Disneyland’s Critter Country has been a popular destination for young and old alike since it was renamed in 1988. Before becoming Critter Country the area hosted many popular Disneyland attractions. For sixteen years after the opening of Disneyland in 1955 the section of Frontierland that is now Critter Country was the site of an Indian village where tribes people performed native dances, practiced crafts and demonstrated various customs, including war canoes. The Indian War Canoes still ply the Rivers of America as Davie Crockett’s Explorer Canoes.
In 1972 the area became Disneyland’s seventh themed area named Bear Country. The new “land” featured the Country Bear Jamboree. The Country Bear Jamboree had been a huge hit the previous year at the opening of Disney World in Orlando. Disneyland doubled capacity by building two identical theaters for the show featuring animatronics bears singing and playing traditional country instruments like a washtub bass and jug.
When it opened the attraction was so popular that visitors needed “E” coupons, the highest level of Disneyland tickets. Amazingly cheap by today’s standards, the “E” coupon originally cost 85 cents for adults and 75 cents for children and admitted holders to all of Disneyland’s top attractions. The attraction eventually closed in 2001 to make room for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. Despite the attraction being closed at Disneyland, Disney released The Country Bears movie in 2002.
When news of the closing of the Country Bears to make room for Winnie The Pooh first became public many Disneyland fans voiced their frustration at losing what they consider a classic Disneyland attraction. Park management went ahead with the changes and aggressively promoted the new ride. Upon opening the ride it had relatively long lines but they quickly dropped off. The ride now usually has one of the shortest lines in the park, even on busy days. While often criticized by Disneyland aficionados, it is popular with younger children and three talking animal heads from the Country Bears show are still entertaining visitors in the Pooh ride.
In 1988, prior to the opening of Splash Mountain, the name of Bear Country was changed to Critter Country. By the late 80’s the attendance in Bear Country had dwindled because popular of rides in other areas of the park. Disney Imagineers were tasked to develop an attraction that would bring people back to what had been a popular area of the park. At the time Bear country had become deserted as people headed to other attractions like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Haunted Mansion.
When it was opened, Splash Mountain was one of the most expensive rides ever built by Disney, costing $75 million. To try and save money the attraction reused some of the animatronics from the America Sings attraction in the first part of the ride. Today the wild Splash Mountain water flume ride is a huge hit and must-see part of any visit to Disneyland.