Disney History: The Films of Fronteirland

After Fantasyland, it would be difficult to pin down Walt Disney's favorite land in Magic Kingdom, but Frontierland was certainly near and dear to his heart. This is evident in the number of films and television shows produced by the Walt Disney Company that support the theme and inspire the attractions that we still love today. Let's explore some of the films that set the scene and inspired some of the classic attractions that we still enjoy today.

Big Thunder Mountain RailroadBig Thunder Mountain Railroad

Titles from live action Westward Ho the Wagons to animated shorts like "Paul Bunyan" contribute to the atmosphere of Frontierland, but short subjects like "Pecos Bill" have inspired specific locations in Frontierland. Pecos Bill is one of Disney's longer short subjects and it can be found in the film compilation Melody Time, originally released in 1948. In addition to providing guests with a Tex-Mex restaurant, Pecos Bill's long-lost love Slue-Foot Sue used to star in the dinner show at the Diamond Horseshoe.

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe Serves up Tex MexPecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe Serves up Tex Mex

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates not only provide the bulk of the ambiance of Frontierland , but they directly inspired three attractions, The Frontierland Shooting Arcade, the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, and the former Mike Fink Keel Boats. In addition, many of the visuals along the Rivers of America can be attributed to Davy Crockett. Splash Mountain comes directly from the story of Br'er Rabbit that Uncle Remus tells the children in Song of the South. But if you'd like to pick up a legal copy of this 1946 classic, you'll have to dust off your trusty laser disc player. The film was last released in the U.S. in 1986. Disney has since dubbed it racially insensitive and rereleases in the future are considered unlikely.

Splash Mountain Tells The Story of Br'er Rabbit from Song of the SouthSplash Mountain Tells The Story of Br'er Rabbit from Song of the South

As with Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland, sometimes the attraction comes first and the film follows. Surprisingly, despite Walt's admiration for American novelist Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer's Island preceded any of Disney's films revolving around the story and Walt never personally made a film about Tom Sawyer. The earliest Disney-related credit on a Tom Sawyer film was for Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote the music for the Reader's Digest production of Tom Sawyer in 1973. The Adventures of Huck Finn wasn't released until 1993, with Tom & Huck following two years later.

Davy Crockett's Explorer CanoesDavy Crockett's Explorer Canoes

Two attractions in Frontierland have no direct roots Disney film - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Country Bear Jamboree. Big Thunder Mountain takes its story from a twist on Disneyland's original Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland. While this original attraction also had no direct movie link, one could argue that it complimented Walt Disney's beloved nature films. Country Bear Jamboree was a sideshow that was originally intended to be part of a Disney ski resort that Walt had envisioned in Mineral King Valley, with the films to come much later.

What's your favorite film that is celebrated in Frontierland? What is your favorite attraction in this section of the park? Leave a note in the comments below!

Paul C wrote on Tue, 07/12/2016 - 19:32:

Paul C's picture

What? No Earnest Goes to Splash Mountain?

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 07/13/2016 - 18:29:

Kristen K.'s picture

LOL! Was that a thing Paul?

Tim wrote on Thu, 07/21/2016 - 20:22:

Tim's picture

I thought the Country Bears have a movie..... Check this one.
Disney's The Country Bears

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