile Long Bar space

Tokyo Disneyland also had a Mile Long Bar. It opened with the first Disney park in Asia on April 15, 1983. Following the same pattern as its cousins in the United States, it was located adjacent to the Country Bear Jamboree, only this time the land was called Westernland.

As in Florida, an adjacent restaurant expanded into the space that had been been the Mile Long Bar. And that’s why the sign on what had been its exterior facade now reads Hungry Bear Restaurant.

Three different Mile Long Bars in three different lands in three different parks—but none of the Mile Long Bars survived.

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Country Bear Jamboree
Bear Country

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Updated June 1, 2023