Country Bear Jamboree

Update: The official Disney Parks blog, which very rarely comments on theme park rumors, has addressed this one head-on and refuted it.

“Our Imagineers are always looking at ways to bring more magic to our guests through experiences and stories they know, but contrary to rumors, Country Bear Jamboree is not going into hibernation any time soon.  In fact, we’re looking forward to celebrating its 50th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2021, with Henry, the Five Bear Rugs and the rest of the gang.”

Our original article follows.

The Country Bear Jamboree has been a staple at Walt Disney World since the Magic Kingdom theme park opened its doors in 1971, but it may not live to see the park’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

A new rumor says the closing of the long-running attraction is “imminent,” and not only that, but it will be replaced with an audio-animatronic marionette show based on the Toy Story franchise. Walt Disney World purists are, uh, let’s say not pleased about this, especially because part of the rumored plan is to make this change before the park celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021.

WDWNT initially reported that the Country Bear Jamboree will be going away, and that portion of the rumor has subsequently been backed up by Disney and More. But WDWNT also reports something that D&M couldn’t confirm: that a Toy Story marionette show will replace it, and it will reportedly be inspired by the 1950s-era Woody’s Roundup television show that we see in Toy Story 2.

If true, this would add another Toy Story attraction to the park, and this one would notably be outside of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which just opened in 2018. Still, this whole thing sounds depressingly plausible; Bob Chapek (the Disney executive who oversees the parks) has made it clear that he wants to incorporate more modern intellectual property in an attempt to lure more people in.

Disney purists don’t like the idea of ditching Country Bear Jamboree because it was an opening day attraction at the park, but there’s an additional component to their attachment as well: it was one of the last attractions that Walt Disney himself approved before he died. Anything Walt oversaw himself brings an extra layer of sentimental nostalgia. This is the perfect embodiment of the battle of modern theme parks: how much of your history do you sacrifice in order to march toward modernity? It’s a fascinating question with no easy answers (theme parks are big business, after all), but the memories of shuttered attractions like The Great Movie Ride and T2: 3D still waft across theme parks like the smell of turkey legs or fresh churros.

Here’s what the Jamboree experience is like at Walt Disney World (the Disneyland version was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in September 2001):

In 2002, Disney released Country Bears, a ludicrous-looking movie that’s loosely based on the attraction. Sadly, if this rumor about the park actually comes to pass, this movie could end up being one of the most memorable aspects of the Country Bear Jamboree’s lasting legacy:

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