Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Two Snapshots from 1971

I'm getting down to the last few snapshots from 1971, courtesy of Mr. X!

It's almost hard to imagine a time when "Bear Country" was just a twinkle in some Imagineer's eyes. I remember being so excited at the prospect of a whole new land being added to Disneyland! Does anybody recall if there was much information released before the land actually debuted? Were fans aware that the Country Bear Jamboree was the sole new attraction (since the canoes had been around for a long time)? 

Anyway, this is a very nice shot of a sign that hopefully whetted the appetites of guests. To be honest, until "Splash Mountain" came along in 1988 (and the name of the land was changed to "Critter Country"), I was ultimately not that enthused about Bear Country, even though I realize that many people loved that ol' Jamboree.

The former home of Aunt Jemima's Kitchen, and (briefly) the Magnolia Tree Terrace became the River Belle Terrace in 1971. As you can see it was sponsored by Oscar Meyer. Nothing says "old west" like bologna! I think I have a menu from the restaurant from around this era, it's in a box somewhere... if I can find it I'll scan it. Don't leave your computers!

As of today I will be out of town and away from my computer for a few days. Some holiday thing. So I might not be able to respond to comments as quickly as I would like. Still, if you find yourself with some time, be sure to check in, there will be new posts every day!


Nanook said...


I can't honestly remember if the excitement-level within the general public was as whetted when Bear Country was about to be revealed, compared to what happens in these times. Clearly, that doesn't seem possible - what, with all these new-fangled contraptions that simply pluck information 'right out of the air', and then deliver it right to your TV set, or something like that-! Gee - Country Bear Jamboree featured "the wildest show in the wilderness". And then Big Thunder Railroad had "the wildest ride in the wilderness". I'm beginning to see a pattern, here.

I believe the old ad line was: "Nothing says 'old west' better than luncheon meats-!" Um, um, um-!

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I loved Bear Country and Country Bear Jamboree. I also loved the Christmas version of the show that came along in '84. The Vacation Hoedown show.....uh, not so much. Still, it was better than anything that was unveiled in Tomorrowland '98! ;-)

I remember a Los Angeles Times supplement that touted the new/soon to open Bear Country and also the Electrical Parade. It also unfolded to reveal a large map of the park. I have been wanting to scan it and post it, but it will require scanning it in sections and then pasting the images together. I need a larger scanner!

I believe The Riverbelle Terrace is still closed right now for a major refurbishment. I'm sure they are ruining it, because that's what they do. I think the table service they recently began in that location was successful, so they are adding more seating to the indoor section. I always liked that interior just the way it was, with it's round cushioned bench seating in the center of the dining room. I'm guessing that this is being ripped out, because that's what they like to do with things. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it's hard to get excited about anything that company does these days.

On a happier note, your mentioning of the word Bologna makes me think of that commercial that ran for years, with the little boy fishing on the edge of a dock singing, " bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R......."

K. Martinez said...

Mmmmmm! Oscar Mayer bologna from the River Belle Terrace placed on a slice of white Wonder Bread from Hungry Bear Lodge (former Country Bear Jamboree sponsor). All that's missing is a slice of Kraft Velveeta cheese from "The Land" pavilion in Epcot and some Miracle Whip.

I loved Bear Country for a major specific reason. It was an escape from the maddening crowds in the rest of the park. Being a cul-de-sac with no thrill ride, it was a quieter area. I loved going over there to sit on a bench and relax in the north woods setting.

I love these rare and unusual pics today. Thanks, Major.

TOkyoMagic!, I am in totally agreement with you about all the various versions of the Country Bear Jamboree. In fact I loved the Country Bear Christmas Special.

Also, they ripped out the round cushioned bench seating in the center of the dining room at River Belle Terrace. From what I've seen they ruined that restaurant. That was my favorite breakfast spot too. Not anymore. They do ruin everything.

Pegleg Pete said...

Bring back the Bears! Thanks, Major – I love that sign in the first photograph, but then again I love the Country Bears (this may or may not have something to do with me being born in Nashville). I concur with K. Martinez' comments on the former peacefulness of Bear/Critter Country. I see they've already ruined the Hungry Bear restaurant by inserting a thruway between the deck and the river. Oh, well. Progress and whatnot...

Chuck said...

It's getting harder and harder to justify a trip back to SoCal. I'm afraid I'll spend most of it in tears, elbow to elbow with a massive sea of humanity that can't understand why they don't plus things by adding Disney characters to the Jungle Cruise. Or have they already done that and I just missed it?

DrGoat said...

I'm With K. It was always a spot to go and decompress for a while. With restrooms as a bonus. Thanks Major.
The only thing I liked about the River Belle Terrace lately were the Beignets. Lots of powered sugar, shaped like Mickey. A couple of those with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate would make your hair stand on end.

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Rather ironic that they would later make a movie about the Country Bear that was about saving the Country Bears when the actual attraction was closed one year prior!

Of course, it's rather surprising that the Country Bears managed to survive down here in Florida while the Disneyland version was apparently unpopular enough to be replaced with Winnie the Pooh.

Melissa said...

These are lovely pictures! A general “old-timey" aesthetic got pretty popular in the early 1970s, probably in anticipation of the Bicentennial. I've always liked this soft, faded watercolor look.

The Country Bear Jamboree is one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. Heck, it's probably one of my favorite things ever. Sure, it's corny, but it's good, high-quality corn. I know that coonskin cap is going to turn into a singing raccoon, but it still gets me every time. And whenever the cat leaves toenail marks in something, it makes me think of the plank floor of the CBJ lobby that's covered with bear claw marks.
Foxxfur has written some great Jamboree articles on Passport to Dreams Old and New.

Enjoy your holiday, Major! I know GDB is one of the things I'm thankful for.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don’t think it would be possible for there to have been the same anticipation for Bear Country as there is for any new feature at the park today. Now it’s like a drop of blood in the water whipping sharks into a frenzy!

TokyoMagic!, reading ahead to Ken’s comment, it seems that your prediction was correct and that they are ruining the Riverbelle Terrace! Arg. Gosh, I’ve never seen that L.A. Times supplement - and I love park maps. Photoshop would do a great job of stitching multiple scans together! Also, who can forget the little boy beginning his Oscar Mayer song with that little bit of humming?

K. Martinez, what, no French’s yellow mustard?? I’m starting to think that maybe you grew up in another country, COMRADE! You make an excellent point about Bear Country being a quiet and peaceful oasis, which I genuinely think would make it a great place to be. There are far too few quiet and peaceful areas anymore.

Pegleg Pete, it seems that everyone loves the Country Bears but me. I appreciate them on a certain level (such as the fact that it was one of the last attractions that Walt Disney had a hand in, even in a minor way), but, I don’t know, maybe I was just the wrong age to appreciate it when I first saw it.

Chuck, I agree with you! With the announcement of a Jungle Cruise movie starring The Rock, you can bet that changes to that ride are coming, a la Johnny Depp in POC. Yuck.

DrGoat, ha ha, never underestimate the power of half a cup of powdered sugar during your visit to Disneyland!

The Disney Dudebro, good point! I’ve always wondered why the Jamboree was less popular here compared to Florida, but I’m glad that it is still around making people happy.

Melissa, there was definitely an “old fashioned” fad at that time. I wonder if that’s when Magic Mountain in Valencia added its folksy “Spillkin Corners”? Dip some candles! Watch people weave stuff! I’ll have to read Foxxfur’s articles - in fact I keep thinking that I should start her blog from day one and read every post! Tell your cat to clip her nails.

Melissa said...

@DrGoat, are you *sure* that white powder was sugar?

Anonymous said...

Those of working the canoes in the 70s loved the area for being its own remote outpost. It was quiet, like the frontier in which it was set, and ran at pace about the speed of the Mark Twain. BCJ was a good fit, especially since it was then staffed with female CMs while we were the male testosterone cast in the area. It was just fun for all of us. Happy Thanksgiving to all. KS

Nanook said...


Spillikin Corners actually opened in June, 1977, so it may or may not have been influenced by the 'forces' of our Bicentennial.

Anonymous said...

Major, I'm with you. The CBJ was never a favorite of mine, although Mom and Dad loved it. I listen to the soundtrack every other year or so and can't believe how it lasted as long as it did. I am a fan of country music and bluegrass shows (at the Ryman Auditorium, no less) and these music genres can and should be much more than just a laugh track to tired jokes.

My further unpopular opinion is that the Winnie-The-Pooh ride is much better, there, I said it, fight me. As a former parent of small children, I think the Park needs more slow quiet rides with relatively short wait queues, and WTP fits the bill very well. Also, the WTP jokes are straight from the books and aren't forced like the CBJ. Now, if WTP had a Flatt & Scruggs soundtrack, I'd be happy.

Going on record to deplore the upcoming changes to the River Belle. As with most of the GDB crowd, this was the breakfast spot. Now that the made-to-order Mickey pancakes have been eliminated in favor of some kind of eggo waffle toaster pastry, I guess it doesn't matter anymore. I used to make Mickey pancakes with the batter gun every year for my Boy Scout waitstaff at our annual pancake breakfast, maybe that effort will help that art to pass along one more generation.

Also sad to see the SWL walkway running between the Hungry Bear and the River. Hoping that the restaurant upper deck will still retain some semblance of quiet.

If they mess up the Jungle Cruise, there will be war in camp. The Jingle Cruise is awful enough, at least it's only Christmas season, when the Park is best avoided anyway.


Chuck said...

From the Jungle Cruise's Wikipedia entry:

"In April of 2017, it was reported that the ride will undergo extensive planning to change the ride. The updated re-engineering and redesign has extended to the future-star of the film adaptation Dwayne Johnson, and his film production company. Johnson is working with Disney to implement the changes for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts locations worldwide."


Nanook said...

And just to go on record - a little of CBJ can go a long way with me. Always fun (at first) - not unlike The Tiki Room. Ouch-! Sorry, that's just the way it is. I have little patience for both of them. Clearly though, the longevity and popularity of both attractions speaks volumes, and in my case, "I have a short attention span" for things I find merely 'OK'. In my opinion [which I realized no one asked for], the 'pull date' for both was a few decades ago.

Now... mess with the Jungle Cruise on a grand scale - them's fightin' words-!!

DrGoat said...

Well Melissa, I guess it could have been Pixie dust.