Iconic Disney World attraction closed, misses its last goodbye

At Florida’s Disney World, only Magic Kingdom represents a large part of the original vision company founder Walt Disney had for theme parks. That’s true in a number of ways including the fact that after decades as a dry park, Magic Kingdom still only offers alcoholic drinks at some of its sit-down restaurants.

That’s particularly quaint given that Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report second Florida theme park, Epcot, was practically built around alcohol. The theme park’s “World Showcase” section offers food and drinks from 11 country pavilions. It’s almost always more than that as well since Epcot has a full calendar of festivals, which feature added food and drinks kiosks set up around the world.

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“Drink the World” has become a major thing as adult visitors to Epcot engage in a kind of fun that Disney’s founder actually thought was not needed in his company’s theme parks. It’s hard to know what Walt would have thought of Disney World’s other two parks — Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom — as both were built well after his death.

Magic Kingdom, however, still has not just a lot of its original charm, but also some of its opening-day attractions. Many of these day-one rides and attractions have been updated and modernized over the years but “Haunted Mansion,” “Dumbo the Flying Elephant,” the Frontierland Shooting Gallery,” the “Hall of Presidents,” the “Cinderella Carousel,” “It’s a Small World,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Mad Tea Party,” “Enchanted Tiki Room,” and “Grand Prix Raceway” were all there on Magic Kingdom’s first day.

Another opening day attraction, the “Country Bear Jamboree,” survived until Jan. 26 when it was expected to have its final performance before closing for a complete reformatting of the show.  

Roller coasters were not part of the original lineup at Magic Kingdom.

Mariah Wild/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Disney’s Country Bears will be back (sort of)   

The original “Country Bear Jamboree” hearkens back to a time when entertainment standards were different.

“Step inside the rustic theater known as Grizzly Hall and take your seat before the lights dim. Clap along as 18 Audio-Animatronics hillbilly bears play and sing during this 16-minute, foot-stompin’ cele-bear-tion. You’ll hear a medley of original and classic tunes—all performed by the zaniest critters in the woods,” Disney shared on its website.

When it opened, the idea of animatronic bears singing was impressive technology, and “cele-bear-tion” was clever wordplay. In recent years, the attraction has mostly survived by parents being nostalgic about it and forcing their kids to sit through it. 

With real estate being very valuable inside Magic Kingdom, Disney executives made the decision to close “Country Bear Jamboree” and its last show was planned for Friday, Jan 26. That show, however, did not happen.

“The show was temporarily closed after a couple of the Audio-Animatronics broke down during a show. Cast members were trying to reopen the attraction for the hundreds of guests waiting in line, but they were unable to get it operating again and had to close the attraction for the evening,” BlogMickey reported.

After 52 years, that was an especially sad way for the ride to go out.

Disney’s Country Bears will be back (sort of)

While the current Country Bears show has closed, Disney will bring a version of the classic attraction back. It’s a pretty major overhaul, making it hard to argue whether it’s a new attraction or a continuation of the original show.

“The Country Bears are getting ready to put on a new show that pays homage to the Opry-style shows of Nashville. While the ‘Country Bear Musical Jamboree’ will include easter eggs from the beginning to the end including a familiar tune fans may remember, the bears will sing new, reinterpreted Disney tunes in different genres of country music – like bluegrass, pop-country, Americana, rockabilly and other styles,” the company shared on its website. 

Basically, Disney will use the bears as another way to spread better-known intellectual property (IP) that’s much more familiar to kids and teens than the content of the previous show. 

The new “Country Bears, Musical Jamboree” will open at some point in summer 2024. 

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