June 28, 2018

The Country Bears Introduce the Critter Country 500

Every once in awhile, someone suggests ripping out the Country Bear Jamboree from the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. I hate that idea! It's a Florida Kingdom original, and it's one of the few musical Audio-Animatronic shows left. (Will they ever go back in style?) The other American version of the show got pulled out for Winnie the Pooh, leaving just a version of this humorous attraction in Tokyo Disneyland. 

How did it get pulled from California? Well, "The Happiest Place on Earth" had a big problem as its traffic patterns indicated that the once popular show seemed to have run its course. The country music fan base was just not as strong as in the South. Time for change had come for Imagineer Marc Davis' musical comedy.  

The Country Bears were to begin life here.

But the show- which began as an idea for Disney's Mineral King Ski Resort- had its fans. Fans in Imagineering, actually.

Many ideas were tossed about as they tried to come up with something fresh for those Hillbilly Bruins. A small flume type attraction was considered as well as a silly road race, shown above. The great sounding "Critter Country 500", a fun road race for all ages was one of the ones with the best chance of making the cut. But it wasn't to be.  Even this rending by Christopher Merritt couldn't convince the suits. Pooh won out, taking his place at Disneyland.

(Oh yeah. Come back tomorrow for my trip report on Disney World After a Decade- Day Three at Epcot... then, the Magic Kingdom.)

(Concept art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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