Country Bear Christmas Special

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The Country Bear Christmas Special was a holiday version of the Country Bear Jamboree attraction at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort. The show premiered at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland during the 1984 holiday season due to overwhelming popularity of the original shows' success. The show also premiered at Tokyo Disneyland as Jingle Bell Jamboree in 1988.

The Country Bear Christmas Special was the first time an attraction at any Disney theme park became interchangeable during the year.

At the Disneyland Resort, the Christmas special stopped in 2000 as the Country Bear Playhouse closed on September 9, 2001. At Disney World, the Christmas special stopped in 2005 for reasons that include copyright issues with some of the songs performed in the show such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (song). It's been rumored that it might return in the future.

Characters[edit]

Because the show was a Christmas special, the characters in the show were put into holiday outfits for their various acts.

Bears[edit]

Henry-The "ringmaster" of the show, Henry was a welcoming and friendly brown bear. He wore a grey top hat with a red trim and a light green scarf. In some parts of the show, he played a yellow guitar. He was voiced by Pete Renaday.

Liver-Lips McGrowl-Liver Lips was perhaps the funniest-looking bear. He was a brown bear who got his name from his very large lips. He became an Elvis impersonator in this show, wearing an Elvis-style Santa suit with gold chains around his neck and wears a fancy ring. In this show, he played a Christmas tree-shaped electric guitar and was voiced by Imagineer Dave Durham.

Wendell-Wendell was a brown bear with a massive overbite and buck teeth. He carried a squirrel gun, which he accidentally fired a couple of times throughout the show. He wore a hunter's hat and jacket. In this show, he was voiced by Dave Durham.

Teddi Berra-Teddi Berra was a unique bear because she never appeared onstage. Instead, she descended from a hole in the ceiling on her swing. She was a brown bear who held a pair of skis, had a cast on her leg and was dressed in ski gear. She was voiced by Genia Fuller.

Ernest-Ernest was a brown bear who played the fiddle. He wore a beanie cap and sweater with a trim in the middle with reindeers. There was also a sled next to him. He was voiced by Mike Weston.

Terrence-A tall bear who played a guitar. In this show, he wore a scarf and earmuffs and had white fur to resemble a polar bear. He was also joined by a penguin encased in ice. His singing voice was provided by Harry Middlebrooks.

Trixie-Trixie was a very large brown bear who wore a blue bow on her head, a blue tutu around her waist, a pair of skates hanging from her neck and held a pair of mittens in one hand and a mistletoe in another. She was voiced by Suzanne Sherwin.

Big Al-Big Al was the fattest bear. He was grey with a light grey belly and played the guitar. In this show, he was dressed as Baby New Year (sash and diapers (diapers only used in the U.S.version) and wore an icepack and a party hat on his head. A banner hung above him. His voice was provided by Peter Klimes.

The Sun Bonnet Trio

  • Bunny-Bunny stood in the center of the stage. Because she and her sisters were triplets, they all had brown fur. She wore a green hood and sweater with her name on it. She was voiced by Dianne Michelle.
  • Bubbles-Bubbles stood to the audience's left between Gomer and Bunny. She wore a red hood and sweater with her name on it. She was voiced by Lori Johnson.
  • Beulah-Beulah stood to the audience's right. She wore a red hood and sweater with her name on it. She was voiced by Holaday Mason.

Gomer-Gomer never sang, but instead played his piano, which had a small Christmas tree on top of it and Christmas decorations. He was considered Henry's right-hand bear. He was tall and brown and wore a heavy winter coat and sunglasses.

The Five Bear Rugs

  • Zeke-Considered the leader of The Five Bear Rugs, Zeke played a banjo and tapped on the dishpan with "a real ol' country beat". He was a grey bear with glasses who wore a black hat with snow on top of it and yellow scarf. He was voiced by Harry Middlebrooks.
  • Zeb-Zeb was brown bear with a light brown stomach. He played the fiddle as well and wore a bandana around his neck and a winter hat. His feet were in a hot bucket of water, due to having a cold, and sneezed several times throughout the show. He was voiced by Curt Wilson (speaking) and Rod Burton (singing).
  • Ted-Ted was a tall, skinny bear who blew on the cornjug and played the washboard. His fur was brown and he wore a white vest and a red Santa Claus hat.
  • Fred-The biggest of The Five Bear Rugs, Fred ironically played the smallest instrument: the mouth harp. He was a brown bear and wore blue jeans held up with red suspenders as well as a red Santa Claus hat and a green tie with a candy cane on it.
  • Tennessee-Tennessee played the "Thing", which had only one string. He was brown and wore a hunter's jacket and red hat. His now-deep voice was provided by Lee Dresser.

Baby Oscar-Oscar appeared with The Five Bear Rugs, but played no instrument. He was a brown bear and always had his teddy bear to keep him company. Oscar wore white earmuffs and red boots and held a candy cane. His teddy bear had a tag with his name on it.

Rufus-Rufus was not a performer, but instead ran the projections and lights. He was never seen, but could be heard from time to time running backstage, constantly out of breath.

Other animals[edit]

Buff-Buff was considered the leader of the animal heads and was also the largest. He was the head portion of an American bison, wore a red Santa Claus hat and was voiced by Disney legend Thurl Ravenscroft.

Max-Max was the head portion of a whitetail buck. In this show, he had a small red light bulb sitting on his snout, making him look a bit like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He was voiced by Mike West.

Melvin- Melvin was the bull moose head of the animal head trio. He often made good-natured jokes and, in this show, he had lots of Christmas lights hanging on his antlers. He was voiced by Frank Welker.

Sammy-Sammy was Henry's raccoon pal, who cuddled around Henry's top hat. He acted like a coonskin cap for Henry. He wore a piece of a Christmas leaf next to his right ear. He was voiced by Bob Gardner.

Show[edit]

The show included many different traditional Christmas carols, more modern songs, and original Christmas "bear-ols" all sung by the bears in a country twang.

The show began as always with Buff, Max, and Melvin. As the three argued over who got to sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", Henry appeared onstage and began the show.

Songs[edit]

American version:

  • "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Melvin
  • "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" - Henry and Gomer
  • "Tracks in the Snow" - The 5 Bear Rugs and Henry
  • "12 Days of Christmas (Oh What a Christmas)" - Wendell
  • "The Hibernating Blues" - Trixie
  • "Deck the Halls" - The 5 Bear Rugs
  • "Rock and Roll Santa" - Liver Lips McGrowl and Gomer
  • "Blue Christmas" - Terrence (with his penguin)
  • "Sleigh Ride" - The Sun Bonnets, Melvin, Buff, and Max
  • "Hungry as a Bear" - Ernest and The 5 Bear Rugs
  • "The Christmas Song" - Henry and Teddi Barra
  • "Another New Year" - Big Al
  • "Let It Snow/ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/ Winter Wonderland" - Cast (except Ernest & Trixie as she was on the opposite side of the performing Henry and Ernest was opposite Big Al's stage)

Japanese version:

  • "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Melvin (sung in Japanese)
  • "Jingle Bells" - Henry and Gomer(sung in Japanese)
  • "Tracks in the Snow" - The 5 Bear Rugs and Henry (sung in Japanese)
  • "12 Days of Christmas (Oh What a Christmas)" - Wendell (sung in Japanese)
  • "Merry Little Christmas" - Trixie (sung in English)
  • "Deck the Halls" - The 5 Bear Rugs (sung in Japanese)
  • "Rock and Roll Santa" - Liver Lips McGrowl and Gomer (sung in English)
  • "Blue Christmas" - Terrence (with his penguin) (sung in Japanese)
  • "Sleigh Ride" - The Sun Bonnets, Melvin, Buff, and Max (sung in English)
  • "Hungry as a Bear" - Ernest and The 5 Bear Rugs (sung in Japanese)
  • "The Christmas Song" - Henry and Teddi Barra (sung in English)
  • "Auld Lang Syne" - Big Al (sung in English)
  • "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town/ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/ Winter Wonderland" - Cast (except Ernest & Trixie as she was on the opposite side of the performing Henry and Ernest was opposite Big Al's stage) (sung in Japanese until Winter Wonderland which was in English).

Trivia[edit]

Until 1988, the show ended with the following dialogue from Buff, Max, and Melvin:

MELVIN: Well, I think we did just fine!

MAX: You would!

BUFF: If you two don't straighten up, I'm gonna pull the plug on both of you! Now say goodbye!

MAX & MELVIN: So long, everybody!

BUFF: Happy holidays!

For unknown reasons, this bit of dialogue was cut from the show.

Even though Big Al sang a parody of Auld Lang Syne in Tokyo's version of the show, it had never been heard on New Year's Eve in Tokyo as they always reverted to the original show in both theaters the Saturday before New Year's.

References[edit]