Country Bear Theater
Since 1972 I’ve been a big fan of The Country Bear Jamboree. I was there the first summer it opened in Bear Country at Disneyland. It had opened the summer previously in Magic Kingdom out in Florida, but it would be several years later before I had a chance to visit the attraction there. I enjoy it there every time I get a chance since Walt Disney World is my backyard.
As a child, I bought the album that same year it opened (love the font they used).
I also bought a booklet featuring cut out bears, then built a theater and made my parents listen endlessly while I rearranged them on stage. My cardboard proscenium was simple–not nearly as fancy as Disney’s, but then again, they only included 6 figures in the booklet, so I didn’t have much to stage.
So I was thrilled when I saw the Country Bear Theater in Tokyo Disneyland. Most people don’t know that the show is alive and well in a two theater setting at Tokyo Disneyland. It’s actually called Country Bear Theater there, probably because the word jamboree doesn’t translate neatly into Japanese. For that matter, the attraction sits in the heart of Westernland, for the same likely reason that the word Frontierland doesn’t carry the same meaning or translation in this host country. That said, despite what the brochure, the sign on the building, and the curtains say in the theater, there is still a grand draping that announces it is a Jamboree.
Because there are two theaters, there is plenty of lobby space before entering.
In a Disneyland remodel Tom Morris was asked to develop some creative theming for that space. When The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh replaced the attraction in Disneyland, much of the theming went away. But it’s still here in Tokyo! Take a look.
In the lobby you see countless photos paying tribute to the bears and giving insight as to their lives.
Each one is worthy of closer study. There is a lot of humor in these.
Here’s Melvin, Rex and Buff all getting a tan (in the buff?) Note that Oscar and his bear has joined along.
Beyond drawings and illustrations are exhibits showing what would be historic artifacts that would belong to the bears. Both “The Bear Band Serenade” and the “Ballad of Davy Crockett” are shown. Henry’s signature is on the bottom.
Below Sammy has added additional lyrics to “Ballad of Davy Crockett”.
Promotional photos and other moments on their world tour are on display. Note the take in the upper right hand of the Five Bear Rugs looking a lot like the Firehouse Five from Disneyland. Further below we see a take on “The Three Caballeros” grizzly style.
Soon the next show is available and we enter into the traditional theater. I love the curtains with the title of the show and its cursive swirls. Old timers remember when the show’s name was on the curtain in the U.S. theaters. Originally it was sponsored by Pepsi Cola and Frito Lay. Does anybody however, remember when it had Wonder Bread’s circular primary color logo of red, yellow and blue?
The following is the full standard show. Study it to see how the bears are well cared for, and as animatronics, work nearly flawlessly. It is a superb show on a technical level.
The park features not just a Japanese/English version of The Country Bear Jamboree, but also a similar multi-lingual version of the Country Bear Christmas Special and Country Bear Vacation Hoedown.
If the entrance was a lobby, then the exit is a sort of backstage look. A cast member bulletin board can be found in this area.
One can also find dressing room doors. In Disneyland these were at the entrance. They seem more appropriate in the exit here. We see Trixie’s dressing room:
Gomer’s dressing room is a big taller than most, and has a certain “keyboard” feel.
The Five Bear Rugs share the same dressing room. Note that Fred has to
mind the doorway.
Just like the original Bear Country, there’s products and theming that is tied to the Country Bears. During Easter a few eggs can be found on top of the theater. How can you not love Teddy Bars swinging in an egg basket!
Across the way is the Country Bear Bandwagon, which offers fur caps and head bands.
Of course the translations aren’t always consistent. Here we have the Country Bear Band as opposed to The Country Bear Bandwagon. Still, you have to admire the Japanese for adhering to having so much English all over their parks and attractions. It certainly makes touring for English-speaking visitors so much easier.
Like the original Bear Country, there is a Hungry Bear Restaurant near the Country Bear show. House Foods, which is the host of the theater, is the sponsor of the Hungry Bear Restaurant as well. House boasts of being the leading curry maker, which explains why the menu isn’t about hamburgers and fries, but rather rice and curry.
Needing something a little more American in taste? Near the riverboat landing one can find a popcorn wagon with Henry at the wheel. Looks like he’s pushing Oscar around and around. The Japanese love popcorn at Tokyo Disney, and there are many kinds of flavors. This location currently offers barbecue popcorn.
At the adjacent General Store, one can find Country Bear Jamboree merchandise. Admit it, these small plush are cute!
As you can see, The Country Bear Jamboree is one big family of experiences at Tokyo Disneyland.
Well folks, this concludes our blog post. Thanks for bearin’ with us to the bare end, and barrel around to see us again. If you like articles like this, especially about Tokyo Disneyland, you might want to check out Danny, The Black Sheep, a character from Walt Disney’s So Dear to My Heart who I found next to The Country Bear Theater in Tokyo Disneyland. Check it out!