Country Bear Jamboree

March 1972

For many years, The Country Bear Jamboree was a fixture in Critter Country (which was called Bear Country until Splash Mountain came in and ruined the whole theme by only having one bear, and a dumb one at that). The show was an animatronic wonder in which mechanical bears sang and wished they could dance but found themselves unable because they were welded to the floor.

In developing the show, Imagineers went to real bears for reference. They visited the Los Angeles Zoo and, along with several brave souls from the studio's wardrobe department, dressed up a number of bears and posed them for the camera. Because there was an insufficient number of appropriate bears, the zoo's two polar bears had to be died brown and pressed into service. Despite the grievous mauling of the costumer designer (who won an Academy Award for his brilliant dressing of Don Knotts in The Apple Dumpling Gang), the trip was considered a success. In any case, the resulting attraction was more of a success than had been the original version in which speakers were fastened to the necks of real bears to save the expense of all those robots.

The Country Bear Jamboree was replaced in 2003 by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and the robot bears were purchased by Dreamworks where they found employment as feature film writers.

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