02 April 2013

Summertime Vacation Tunes

It’s that time of year, beyond that time in some cases, that families begin to look at summer camps to send their children to. The rite of passage of sleeping away from home at camp isn’t one that I ever went through, but it is a tried and true part of the American experience. Being such an ingrained part of the growing experience meant that it was only a matter of time before the Country Bear Jamboree headed off to camp.

The show changed its name from the traditional Country Bear Jamboree to the Country Bear Vacation Hoe-down. It debuted in the Magic Kingdom in May of 1986, just a month after it premiered in Disneyland. In order to get into the feel of summer camp, not only were the backdrops and songs changed, but so too were the bears attire. Costume changes were comprised of, but were by no way limited to, Buff doffing a fisherman’s cap, Bubbles, Bunny, and Beulah all threw on their swimsuits, Terrence is tied up by a clingy octopus named Delores, and Henry in his old Camp Grizzly shirt.

We mentioned there were changes to the soundtrack, right? Instead of the usual ‘bits of Americana,’ the bears belted out some of the finest summertime hits, occasionally changing up the lyrics to suit their beary special show. The Country Bear Vacation Hoe-down ran through a set list that included The Great Outdoors (5 Bear Rugs), Life’s No Picnic Without You (Trixie), On the Road Again (Wendell), We Can Make It To the Top (Liver Lips McGrowl), California Bears (Sun Bonnet Trio), Two Different Worlds (Terrence), Rocky Top (5 Bear Rugs), Nature (Ernest), Singin’ in the Rain (Teddi Barra and Henry), Ghost Riders in the Sky (5 Bear Rugs), On My Way to Your Heart (Big Al), and Thank God I’m a Country Bear (Cast Ensemble).

The Country Bear Vacation Hoe-down only ran in Grizzly Hall until 1992 in the Magic Kingdom. For those who saw the show, it remains a fondly held memory and, more than likely, those lucky guests can still remember their favorite segment of the show. For my part, it was Wendells slideshow of On the Road Again. What was your favorite song from the Country Bear Vacation Hoe-down?


Rich T. said...

Ryan, I LOVED this show! Since the Vacation Hoedown settled in to stay at Disneyland as the "permanent" show (right up to the moment the whole attraction got "pooh'd"), it became the version I saw many, many, times.

I actually preferred it to the original, for a few reasons 1)The songs seemed longer and more "complete" (even though the whole show was only about a minute longer) 2) It added the great element of Rufus the sleepy, unseen stagehand stomping around behind the walls, backstage and up in the projection booth. 3) It was really funny -- and not just campy, corny funny, but genuinely laugh-out loud hilarious.

The California audience definitely seemed to enjoy the new song selection, and I kept going back in just to hear them sing "Rocky Top," "Ghost Riders," "California Bears" and "Thank God I'm a Country Bear."

Favorite moment: Looking to the side during California Bears and seeing Max, Buff and Melvin doing the backing ooh-ahh-oooh-aahh vocals!

Did I mention I loved this show? :)

Philip said...

It would be awesome if they brought the Vacation Hoedown back as a Limited Time Magic offering.