A group of die-hard Disney fans are fighting to keep their favorite Disneyland attraction from retiring. The loosely organized group, led in part by Orange resident Steve Iversen, is hoping to keep Billy Hill and the Hill Billies alive by writing letters and filling comment cards. See, after 21 years performing their Western-themed music comedy performance at the Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland, Billy Hill and The Hillbillies are scheduled to retire Jan. 6.
“[The show's] been there forever,” Iversen said. “Everyone's grown up with it and every season they change the show so you never see the same show twice. The kids like it because of the music; the adults like it because of the comedy. There's a little something for everyone.”
Iversen's grass roots movement has been gaining traction. A Change.org petition started by Iversen has totalled over 2,250 signatures in just over two weeks, and supporters from across the United States have left messages in support. Much of the organizing has, thus far, taken place through a Facebook event that pushes out updates.
“The Billy's are a major part of the magic of DL for me and my wife,” wrote Boise resident Jesse Jones on the petition. “The park is losing too many things that make up its real heart and the park is less and less appealing.”
“There are few entertainment options for adults at Disneyland,” Orange resident Cheryl Dow wrote separately. “… Billy Hill and the Hillbillies is a great show for all ages, but fills the gap for adults — not to mention they play great music. I just don't understand this decision — whether they have been at the Golden Horseshoe or Big Thunder Ranch their shows are always packed. It can't be that they aren't popular. And please put them back in the Golden Horseshoe.”
However, with a little over a month to go, the petitioners have yet to receive much of a response from Disney corporate. People who have submitted comment cards have received the same form response.
“We recognize that some of our Guests, like yourself, have enjoyed this unique entertainment offering throughout the years,” the Disney letter reads. “Please know that a tremendous amount of thought went into our decision as we continually evaluate the various aspects of our operation and make changes at times.”
“Walt Disney once stated, 'Disneyland will never be completed as long as here is imagination left in the world,'” it continues. “In that spirit, we will continue to make additions and changes, all with the goal in mind to keep the Disney experience new, fresh and exciting.”
When reached by the Weekly, Disney corporate said that they were retiring the show to keep things fresh and expand the entertainment selections at the park.
“A tremendous amount of thought went into our decision as we continually evaluate the various aspects of our operations,” said Disney Media Relations Officer Kevin Rafferty Jr. “At times, we make additions and changes, all with the goal to keep the Disney experience new, fresh and exciting. Future plans for Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree are to feature a variety of entertainment offerings during our many seasonal and special celebrations.”
But for many of the petitioners, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies are all they need.
“This show is the best show at Disneyland,” wrote San Jose resident Megan Mission. “I remember the first time I saw it, being surprised at how hilarious it was. I didn't typically waste my time with the shows at the parks because I thought they would be too 'kidish' but this is one of those shows that everyone can enjoy. I make a point to see them each time I go to the park. It isn't a trip to Disneyland without seeing the Billys.”