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Theme Park City > Orlando Guide > Walt Disney World > The Magic Kingdom > Frontierland

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Walt Disney World > The Magic Kingdom > Frontierland
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America's wild west and frontier traditions come to life here in Frontierland, home to two of the Magic Kingdom's popular "mountain" attractions. Themes are borrowed from a range as wide as the untamed continent North America once was, placing Mark Twain's Missouri side by side with Joel Chandler Harris' Deep South and Gold Rush California.


Splash Mountain
The most obvious thing about this must see attraction is the 40 mph, 45-degree, 50 foot drop which climaxes the ride -- you can't miss seeing and hearing the boats make a splash in the briar patch at the foot of the mountain as you approach. Yet Splash Mountain is much more than a typical log flume -- it's an elaborate trip through Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories, as adapted by Disney for the 1946 feature film Song of the South. So don't let the drop put you off of one of the Magic Kingdom's most engaging rides -- it'll be over before you know it.

As your boat makes its way through swamp and bayou, a large cast of audio-animatronic characters tell the stories of Brer Rabbit's captures and escapes from the tenacious yet not overly bright Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Songs from the film make for a happy soundtrack, including the Academy Award winning "Zip a Dee Doo Dah". It helps a little if you're familiar with the stories, but the action of Brer Rabbit outwitting his would-be captors is easy enough to follow.

And then comes the drop, symbolic of Brer Rabbit being thrown down into the Briar Patch. Some first time visitors get so worked up over the eventual drop that they often can't enjoy the ride, since they're worried that it may come at any moment. Well, relax. When the big one comes YOU WILL KNOW IT. There will be no mistaking the build-up, the warnings, and the vultures. But then, once they've done it, most people are ready to turn right around and go again.

You will get wet, however, moreso the closer to the front of the boat you are, so it doesn't hurt to plan ahead. Bring a plastic bag big enough to cover your purse, camera, wallet, or whatever else you want to stay dry. Some people even wear rain ponchos -- although getting wet can actually be a plus on a hot summer day.

A photo of your doomed expression at the top of the drop is available in the gift shop at the exit -- just get the number of your photo from the video monitors you'll pass on the way out. (You must be at least 40 inches tall to ride).

Walt Disney World Railroad
From the Frontierland Station you can ride to Mickey's Toontown Fair or Main Street, U.S.A. on a real steam powered train. If you wind up in Frontierland at the end of the day and can't face the walk back to exit the park, just take the train. You won't be the only one to get this idea however, so be aware that this station can get rather busy at times.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mine train themed roller coasters are a stock fixture at most theme parks, but leave it to Disney to have one of the best. As a roller coaster it is pretty tame, at least compared to Busch Garden's Montu or Cedar Point's Magnum XL-200, but it still packs a thrill as a ride most of the family can enjoy together. The emphasis is on high speed turns and scenery, not big drops. Along the way you pass through an earthquake and a flooded town with its too successful rainmaker still in residence -- keep an eye out for some of the great details the Imagineers have built in, but it may take several trips to catch it all, especially at those speeds.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the Magic Kingdom's most popular attractions so lines tend to get long in the early morning and stay that way, especially since it's right next door to Splash Mountain, another crowd magnet. Try to ride in the early mornings or save it for late evenings -- some of the effects are better in the dark, anyway. (You must be at least 40 inches tall to ride).

Tom Sawyer Island
A short ride by raft is the only access to this calming oasis in the middle of the Rivers of America. There are paths to walk, a fort to defend, a barrel bridge to cross, and dark (and sometimes smelly) caves to explore. It's a great place to head when Junior gets fidgety from too much standing in line. It closes at dusk. The Tom Sawyer Island Appreciation Page is a loving tribute from a former raft pilot.

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
It used to be, in a shooting gallery, you shot something, it fell down. Not in this high-tech version -- you never know what one of these targets is going to do when "shot" by one of these converted buffalo rifles. Extra charge.

Country Bear Jamboree
A happy cast of audio-animatronic bears sing and whoop it up in this theater presentation that mixes music with corny, down home humor. Shows are subject to change from time to time, but all feature your emcee Henry and the character who's now so popular he even has his own store: Big Al, who's deadpan Tex Ritter style always brings down the house. The theater has a fairly large capacity, and the show doesn't seem to be as popular as it once was, so it's a good bet for the afternoon when the crowds descend and getting off your feet in an air-conditioned theater starts to sound like a real good idea.


Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. This sprawling counter service restaurant takes up a good chunk of Frontierland real estate and is the major place to grab traditional fast food burgers and hot dogs on this side of the park. It's a hard spot to miss, especially as the Country Bear Jamboree literally empties right into it (note the stuffed heads on the wall here, Max, Buff and Melvin, continue animating beyond the end of the show.) Seating is both indoors and outdoors on the southwestern inspired patio, where you can hear the happy screams and splashes from Splash Mountain next door.

Westward Ho Refreshments is a walk-up stand with smoked turkey legs, drinks, and other snacks.

Frontierland Fries, with the familiar Golden Arches, sells McDonald's french fries, in case you didn't get enough of them outside the park and want to pay higher prices for them here.


Get your western themed knick-nacks at Big Al's, the Frontier Trading Post (pin trading, that is) and Prairie Outpost and Supply (also offers candy and drinks in the "General Store" signed section). Song of the South and other character merchandise is available at The Briar Patch by Splash Mountain.

Where To?

As you stroll back from Big Thunder Mountain, around the Rivers of America, a subtle architectural shift happens. Adobe and tile gives way to the roughhewn woods of the northwest frontier, which blends into the finished plank style of more settled lands. We are moving eastward, and, at the same time, back in time, in styles and theme, until the Liberty Tree stands ahead and suddenly we have reached Liberty Square, and the American colonial period.

Frontierland is between Liberty Square and Adventureland, and also connects to Main Street USA.

Copyright (c) 2002-2008 by Robert H. Brown
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