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America Sings? Main Street Electrical Parade? Bear Country? America on Parade? What New Attraction or Show do You Think was Most Impressive at Disneyland Park Between 1971 and 1975?

posted on June 24th, 2010 by Heather Hust Rivera, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, The Walt Disney Company


Have you been following our countdown to the 55th anniversary of Disneyland park? This is the 8th post in an 11-part series in which we look back at a different half-decade every week. This week, we’re looking at 1971-1975.

I spoke with my colleague and Disney Parks Blog contributor, George Savvas, and I really enjoyed hearing about one of his first memories of Disneyland park, which was largely influenced by America Sings.
America Sings
George recalls, “I came to see it on a field trip with my elementary school. It made such an impression me. I had never seen anything like it before. When I think of it now, I’m not sure I’d have ever heard many of those songs if I hadn’t seen America Sings over and over again through the years. I still remember all those songs even now! The best part was the finale – there were so many characters on stage. Every time I’m over at Innoventions I remember Sam and that school field trip – oh, and the weasel, of course.”

Before you pick the attraction that you think is the most impressive addition between 1971 and 1975, read about what else happened during these years.

1975 – Disneyland park celebrated its 20th anniversary and began a 15-month salute to the U.S.A. Bicentennial with the most elaborate parade in the park’s history – “America on Parade,” which featured 50 floats and 150 giant performers at least eight feet tall, in addition to an all-new red, white and blue fireworks spectacular “Fantasy in the Sky.” Disneyland park welcomed back Christine Vess Watkins and Michael Schwartner, the park’s first visitors in 1955. Mission to Mars, an updated version of Flight to the Moon, was an exciting journey deep into space, since man had already reached the moon in real life. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln returned to Main Street, U.S.A. as a featured part of The Walt Disney Story.

1974 – Disneyland park was featured in two televised specials, “Sandy in Disneyland” starring Sandy Duncan, in April, and “Herbie Day at Disneyland” in July. In Tomorrowland, America Sings, a humorous musical review, opened in the Carousel Theatre with a cast of 110 comical Audio-Animatronic animals singing America’s favorite heritage folk music and campfire tunes led by emcee Sam the Eagle. It replaced General Electric’s Carousel of Progress. The Main Street Electrical Parade entertained millions of summertime visitors, as did the All-American College Marching Band and a new addition, The Kids of the Kingdom. Special events included Alice in Wonderland Days, Viva Mexico, Disneyland and All That Jazz, “Herbie Rides Again” Days, and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” Days.

1973 – Disney celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney Productions with the opening of “The Walt Disney Story” in April, attended by Mrs. Walt Disney, and a special tribute October 20-21 that included special parades, a cartoon festival and complimentary posters, attended by more than 100,000 guests. Disneyland Showcase, located in Town Square, displayed models and artist renderings of new attractions planned for future expansion at the park. Special events included a Viva Mexico Salute, Star Spangled Holidays, Festival Pan American Saludos Amigos, Big Band Festival and Angels-Disneyland Fun Day. Cary Grant narrated the Christmas Candlelight Procession. General Electric’s “Carousel of Progress” closed to the public on Sept. 9 in preparation for relocation to the Walt Disney World Resort.

1972 – Disneyland park added Bear Country as a seventh land on the far corner of Frontierland. A new production of Walt Disney World, Country Bear Jamboree, was brought to Disneyland park, and new eatery Hungry Bear Restaurant opened. What was to become the most popular entertainment feature in all Disney parks, the Main Street Electrical Parade, debuted as a major summer nighttime feature with millions of tiny lights creating images from Disney animated film classics. Winnie the Pooh campaigned for president with a red-white-and-blue parade and pep rally on Main Street, U.S.A. Rock ‘n Roll Reunion sparked September entertainment with Frankie Avalon, Chuck Berry, The Drifters and The Platters. Disneyland Hotel opened a $7.2 million Convention Center with a 29,000 square-foot exhibit hall and an 18,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom.

1971 – An amazing attendance mark was recorded when Disneyland greeted its 100-millionth visitor in just under 16 years. The lucky 100-millionth guest Valerie Suldo from New Brunswick, N.J., came through the gates on June 17, launching a summer-long celebration of entertainment called “Year of One Million Smiles.” The world’s biggest New Year’s Eve party was celebrated with 23,000 guests on hand, the largest number in Disneyland history. New in Frontierland, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes were introduced as a way to see the Rivers of America. The year marked the debut of the first All-American College Marching Band. During the four-day President’s Holiday in February, the park rolled out lavish red-white-and-blue “I Am an American” ceremonies in Town Square. Sadly, the year ended with the death of Roy O. Disney on Dec. 20. Walt Disney’s brother was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions and chairman of the board.

Which of these attractions do you think made the biggest impression between 1971 and 1975? Do you have a personal favorite?

If you missed the previous 7 stories in which we looked at the milestones between 1976 and 2010, click the “Countdown to 55” tag below to get caught up.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

27 Comments

1

Fred from CA on June 24th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I loved the Country Bear Jamboree. I grew up with the Vacation Hoedown version of the show. I remember being really crushed when the show was closed 2001, but I did get to video tape it on the last day, and now thanks to video sharing sites, no Disney attraction is truly forgotten anymore.

I never actually saw America Sings in person, but I have seen videos of it, and it seemed really fun. I think its really cool that the imagineers were able to “re-cast” most of the characters for Splash Mountain.
One of my favorites bits of trivia is the fact that two of the geese from America Sings were turned into the G2 droids for the Star Tours queue.

2

Karen on June 24th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

#2 – So many great things happened during this time, except that they took out one of my favorites, the Carousel of Progress! But they did replace it with America Sings, a really cute show, that is also gone, but not forgotten, since several of the characters were “repurposed” for Splash Mountain.

I still have photos from the “America on Parade” parade and have always loved the Main Street Electrical Parade! I can’t watch it without getting teary eyed, no matter how many times I’ve seen it!

I always enjoyed the Country Bear Jamboree, no matter which “season” they were celebrating and was sad when it left Disneyland, but I always make sure we see it again, when we go to WDW!

This was the decade when I graduated from high school (1972), so it was a very special time for me for park attendance, since Disneyland was a great destination for dates and I had a couple of boyfriend CMs who worked on attractions like the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain!

All in all, some really great memories come from this decade! Thanks for the articles so far, I’ve really enjoyed them!!

3

Sheila on June 24th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

wow… this is harder than I thought! I guess I would have to say Country Bear Jamboree. I still hear those songs in my head.

Max and Buff though live on, sort of, still hanging somewhere in the Winnie the Pooh ride.

4

Catherine on June 24th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I miss Bear Country Jamboree. The show was so entertaining. I always went to see the show each visit. One of the bears looked like my Uncle Sam on my mom’s side.

5

Terri from CA on June 24th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I have seen all the rides I do miss the monsanto ride above the tomorrow land area and the one where you shrink (forgot the name) but it was great because it did not cost a ticket and we would go there when it got hot. I also miss the carousal of progress but we did catch up to what they thought would happen in the future. There are so many rides but I enjoy all the new rides and dram of the old ones. Disneyland is a great place to celebrate birthdays.

6

alyssa on June 24th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I would have to say that the best of all was the Main Street Electric Light Parade. My daughter is 10, and she loves Disneyland, but she hasn’t gotten to see this yet.

After finding out about the ELP, my daughter is suddenly more eager than ever to take our first trip to Walt Disney World! =D

7

Wanda from CA on June 24th, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I loved “America Sings” so much that I wish it woould return to Disneyland. I also loved “Country Bear Jamboree” My family would travel down to the park every two years or so when I was a teen, and we loved these attractions. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, would turn into the biggest kid and lead the way all over the park. He loved anything patriotic and instilled in his children a great love for this country. We had great times at Disneyland, and every one of these attractions was the reason why. Thanks for always making the park experience a family affair and for brining a love for our country into the experience.

8

Joseph from IL on June 24th, 2010 at 4:21 pm

So many good things were happening at that time! I certainly have fond memories of the Country Bear Jamboree (and still enjoy seeing it at WDW’s Magic Kingdom park) and America Sings (and still enjoy seeing those animatronics in Splash Mountain), but I think the most significant new attraction from this period was the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s been so influential of so many parades since (but we should acknowledge that it owes a debt to the Electrical Water Pageant from Walt Disney World’s Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon — a pageant that continues to delight guests to this day).

9

Mark on June 24th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I still miss America Sings. I will miss America Sings forever and ever amen. One reason I do enjoy visiting Splash Mountain so much is that I get to visit those old friends even if they act like they are singing about something else now.

10

Mark on June 24th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

So many wonderful things but in terms of enduring, timeless entertainment, hands down it’s the Main Street (Disney’s) Electrical Parade – I remember just how amazed I was when I saw it as a child; 25 years later I see that same wonder reflected in the eyes of my children. When we’ve traveled to Disneyland, we arrange our schedule to be able to see this timeless classic.

11

Philip on June 24th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I agree that the Country Bears’ departure from Disneyland was indeed a sad time in the park’s history.

Hope the rumors of that show resurfacing at California Adventure come to pass. It would be a perfect fit for the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area.

12

Thor from CA on June 24th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

AMERICA SINGS! I miss that show so much! I just loved it, loved it, loved it. I still can’t pick up a can of Del Monte canned fruit cocktail at the grocery store without being reminded of the America Sings hostesses in their polyester jumpsuits with the Del Monte logos sewn on them.

And the twinkly light effect as the theater revolved around from one act to the other was also a favorite. It’s a shame they haven’t put the Carousel Theater to good use since America Sings closed. What a wonderful show that was!

13

Lisa on June 24th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I remember from a very yung age America Sings, we would go once a year to see that and Bear Country Jamboree. We would anticipate the visit all year to see those attractions. I rember how devistated we were when America Sings Left. At least we still had Bear Country, my oldest daughter remembers it as a favorite. Unfortunately my yungest daughter has yet to see it. My family and I wish that America Sings and Bear Country would return to it’s original place. Some things should not be changed!

14

Marlene on June 24th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I loved “Country Bear Jamboree” My family may have only visited the park three or four times in my growing up years. Still as a teen, “Country Bear Jamboree” was my favorite. I was sadden when it closed. This would be a part of the park I would have shown my children, mom’s memories. My family is all Navy and loved anything patriotic, we love how Disneyland has kept America in and throught the park. This is America, the land that we love! God Bless her. My family to date has a great times at Disneyland, and every one of these attractions are the reason why. Thanks for always making the park experience a family affair and for brining a love for our country into the experience. God Bless

15

Chris on June 24th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I miss America Sings and Country Bears. Those were such fun shows, and were staples of my family’s yearly trips to Disneyland when I was growing up. You bring up a good point about the songs in America Sings…do kids know Yankee Doodle nowadays? I’m not sure. They would if they heard it in a Disney attraction. ; )

I too keep hoping the Bears will resurface over at DCA someday. Winnie the Pooh’s a fine ride, but it’s harder to enjoy, knowing what it replaced. = /

16

Gregory on June 24th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Easily the Main Street Electrical Parade. It is still going strong 38 years later. I can remember its early days at Disneyland, and how awe-inspiring it was. This was a sure case of getting it right on the first try.

17

Krista on June 24th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I love and have great memories of Country Bear Jamboree, America Sings and the Electric parade. I really miss Country Bear and America Sings (at least electric is back). I was really sad when Country Bear Jamboree closed most recently. I still am! The Winnie the Pooh ride that took its place is nice but it doesn’t really compare.

18

Arlene on June 24th, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Main Street Electrical Parade, hands down. All of the other attractions are memorable and have provided Disney fans the world over with happy times, myself included (I LOVE and MISS America Sings.) But I don’t think any other attraction has had as much staying power as MSEP. And no matter what happens to it in the future, it’s rightful name will always be the Main Street Electrical Parade because, quite frankly, that’s where it deserved to stay, on Disneyland’s Main Street.

19

Mary on June 24th, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Mary from Santa Barbara, CA….
I really loved them all. I will start with Bear Jamboree “Bear Country” That was this cute show that when it was really hot out we can go in there seat for about 10 min and cool off a little. America on Parade…I loved all the costumes the music and we would always get either popcorn or ice cream while watching that. America Sings was another one of those shows that you would be able to cool off if you were in tomorrowland and watch this rotating stage with the puppets and it was soooo cute!!! Then last but not least Main Street Electrical Parade…what can I say it was so magically with the lights on the floats and costumes I think this is one of my favorites since it was around the longest. The only thing I hated about that parade that was usually the last thing we did before shopping and having to drive back to Santa Barbara….I think for someone who was between 5 and 10yrs old I was impressed with all of them. I love teddy bears so of course I couldnt wait to see the Bear Jamboree show but then again all shows that were representing America with the music was amazing then Main St Eletrical was magically…as you can tell they were all my favorite so I cant choose the most impressive. Thanks again for letting me sharing my memories.

20

Julie on June 25th, 2010 at 3:03 am

1972 BEATS ALL OF THE ABOVE !!!…1972 – A new production of Walt Disney World, “Country Bear Jamboree” …(it was soooo awesome), was brought to Disneyland park. { SO SAD IT IS GONE :( } What was to become the most popular entertainment feature in all Disney parks, the “MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL LIGHT PARADE”, debuted as a major summer nighttime feature. (TOTAL EYE CANDY ! SO GLAD IT IS BACK !) Then, Rock ‘n Roll Reunion sparked September entertainment with “Frankie Avalon”, “Chuck Berry”, “The Drifters” AND “The Platters” !!! (How fantastic was that!!!?).

21

Mary from AZ on June 25th, 2010 at 3:40 am

“there is nothing like the great outdoors to ease your soul” That being said, MSELP is/was amazing. It needs to be back on Main street.
We have been taking our kids to Disneyland about three times a year since the mid 90′s. One will be leaving for college next year but still wants to go back this summer. We have done Disney world and Disney Cruise (loved it) but Disneyland and DCA are forever the favorites.

I can remember my son, at 3 years old, running hand in hand with Tigger through carnation plaza. I remember the look on his face when he saw the moose talking in Country Bear.

My daughter (at 2)for her first visit, watched Cinderella, Alice, and the dwarfs in the ELP and was enchanted.

Which attraction has more importance, it is hard to say, but the Winnie the Pooh Ride, was not done in the standards people expect from Disney now. Country Bear was a much better attraction.

I think we are all glad the ELP is back, but it needs to be the MSELP.

22

Alan from NJ on June 25th, 2010 at 10:34 am

I think America Sings was a great show. I know a lot of the characters were reused in Splash Mountain but I sure would love to see this attraction come back to Disneyland.

23

Matthew from MA on June 25th, 2010 at 11:09 am

The Main Street Electrical Parade all the way!! The best parade ever created and still going strong!!

24

Heather from CA on June 26th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Tie: America Sings and Country Bear Jamboree, both of which I wish were still in the park. :(

25

Tim on June 28th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

The Main Street Electrical Parade all the way!

26

Amie from UT on June 29th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

My vote goes to the Main Street Electrical Parade. Although the animatronics for Country Jamboree were impressive during this time, I would think that the parade brought in more trafic at the parks. Not to mention, it is one of my very favorite attractions!

27

Amie from UT on June 29th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

In addition, I agree with Phillip (on June 24.) Country Bear Jamboree would make an excellent addition to DCA’s Grizzley Peak Recreation Area.

27 Comments