As is fitting for a land themed to the American West, Frontierland takes a bit of travel to get to. It’s the only land at the Magic Kingdom not directly accessible from the Hub (that beautifully-landscaped circular area between Main Street USA and Cinderella Castle.) To access it, you’ll have to go through Liberty Square or Adventureland.
And trust us - you’ll want to take the walk. Frontierland is home to two of the Magic Kingdom’s Mountains - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and (for now) Splash Mountain. These are two of the most popular rides in the park and for good reason. But more on that below. Whether you’re looking for thrills, laughs, a place for the kids to run around or some peaceful, beautiful scenery, Frontierland is the place to go. Kind of like the West was for enterprising Americans a century or so ago.
This post is part of a series on all of the “lands” of Disney and Universal. You can check them all out here!
The most direct route here is to go through Liberty Square, so that’s the side on which our tour will begin. If you’re a history buff, this adds an extra layer of awesome, because it’s like you’re walking through American history. The beautiful, manicured Colonial Era architecture gives way to more rough-hewn log structures. The music changes from fife and drum to banjo and fiddle.
The first attraction you’ll come across is the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade, although at the time of writing, it is temporarily closed. This is a basic shooting arcade, and it’s the only attraction in the park that costs money to do. It’s $1 for 35 rounds.
Next, you’ll come across the Country Bear Jamboree, on your left. This is one of those Disney attractions that’s rather divisive. It has a lot of devoted fans who rave about the cleverness of a show that’s funny in one way as a child and funny on an entirely different level as an adult. There are also a lot of guests (the author included) who saw it once and just don’t care if they ever see it again. Essentially the Country Bear Jamboree is a stage show featuring audio-animatronic bears - a redneck group of country musicians. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s definitely worth a visit. And if you’re looking for a place to sit down inside with air conditioning, you definitely want to check it out.
As you continue along the path beside the Rivers of America, you’ll come to the first of Frontierland’s mountains - on the left. This is Splash Mountain, and it’s not to be missed. Splash Mountain is one of the pinnacles of Imagineering. It’s fun for all ages, has a cute story, is an immersive experience, and still provides a thrill thanks to the 89 foot drop at the end. This attraction is scheduled for a retheme to Princess and the Frog at some point in the near future, and we’re confident that the new version will be just as fantastic as the current one.
You may have already guessed it from the name, but you will get wet on this log flume ride. There’s no way around it. We HIGHLY recommend ordering some cheap ponchos from Amazon or Walmart and putting them in your backpack for your Magic Kingdom day. Put on the poncho before you board the ride.
If you’re not in sandals or waterproof shoes, you might want to think about bringing some flip flops with you to change into just for the ride. There is nothing worse than squelching around the park in wet socks and shoes (except perhaps if you got soaked below the waist too…)
Across the footpath from Splash Mountain is the raft launch point for Tom Sawyer Island. If you have kids in your party who need to run off some energy, then make the time to go here. There are places where the adults can sit down on a bench while the kids run around on various forested paths, exploring a fort, etc. They can’t get lost here, because it’s a small island.
Just up the path from Splash Mountain, on your left, you’ll find the Frontierland Station for the Walt Disney World Railroad. The railroad is currently closed for refurbishment, but when it’s open, this is a fun way to get a tour of the park and sit down for a good twenty minutes or so. The railroad stops in Fantasyland, across the park, and at Main Street USA at the park entrance. It’s not always the most efficient mode of transportation, but we particularly love it at the end of the night when our feet are sore and we don’t want to walk all the way back to Main Street.
If you keep walking up the pathway in Frontierland, you’ll come to its final attraction: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is a runaway mine train coaster on steroids - theme wise. Your mine train will take you through scenery that’s a mix of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos and Yellowstone’s geysers and thermal pools. It’s another Imagineering marvel that cannot be missed. It’s not so scary that kids will be afraid to ride, but it’s thrilling enough that all ages will enjoy it.
One pro-tip we’ll pass along: ride it during the day and after dark. People will tell you that the attraction goes faster at night. In reality, it only feels faster because the limited lighting tricks your brain into thinking your speed has increased. It’s still fun to do at night, if just for the fact that you will want to ride twice.
Don’t Miss It
Frontierland has only two dining locations: one quick service and one that’s seasonally quick service or table service. The latter - The Diamond Horseshoe - is a dinner show that features typical BBQ fare - brisket, pulled pork, grilled chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, etc. The show itself includes some audience participation, and that added entertainment makes up for the lackluster food quality. At the time of writing, The Diamond Horseshoe is closed, but we hope it will be back up and running soon!
The other dining location is Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. It straddles the border between Adventureland and Frontierland, serving up typical Mexican dishes like fajitas, nachos, carnitas and - oddly enough - a couple of burgers. We really enjoy the food here - for quality and price. It’s one of our top quick service locations in the park.
If you’re looking to shop, you’ll find a wide variety of western-themed souvenirs at the Frontierland Trading Post, over on the Liberty Square side of Frontierland. Right now, this is the only gift shop currently open in Frontierland, but it is a really large space with a wide variety of offerings. Kind of like an Old West general store.
For the sake of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad alone, Frontierland would earn itself a spot as a “must see” corner of the park. Both of these thrill rides made it on our list of Top 25 Walt Disney World Attractions. On top of that, it has an excellent quick service dining option, the humor of the Country Bear Jamboree, and a place to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of a busy park day, thanks to Tom Sawyer Island. All in all, we love Frontierland and wouldn’t consider a Magic Kingdom day complete without it.