June 20, 2024

Country Bear Musical Jamboree Opening Date & Details!


Walt Disney World has announced the opening date for Country Bear Musical Jamboree at Magic Kingdom in Summer 2024! This shares the latest official news & details, new concept art, plus our commentary about the

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Walt Disney World has announced the opening date for Country Bear Musical Jamboree at Magic Kingdom in Summer 2024! This shares the latest official news & details, new concept art, plus our commentary about the attraction reimagining, soft opening speculation, AP/DVC previews, and more!

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Country Bear Musical Jamboree is a reimagining of Country Bear Jamboree. In addition to adding a word to the marquee, Imagineering is bringing an all-new act to Grizzly Hall for the Bear Band to perform. With Country Bear Musical Jamboree, the Bear Band will be reinterpreting favorite Disney songs in different genres of country music.

The new experience is an homage to the classic musical revues in Nashville and Imagineering has worked with prominent musicians to get the authentic country sound. Country Bear Musical Jamboree will still have the fun and friendly tone fans enjoy with the same famous characters like the loveable Trixie, Big Al and others. Basically, same Bear Band but new songs and other wrinkles to the reworked show.

Disney has announced that Country Bear Musical Jamboree will open on July 17, 2024 in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Here are more details shared by Disney about the upcoming Country Bear Musical Jamboree in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom:

The approach to reimagining Country Bear Jamboree was to respect the “ethos” of the Bear Band, while also rethinking the songs in a way that would have more multigenerational appeal. So where better to look than the Disney songbook, according to the creatives working on the reimagined rendition of the show.

The new costumes were designed by the creative costuming team at Disney Live Entertainment, based on concept art by Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, who have worked (lovingly) on the Country Bears for a while. For those who aren’t familiar with Kevin and Jody, there’s no one better to work on the redesign than them.

We had the chance to attend a media preview at Walt Disney World during which Emily Ann performed Trixie’s rendition of “Try Everything.” Here’s video:

Today, we also got a first look at Wendell and Big Al in their fancy new duds from Country Bear Musical Jamboree (in both the above video and photo below), which you might see them showing off while out and about. It’s unclear whether the bears will regularly meet in these new costumes or they’ll be reserved for special events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

All in all, the updates on Country Bear Musical Jamboree has been a real roller coaster. There have been some seemingly odd choices made, but today’s session with the creative team was reassuring–as are the names attached to the show. Here’s hoping that they do follow-through and maintain the ethos of the Bear Band while modernizing the playlist for casual guests who may simply want the bears to “play the (Disney) hits!”

Prior to this, the second episode of the Walt Disney Imagineering YouTube series, “We Call it Imagineering – Soundscapes” took viewers behind-the-scenes of how music is created for Disney attractions and entertainment including a sneak peek at new music for Country Bear Musical Jamboree.

That ‘Soundscapes’ episode revealed that 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 songs in different genres of country music — like bluegrass, pop-country, Americana, rockabilly and other styles.

Among the many songs coming to Country Bear Musical Jamboree are “Try Everything” and “A Whole New World” from the Walt Disney Animation Studios films “Zootopia” and “Aladdin.” It’s a full-blown hoedown featuring a new spin on the songs like you’ve never heard before — complete with fiddles, mandolins, banjos and more.

Paying homage to the musical revues of Nashville, Imagineers worked alongside record-breaking 10-time CMA Musician of the Year, Mac McAnally, on the music for Country Bear Musical Jamboree. McAnally is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

For the voice of the beloved bear, Trixie St. Claire, country singer Emily Ann Roberts added her twangy vocals to “Try Everything.” Allison Russell and Christopher Scott Thile slowed things down a bit with a mandolin-style of “A Whole New World” for Wendell and Teddi Barra.

“I’ve never done anything like this, where the song is truly coming to life before folks’ eyes,” shared Emily Ann. “It was really neat to hear the whole concept and then being able to stand behind the mic and think ‘how do I put myself in Trixie’s shoes?’”

Disney previously announced one of the songs performed in Country Bear Musical Jamboree would be “Bear Necessities,” a wholly unsurprising selection. Also audible in the background of the video is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” After bear-related songs, that would’ve been near the top of my list of playlist predictions.

I was originally taken aback by both “Try Everything” or “A Whole New World” being performed by the Bear Band, as they struck me as odd choices based on the renditions and context from their respective movies. However, after hearing that clip, I’m already starting to come around to the song selection.

As I’ve said before, I’m willing to withhold judgment on Country Bear Musical Jamboree. Regardless of the performances and song choices, I think it’s going to take a long time to get used to the new show. I had watched Country Bear Jamboree for decades and was a huge fan–the new show is going to be jarring at first no matter the quality. Honestly, I can’t imagine loving it at first–I’m more curious as to how I’ll feel about it in a year or 5 after becoming familiar with Country Bear Musical Jamboree.

More than anything else, I hope effort is made to give the bears personality and restore their banter between songs. Even songs like “Try Everything” or “A Whole New World” could work if it’s performed tongue-in-cheek or there’s wink-and-nod color commentary from the Bear Band to accompany their performances. I fear that won’t be the case, but I’m still holding out hope.

The Bear Band performing contemporary Disney music rather than original country songs doesn’t bother me on its own. As with Disney IP versus original attractions, I would much rather have something original. That’s a big part of what gives the bears such colorful personalities, and just isn’t possible with Disney music–those songs are always going to come with the emotional and sentimental context of their respective films. That’s why they’re so beloved in the first place!

However, I disagree with the notion that the Bear Band can’t put on a good show while performing as a cover band. For one thing, some of the songs in the original show are covers. While those are lesser-known, there’s also the better example–Country Bear Vacation Jamboree–in which the Bear Band performs contemporary music and songs from outside the country genre.

We’re big fans of Country Bear Vacation Jamboree, and watched it over a half-dozen times just last week. From my perspective, the songs in that show all work, with “California Bears” (a twist on “California Girls” by the Beach Boys) being the best of the bunch. It’s largely not the songs that make the show work–it’s the connective tissue between them. The costuming, the props, backgrounds, set dressing, and–most importantly–the way the Country Bears joke and banter with one another.

A lot of this was lost a decade or so ago when Country Bear Jamboree was truncated at Magic Kingdom. If Imagineering manages to bring it back, Country Bear Musical Jamboree could have the same heart as the original and its seasonal spinoffs. If they don’t, it’ll be a glorified sing-along show but with Audio Animatronics. The songs matter, but not as much as some fans might think.

On a different and unequivocally positive note, it’s our understanding that the Audio Animatronics in Country Bear Jamboree are being updated to the newest A-1000 Audio Animatronics generation. These debuted with Hondo Ohnaka in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and continued with Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast at Tokyo Disneyland as well as Frozen Ever After at Hong Kong Disneyland. Most notably, they’re the same types of Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

While we wouldn’t expect the bears to be nearly as advanced as the headliner AAs in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure since they’ll be refreshes of the existing figures, they should be a marked improvement. This means no more clicking sounds or abrupt movements, and more fluidity. Most importantly, at least for Country Bear Jamboree fans, is that it gives the attraction a new lease on life and pretty much guarantees it another decade (if not two) of existence. For an attraction that has been on borrowed time since the dawn of the new century, this is a welcome relief.

Finally, there’s the question of soft openings or Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club previews for Country Bear Musical Jamboree. With a project of this scale, I normally wouldn’t expect anything—and I can’t offer any concrete predictions as a result.

What I will say is that Moana’s Journey of Water was similarly smaller scale (albeit a new build) and that did have previews. So I wouldn’t necessarily rule them out. What I would bet is that if Walt Disney World does previews of any sort, they’ll be more casual—like those for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure—with making park reservations rather than registering for a dedicated preview. In any case, I wouldn’t necessarily expect anything—this is a relatively quick turnaround time. If the attraction is ready early, it’s entirely possible they just quietly open Country Bear Musical Jamboree ahead of its official opening date. We’ll keep you posted!

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Your Thoughts

What do you think of the reimagined of Country Bear Jamboree opening in Magic Kingdom on July 17, 2024? Are you a disappointed diehard, cautiously optimism, or openly enthusiastic about this news? Or, are you in wait and see mode with this? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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