Over the years I’ve tried to be pretty careful about which rumors around the Disney community I’ve repeated and added commentary to on this site. There are so many rumors floated around on various sites and podcasts and half of them don’t come true. Because of that, I don’t bring many to this site unless I see them confirmed by several sites or writers I especially trust. I say all of this because today I’m breaking that rule and going to write a few thoughts on the rumor that the Country Bears will be leaving Magic Kingdom in favor of a new Toy Story (Woody’s Roundup) show in the same location. Here’s a link to the original rumor.
Frankly, my main reason for writing about this is because the rumor struck a nerve. I love the Country Bears and would be very frustrated if Disney chose to go the route of replacing this attraction for Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Reading internet comments (never a good idea) frustrated me nearly as much as the rumor. So, here we are with some commentary about a rumor that I’m hoping will never come true. In this post, I’m going to give five thoughts on why the rumor and potential change shouldn’t happen.
Before we get to that I do want to drive home that this idea of a Toy Story show replacing the Country Bears is strictly a rumor right now. At this point, labeling the initial article click bait may be fair. Aspects of the rumor do make sense as Disney has been putting an emphasis on adding IP to the parks and taking out attractions that don’t connect to a current Disney movie. No, I’m not counting that disaster of a Country Bears movie as something the company cares about. This paragraph is mainly here to remind you to not count on any ‘projects’ happening until Disney confirms or announces them.
Now, for the five (I could do plenty more) reasons why this rumor and project shouldn’t come to pass. I’m going to try to keep this from just being a Country Bears love fest, that’s a post I’m sure you all will look forward to in the coming weeks/months/years. Instead, I’m going to dive into why this doesn’t make sense for Magic Kingdom and Disney World as a whole. Let’s get to it!
This Doesn’t Make Sense Logistically
We’ll start with a reason that is frankly kind of boring. Country Bear Jamboree plays to a crowd that’s generally 50-75% full, depending on the time you go. The theater isn’t very big, nor is the lobby (waiting area) for the attraction. Country Bear Theater sits in a fairly crowded section of Frontierland, where the parade passes by and the path isn’t very wide. I’ve seen the area bottleneck from time to time. I’m not sure that the theater and area has the capacity necessary for a new show, provided that the show is popular. If there isn’t adequate space for guests to wait for the next show (or the show after) then the crowds will spill out into the streets in Frontierland, causing a crowd flow headache.
I understand that Country Bear Jamboree isn’t as popular as it used to be and Disney would rather have the theater full all the time. The reality is that theme parks need attractions here and there that you can get into easily and without a wait. There are shows that have smaller theaters and aren’t supposed to be headliners, instead acting as strong supporting attractions. Country Bear Jamboree is exactly that.
Does This Make Sense Thematically?
Adding a Toy Story show in the middle of Frontierland isn’t the worst idea I’ve heard but that doesn’t mean it should happen. Woody is a cowboy and Frontierland is the old west, I get that. There are certainly worse thematic fits out there than this potential one. I still think the idea is strange though. Perhaps it’s because I can only picture one of my favorite attractions in this spot but I’ve never felt Toy Story, even the Woody’s Round-Up aspect, feels like the old west. Adding in a show that could cause logistical headaches while being less of a fit thematically doesn’t make much sense. That’s not to say Disney hasn’t done it lately but I’m hoping it’s not a trend.
Too Much Toy Story
There are already 4 Toy Story attractions, a counter-service restaurant, and an upcoming table-service restaurant in Walt Disney World. I know the IP-trend Disney is on but this seems like overkill. The Toy Story franchise is great and a landmark for the Disney company. But there isn’t another franchise that gets anywhere near this representation in the park. On top of that, none of the Toy Story pieces of entertainment are ground-breaking. Do we really need another small-scale show to add to the list? There are other Pixar films that are better, in my opinion. There are classic Disney films that don’t have their own rides or shows. Toy Story is fine as is, I don’t think Walt Disney World needs more of it.
Walt Disney World Needs To Expand Not Replace
If you have been in Magic Kingdom over the last few years then I’m guessing you have noticed that the crowd situation isn’t the best. Even though there is ample room in some areas, the park attracts so many people that it can be an unpleasant experience. There aren’t enough rides or shows in Magic Kingdom to hold all of the people. Over the last few years, Disney has done a good job of adding things. Tron is coming to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios both will welcome new expansions very soon. Unfortunately, there has been a decent amount of replacing too.
Hollywood Studios, even with new additions, will have seen more attractions and shows close over the last decade than it will have opened. Magic Kingdom has remained largely stagnant over the last five years despite the influx of crowds. I don’t think the idea behind this show is all that bad (qualms with theme and too much Toy Story aside) but there’s a large restaurant a few steps away that is unpopular and has a large capacity. Take the Diamond Horseshoe and turn it into this Toy Story idea, or better yet something else. It’s time to stop replacing attractions and shows when the resort desperately needs to keep expanding due to the amount of people that visit the resort.
Keep Walt Disney World Weird
My last reason actually has to do with the Country Bears. To lay out my reason we’ll take a page from Toy Story’s parent company, Pixar. Like most people, I thoroughly enjoy most Pixar movies. One of my favorite aspects of Pixar movies is how there is seemingly at least one really weird scene in seemingly all of the movies. Weird is meant as a compliment here. In the original Toy Story there was the scene with Sid’s broken toys surrounding Woody. Inside Out features the abstract thought scene. Ratatouille has many strange scenes. Nearly every Pixar film has one of these moments. Sometimes they are there as a storytelling device. Sometimes these scenes are there for the artistry. Other times I think they are there just to be weird. They are never the most memorable moment of the film but they typically enhance the movie in one way or another.
The Disney Parks need this element too. I understand that Country Bear Jamboree is old and the humor isn’t for everyone. When it debuted, the show poked fun of country music at the time and that doesn’t necessarily translate anymore (although I think you can still make a case that it does). But one thing that has lasted is that the show is pretty strange and unpolished. Again, I mean that as a compliment.
There aren’t many moments in Magic Kingdom like (and very few in Disney World) Big Al interrupting the gang with “Blood on the Saddle” and the whole sequence devolves into chaos. Frankly, it’s a style of comedy that Disney hardly does anymore outside of the Muppets. The show, at the very least, will leave guests scratching their heads and saying, “Well, that was weird.” Not everyone will get the humor or even enjoy the show but that’s fine. With theme parks going to these hyper-detailed and polished lands I think there needs to be attractions and shows like this to balance it. Theme parks need the weird movie scene played out. While Country Bear Jamboree is just one example of that (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a scene or two in Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage come to mind) it would be a shame to lose that especially in the park where the attraction made it’s debut.
Those are just a few thoughts on why Country Bear Jamboree shouldn’t be replaced. I didn’t even dive into CBJ being an opening day Magic Kingdom attraction and replacing it for the 50th anniversary would be a perplexing choice. I’m hoping that the rumor doesn’t hold any water and we never hear another word about it.
What are your thoughts on this rumor? Let us know, along with any Disney questions you might have, in the comments below. Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can do all of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!
Categories: Rumors and Commentary