FROM 2007
PETE RENOUDET
talks about doing voices for the Disney parks

by Scott Wolf

Pete Renoudet

Pete and his wife Flo are wonderful people who each have an amazing history with the Walt Disney Company. Flo worked in the music department while Pete worked in Art Props.

Pete is an amazingly versatile person, however, and while working for Disney he also worked on numerous Disney films and appeared in some of them. He provided the voice for many of my favorite attractions including Henry, from the "Country Bear Jamboree."

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to share our conversations with you.

Henry in Country Bear JamboreeScott Wolf: You’ve done a lot of voices for Disney park attractions.

Pete Renoudet: Yeah, the big one of course was Henry the emcee of the "Country Bear Jamboree." Before that I had done the Captain on "Rocket to the Moon."

SW: Right, third captain Collins, and you also did "Mission to Mars," right?

PR: That's right. Blake Todd and I did a couple of voices for "Adventure Thru Inner Space," the Monsanto thing. You could hear them outside when you get on the ride.

SW: You know, not too long ago a CD was released with the "Bear Band Serenade" (from the original "Country Bear Jamboree") and you sang, "The bear bear bands" (instead of "The Bear Band bears).

PR: I know, I remember Jack Wadsworth the music editor used to kid me about because he had to cut the two words apart and reverse them.

SW: Is that what they did? I assumed that was an outtake and they had you re-record it.

PR: (laughing) No. He said, "I had to be so careful with that razor cutting..."

SW: And this was before computers, too.

PR: Oh yeah, it would be nothing on a computer now, but they had to make those long splices. (laughs) He kidded me about that for years.

Max the deer in Country Bear JamboreeSW: You were also the voice of Max the deer, weren't you?

PR: I was Max for the first show (there were two additional "Country Bear" shows produced for the parks). After that, somebody at WDI I think did Max. He wanted to do it.

SW: Is it true that you loosely based Max on Gomer Pyle?

PR: Yeah, they asked for a kind of a Gomer Pyle thing. Al Bertino. Al was fun to work with.

SW: How was Al Bertino involved?

PR: He created the whole concept of Country Bears. In fact, Big Al looks like Al Bertino.

SW: Tex Ritter did the voice, right?

PR: Yeah, that was already recorded. That wasn't done for the show. That was a recording that Tex Ritter had done. They had to get permission for it I believe.

SW: So he didn't come in and record it.

PR: No, I didn't meet Tex Ritter. I did work with the Weavers.

SW: Were they the music group?

PR: Yeah, in the original one.

SW: Did they sing or do the music?

PR: Both. They may have brought in a few studio musicians to fill in stuff, I don't know, but the singing, I remember them being there for that.

Pete Renoudet and Henry the bearSW: Was working on that show a pleasant experience for you?

PR: Oh yeah, I had a great time. We did it kind of in pieces. I think it took about maybe three actual recording days.

SW: What's a typical recording time? Like how long did "Mission to Mars" take?

PR: An hour, hour and a half.

SW: So was it the music that took so long with the Country Bears?

PR: Yeah, the music, because there were a lot of people working on it. Not all day of three days but maybe two or three hours for three different days.

SW: Had you done singing before?

PR: Bob Jackman used to use me to record his songs. Bob was Flo's boss (Pete's wife Flo), he was head of the music department. He would write songs, and in those days if you've got an orchestra recording for the show, "Well, we'll throw in this other little piece of music here," Bob's song, then I'd come in and sing it.

I did all the songs, the whole soundtrack for "Rainbow Road to Oz" which was never produced.

A friend just sent me "If You Had Wings." I did the temporary stuff, but some of it was used. I did all of it and then they went in and got different people to sing different parts of it.

I did "Cristobalito, the Calypso Colt" (1970) for the show. George Bruns was the one who got me to do that. That was a whole narration/song thing throughout the television show. I would come in with those little latin things... with the latin accent.

SW: The Winnie the Pooh ride replaced the "Country Bear Jamboree" at Disneyland. Aren’t you the narrator?

PR: Yeah. It got cut way down because we had a whole storyline going for that Winnie the Pooh ride but I'm sure once they got it in motion they realized it's going too fast. We can't wait for the narration. I offered to speed it up at the time, but, "No, no, no, we want it at this pace. If we're going to use it, we're going to use it at this pace." But then when the thing starts whipping through there, it's just the beginning, that's all you hear.

SW: Is it true you were an Audio Animatronic figure in "Horizons" at Epcot?

Pete Renoudet in HorizonsPR: Yeah, and it was weird because for once they used everything BUT my voice.

I am both on film, on a monitor, and there's also an Audio Animatronic figure of me! They had already recorded another actor and they photographed him, but for some reason when they had finished they didn't like the way he looked. He was strictly a voice over actor. Maybe he was a little uncomfortable on camera, I have no idea. To me he looked better than I did. But, then they decided to replace the image and I had to go in and lip sync his voice because they had already incorporated it into all the machinery and the Audio Animatronics and they were not going to go and take all that out.

SW: You were on the videophone, right? So not only is the AA figure you, but also the video image on the videophone.

PR: Yeah, the videotape is of me.

SW: You did the "20,000 Leagues" attraction for the Magic Kingdom?

PR: I did the Captain Nemo narration.

SW: Which some people think was James Mason (who was Captain Nemo in the movie).

PR: I know, it's funny. To me it doesn't sound that much like James Mason.

SW: Did you try to?

PR: I tried to come as close as I could, yeah. More with the intonation and the pacing of it.

Mark Twain at DisneylandSW: What about Mark Twain?

PR: Yeah, I did Mark Twain's voice for the steamboat here (in Disneyland). I had forgotten that I did the Mark Twain storytelling and I was standing on the Mark Twain awhile back, right by the little speaker and I'm thinking, "Hmm... that voice is familiar to me, why is that... oh, that's right, it's me."

SW: Did you base that voice on anything?

Columbia Sailing ShipPR: I tried to come kind of close to Hal Holbrook. Hal Holbrook did something similar to Mark Twain but it was easier to get Hal Holbrook's recordings. I just tried to come as close to that as I could without actually imitating him, but it was that feel. There's a kind of similarity and of course for the Lincoln thing, "Hall of Presidents" that was just trying to come as close to Royal Dano who had done the original out here.

SW: Was Winnie the Pooh the last attraction voice you did?

PR: No, I was just called back to WDI to redo the captain on the Columbia (Sailing Ship) because they were incorporating pirates on Tom Sawyer's island so we've got to make some mention of the pirates, so we recorded that whole captain on the Columbia stuff over again.

More from Pete:
Doing the voice of Abraham Lincoln

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