First Look At Disney World’s Revamped Country Bear Jamboree, Including New Nashville-Centric Voice Cast Mac McAnally, Allison Russell, Chris Thile, Emily Ann Roberts

First Look At Disney World’s Revamped Country Bear Jamboree, Including New Nashville-Centric Voice Cast Mac McAnally, Allison Russell, Chris Thile, Emily Ann Roberts

The Country Bears have had a makeover. The long-running Country Bear Jamboree attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida is reopening this month after being dark for six months, with a familiar look but a new name, a new script and a new score made up mostly of classic Disney songs sung by Americana musicians including Mac McAnally, Allison Russell, Chris Thile and Emily Ann Roberts.

The newly renamed “Country Bear Musical Jamboree” now has McAnally, a country singer-songwriter who is most widely known for being a decades-long mainstay of Jimmy Buffett’s band, serving as the producer and arranger of all the musical material for the revamped attraction. He also sings country-fied versions of “Bare Necessities” (from “The Jungle Book”) and “Fixer-Upper” (from “Frozen”) as a member of the voice cast.

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Recent Americana Grammy winner Russell is the voice of Teddi Barra, joined by Thile — the Nickel Creek/Punch Brothers member and former “Live From Here” radio host — as Wendell, in a twangy duet of “A Whole New World” (from “Aladdin”).

The voice of Trixie St. Claire, on “Try Everything” (from “Zootopia”), is Emily Ann Roberts, an east Tennessee native whose debut album came out last fall and who has been opening for Blake Shelton on tour. She has also been featured as part of CMT’s Next Women of Country initiative.

“Come Again,” the closing number, which dates back to 1971, is the only song left over from the previous iteration of the attraction… possibly saddening legacy fans still partial to “Blood on the Saddle.” Along with the selection of songs from classic Disney movies, there is one newly penned number, an opening theme song, “Country Bear Musical Jamboree.”

Said McAnally in a statement, ““I first saw the Country Bears as a teenage musician and it bolstered my pride in the acoustic musical heritage of the rural South. I next saw the show with my own kids and sat amongst multiple generations of families from all over and felt that common bond that lasts a lifetime. It is my great blessing to get to be a part of the continuation of the tradition and I have done my best to honor the spirit of the Bears and the great Disney songbook as well as the heart and soul that runs through the veins of country music. And just maybe it explains why I’ve been singing in a Bear voice for several decades before this opportunity came up.”

Although the music and scripting is new, the character design does not mess much with what Disney fans know, although some who have already caught the attractions in previews have commented that the animatronic motion seems smoother in the update.

The official opening is set for July 17, although there has already been a media preview and soft opening that have garnered plenty of commentary on Disney blogs and social media, with mostly favorable feedback about the update, aside from nostalgic laments missing the classic Country Bear songs and patter.

The previous version of Country Bear Jamboree had its final day on January 27 of this year.

The Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland in southern California opened a year after the Florida iteration in 1972 but closed down in 2001, a year that shall go down in infamy. Oddly, the closure came just a year before Disney released the live-action 2002 film “The Country Bears.” A third version of the attraction is still running at Tokyo Disneyland, after opening in 1983.

The lineup of songs now being featured in the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland area:

“Country Bear Musical Jamboree” – a new original song written for the attraction
· “Try Everything” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia”
· “Kiss the Girl” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “The Little Mermaid”
· “A Whole New World” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Aladdin”
· “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Walt Disney Studios’ “Mary Poppins”
· “Fixer-Upper” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen”
· “Remember Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ “Coco”
· “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ “Toy Story”
· “Bare Necessities” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “The Jungle Book”
· “Come Again” – an original song that debuted with Country Bear Jamboree in 1971

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