Frontierland, nestled within Disneyland, invites visitors to immerse themselves in the essence of the Wild West. This themed area is celebrated for its authentic charm and meticulous detailing, evoking the spirit of America’s frontier days. In this guide, we will highlighting its top attractions, dining spots, and entertainment options. From exhilarating rides to picturesque landscapes and engaging experiences, Frontierland promises a blend of education and excitement that epitomizes the magic of Disneyland.
Frontierland, an original themed land at Disneyland, debuted in 1955, embodying the American Wild West’s essence. Conceived by Walt Disney, it reflects the pioneering spirit of the late 19th Century frontier. Despite changes over the years, Frontierland remains true to its roots, offering adventures that transport visitors back in time.
Among its iconic attractions, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad stands out, having thrilled guests since 1979 with only minor changes. It maintains its status as a beloved staple of Disneyland’s Frontierland.
Maximizing Your Disneyland Frontierland Experience
To fully enjoy Frontierland, timing is crucial. Aim for early mornings or late evenings when crowds are thinner. Use the Disneyland app to monitor ride queue times and plan your itinerary efficiently. The Disney FastPass system is invaluable for minimizing wait times at popular attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Deepen your connection with the frontier theme by exploring each attraction’s detailed storytelling. Take a leisurely stroll through the Frontierland trails to discover hidden gems and scenic vistas. Engaging with the land’s lore adds layers to your adventure.
Enjoy the dining experiences and character meetings that Frontierland offers. Whether it’s a meal at the Golden Horseshoe or meeting characters in Western attire, these experiences will enrich your visit.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Imagine climbing aboard a runaway mine train, hurtling through a haunted gold mine at breakneck speeds. That’s exactly what you get with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This ride combines a gripping storyline with a roller coaster’s thrill, making it an unmissable experience for anyone who loves a good adrenaline rush. The unique rock formations and sharp turns amplify the thrill, ensuring this ride earns its spot at the top of thrill-seekers’ lists.
Mark Twain Riverboat
For those looking for a calmer experience, the Mark Twain Riverboat offers a gentle, scenic journey around the Rivers of America. As you board this historic paddle steamer, you’re not just taking a ride; you’re being transported into the very heart of Frontierland’s theme. The slow pace gives you ample time to appreciate the meticulous details that make up the frontier landscape and understand its significance to the overall ambiance of the land. It’s a relaxing break from the more intense attractions and offers a picturesque view that’s hard to find anywhere else in the park.
Sailing Ship Columbia
Then we have the Sailing Ship Columbia, a full-scale replica of the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. This vessel offers not just a ride but an educational journey as well. As you sail the Rivers of America, you get a sailor’s eye view of Frontierland, complete with breathtaking vistas and insights into the early days of American exploration. It’s this blend of education and aesthetic that makes the Columbia not just a ride, but an experience worthwhile.
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Travel by log raft across the Rivers of America to this secluded island playground. Wander quiet paths shaded by sycamore and oak trees, cross creaky suspension bridges in Smuggler’s Cove, and enjoy scenic views of the riverbanks. The island, accessible only by periodic rafts departing from New Orleans Square, offers an immersive experience where playful exploration meets the spirit of adventure.
Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition
Guests can test their marksmanship skills in an old-time Wild West shootout, aiming at nearly 100 targets for a thrilling experience.
Frontierland is not only a place steeped in the ambiance of the American Frontier, but it’s also a hub for live entertainment that makes the whole experience feel even more authentic.
Fantasmic! is a spectacular nighttime show located in Frontierland. Daring heroes and formidable villains clash in an epic battle, all under the starring role of Mickey Mouse. The show dazzles audiences with stunning visuals, captivating music, and mesmerizing special effects.
As Mickey embarks on a journey through his imagination, guests are transported into a world where dreams come to life. Fantasmic! promises an unforgettable experience filled with magic, excitement, and thrills for guests of all ages.
The Roundup Rodeo:
Taking place on the outdoor stage near Big Thunder Mountain, this show features a lively mix of classic Western tunes and audience participation, making it a hit for families. Shows typically run every hour, starting from noon until the early evening.
Frontierland Talent Show:
Here’s your chance to witness an array of talents, from banjo players to rope trick experts. This interactive show encourages visitors to showcase their skills. Check the weekly entertainment schedule upon your arrival for exact show times.
Storytelling at the Campfire:
Held around an actual campfire located at the edge of Frontierland, this intimate gathering features stories of the Old West told by seasoned storytellers. It’s held twice in the evening, making for a cozy way to wind down your adventurous day.
Wanderin’ Folk Singers:
Keep an eye out for this roving band of musicians that brings the streets of Frontierland to life with folk and country music. There’s no set schedule, so enjoy the surprise performances as you explore.
River Belle Terrace:
Located along the Rivers of America, this restaurant offers Southern-inspired cuisine with scenic views. The terrace seating provides an ideal spot for a pleasant dining experience amidst the bustling atmosphere of Frontierland.
Must-Try Dishes and Beverages:
- Fried Chicken Sandwich: A crispy chicken sandwich served with house-made pickles and tangy slaw.
- Pork Spareribs: Tender ribs glazed with a sweet and savory barbecue sauce.
- Mint Julep: A refreshing non-alcoholic drink with a hint of mint.
Hours: Open daily from 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM
The Golden Horseshoe:
This iconic eatery serves up classic American fare in a lively saloon setting. Outstanding dishes include the house-special chili and the notorious ice-cream sundae. The ambiance, reminiscent of the Wild West era, complements the dining experience with its energetic performances.
Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
Rancho del Zocalo offers quick-service Mexican food in a lovely Spanish-style courtyard. The restaurant captures the essence of a Mexican plaza (“zocalo”), complete with bougainvillea and rustic charm.
Expect hearty Mexican classics, including burritos, enchiladas, nachos, and street tacos.
Must-Try Dish: The fire-grilled half chicken and the tostada salad with chicken are popular choices.
Hours: Open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Stage Door Café
Ride over to this quick-service saloon for hearty fare like chicken tenders, fish and chips, or corn dogs. Indulge your sweet tooth with a homemade funnel cake topped with powdered sugar or strawberry sauce.
Westward Ho Trading Company
Roll your wagon up to this rustic Frontierland trading post, where pins are in demand! Treat yourself to a brand-new pin collection or snag a limited-edition release, along with lanyards, accessories, and more, before you head off into the sunset.
Pull up your wagon just outside this Frontierland general store, where you’ll find a diverse selection of western wear, modern gear, unique gifts, and more. Whether you’re in need of cowboy hats, bandanas, or souvenirs, this store has you covered. Take a leisurely stroll through the shop before continuing your adventure in Frontierland.
One pro tip for visitors: do keep an eye on the seasonal items that make their appearance, particularly during special events or holidays. This is when Pioneer Mercantile stocks up on limited edition items that quickly become the must-haves for Disney fans and collectors. So, if you happen upon Disneyland during these times, make a beeline for this store—you might just find something exceptionally special to commemorate your visit.
Characters to Meet
Frontierland, with its rugged landscapes and Wild West vibe, is more than just a place to explore diverse cuisines and thrilling rides—it’s also an ideal spot for meeting some of your favorite Disney characters.
First on the list is the lovable cowboy duo, Woody and Jessie from “Toy Story”. They’re often found near the entrance of Frontierland, ready to tip their hats and pose for photos with fans of all ages.
Looking for Jack Sparrow? Though not traditionally associated with the Wild West, this charming pirate makes appearances by the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, adding a dash of adventure to the area.
Occasionally, guests might also stumble upon Goofy decked out in his western gear, especially around the Woody’s Roundup area. And let’s not forget, rare appearances by characters like Pocahontas, who embodies the spirit of frontier adventure like no other.
- 1 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- 2 Mark Twain Riverboat
- 3 Sailing Ship Columbia
- 4 Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
- 5 Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition
- A River Belle Terrace
- B The Golden Horseshoe
- C Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
- D Stage Door Café
- E Westward Ho Trading Company
- F Pioneer Mercantile
Mother of 2 who disguises as a 9 to 5 finance professional on most days. She loves to travel, is an amateur website builder and cook. And given her day job, she loves travel planning and saving money. Follow along!