“it’s a small world” has been honoring various countries for nearly 50 years. The great nations of the world have found a home here in Mr. Disney’s iconic contribution to the 1964 New York World’s Fair – a world of worlds with a song in its soul and the collaborative artistic identity of Mary Blair, Alice Davis, Rolly Crump, and of course the (here infamous) Sherman Brothers.
I’ve recently noticed another unsung Country getting its due tribute under the gleaming gold and white spires. In fact, it’s the first Country we sail through – befitting, as it is Disneyland’s very own Country: Bear Country!
|Buffalo and Moose and Deer and Bears, oh my!|
It seems as though we embark for our cruise around the world straight into a bank of nostalgia. Here our old friends from the Country Bear Jamboree are silently perched to remind us of another musical community which once claimed land only a few strides away. This Country may not have had a flag, United Nations rep., or rainforest-plowing cornfields (*groan*)… But it certainly had its share of anthems, not to mention a bear-y special place in Disneyland’s history as well as our hearts.
|Wishin’ bout goin’ fishin’, and still on the shore.|
As many of you know, the folks at Disneyland have made a rolling tradition out of reiterating a former attraction’s glory with an enigmatic homage found in its replacement. (I say this with some trepidation because I feel that if the attraction is really worth such an honor then it shouldn’t have been scrapped so flippantly in the first place…) After the Country Bear Jamboree (1972-2001) made its final curtain call we were “treated” to a bleak “nod” inside the catacombs of the Winnie the Pooh “attraction”. The three gaping heads of Max, Buff, and Melvin are stuffed unceremoniously on a back wall. Once lustered singing trophies, they now resemble decapitated taxidermy… I’ll say it again, these homages are bittersweet at best.
However, the topiary statues at “it’s a small world” feel like a more dignified honor. These west side residents – bears, trophy heads… and skunk! - are sorely missed (much more, it seems, than most other defunct Disneyland attractions) and deserve such respect. Now... I'll reluctantly admit that the topiaries could be a coincidence, but if folks'll bend over backwards to identify three adjacent circles as a 'Hidden Mickey', then I think we can all make room on our score card for this fuzzy find. So next time you sail around our small world, be sure to give a duteous (non-standing) salute to the great musical nation of Bear Country!
Alright... One, Two, Three..!