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Frontierland

Note: Frontierland is a land in transition for 2016 & 2017. The Rivers of American and all associated attractions & entertainment are closed due to construction of a new Star Wars area

Frontierland transports you to the old west. The town portion features a couple of stores, shooting arcade, and dining choices. On the attraction side the big draw for most is Big Thunder. For those that enjoy a more quite attraction the Mark Twain Riverboat or Sailing Ship Columbia are great ways to relax. Tom Sawyer Island is also part of Frontierland. As is the Big Thunder Ranch and Jamboree area. After sunset Frontierland becomes your gateway to Fantasmic which takes over the Rivers of America and Tom Sawyer Island.


On July 9, 2014 a new type of experience kicked off called Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush. Here are some thoughts and observations from July 11th:

  • The big news in Disneyland this week is the new Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush! experience that has taken over the land. Disney describes it as "Create your own character and story in the Wild West!" in the times guide. It runs 11am to 6pm daily (note I heard that many elements close before 6pm though). I would describe it as a role playing game. The basic game play is you pick up a name badge with your western nickname. Choose which side you want to be on, Frontierland or Rainbow Ridge. Then you do various tasks to earn bits (currency for the game). This can be reading telegraphs, making signs, bounty hunting, gambling (yep you can gamble in Disneyland now through card games in the Golden Horseshoe). You can use your bits to purchase land or other game activities. My understanding is only a portion of the game is not operational and more will be coming online in the coming days/weeks as well as on the fly adjustments.

  • Some observations from the Legends of Frontierland
    • I did not play the game on Friday. I tried to talk the rest of the group I was with into it and they looked at me like I was crazy. This included a 7-year old boy as well as several retiredgeeks so it was multi generational no (all were Annual Passholders too). Not sure why they were not interested, no one would give me a coherent answer.. just they did not want to play. So that meant I quickly went around taking some pictures and video while they waited in the shade (and a few went on Big Thunder).
    • From what I saw those that were actively playing were really into it and having a great time. The Cast Members were engaging the guests and seemed to be having fun too.
    • I saw no posted schedule for the entertainment in the Golden Horseshoe. I happened upon a performance by Miss Lilly that included some classic songs. I thought this was a fun element, but with no show times not sure how you plan to see it. I guess the idea is to entertain those that are there to eat or who are participating in the game more than draw guests in? (Or did I just happen to miss the show times).
    • This seems targeted at the frequent visitor and seems more involved than what an average tourist would want to spend their limited Disneyland time on. But on the other hand it provides a different/unique experience.
    • It is too early to draw any conclusions about the experience and since I did not invest the time I do not want to go too far out on a limb. But compared to other in park experiences (Virtual Magic Kingdom, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Pirates Adventure, the Epcot Kim Possible, Phineas & Ferb or even Muppets Investigation Bureau) this one does not hold the same interest to me.
    • The crowds were fairly light on Friday, but from what I observed the Legends of Frontierland did not seem to cause any real congestion issues.
    • I saw a fair number of guests with name tags on, but due to the spread out nature of the game it was hard to get a handle on how many were actively playing. It seemed like a very small number were really engaged in the story/game.
    • From my first pass through (based entirely only the half hour or so I spent in the area) it seems like a very labor intensive experience for the small number of guests it impacts. It will be interesting to see how this grows/morphs over time and what direction they take the experience in.
Geek's Suggestions

Be advised that Fantasmic causes congestion and messes up traffic flow to that side of the park at night. Disney has gotten much better at controling this, through the use of one-way walk ways and CMs directing people away from the show. The area is still pretty hard to get through around show time, especially between shows with people exiting and others entering the area at approx. the same time.

If you have a craving for a famous Disneyland Corn Dog and the line on Main Street is too long try the Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland. It features the same corn dogs and the lines are usually substantially less. Only downside is you get fries in stead of chips so the cost is slightly higher.

Geek's 1st Impressions of Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island - 5/25/07

On May 25, 2007 Tom Sawyer's Island re-opened with a new name, Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and a new overlay. This coinsided with the release of the third Pirates Film Pirates of the Caribbean, At Worlds End. Here are my initial thoughts from my first visit to the Island on 5/26/07:

  • The main reason for my visit to the park Saturday was to experience the new Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. First I'd like to say that is way too long of a name, but I guess that is the new trend... My overall impression of the additions/overlay is that it brought some life back to the Island and there were some great new interactive elements added. I thought it was a great touch to bring the maps of the Island back (there used to be maps back in the 50s and 60s, way before my time but that is what I have heard). These new maps have descriptions of all the areas of the Island There are eight areas identified:
    • The Landing - This is where the rafts drop you off/pick you up. There area is about the same as before, there are some new props around but that is all that has noticeably changed.
    • Lafitte's Tavern/Pirate Point - This is the Fantasmic stage area. There are new props installed here and there is a Pirate show here several times per day (I believe the CM said 5 times daily right now).
    • W.Turner Blacksmith - This is the old mill along the Rivers edge. Inside there are some blacksmith items now
    • Dead Man's Grotto - This used to be Injun Joe's Cave and inside there are now several show scenes. Ranging from Davy Jones Heart, to disappearing treasure. I thought the changes here were great and really brought the cave back to life.
    • Smuggler's Cove - This is the area that contains the old bridges (both of which are open, the suspension and pontoon) as well as two interactive sets. One you can hoist a treasure out the ship wreck and the second you can use a bilge pump to reveal a treasure. There is also a photo opportunity in a bone cage as seen in the second film.
    • Castle Rock - This area for the most part is the same as before
    • Pirate's Den - Shipwreck - A new ship wreck has been added just North of the Castle Rock area and South of the Fort. Here there are a couple rooms to walk through, but not much else. I thought it was a nice addition, but with that large of a set piece I was expecting more, not sure what, but something more.
    • The Captain's Treasure. - This is a photo location on the far North side of the guest accessible area of the island. Throughout the day Captain Jack Sparrow can be found here.

  • The map that was handed out (as well as the construction walls around it) seem to confirm the rumors that Fort Wilderness will be gone soon. I think this is sad, I always enjoyed visiting the fort and have missed it (as well as its guns) for years now. On the new maps it lists that area as well as the rest of the Northern tip of the Island as the uncharted lands. So if you want to see the fort one last time you better go ASAP, one site was reporting demo work begins this week.

  • The new Disneyland guide maps feature a young kid dressed as a Pirate with the tag line at the bottom being Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. Inside the map is the same except for the listing of the Island with the new name and a pirate flag has been added to the castle rock formation. The rest of the image looks the same (also to note there is no sign of the subs yet but an ad saying they are coming the 11th in the Tomorrowland text area). Also the smoking area is removed near the Matterhorn. On the entertainment times guide they list the Island now but just give its operating hours for the day, no show schedule for the Pirates show or the Bootstrappers (who perform throughout the day on front of the Island).

  • Speaking of the Pirates show, I was unable to find a name for this new show. I caught the first performance of the day (Saturday the show times were 10:25, 11:25, 12:25, 3:25, 4:25 according to the CM I spoke with, but none were posted anywhere and there were approximate). The show is fairly entertaining and somewhat hard to describe. Its part stunt show and part character show. It runs about 20 minutes (excluding the Bootstrappers set before the show which leads right into the show). I thought the dialog was fairly entertaining and the show itself ok. The lines that Jack Sparrow had were great and right in character. My only complaint about the show is its an awkward area for viewing and rather small. Many people lined the river band in NOS to watch but you can barely hear from there due to the distance and the background music. It would be nice to have the background music off during the show and maybe boost the show volume (I think piping the show along the river would be awkward but may be interesting).




Attractions & Entertainment (Parades, Shows & Fireworks)
Current Attractions:
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (FP) (Opened: Sep 02, 1979)
  • Frontierland Shootin' Exposition (Opened: Jul 12, 1957)
  • Mark Twain Riverboat (Opened: Jul 17, 1955)
  • Sailing Ship Columbia (Opened: Jun 18, 1958)
  • Tom Sawyer Island (Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island) (Opened: Jun 16, 1956)
Current Entertainment:
  • Fantasmic! (FP) (Opened: May 13, 1992)
Retired Attractions:
  • Big Thunder Ranch January 11, 2016 (Jun 22, 1986 - Jan 11, 2016)
  • Mike Fink Keel Boats (Dec 25, 1955 - May 17, 1997)

 

Retired Entertainment:
  • Billy Hill and the Hillbillies (Dec 22, 1994 - Jan 06, 2014)
  • Golden Horseshoe Variety Show (Jun 13, 1995 - Oct 08, 2003)
  • Golden Horseshoe Jamboree (Nov 01, 1986 - Dec 18, 1994)
  • Golden Horseshoe Revue (Jul 17, 1955 - Oct 12, 1986)
Dining Options

 

Closed Dining Locations

 

Quickfacts
  • Big Thunder Train Names & Numbers: 1. I.B. Hearty 2. I.M. Brave 3. I.M. Fearless 4. U.B. Bold 5. U.R. Daring 6. U.R. Courageous
  • Some of the machinery in the line of Big Thunder was used in The Apple Dumpling Gang.
  • Tom Sawyer Island Rafts renamed to Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island - May 25, 2007
  • The Columbia Below Decks Museum opened February 1964
  • Fantasmic premiered on the River's of America in 1992
  • Golden Horseshoe Revue Show - July 1955
  • Indian Village (Major Expansion) - Closed Summer 1962
  • The Mike Finn Keel Boats were - Gullywhumper and Bertha Mae


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