Here is Part Two of the Frontierland – Patriotic Disney Post by Dave from yourfirstvisit.net. In this second pare Dave walks us through Frontierland noting fun things to do on the way. Thanks again to Dave!
FRONTIERLAND BEGINS IN LIBERTY SQUARE
The structures of Frontierland–rides, shops, and dining establishments–are all on your left as you walk from Liberty Square to Big Thunder Mountain, and the water–representing the great rivers that tied together the frontier, and especially the Mississippi and the Ohio–are on your right.
If you focus on the left, Frontierland begins at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, as the boundary between east and west. However, if you focus on the right…Frontierland begins in Liberty Square.
The Liberty Belle riverboat boards and docks in Liberty Square. While such vessels could be found in the east, they were key elements of the west. The Imagineering Field Guide to Magic Kingdom calls the Liberty Belle an example of a “staple of early frontier life,” and calls it a “transitional element linking [the] two lands.”( 72.)
The role of the Liberty Square waterfront in beginning the theme of Frontierland was even clearer back in the day when the long-gone Mike Fink Keelboats still loaded from this waterfront. Keelboats, while found on any navigable river, were essential features of the Ohio, the Mississippi and their sources.
The water itself–“Rivers of America”–is also meant to represent the Ohio, Mississippi, and the other great rivers of the western frontier, even in Liberty Square. This too was even clearer in the past when the “Indian Canoes” still ran from Frontierland, so that the waterway at any given moment could show canoes, keelboats, a riverboat, and the rafts used to access Tom Sawyer Island.
So Frontierland begins on the left at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, but on the right at the waterfront of Liberty Square.
THE RIDES AND ATTRACTIONS OF FRONTIERLAND
None of the rides in Frontierland refer directly to any of the ideals discussed earlier. The only ideals even glanced at are in Splash Mountain’s references to Br’er Rabbit’s “trickster” schemes–whose roots, while in African (and Native American) oral traditions, also resonate with populist resistance to elites.
Rather, Frontierland pays homage to pioneer ideals with its architecture and details. The right side has not just the “rivers,” island, and watercraft of Tom Sawyer and Mike Fink, but also is lined with a boardwalk. This boardwalk is meant to have a “dockside” feel, and reinforce the roles of the buildings as riverfront settlements.
The buildings on the left side approximate (until Splash Mountain) different building styles from different times–coming closer in to today the more distant from Liberty Square, taking you from the old west to the southwest. Note the street numbers on these buildings, which “roughly indicate the year in which the building is set.” (The Imagineering Field Guide , 52.)
Splash Mountain wrecks this progression. Its exterior is themed to itself, rather than to Frontierland, and the ride’s pre-Civil War, southern setting reverses both the geographic and the temporal progression of Frontierland so far. Big Thunder Mountain, with its Monument Valley, Utah, post-gold rush setting, flips geography yet again.
As these last two are among the most popular rides in the park, no one really cares!
From Liberty Square to the end of Frontierland, you’ll find the following attractions in order (the “ratings” are from The Your First Visit Comprehensive Guide to Rides)
The Liberty Belle steamboat. Literally part of Liberty Square, but as noted above spiritually part of Frontierland. A slow and gentle journey around Tom Sawyer Island, with some moderately fun views that you can otherwise only see from the island itself, or from the WDW Railroad. Rating: Pre-schoolers: best-loved. Third-graders through adults: other.
The Frontierland Shooting Gallery. One of only two attractions in the Magic Kingdom not paid for as part of your admission ticket. For a buck, you get to use a light-powered rifle to shoot at targets; the targets, if hit, create various fun actions. Rating: Pre-schoolers: best-loved. Third-graders through adults: skippable.
The Country Bear Jamboree. First time visitors more into country, roots or backwoods music will be delighted; those less interested may find it dull. Rating: Pre-schoolers: other. Third-graders through adults: skippable
(Rafts to) Tom Sawyer Island. Tom Sawyer Island is best viewed as interesting terrain where your kids can fairly freely run around, not have much externally-imposed structure to their experience, and not wait in lines. For some families, this makes it a godsend; others won’t find it sufficiently interesting to be worth the wait for the rafts and the walking around. Rating: Pre-schoolers: best-loved. Third-graders through adults: skippable
Splash Mountain. To me, the best example in all of Disney World of fully-realized imagineering possibility. Much more of a fun, charming, detailed, interesting ride than the water-slide makes it appear from outside. You may get wet. Rating: Pre-schoolers: avoid. Third-graders through adults: favorite.
The Walt Disney World Railroad. The Frontierland station of the WDW Railroad is between Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. A slow, slightly interesting railroad ride, with a few minor displays that can’t be seen from anywhere else, that can be taken either as a round trip or to another station. Rating: Pre-schoolers: best-loved. Third-graders through adults: skippable.
Big Thunder Mountain. A mild roller coaster that can be jerky. Theming very well done, and particularly fun to do after dark. Rating: Pre-schoolers: other. Third-graders through adults: favorite.
yourfirstvisit.net is a website dedicated to helping first time visitors to Walt Disney World plan for and experience a fantastic Disney Vacation. Dave approaches WDW from the perspective of one who hasn’t visited before and gives all the pros and cons in relation to your first visit. You can see this post live on Your First Visit 1 October to celebrate Disney World’s 40th Birthday.
Here are the rest of the Patriotic Disney Posts
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