Performer Spotlight Flashback: The Happy Camper

As our days disappeared all too soon…”

Amongst the many cutbacks in entertainment on both coasts, at the same time that Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando recently let go of its longtime performer Gi-Tar Dan, Disney California Adventure let go of his Anaheim counterpart, The Happy Camper.

Both could simply be called “a guy with a guitar”, but as always, the Disney environment and talented Cast Members made them both much more to the tourists and locals alike.

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I stopped by to see The Happy Camper for some of his last sets at the end of February and as always he filled the trail through Grizzly Peak with song (and guitar and harmonica!).

While The Happy Camper’s permanent home was a comfy little nook along the trail across from Rushin’ River Outfitters, at the end of his run, this location was under refurbishment, so he was found either perched on a stool outside of the construction walls or in front of the Outfitters store itself.

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Watching The Happy Camper really made you feel like you were sitting around a campfire listening to a friend play good tunes. It felt like summers past and potential futures ahead. It was warm and welcoming and added a pleasant layer of live, spontaneous entertainment that made you want to stop and stay a spell in an otherwise “just passing through” area.

Some folks would pause and sing along with a song or two. Others would call out requests (often granted) and some of us would stay for the entire set.

I was happy to get some musical requests played this day (I asked for some John Denver and/or James Taylor amongst the various other folksy tunes ranging from Bob Dylan to the Eagles to Jimmy Buffett to a personal favorite Loggins & Messina number “House at Pooh Corner”), although it was bittersweet knowing the next time I passed by that spot on the trail, the only music I would hear would be piped in overhead.

Playing in front of the walled-off area of the trail that was The Happy Camper’s former home.

Playing in front of the walled-off area of the trail that was The Happy Camper’s former home.

Removing the Happy Camper (and Gi-Tar Dan) is just another sad loss for live musical entertainment in the parks, which provide those special unexpected moments of magic that families and friends can share together, giving the excuse to slow down between the mad rush from attraction to attraction and just appreciate the bond that music forms amongst those who play it and those who listen.

Thanks, Happy Camper, for the memories and the tunes…

Was he your favorite performer?

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