Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Disneyland - Country Bear Theater - Hot Day

Dateline: Bear Country. Summer 1985.  Day Custodial Shift.  Sweeper.
Always enjoyed Bear County, but on hot days it was, well...a bear.
Despite pine trees, most of the area was open and exposed to the sun.
Where Splash Mountain sits today was a row of buildings with a covered porch and restrooms.  The porch provided welcome shade.

So did the Hungry Bear Restaurant, but this was a Bussing location, so we sweepers did not have to venture there---onto Busser turf.
The most inviting option for a cool down during a hot summer Bear Country shift was to sweep the queue and the lobby of the Country Bear Theater.  The covered bridge leading across a little stream and to the shady entrance was inviting.  Entering the barn-like structure that contained the Country Bear lobby, I felt a draft of cool, conditioned air.  Aaah.
I would, of course, exchange hellos with the hostess at the turnstile.
Then I would step into the long, wood-floored lobby and slowly make my way up and down its length, looking for wayward bits of paper, crumpled Souvenir Guides and maps, popcorn and the various and sundry detritus that guests would drop on the ground.
I would glance at the posters and pictures along the wall and watch the flickering lights inside the hurricane lamps.  Between shows, we sweepers would jump in ahead of the guests and quickly run through the long rows of theater seats, looking for trash and other items left behind.  I would work quickly, usually focusing on the center rows, as they were the most filled with guests, typically.
The theater was always cool and comfortable.  As a guest, the Country Bear Jamboree was on the "MUST DO" list during mid-day and early afternoon periods in the summer.  A great show taken in while seated on comfortable benches with air conditioning wafting over your flushed cheeks?  Who wouldn't take advantage of this?
Today you can ride Pooh.
Hey, that didn't come out quite right.
You can enjoy the Winnie the Pooh attraction.
(That's better.)
I remember looking up at Max, Buff and Melvin as I swept through the rows and headed to the exit doors.

They're still hanging around "Critter Country" to this day---permanently affixed to the wall in the Pooh attraction.  Sigh.


The exit of the Country Bear Jamboree looked like an old mine or a covered bridge.  It lead you back into Bear Country, past my all-time favorite water feature---a small waterfall tucked in the far western corner of the park.  It trickled over round, granite stones and was surrounded by trees, ferns, moss and flowers.  There was a little wooden bridge that crossed the stream at the exit.  You could stand on that bridge and listen to the waterfall and the trickling brook.  It was peaceful and pretty.  An unexpected little pleasure.  The Park has always been famous for these -- the rounded staircase in the middle of New Orleans Square, the Snow White Wishing Well, the benches along Matterhorn Way, tree-shaded Thunder Trail, the tables on the porch of the Plaza Pavillion, etc., etc.
Just across the little bridge was the Mile Long Bar.  I can still smell the warm pretzels.
Today?
Today we have "Critter Country."
I'll leave it at that.

To fond memories of the past and savoring the challenge and promise of the future!

---Mike

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Met my wife in the Bear Country break area while working the canoes. You are right about the comfort of the Jamboree attraction on a hot day. Good show too. While one set of heads remains in the Pooh attraction, the other set has been taken up to Glendale to the Disney archive. Wonder what became of Big Al.

Paul Manke said...

I've heard that the Studio Archives have taken Max, Buff & Melvin from the Pooh ride as well. I just haven't confirmed it myself.

Connie Moreno said...

"Today you can ride Pooh."

You had it right the first time, my friend.

Rich Blansett said...

Just saw the heads, last month, still affixed to the wall inside Pooh. Unless you're looking back and up as you enter the honey dream portion of the ride, you'll never see them again...unless you go to Orlando. Country Bear Jamboree still lives on at Disneyworld.

Anonymous said...

Well some heads have been removed... See this website near end of article.


http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2010/06/26/disney-archives-disney-museum-glendale-disney-history/

Rich Blansett said...

The mounted heads of the three characters that are hidden in the Winnie the Pooh ride are actually from the Mile Long Bar that was located in Bear Country and not from the Country Bear Jamboree attraction.

Mike said...

Looks like Max, Buff and Melvin have managed to get around quite nicely during retirement. This is no small feat for three heads. I have not confirmed whether they're still hanging out in Pooh or whether the three there are from the Mile Long Bar or from one of the two Country Bear theaters. I do know that a set of the heads has been shipped to Glendale as part of the makings of a Disney Company archives museum---which would be nice.

Thanks to all you Disneylandiacs who help keep track of this stuff! Much obliged!

And here's to Max, Buff and Melvin---until we meet again on my next trip to Disney World!

---Mike

Anonymous said...

Here's a Melvin, Buff and Max memory of mine. Many of you know that in WDW there was an identical set of heads that continued signing the exit song as you left the theatre and strolled into the Mile Long Bar. It was fun to be in the Bar (not the show itself) and wait for the heads to give a little shudder and wake up. I swear the elk turned to the buffalo and winked. Later, the animatronic heads were replaced by static fiberglass versions that did not move, and then were removed entirely. Does anyone remember those non-moving heads ay WDW?