On October 1 this year, Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary as it begins an 18-month celebration; and while the four parks take part in the festivities, the 50-year milestone belongs only to some places in the most magical place on earth.
In 1971, Walt Disney World opened with two resorts and a park: the Magic Kingdom. Inspired by the original Disneyland park in Anaheim, California, the Magic Kingdom debuted with its own version of Main Street, USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland, along with its own unique land: Liberty Square.
In previous posts, I’ve covered Then and Now: 50 Years of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, Adventureland, Liberty Square, and for today I continue my virtual walk through the park with a visit to Frontierland.
So what is Frontierland?
When traveling clockwise around the Magic Kingdom, Adventureland is next to Frontierland and flows into Freedom Square.
In fact, for guests entering the land from Freedom Square, a walk through Frontierland aims to simulate the pioneering journey west. Guests start in colonial America before moving on to St. Louis or the gateway to the west with its own mini-Mississippi River.
From here, the log forts give way to the Old West with a Spanish twist that complemented the Spanish corner of Adventureland, where there are Pirates of the Caribbean.
Frontierland is also home to two Disney mountains: Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It is also an ideal place to see the parades and / or rides of the park.
Facts about Frontierland:
Fet núm. 1: Frontierland opened on October 1, 1971, with three attractions: Country Bear Jamboree, Frontierland Shootin ‘Arcade and the now defunct Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. The Frontierland train station would not open until 1972; and surprisingly, Tom Sawyer Island would not debut until 1973! Guests were even able to see construction equipment working on the island during these early years.
Fet núm. 2: Imagineers had plans to finally build an ambitious Frontierland electronic ticket pavilion known as the Thunder Mesa that housed an electronic ticket attraction called Western River Expedition.
While there are several reasons why Thunder Mesa and Western River Expedition did not come into existence, one of those reasons has to do with customer demand for a pirate attraction on the east coast of the Caribbean. When the decision was made to bring pirates to Magic Kingdom, Thunder Mesa’s budget was diverted from Frontierland to Adventureland.
Fet núm. 3: The Country Bear Jamboree was the last attraction supervised by Walt Disney, but unlike most of the original Magic Kingdom attractions, Country Bear Jamboree was exclusive to the park when it opened.
It turned out to be so popular that Imagineers created a version for Disneyland the following year. Although the West Coast Country Bears Jamboree no longer exists, the East Coast original goes strong.
Fet núm. 4: In 1971, Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland opened with the Mile Long Bar. This rustic establishment used mirrors to create the illusion of a mile-long bar. However, the Mile Long Bar closed in 1998 and was absorbed by Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.
Data about Frontierland now:
Fet núm. 1: In 1980, Frontierland won its first exciting journey with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad followed by Splash Mountain alongside in 1992. Both are still considered top attractions in the Magic Kingdom.
However, in 2020, Disney announced that Splash Mountain would be reinvented for reflection The princess and the frog. At this time, there is no confirmed deadline for this change.
Fet núm. 2: Due to the addition of Splash Mountain, the original Frontierland train station was replaced by a new two-story station in 1993.
Fact # 3: Although Disneyland’s first Tom Sawyer Island became Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island in 2007, Magic Kingdom’s Tom Sawyer Island has retained its original theme over the years.
Fet núm. 4: Decades after Davy Crockett’s popularity at Disneyland’s Frontierland, customers can still buy Davy Crockett’s signature hat at Big Al’s or the Frontier Trading Post at Magic Kingdom. Guests can also catch a glimpse of Mike Fink’s keelboat and Wilson’s Cave Inn Davy Crockett and the River Pirates along the rivers of America.
Fact # 5: In 2012, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad received a new interactive queue that further enriched its “explosive” history. While some of the interactive effects may not be available for security reasons, customers can still grab a variety of smart gags and details. One of the best must be the portrait of the president of the Big Thunder Mining Company, Barnabas T. Bullion, which bears a striking resemblance to the imaginary of Big Thunder Tony Baxter.
Have you ever experienced Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland in its early days? Is this land one of your favorites?