Disney World’s Nation Bear Jamboree Obituary

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By Calvin S. Nelson

At roughly 8:30 p.m. in Kissimmee, Florida, the Nation Bear Jamboree died peacefully at residence within the Frontierland part of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, surrounded by family members. It died doing what it cherished: singing old-as-dirt cowboy songs for an viewers of theme-park-goers in search of a pleasant, air-conditioned place to relaxation their weary legs. In true rusty-old-jalopy trend, the animatronic-heavy present broke down earlier than its supposed ultimate efficiency proper round park closing, leaving the lots of of visitors lined up for the final efficiency disenchanted. It was 52.

The Nation Bear Jamboree was a dwelling piece of theme-park historical past: an opening-day attraction, and one of many ultimate sights that Walt Disney personally oversaw the event of in its early artistic levels. A stage present made up of singing, joke-telling robotic bears enjoying devices was initially conceived by Walt as an attraction for his failed Mineral King Ski Resort, an effort vanquished by some dang hippies. So he migrated it over to his Florida Mission, the place it might run on a steady loop for greater than 50 years, turning into the direct affect for Chuck E. Cheese, ShowBiz Pizza’s Rock-afire Explosion, and numerous different janky audio-animatronic-animal bands the world over. Basically, we wouldn’t have 5 Nights at Freddy’s with out it.

What set the Jamboree aside from different Disney theme-park sights was its shagginess: not simply because it was previous, however as a result of it was bizarre. The Nation Bear Jamboree had a really oddball vaudevillian power, its songs brimming with violence and raunch, all of it performed for hyuks. There was a tune about hitting your youngster known as “Mama, Don’t Whup Little Buford,” the punch line being “I feel it’s best to shoot him as a substitute.” One other, sung by the huge, droopy-faced Massive Al went, with zero context or buildup, “There was blood on the saddle, and blood throughout, and a terrific huge puddle of blood on the bottom.”

Stranger nonetheless had been the oddly horned-up songs from the girl-bear-robots, together with three little bears in solar bonnets singing, “All the fellows that flip me on flip me down,” and a chunky bear with come-hither eyes descending on a swing from the ceiling and singing breakup songs earlier than delivering a Mae West-ian “Y’all come up and see me a while, ya hear?” On the finish of the present, as viewers members filed out, speaking big-game heads on the wall reminded them to assemble up their belongings — “and your husband too!” Was the speaking moose head implying that Disney dads had been going to go away their households as a result of they had been too attractive for the singing she-bear?

It’s these kinds of genuinely weird notes that made the Nation Bears really feel just like the work of precise, flawed, chain-smoking, midcentury human beings, fairly than the overthought, overwrought, focus-grouped model tie-ins we see now. The IP fatigue plaguing films is worse, tenfold, at theme parks, Disney’s most of all, as a result of it’s all the time been a walk-through model train. However now the pattern is coming for my valuable bears, as a result of the attraction isn’t being closed down completely for good. As a substitute, it’s getting a whole re-Imagineering, and the brand new model will discover the bears singing country-western covers of Disney songs.

This kind of narrowing down of what counts as Disney IP is a case of Mickey Devouring His Son. If we go down this highway, fairly quickly there can be no extra Disney films left to live-action-ize. They’ll be making live-action remakes of the live-action remakes. I get {that a} Disney-music overhaul of the Nation Bears will make it far more interesting to a wider majority of fundamental parkgoers and their normie toddlers, however picturing these bears zombified, their reanimated corpses compelled to sing “Hakuna Matata,” is an excessive amount of to … bear. Why couldn’t they make an inferior attraction just like the Corridor of Presidents sing Disney songs as a substitute? I wish to see Invoice Clinton do “Beneath the Sea!”

Alas, it’s with a heavy coronary heart that I tip my hat with a raccoon protruding of it and bid a fond adieu to Freddy Fazbear’s forebears. That’ll do, Liver Lips McGrowl. That’ll do.

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