17 February 2016

Just Say 'Howdy,' Stranger

The Diamond Horseshoe was a staple of the Magic Kingdom for a long, long time. To this day, the venue will still swing open its doors and welcome guests from time to time. The stage showcased can-can girls and cowpokes from 1971 until 2003. If you were to stop by at a given point during the Horseshoe’s reign, guest could have been required to make a reservation, grab a complimentary ticket, or walk right on in; it all depended upon the year. Likewise, the show itself, its songs, stars, and even its name would change over time. For today, let’s saddle up to the bar, sip on a sarsaparilla, and explore the Diamond Horseshoe’s entertaining offerings during the 15 Years of Magic in 1986.

The show had remained relatively unchanged between the Magic Kingdom’s opening in 1971 and the revamp of 1986. The show was hosted by Miss Lily and Sam the Bartender and featured an hour’s worth of song, dance, and skits, with a heaping helping of humor poured over the top of everything for good measure. While the trio can-can girls were still front and center, with a bunch of rather bumbling cowboys in tow, the show centered around Sam’s beloved Miss Lily. In fact, as Sam puts it to Lily during the show, “Every time you and your beauties come back into town, these folks stop buying drinks!”

The performances including choreographed dance routines, acrobatic feats (picture cowboys doing parkour over, around, and on the sawhorses with a beam of wood between them). As is expected in any Disney saloon performance, the interactions with guests were second to none. Such as when Lily shows interest in a guests and Sam bumbles his way through an interruption as he is truly smitten with Miss Lily and can’t bear to see her in the arms of another or when one of the cowhands falls in love with a member of the audience, often times a married woman, and professes his love for her right then and there.

The Disney saloon shows date all the way back to 1955 in Disneyland when Wally Boag first took the stage at the Golden Horseshoe. Wally is a story for another day, but he set the standard in regards to how to perform for a saloon full of thirsty guests, and the crew of the Diamond Horseshoe lived up to the high bar he set. The entire crew, from dancers to the orchestra, the leads, and even the cowboys, were integral to the success of the show. Perhaps that is why, when the show relaunched in 1986, Walt Disney World produced photographs that not only highlighted Sam, Lily, and her troupe of traveling can-can girls, but a second picture that highlighted all of the performers.

The Diamond Horseshoe’s revue/jamboree/show would be changed again in the 1990s before retiring forever in 2003. Disneyland still maintains a version of their saloon show, now shorter and picking on innocent bystanders for a dating game (no, I wasn’t picked as a bachelor last February, why are you asking?!?!), but the horseshoes hasn’t brought the same luck to the Magic Kingdom. The atmosphere is still there inside the Diamond Horseshoe, and I recommend taking a peak if you ever get the chance, but the heart and soul are missing. It certainly would do this old cowpoke’s heart a world of good to see Miss Lily and her girls mosey back into town one of these days. What about you, would you like to belly up to the bar and hear some stories and songs from Sam and Lily?

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