Friday, March 10, 2017

Bear Country Construction, 1971

I have nine vintage snapshots showing construction of the newest "land" at the park, "Bear Country" - home of the upcoming "Country Bear Jamboree"! Today I'll share three of those with you.

I love the sign in the lower foreground; in the background, dirt, dirt, and more dirt, along with some concrete forms, a crane, and those vertical steel posts, presumably some kind of structural supports. It's all pretty raw at this point. 

Hey, there's the Disneyland Hotel!

Is this the Hungry Bear restaurant? Or is it the Country Bear Playhouse? Or some other structure? How many questions in a row can I ask? Four, apparently. I am intrigued by the concrete "bunker", which I assume was not an area open to the public. Maybe it's where they kept all of the bad bears when they misbehaved.

Here's more of that same structure. the large deck makes me think it's the Hungry Bear. While I am sort of surprised at how much wood was used (rather than steel), wood is nice and flexible - handy in a land prone to earthquakes.

Stay tuned for more photos from this batch!


Nanook said...


My vote is with the Hungry Bear Restaurant.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

My vote is also for Hungry Bear Restaurant (technically, the Golden Bear Lodge when it first opened), and the bunker underneath is where people go to the bathroom today.

Pegleg Pete said...

Great pics today, Major. Certainly looks like the Hungry Bear to me. Bring back the Bears, I say! Just not with a Wookie themed makeover, thank you very much…

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Ditto, Hungry Bear.

I love the old construction photos and I always see the same thing. The workers "build" a ladder(s) out of the new lumber and leave them in several locations around the site for future use.

Today this would have OSHA inspectors helmets spinning on their heads. Only weight rated code worthy ladders would do or they would have the site closed and the company fined! Also none of those hideous "safety guide rails" anywhere in sight on the upper parts of the structures (for future inspections/maint.)How did anyone every survive the building process? Oh, maybe they were careful.

Cool shots, thanks for posting and looking forward to seeing the rest.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the railroad trestle completed amid all the construction. I wonder how long the train was down for this construction. Steve?

Anonymous said...

...and with the Trestle in place, how did that crane get out?

DrGoat said...

Thanks Major. I like the construction pics too. Bear Country was a little past my 'prime' era. I turned 21 that year and had other interests going on. The Country Bear Playhouse shows made me a little queasy for some reason. It was a neat place to tone it down for a spell and take a breather.

Anonymous said...

What Alonzo Hawk Said.

Also, agree with Tokyo, the below-grade construction in the photos is the present visitor restroom and restaurant backstage area. There were some lurid tales about an intermediate remodeling of this area.

The deck of this restaurant used to be one of the few remaining quiet spots in the Park where you could rest with a cold drink and admire the river view. I hope they don't spoil that in the new regime. There will probably be squirrels with lightsabers or something added.

I don't miss the CBJ show that much, I listen to the soundtrack now and wonder how I ever sat through it. It's odd that I don't recall this construction at all, even though it happened right in my most active time of visiting. I do recall the show with Mom and Dad, and the vibrating foot massage chairs in the lobby.

That train trestle is one the last vestiges of the three-dimensional interrelationships of the various rides that we used to see everywhere in Disneyland that now no longer occurs. Not sure if it's lack of inspiration or projects developed in isolation, but the loss is noticeable. Maybe some of that feeling will return in SWL, I remain hopeful.

I think having Winnie-The-Pooh mixed with the Song of the South is a little odd, but WTP is a cute, quiet ride for little ones in a cool, shady cul-de-sac location. Much better than Toontown for frazzled parents.

Thank you, Major.


Unknown said...

It's a fabulous Friday here at the Monkey House. One can forget how much construction went on in various parts of the Park, and how many pictures there must be floating around out there of such.I think there's a grade crossing over the tracks just North of Critter country; that would get my vote for the crane's escape route:around the building site then north until you can turn left and cross the tracks into Maintenceland.

I vote for the plaza Pavilion. Not as the building in question but I thought we were voting on where to eat. I loves me some pot roast, yes indeedy.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I vote for Adlai Stevenson!

TokyoMagic!, vote early, vote often.

Pegleg Pete, why don’t they just let loose some real bears? Of course they should be hungry bears, too. Talk about excitement!

Alonzo, those construction workers didn’t want to be beholden to “Big Ladder”. You know, the secret consortium of ladder manufacturers that artificially inflates the price of ladders all around the world.

Anonymous, one nice photo that is coming up has the train crossing the trestle, it looks great.

Anonymous II, maybe when the crane was lowered, it could actually fit under the trestle? Or if not, they could have dug out a trench for it, to give it more room?

DrGoat, this is the first I’ve ever heard of the Country Bear Jamboree making anyone queasy! But… I kind of get it.

JG, I am one of those barbarians who did not love the CBJ - animatronics are a great tool, but to make them the primary focus of an attraction just didn’t seem to work for me (the Carousel of Progress is an exception!). Somehow having them as the “stars” just emphasized their limitations. If only we could have had Marc Davis’ “Western River Expedition” instead of the “singin’ robots” shows. Vibrating foot massage chairs in the lobby, that’s the first I remember hearing about those! I don’t expect any sort of interrelationships between Frontierland and Star Wars Land, but I suppose it is possible. And to cap it all off, I think that the “Pooh” ride is nice. Charming, but it feels a little cheap with so many painted flats - I know the flats are traditional, but I expect a little more these days.

Patrick Devlin, I agree, there must be a zillion photos taken during the construction of things like the “New Fantasyland” and “Bear Country”, and yet… I sure don’t have many in my collection. I think they floated the crane out using dirigibles. And if the pot roast comes with mashed potatoes, I’m there.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Your probably right Major (that's why you get the big bucks). I hear the "Rose Suchak Ladder Co." is one of the most ruthless of the "big ladder" bunch. You'd think they would be more benevolent after all that free advertising they got in "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Anonymous said...

This brings back vivid memories of the construction that I witnessed from the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain and Columbia. Now if only I had taken pictures! I agree, this ended up one of the most tranquil areas of the park and why I chose to work Adventure/Frontierland rather than Tomorrowland. KS

Mark H. Besotted said...

JG, we all want squirrels with lightsabers! And we proved it, as a country, by buying so many of this pin!

DrGoat said...

I guess queasy is an odd word for it. A little bit off-putting maybe. Not full blown creepy.