Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Disneyland 56th Anniversary Less-Than-Spectacular, Pt. 3

In almost every city, there seems to be a restaurant or business that has what's called a "kiss of death location." You know the one; where the dining facility or store seems to change its name and concept every so many years yet never quite catches on. One of those areas at Disneyland seems to be the parcel of real estate next to the Haunted Mansion. Originally designated the Indian Village, by 1972 it was rethemed as Bear Country.

The Crown Jewel of Bear Country was to be The Country Bear Jamboree, a show that was already quite popular in Orlando.

Featuring a lovable cast of audio animatronic Bears, it was truly a lot of fun. Imagineer X Atencio and musical director George Bruns created the tunes for the show.

Just look at Big Al; how could you not enjoy this character? Just one look at him and you can recognize the work of his creator, Marc Davis.

Guests who found their way over to Bear Country could also dine at the Golden Bear Lodge, shown in this July 1978 photo:

One attraction and one restaurant do not a successful land make. This area needed something to plus it, but that wouldn't come until much later.

In order to justify the impending addition of Splash Mountain, the area was renamed once again to the more expansive sounding "Critter Country" in 1988.

Sadly, the Jamboree was removed in 2001 and replaced by the more sedate dark ride, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 2003. Hopefully, the rumor that the CBJ will find life again over at DCA is true; I'd rather not have to go back to WDW again to get my fix!

Next to Tomorrowland, this area is probably the second highest list of areas at Disneyland that needs a little help. The fact that it is located at the very far end of the park doesn't help. To draw people away from the more popular Fantasyland, Frontierland, and New Orleans Square, this parcel would need a heap more excitement to accomplish that task. Hopefully the Imagineers can figure out a way to breathe new life into this "kiss of death" location.

See more vintage Bear Country photos at my regular website.


Major Pepperidge said...

I really don't mind the "Pooh" ride (just wish they had gone that extra step to make it better); I must be one of the few people that wasn't crazy about the Country Bear Jamboree. It was OK, but after seeing it once, I didn't have the urge to sit through it again. Sacrilege!!

JG said...

What the Major said.
I liked the 'Bears, but don't miss them the way I miss Carousel of Progress, for example.

I like the Winnie the Pooh ride well enough. I'm a simpleton, I guess. It's good for little ones, and I approve of the idea of locating a small child attraction close to the big kid Splash Mountain. Critter Country is shady and cool, unlike ToonTown which is sun-blasted and hot.

I can sit in the shade at the cafe overlooking the river and remember when my kids were small. One of the best views in the park, and one of the few places which hold just my memories, since this area opened after my parents stopped going.

I love Disneyland, but I see ghosts everywhere there, not just in the HM.


Katella Gate said...

... and Katella makes three. I never cared for CBJ either much. I should, but I don't.

First the show was way too disjointed. It's a "snippet" show like America Sings, where they just throw out the good lines of a song and move on, but America Sings never had continuity problems. CBJ was just too random.

The other problem for me was the character modeling. The Davis drawings are masterful (I mean really, this guy never did a clunker drawing that I ever saw), but there was something ugly about how the fur line on the face masks met the plastic "flesh"... much too much like the old 50's cuddle dolls where the rubber face is stitched into a plush scull. Bothersome and off-putting. I can't imagine why they went forward with this, there may have been technical limitations in the AA Characters at the time.

TokyoMagic! said...

What can I say after the previous three comments? I miss CBJ! I grew up with it and loved it just as much as America Sings (okay, but not as much as the Carousel of Progress!). I remember as a kid when CBJ was brand new. Then as an adult, I loved the Xmas show just as much as the original version. As for CBJ 3.0....the Vacation Hoedown version.....now that was horrible! At least WDW and Tokyo DL still have their bears!

Is that rumor about the bears going into DCA a current rumor? I remember for a while, many of the fans were saying that Disney SHOULD bring it back and put it in DCA. I hope it really is something that they are considering. They could just build one theater this time. Bring it back, I say!

Mark said...

Dave, thanks for these images! Your readers may also enjoy this one in color!http://insightsandsounds.blogspot.com/2011/06/disneylands-secluded-hideaway.html

Connie Moreno said...

Tokyo, you and I can take on those three guys, LOL!!!

BRING IT BACK!!!! Wait, what rumor? Where did you hear it might come back????

Daveland said...

Connie - You can put me down for Team Connie/Tokyo! As for the source of the rumor, it was posted on the CBJ page at Wikipedia. Not the most reliable...but worth crossing the fingers for!

Matt said...

I think the real reason this area is so dead, is quite literal. It is a dead end. One way in or out. No other area of the park is a dead end like this (well, toontown, but it makes its own point).