Walt Disney World unveiled a cut and paired down Country Bear Jamboree on Wednesday October 17th, 2012.  It opened to immediate fan criticism. We sent some of our staff to the park to view the show and let us know if the show has really been ruined as most fan posts indicate or if it has just been altered to better suit changing tastes of the average visitor. What we got back were three very different views of the new show.

First up is Eric Davis:

As I was waiting in the lobby, I noticed that they had removed the red timer that would count down time between shows.  The lobby started to fill up, and it was mostly families and a Brazilian tour group.  I was pleased that I would be watching this with mainly tourists, and not be swayed by the upset groans of fellow passholders.

Ever since I was a kid growing up in Idaho, we would go to Disneyland every year and I would love visiting the Country Bear Jamboree.  It was toe taping fun.  I loved all of the different versions of the show (the classic original, Christmas Special, and the Vacation Hoedown), and I just loved the big furry characters.  As I grew older, my fondness for this attraction hasn’t endured.  Over the last few years, this attraction has become a visit of last resort.  An air-conditioned attraction I could escape into if there was nowhere else to go.  So I was hopeful that changes to the show would be positive.

I have to report that, for me, the changes are mostly positive.  The show’s running time seems to have been cut in half.  The show kicks off with a song and the songs don’t stop.  There is no longer a lull or a slow part, the action and energy keeps moving.  Everyone in the audience I saw it with was incredibly engaged and seemed to really love the momentum.   While the character stories and context have been removed, and the jokes about one of the larger bears have been removed, you don’t really miss it because the show is moving much faster.  When the jamboree was over, I was filled with a feeling that I wanted more.  This was converse to the old feeling of ‘thank goodness it is finally over.’

I do take issue with how cheap some of the replacement fur looks on the animatronics. They removed the audio from the trophy heads (Melvin, Buff and Max) hanging on the wall, but they didn’t remove their animation (their mouths were still moving even through they weren’t saying anything). The pneumatics and hydraulics in the show were noisy and distracting. Still, the show is better and I’m excited to see it again.

There is no doubt that the hard core fans are upset that a beloved attraction has been severely altered. But the show’s attendance has waned over the years. If this tightening can help keep audiences engaged and boost attendance (they’ve essentially doubled hourly capacity), then we can at least expect the show to survive for another decade or more. Let’s hope they work out some of the quality issues soon.


Next up is SparkInTheDark



The classic attraction has re-opened from refurbishment with some key changes. The biggest change would be the pacing, timing, and duration of the show: overall it’s faster with less time in-between each Bear’s segment; pretty much non-existent banter in-between segments; and the overall removal of a song. Each of the Bear Audio-Animatronics received some TLC. From this, many of them really look good and more animated than they have in recent years. Each of the Five Bear Rugs (plus Baby Oscar,) Tedi Bera, Big Al, Trixie, and even Henry look fabulous. Others like Gomer look very cheap at first glance. In fact, it looks like someone from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party jumped up there in their home-made costume. But lucky for Gomer, once I got home and reviewed my photos, he photographs slightly better than he actually looked in the show.


The show still begins with Melvin, Buff, and Max on the wall asking Henry what’s delaying the show. However, Henry doesn’t appear until after the intro from Gomer (the one he now asks for awkwardly.) In Henry’s intro, he still calls it “The one and only original Country Bear Jamboree,” but he no longer asks you to “refrain from hibernating.” I guess the show’s new “faster pace” will help to stay more alert and involved than before?






The Five Bear Rugs slide forward on their updated platform and perform their classic introductory song, “Bear Band Serenade.”



Next there used to be a slight delay as their platform moved back and the lights faded. This is where Wendell used to pop up and sing “Fractured Folk Song” with Henry (on stage right instead). Afterward there was a nice intro from Henry for Liver Lips McGrowl. Instead the curtains remain as Henry (only at first) and The Five Bear Rugs join Ernest in singing “If Ya Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl.”



Ernest peforms “If Ya Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl.



Liver Lips McGrowl performs “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Swear None).” His fur is now lighter in fur color and is sporting another crazy hair style. He went from blue/denim clothing to purple in color – including his guitar.



Wendell performs “Mama Don’t Whip Little Buford” with Henry next. His fur is also quite vibrant along with his purple hat.

We get to hear an edited intro from Henry which leads us into our next segment.

Henry: “A little bit of ever-loving cuddlesome fluff, [our own, Trixie]” (bold part is omitted)



“Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine” – Trixie and Gomer

Trixie appears fluffier in her fur and her costume has extra ruffles. Trixie appears to be much more animated than I ever remember. She showcases this animation in her ears and eyes as she pours her heart out in this song.

After Trixie poured her heart out, we used to here this:

[Henry: “Beautiful, Beautiful. That was a mighty big song, Trixie”
Trixie: “Oh thank you, Henry!” (giggles)
Buff: “That sure ain’t all that’s big”
Max: “Well you’re no light weight yourself Buff”
Henry: “Boys, boys. Watch your manners” Henry
Melvin: “Yeah, if you can’t say something nice…”
Henry: “Ah boys, boys. Okay now boys. If you just stop carrying on like…we might just dedicate this next song to ya’ll. And we so dedicate.”
“Pretty Little Devilish Mary” song]

All of that has been omitted. Instead we jump directly into the next song with Terrance.


Terrance performs “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone.” He used to just wear a hat, but now also has a jacket. Apparently he needs to be clothed. Terrance now ends his song with a strobe light instead of silly eye brow dance. Perhaps this is viewed as more “high tech” and less cheesy?


In the preshow area, you can see him pictured without the jacket still.

Henry introduces the Sun Bonnet Trio with an awkward giggle. He didn’t used to do this here. What is he giggling at… perhaps the strobe light Terrance used?




The Sun Bonnet Trio continue to perform their classic, “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down” complete with slides. Of all of the edits and omits made, removing this song would have been a shame. It continues to make adults giggle and children confused. (And they aren’t just confused at what a slide show is, either.)

Henry’s intro hasn’t changed too much for Teddi Barra.

Henry: “My, my…. Now, here she is. That delightful, delicate, dedicated and dimple darling of the Dakotas. The last of the big time swingers. swinging, Teddi Barra.”


[Henry: “Swing it, Teddi!”
From the wall:
(whistles) “Wow-wee… here she comes” (whistles)]




Teddi used to be in a blue hat and pink boa. She is now dolled up in lavender from her flower petal entrance to her flowers, hat, and boa. They even gave her some bling as she really shines up there. Her fur appears to be fluffier and extra cuddly (think Downy Bear.) However, she still continues to have a lazy eye.

In true Teddi Barra fashion, as she departs she invites us to come up and see her some time. As soon as Henry finds a ladder, he will still be right up!




Big Al performs “Blood on the Saddle.” This segment is just as you remember it.


Henry performs “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” with the help of Sammy. Just as you remember, he gets interrupted by Big Al attempting an encore performance. This creates the opportunity for all of the Bears to perform again.




The finale segment is quite similar as the entire cast performs “Ole Slew Foot.” The finale itself was shortened. During this part, if the guests in the show haven’t been “clapping their hands and stomping their feet to try to keep right with them,” they probably are now. Before the update there was a segment where the bears stopped singing, but the music continued as they hooted and hollered in what was sometimes an awkward interlude. The bears would return to finish the out the song. Now? You guessed it. No more pause in the middle or extra chorus singing. You hear it and it’s over and done.

After that Henry sends us off – (bold part omitted)

Henry: (giggles) “Well, as you can see, we’re just one big happy family. (giggles) Well folks, this concludes our show. So thanks for bearing with us ‘til the bear end [and bear ‘round to see again.] What do you say, Sammy?

Sammy: “I say, ya’ll come back. Ya hear?”

The exit song, “Come Again” is performed by Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin.


Former order:

– “Bear Band Serenade” – The Five Bear Rugs
– “Fractured Folk Song” – Henry and Wendell
– “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Swear None)” – Liver Lips McGrowl
– “Mama Don’t Whip Little Buford” – Henry and Wendell
– “Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine” – Trixie and Gomer
– “Pretty Little Devilish Mary” – The Five Bear Rugs
– “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone” – Terrence
– “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down” – The Sun Bonnet Trio
– “If Ya Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – Ernest and The Five Bear Rugs
– “Heart, We Did All We Could” – Teddi Barra
– “Blood on the Saddle” – Big Al
– “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” – Henry and Sammy
– “Ole Slew Foot” – Entire Cast
– “Come Again” – Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin

Current order:

– “Bear Band Serenade” – The Five Bear Rugs
– “If Ya Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – Ernest and The Five Bear Rugs
– Henry’s Intro (only banter from Henry not shortened)
– “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Swear None)” – Liver Lips McGrowl
– “Mama Don’t Whip Little Buford” – Henry and Wendell
– Henry’s Intro (edited)
– “Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine” – Trixie and Gomer
– “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone” – Terrence
– Henry Intro (with awkward giggle)
– “All the Guys That Turn Me On Turn Me Down” – The Sun Bonnet Trio
– “Heart, We Did All We Could” – Teddi Barra
– “Blood on the Saddle” – Big Al
– “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” – Henry and Sammy
– “Ole Slew Foot” – Entire Cast
– “Come Again” – Henry, Sammy, Max, Buff, and Melvin

While so much love and attention went into this attraction recently, we also lost a lot of its original charm. Gone are many of the jokes and much of the banter from the wall. Gone are the politically incorrect and perhaps offensive comments. The attraction overall is a cut and paste of what it once was. While the Bears have received a lot of individual attention, the Audio-Animatronics are quite reunited in their animation, but they do still show their age. Sadly, some are still twitching their eyes off-cue. Maybe that’s a part of the charm that we won’t lose. At least it hasn’t disappeared completely. “The One and Only Original Country Bear Jamboree” is under there, somewhere.

Next up is Cory Disbrow:

This week, the Country Bear Jamboree reopened, with about 5 1/2 minutes worth of content cut out of it.

I’ll start with the good. The carpeting is new, the benches have been made more comfy, and the audio is much better. The Bears themselves have also received some very welcome TLC.

Also, Big Al is still around, which is most important in this blogger’s eyes.

Onto the bad.

The show is clunky now. The transitions don’t feel like they should, everything is very abrupt. Much of the wit and political “incorrectness” is still there, but some of it has also gone away. The finale feels very rushed. The whole attraction just feels very short and disjointed now. For some, that is probably a good thing. For others, it will feel like the quality and value of the attraction has slipped.

As someone who was terrified of almost everything at Walt Disney World as a child, the Bears were something I could do and enjoy. I have remarkably fond memories of the show from my very early childhood, and to see a much shorter version is a true shame. But, I try to find the good in everything, and having the theater cleaned up and made fresh and new means that the Bears will be with us for a while. Which is certainly better than having them taken out, which has been rumored for years.

Now it’s your turn

Here’s a video of the show taped by Spark in the Dark this week. It’s not a high quality video, but it will give you a good idea about the pacing of the new show.

Well folks, you’ve seen the video above and heard from three of our writers, but what do you think about the changes to this Walt Disney World classic?