So you’ve just entered the park and walked down Main Street USA. You are standing at the hub ready to choose the direction you want to take to start your journey. Do you opt for the mystery that is Adventurland’s gateway? Or should you go down the pathway towards the beautiful riverboat in Liberty Square? Do you head towards the swirling lights through the arch of Cinderella’s Castle? Or do you head towards the spinning planets and rockets of Tomorrowland? But wait…aren’t we missing one? What about Frontierland? Never fear, because in this edition of our ‘First Timer’s Guide to Walt Disney World’ series, we’re talking about Walt Disney’s Frontierland.

How did I miss that?

For first timer’s, this omission won’t seem like much. And even the most seasoned Disney traveller may have missed the fact that you can’t enter Frontierland from the hub. There is a very specific reason for this that was laid out when the Florida project was still an idea on a storyboard. You see Frontierland is meant to be experienced in directionally. If you enter from Adventureland you’ll find yourself in Monument Valley Utah and the west coast.

And as you travel through the land towards Liberty Square you’ll be journeying back in time through America’s expansion into the Wild West. This is how most guests experience this land, mostly due to the clever design of Adventureland’s gateway. The cleverly placed trees and shrubs hide it from view when you’re standing in the hub. It triggers your curiosity and even though typical traffic patterns in the USA would have you heading to the Right around the circle…many people find themselves heading to the left.

From Adventure to the Frontier

If you decide to start in Adventureland and keep walking all the way to Big Thunder Mountain, you’ll be at the furthest edge of Frontierland in Monument Valley Utah. You’ll also find the Frontierland Station and Splash Mountain, with the same red rocks. Now, this may be a bit of a stretch since Splash was based on a film called “Song of the South” but some clever theming place the ride right next to the River’s Of America while making it match the location of Big Thunder. The reason for this clever stretch was that Splash Mountain wasn’t added to the park until 1992, 13 years after Big Thunder became the ‘Wildest Ride in the Wilderness’.

You’ll also find the entrance to Tom Sawyer’s Island across the bridge, but we’ll get to that later. As you start heading towards Liberty Square and Fantasy land, you’ll start to head from America’s West to the East Coast and the 13 colonies. You’ll walk through the Wild West of Texas with Pecos Bill’s and the General Store. Up next you’ll hit the Rocky Mountains, or at the very least a Colorado Ski Lodge that’s home to a bunch of singing bears. There’s the shooting gallery, a covered wagon and a small creek called ‘The Little Missouri’ that most people miss and is the official boundary between Liberty Square and Frontierland.

Tom Sawyer Boats Frontierland

As you continue your journey you’ll see the Diamond Horseshoe, a St. Louis saloon and the Liberty Belle launch. This river boat takes you through on a guided tour of the Rivers of America rimming Frontierland and circling Tom Sawyer’s Island, which would also take place in the Missouri. Finally you end up in the original thirteen colonies on the east coast. So from Adventureland it’s a clear journey from West to East, but also backwards in time.

From Liberty to the Louisiana Purchase

But if you decide to head into Frontierland from Liberty Square you’ll get the full time travel experience. Let me tell you the story.

You start your journey in a colonial town at the dawn of the Revolutionary War. There is a black smith, shops and none of the shutters are hung straight since the iron would have been needed for the war effort. There is no plumbing in Liberty Square, all restaurant restrooms have been pushed back into the surrounding lands, and the yellow pathway is a throwback to the 18th century. Independence Hall overlooks the Liberty Tree and the Liberty Tree Tavern. The Colombia Harbor House is a testament to the costal trade towns like Boston. The Mansion on the far hill is a Gothic Revival Style House popular in England in the 1740’s, which has since fallen into disrepair (Foolish mortals enter if they dare).

Haunted Mansion

As you start to make the turn towards Frontierland you’ve suddenly jumped ahead to the turn of the century. America has started expanding past the Mississippi River (represented by the Liberty Belle and the Rivers of America) after President Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory. St. Louis has become the gateway to the west. This is the America of Marc Twain’s childhood. And, if you look out across the river you’ll see Tom Sawyer’s Island with a fort full of Union Soldiers and plenty of space to explore. If you keep walking past the Diamond Horseshoe, look to your left and you’ll see a tiny stream that flows under the pathway into the river’s of America. This is the Little Missouri, the border of the Colonial Era and America’s Expansion Westward.

Into the West

As you cross the Little Missouri You’ll find a traditional covered wagon on your right, full of supplies to sustain you on your journey westward. On your left is the Frontierland shooting gallery full of some of the perils of a westward journey. This is the land of Davey Crocket and the first settlers into the West. If you keep walking you’ll end up in the Colorado territory of 1861. This is where you find the Country Bear Jamboree. Its also a wonderful place to take a rest and cool off before continuing on your journey.

Just past Colorado is the Wild West of Texas, Arizona and Utah. Here you’ll find Pecos Bill’s and the river is the Rio Grande. As you turn the corner you’ll hit Monument Valley. The main feature here is Big Thunder Mountain’s prominent hills in front of you. This area represents the gold rush that drove prospectors out west. You’ll also find the access point for Tom Sawyer’s Island here as well as Splash Mountain, which, through a bit of Disney Magic, looks like it belongs in the West from the outside and transports you to a river in Georgia on the inside. All three fit the era though, since their stories are from the mid 19th century where Frontierland’s Story ends.

Splash Mountain Frontierland

Choose Your Own Adventure

No matter which way you enter you’ll have plenty to do in Frontierland. From the perils of the Gold Rush, to finding your laughing place make sure you take the time to enjoy the journey through History that is Walt Disney’s Frontierland.

 

Post by Kate. K. Kate has been our blogger here at Homes4uu since 2015. You can find more about her at k8ilyeverafter.com.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Walt Disney’s Frontierland – An Imagineared Journey through History”

  1. Such good information. Really great Blog — Thank you so much.

  2. Kate says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! It was really fun to write :)

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