Sunday, December 11, 2011

History of WDW: Country Bears Jamboree- Christmas Overlay

In keeping with the season I thought it would be a good idea to look at something that for a long time helped signify the upcoming holiday season, and seems to be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to have seen it.

Ever since its beginning on opening day October 1, 1971 the Country Bear Jamboree has not only thrilled but captivated audiences by its use of great characters, and audio animatronics. This show is still much like it was on opening day, and still seems to bring in the audiences daily.

At and around 1984 (conveniently the same year Michael Eisner and Frank Wells took over the company) it was decided that a change must be made to the Country Bear Jamboree to keep it fresh. A decision was made and during the holiday season of 1984, the Country Bear Jamboree Christmas Special was born.

Billed as an escape from the regular show, the Jamboree is very similar to the original show. It features the same cuts and characters, meaning that they never had to rearrange the setups behind the stage, and the characters are all the same, except that now they are dressed for christmas. The Five Bear Rugs continue to play in the center stage, playing "Tracks in the Snow", "Deck the Halls" and "Hungry as a Bear". It also features Terrence singing "Blue Christmas" (while he is freezing, and receiving no help form his penguin counterpart) and an argument between Max and Melvin over who should be singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" (considering that Max has a red lightbulb on his nose.

The show featured mostly the same voice actors as the original, like Pete Renaday as Henry, and Thurl Ravenscroft playing Buff and had a very festive sort of feeling. The highlight of the show is Rufus. He is completely unseen, however when Wendell's gun goes off and blows the light it is Rufus who has to huff and puff up (or down) flights of stairs to "give me some light"as Henry puts it. If that is not the highlight of the show then seeing Big Al in a diaper singing "Another New Year" has to be it.

Sadly in 2005the show was taken off of the Holiday agenda and the original incarnation of the show has remained on the docket ever since. Many attribute the Castle "Dreamlights" as the reason that the budget did not allow them to do the conversion of the Country Bears, but that is only a rumor, and it seems to be a bit unbelievable. As it stands this season the show did not return however there seems to be hope of this one day returning to the Magic Kingdom as it is only an overlay project, and takes only a few weeks to create. We may yet see the Country Bears Chrismtas Special yet. If you would like to view it there is a video here:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas in Walt Disney World

Sorry it has been sometime since I last posted, but with the upcoming and recently past holidays I have found myself engulfed with work and things that have kept me from the blog... However...

Having been to Disney World on many occasions during the holiday season, I have found that it truly is a magical place to be a part of. It is an amazing sight to see some of the decorations as well as some of the changes made during this magical time. If you ever have the opportunity to go, do yourself a favor and try. It is an experience that you will never forget. There is so much to do and see there, and here are just a few:

1. Cinderella's Castle "Dreamlights"- instituted around 2005-06, this sight during Wishes is something that has been captivating guests since the first lighting. Explanation cannot tell the entire story, but a picture can speak a thousand words.

2. The Magic, Memories, and You- Disney has added a holiday overlay to this Wishes pre-show. Look for the 25th anniversary "birthday cake" castle image during the presentation.

3. Mickey's Verry Merry Christmas Party- This hard ticket event runs from just after Thanksgiving through Christmas and includes "snow" on Main Street, a special Holiday parade and fireworks show, plus cookies and hot chocolate.

4. The filming of the Christmas Day parade- A favorite that I have been a part of usually occurs on the first Saturday in December. Be prepared to lose most of your day, but if you play your cards right, people may call you on Christmas Day asking if you are in Disney World at that moment.

5. Epcot's Candlelight Processional- Event that occurs many times throughout the holiday season in the American Gardens Theatre and is narrated by a host of celebrities. This years list includes Marlee Matlin, Neil Patrick Harris, Lorraine Bracco, and Blair Underwood on Christmas day.

6. World Showcase Christmas- Each Country represented does special presentations and decorations to show how there culture celebrates the holidays

7. Illuminations Overlay- An addition at the end of Illuminations helps to add to the holiday spirit.

8. Osborne Spectacle of "Dancing" Lights- Over 3 million lights adorn the Streets of America each night during the season. This has been plussed each year, and now there is a string of songs that is played every 5-10  minutes that the lights "dance" to. Try to see it when they play Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas- Sarajevo"

9. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade- An Animal Kingdom style Christmas parade plusses the traditional parade in the park during the season.

10. The Resorts and Downtown- Each resort is decorated in its own way for Christmas. From the Gingerbread houses to the giant tree in the Wilderness Lodge, each resort has its own style of Christmas decorating befitting their theme. Also Downtown Disney is fully in the spirit of the time as people shop till they drop for the big day.

There is plenty to get us in the mood in Disney World during the holidays, and the beauty is if you head down there before the holidays you can experience this without the ridiculous crowds. Trust me I am a fan, but Disney World is the last place I want to be on Christmas Day. However, I have seen everything those people have seen, with crowds at least half the size. Put this on the bucket list of things to do. Mark it down.