Frontierland

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Frontierland
Frontierlandsign2.jpg
The entrance sign to Frontierland
Magic Kingdom
Theme American Old West
Opening date October 1, 1971
Number of Attractions Six

Frontierland is a land inside the Magic Kingdom.

History

Frontierland opened with the rest of the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971. The land was themed to represent a boom town in the American Old West. Located on the Magic Kingdom's Rivers of America, Frontierland originally consisted of three attractions: the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade, Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, and the Country Bear Jamboree [1]. These attractions were joined by the Frontierland Station on the Walt Disney World Railroad on May 1, 1972 [2].

A few of the buildings found in Frontierland

Although it seemed sparse on opening day, Disney had big plans for Frontierland. Chief among these were their plans to build Marc Davis' Western River Expedition. This large expansion of Frontierland would have consisted of numerous attractions for guests including: a Pueblo Village, hiking trails, and a "runaway mine train" attraction. Most importantly however, there was also to be a boat ride through the Old West attraction, that was designed to top the immensely popular Pirates of the Caribbean[3].

Although Marc Davis' Western River Expedition never became a reality for numerous reasons (see Big Thunder Mountain Railroad), on May 20, 1973 Tom Sawyer Island opened on the Rivers of America [4]. Based on the Mark Twain novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, the island is an “outdoor playground” where guests can explore caves, cross wobbly bridges, and even follow rugged jungle trails. To get to the island guests climb aboard large wooden rafts in Frontierland and set sail across the river.

Following the opening of Tom Sawyer Island, Frontierland remained mostly unchanged until November 15, 1980 when Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened. The new roller coaster took its inspiration from the runaway mine car attraction that was to be a part of the Western River Expedition. Created by Imagineer Tony Baxter, Thunder Mountain also occupied the space near the back of Frontierland that was originally earmarked for the Western River Expedition expansion [5].

Following the construction of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Frontierland remained essentially the same until the Frontierland Train Station was closed in 1990, and moved in order to make room for Disney's newest thrill ride- Splash Mountain [6]. Based on the 1946 Disney Movie Song of the South, on Splash Mountain guests follow the adventures of Brer Rabbit as he is chased and eventually captured by Brer Fox and Brer Bear. The climax of the attraction comes when guests plummet 52.5 feet down Chick-A-Pin-Hill and into the briar patch. Besides once again changing Frontierland's layout, Splash Mountain also expanded the land's theme [7]. Unlike Big Thunder Mountain and the rest of Frontierland, Splash Mountain was set in the American South. In order to help bridge the thematic gap between Splash and Thunder Mountain, Imagineers used the newly relocated Frontierland Railroad Station (which reopened in 1991) to serve as transition between the two [7]. Finally, on July 17, 1992 Splash opened to guests, although it was officially dedicated on October 2[8].

In 1994 one of Frontierland's original attractions, the Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes closed to guests [9].

Attractions

Splash Mountain (left) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (left) in Frontierland. Photo by Jennifer Lynn and Allsa Conte.

Splash Mountain- A water flume ride located on Chick-A-Pin Hill. Splash Mountain takes guests on an adventure along with Brer Rabbit, ending in a 52.5 foot drop into the Briar Patch. Splash Mountain is based on the 1946 Disney movie Song of the South.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- A runaway-train themed wooden roller coaster. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad takes guests on a high speed trip through the gold mining town of Tumbleweed.

The Country Bear Jamboree- This Audio Animatronic show lets guests join a talented cast of 18 musically-inclined bears as they perform continuous 12-minute shows. The Country Bear Jamboree features “plenty of great music, broad humor and a few unexpected surprises”.

Tom Sawyer Island- An island located on the Rivers of America. On Tom Sawyer Island guests can explore the caves, tunnels and forts, where Tom and Huck Finn hang out. Based on the 1876 book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

Walt Disney World Railroad- A steam powered train that goes around Walt Disney World with stops at Main Street USA, Frontierland, and Fantasyland.

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade- An old fashion shooting gallery complete with info-red rifles.

Past Attractions

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes- On this attraction, guests could board small canoes and paddle around the Rivers of America. The Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes operated from 1971 until 1994 [10]

Dining

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland. Photo by Michael Grey.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe- Themed like an old west inn, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café is a counter service restaurant specializing in Mexican food.

Westward Ho Refreshments- A refreshment stand selling hot and cold drinks.

Golden Oak Outpost- A small counter service restaurant located between Adventureland and Frontierland, the Outpost specializes in chicken edibles.

The Diamond Horseshoe- A Western-themed restaurant which serves sandwiches and salads for lunch, and an all you can eat buffet for dinner. This restaurant is open seasonally and located in between the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade and the Liberty Tree Tavern.

Shopping

Big Al's- Located across from the Country Bear Jamboree, Big Al's sells Old West themed merchandise.

Frontierland Trading Post- Located next door to the Country Bear Jamboree, the Frontierland Trading Post is a large store selling frontier merchandise and all kinds of pins.

Prairie Outpost and Supply- Located next to Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, the Prairie Outpost and Supply is a shop which sells various candy and sweets.

The Briar Patch- Located at the exit of Splash Mountain, The Briar Patch specializes in Splash Mountain and Song of the South merchandise.

Splashdown Photos- Located at the exit of Splash Mountain, Splashdown Photos sells photos of guests on Splash Mountain, as well as photo merchandise.

Entertainment

Frontierland Hoedown Happening- This "flash mob" style dance party is performed throughout the afternoon in Frontierland. Participating characters include: Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, Wendell (from The Country Bear Jamboree) and Big Al.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • "Texas" John Slaughter is the name of the Frontierland Trail Boss as seen on the sign hanging over the entrance to the general store. Texas John Slaughter was a TV show produced by Disney from 1958 until 1961. The show was based on a real life Arizona state senator [11].
  • A crate found near the Country Bear Jamboree reads "Davis Tobacco". This is a tribute to Imagineer and Disney Legend Marc Davis [12].
  • Guests could previously find the Frontierland Marshall keeping the peace daily in Frontierland, as well as Prospector "Gold Dust Gus" at various times throughout the day [13].
  • From the mid 1980s until 1994, Frontierland was home to a stunt show that involved the Frontierland Marshall catching and arresting Cactus Jack Slade after he robbed the Frontierland Train Station's safe.[14]
  • A video of the stunt show from 1992 can be seen Here.

References

  1. http://inacents.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1971-WDW-Magic-Kingdom-Map.jpg
  2. http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/attractions/opening-dates#
  3. http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2000/12/31/why-quot-western-river-quot-went-south-part-3.aspx
  4. http://thisdayindisneyhistory.homestead.com/may20.html
  5. http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2001/01/01/276.aspx
  6. http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/frlrs1.htm
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/06/splash_mountain_part_one_1.html
  8. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_splash.htm
  9. http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/dcec.htm
  10. http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/dcec.htm
  11. http://www.themainstreetmouse.com/2015/05/01/texas-john-slaughter-trail-boss/
  12. http://wdwnewstoday.com/archives/10472
  13. http://www.wdwradio.com/2007/09/frontierland-trivia/
  14. http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/frlrs1.htm