November 1988 – present
Critter Country has been Disneyland’s problem child since 1956. In the beginning, it wasn’t Critter Country at all – the space was an extension of Frontierland called Indian Village, and housed Native American shows and attractions, including dances and canoeing. But the land wasn’t very popular among park guests, and Disney soon turned back to the drawing board to find a better use for the space.
From 1971-1972, the area underwent an extensive overhaul and became Bear Country. This new land celebrated the forests of the Pacific Northwest, with the now-closed Country Bear Jamboree as its centerpiece. But before long, guests were bored by Bear Country, and with extremely low attendance, Imagineers needed to find the land a headline attraction. So in 1988, the land was finally dubbed “Critter Country” to celebrate the opening of Splash Mountain, a ride based on the all but forgotten Disney animation Song of the South.
Today, Critter Country is a fun-loving, kid-friendly stop in the park offering a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of busier lands. Often overlooked because of its corner location, Critter Country is a great place to grab a bite to eat or brave the drop into the briar patch!
Follow the path along the Rivers of America, past the Haunted Mansion, and you’ll stumble across Critter Country. Placed strategically at the front is Splash Mountain, and the path into Critter Country offers excellent views of park guests screaming as they make the 53-foot plunge. Beyond the massive mountain you’ll find The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and nestled in the corner by the water is a cute and cozy outdoor restaurant.
Critter Country is adorable, and cute decorative accents pop up everywhere: little hanging lanterns, antique signs, and carved statues of forest creatures. Imagineers took great care in creating a homey atmosphere in Critter Country, so take some time to admire your surroundings before you leave!
CHARACTERS YOU MAY ENCOUNTER
- Winnie the Pooh
- Br’er Bear (rare)
- Br’er Fox (rare)
- The Briar Patch
- Pooh Corner
Every year, Disneyland cast members participate in a race on Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes.
Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner wanted Splash Mountain to be a mostly, if not entirely, dry ride. He wanted guests to ride through a water tunnel instead of a giant drop, but was ultimately overruled by the Disney staff and Imagineers.
If you get cold feet waiting for Splash Mountain, Imagineers have built in 3 “chicken exits”. They are located right past the entrance, at the turnstiles, and at the loading area.
Since Critter Country is tucked away in a corner of the park, it’s never as busy as the lands located directly off Main Street USA. That being said, I prefer to visit Critter Country around dinnertime. I grab a quick dinner at the Hungry Bear Restaurant (which is never too crowded, even during peak dining hours) before heading over to Splash Mountain. The lanterns and view of the water are especially pretty at night. With the exception of hot summer days (when guests are dying to get soaked) there’s no bad time to head over to Critter Country.