Friday, May 4, 2012

Frontierland Hoedown

Many people look at the entertainment offered at Walt Disney World today as relatively dull, but there is one offering that has proven to be an everlasting piece of the Magic Kingdom. That offering is the Frontierland Hoedown, which has been a part of the park for many years in a variety of forms (check out Disney Parks' video on the Frontierland Hoedown).

In the latest variation, which debuted in 2010, entertainment Cast Members dressed in costumes from Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pecos Bills, and Frontierland Merchandise wander their way towards Country Bear Jamboree. When the music begins to play, a couple of Cast Members jump into the middle of the walkway and begin to dance. As the song continues, more and more Cast Members join in the hoedown. Even rare Disney characters such as Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabell Cow, Big Al, Wendell, and other Country Bears will join in the fun. The fantastic cast and character interaction is one of the many reasons why it's become a guest favorite.

Today I want to focus specifically on the songs featured in the Frontierland Hoedown. The performance is made up of four unique songs, most which play a previous or current role at Walt Disney World. It all begins with the song Devil's Dream, then onto the classic Rocky Top, followed by Hokey Pokey, and the final song is Come Again. Before jumping right into these songs, here is a video of the current Frontierland Hoedown from my friend Jeff Lange:


Devil's Dream is what begins begins the entire hoedown. The song is a classic fiddle tune from the 1800s, but doesn't have any credited creator. It's very possible that the music was originally from England, but made much more popular in America over the years. The actual variation used in the Frontierland Hoedown is a bit tricky to track down, but let's see whats out there.

The track used in the park sounds very similar to the version by Felix Slatkin (1915-1963), which is embedded below. There is a slight difference in the instruments after the first sequence when comparing the two. If you listen between :10 and :13 in the park video, it sounds like a flute or similar instrument. That same part in Slatkin's version (:27 - :32) features a banjo. Perhaps there is a different variation that Slatkin created? Or maybe the in-park version was recorded specially for the Frontierland Hoedown? Take a listen  to Slatkin's version and judge for yourself (song ends at 1:45):

This is not the first time that Devil's Dream has appeared in Walt Disney World. In 1975, there was a televised special called Welcome to the "World". This special was to help promote Walt Disney World and the grand opening of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. Among the hosts were Lucie Arnaz, Lyle Waggoner, and Tommy Tune. The later of the bunch, Tommy Tune, is where Devil's Dream comes into play. A special dance sequence in the show has Tommy Tune tapping his feet all over Walt Disney World, even on top of the Southern Seas  excursion steamer (which is featured in this blogs' logo)! The song playing in the background is none other than Devil's Dream. You can watch this sequence, which showcases the fantastic Vacation Kingdom in the 70s, right here (starts at 13:13):


The next song in the performance is Rocky Top. It was written in 1967 by husband and wife songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and first performed by the Osborne Brothers later that same year. Since then it has been recorded hundreds of times and is even one of Tennessee's official state songs. The song itself is about the loss of a simpler life, perfect for the setting of Frontierland. Below is a video of the Osborne Brothers performing Rocky Top.

The Frontierland Hoedown isn't the only place where you can currently hear Rocky Top at Walt Disney World. Over at EPCOT you will find the amazingly talented a cappella group, Voices of Liberty. They also ocasionally perform their own variation of this classic song during their show. Who knows, perhaps they will also sing Rocky Top when Voices of Liberty debuts at Disneyland later this year.

If you visited the Magic Kingdom between 1986 and 1992, chances are you may have heard Rocky Top before. The Country Bear Vacation Hoedown, which ran between those years, featured a variety of country songs, and among them was Rocky Top. The song in the show was sang by The 5 Bear Rugs which consists of Zeke, Zeb, Ted, Fred, and Tennessee. Tokyo Disneyland still features a variation of this show for the summer months called Vacation Jamboree. Their show includes several differences, such as the removal of Rocky Top and other song changes. Here is an audio clip of The 5 Bear Rugs performing Rocky Top (begins at 8:20):

Zeb: Wish that I was on ole Rocky Top.

Tennessee: Down in the Tennessee hills.

Zeke: Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top.

Tennessee: Ain't no telephone bills.

Five Bear Rugs:
Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top,
dirt's too rocky by far.
That's why all them folks on Rocky Top,
get their corn from a jar.
Rocky Top, you'll always be,
home sweet home to me.
Good ole Rocky Top.
Rocky Top Tennessee.
Rocky Top Tennessee.


We all know Hokey Pokey, so let's skip over it and jump right to the final song, Come Again. This song was written by Tom Adair & George Bruns for Walt Disney World's Country Bear Jamboree which debuted with the park on October 1, 1971. George Burns, who was named a Disney Legend in 2001 (18 years after his death), worked on iconic Disney music and songs such as the score for Herbie The Love Bug and the song Yo Ho A Pirate's Life For Me, which he co-wrote with X Antencio. Tom Adair previously worked with George Bruns in 1959 on a couple of songs for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Both came together again to write this farewell song, which plays while guests exit Grizzly Hall. You can listen to it beginning at 4:40 in the video below.

Henry: Well, folks, this concludes our show. So thanks for "bear"ing with us to the "bear" end, and "bear"-el around to see us again. What do you say, Sammy?

Sammy: I say you all come back, ya hear?

Henry, Sammy, Melvin, Buff, & Max: We hope that you'll be coming back again.
That you'll drop in and see us now and then.
We've done our very best to please.
With just the "bear" necessities.
We hope that you'll be coming back again.

Come again.
Come again.

Melvin: The welcome mat is always out,
'Cause seeing you is fun.

All: We hope that you'll be coming back again.
That you'll drop in to see us now and then.

Max: We've had such fun, we're going to cry.

Buff: We just can't "bear" to say goodbye.

All: We hope that you'll be coming back again.

Buff: Y'all come back, ya hear?

Max: Don't forget to gather your belongings.

Melvin: And you husbands, too.
It's been good to have you.

Buff: So long, folks.


As you can tell, the Frontierland Hoedown combines some historically classic songs with today's popularity of "flash mobs", but in a way that is not obtrusive to the area. It has taken many different forms throughout the years and chances are, it will continue to evolve into many variations for years to come. Everyone loves to see what appears to be ordinary everyday Cast Members out dancing with rare Disney characters. It's an amazing opportunity for everyone to have a great time, whether you're dancing along or watching from the sidelines. Next time you see the Frontierland Hoedown, make sure to remember Tommy Tune tappin' his feet through 70's Walt Disney World. It may not be the wildest ride in the wilderness, but it's certainly the wildest hoedown in Frontierland.

This ain't all for Frontierland! Keep an eye out in the comin' weeks for a new series "Textures of the Magic Kingdom", with Frontierland being the first in the installment!

No comments:

Post a Comment