Breaking up our Disneyland Paris experience into 8 parts, we’ll continue, with the next of the “Lands” and the 3rd part of this series of Disneyland Paris.
Today, we explore: Frontierland!!
This is part 3 of 8
(Links to previous parts can be found here, just click the links!)
See how the West was Won!
“The frontier of the Far West was a rugged landscape of great expectations and grand illusions, where dreams rode wild, and simple lives became legends. As you pass through these gates, follow the footsteps of the pioneers… and dream. Welcome to FRONTIERLAND” – Entry plaque
As you mosey through the legends of the Wild West. Cruise on a paddle steamboat and ride a runaway mine train on Big Thunder Mountain. Young folk can play in the Pocahontas Indian Village, while sharp-shooters can test their aim in the Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery.
Frontierland is one of the themed lands at Disneyland Paris in France. Located in the area that is traditionally occupied by Adventureland, Frontierland at Disneyland Park opened with Euro Disneyland in 1992.
Unlike all of the other instances, this instance has an elaborate backstory concerning the town of Thunder Mesa, founded by Henry Ravenswood to support the mining of Big Thunder Mountain. This backstory also serves as the foundation for several of the attractions, such as Phantom Manor.
The land is the largest of all of the Frontierlands thus far, containing the entire Rivers of the Far West within its borders.
Two riverboats circle the Rivers of America, the Molly Brown and the Mark Twain. Critter Coral was an old area of the land converted into Woody Roundup, a meet and greet area with Woody from Pixar’s Toy Story and Jessie from the sequel Toy Story 2.
The land is converted into ‘Halloweenland’ in October, with many pumpkins and other scary characters lurking around every corner.
Frontierland borders Adventureland and the Central Plaza of Main Street, U.S.A. via Fort Comstock.
Attractions and Entertainment in Frontierland
- Legends of the Wild West
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Phantom Manor
- Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing
- Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery
- River Rogue Keel Boats
- Pocahontas Indian Village
Legends of the Wild West
Pass through the old wooden gates of Fort Comstock into Frontierland; climb the watch-towers and see the old canon. Keep your heads down though, those leathery legends, Buffalo Bill and Davy Crockett are about.
The attraction opened in 1993, and features wax figures of characters from the American Far-West, and even famous “Legends”.
The attraction takes place in a Civil War-inspired fort, known as Fort Comstock, located at the entrance of Thunder Mesa (the fictional city portrayed in Frontierland). Guests are led to the upper floor, where the following wax figures are visible:
The Forty-Niner, who has just found golden nuggets during the Gold Rush.
The Thug, snoring in prison, waiting for a jailbreak.
The Sheriff in his office, full of Wanted posters. He is getting ready for his next shootout.
Davy Crockett, here seen shooting another man.
Buffalo Bill in his home, preparing his Wild West Show with two other men.
Big Thunder Mountain
A thundering, walloping, explosive ride at every turn!
Hold onto your hats, partners, for the fastest, wildest train west of the Mississippi. Watch out for coyotes and rattlers at every turn!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is set in the American Southwest and follows the same general runaway train experience, though with varying backstories and geological structure.
During the Gold Rush in the late 1800s, gold was discovered in Big Thunder Mountain and boomtowns sprung up nearby accordingly such as Rainbow Ridge (Disneyland), Tumbleweed and Dry Gulch (Magic Kingdom) and Thunder Mesa (Disneyland Paris).
A Mine Train system was established to transport the ore, but what the settlers didn’t count on was that Big Thunder was sacred ground for local Indian tribes. The spirit of Big Thunder was not pleased with the gold being removed from the mountain and the towns and mining company suffered accidents from flooding (Magic Kingdom) and earthquakes (Disneyland, Disneyland Paris).
The trains themselves began operating on their own, possessed by mischievous spirits. Though the towns promptly became abandoned, adventurous visitors still arrived to ride the haunted trains.
Here’s your invitation to the spookiest wedding of all!
Set cautious foot inside this haunted mansion and unravel the mystery of the bride who waited for her groom in vain. The spooky walls and pictures tell their own grisly tale. High ‘spirited’ fun.
Phantom Manor is Disneyland Paris’s equivalent of The Haunted Mansion. Telling a more elaborate and darker backstory than it’s counterpart as well as using a Western theme, the attraction has many unique scenes and altered takes on classic ones.
Henry Ravenswood was a Western settler that struck gold in Big Thunder Mountain and founded the Thunder Mesa Mining Company, thus creating the city of Thunder Mesa. Ravenswood became rich and built himself a Victorian manor high on a hill overlooking Big Thunder Mountain where he raised a family and had a daughter, Melanie Ravenswood .
Time went by and the gold in Thunder Mesa ran out and Melanie grew from a young girl into a beautiful young woman, and the time came for her to get married. She became engaged to an intelligent train engineer who planned to take her far away from Thunder Mesa, much to the dismay of Henry.
Henry did everything he could to stop the wedding but his useless attempts were put to a stop when a terrible earthquake killed him and his wife Martha (Born 1802), and Melanie was never heard from again.
After several years, the story of what really happened came out from underneath the rubble. On Melanie’s wedding day, a mysterious phantom unknown to anyone in the house appeared in the manor. While Melanie was preparing in her room the phantom lured her suitor up to the attic where he hung him by the neck from the rafters.
In the ballroom the bride sat alone. Hours went by with no sign of the groom. The guests slowly filed away, leaving Melanie alone in the house with the staff of maids and butlers. “Some day”, she told herself, “he will come”. And so, having never taken off her wedding dress or dropped her bouquet in preparation of her loved one’s return, she wandered the house aimlessly, singing melancholy songs of lost love.
The phantom was still in the house, laughing at her humanly devotion to her intended husband. One by one he invited his dead, demonic friends from the afterlife to fill the house in an eternal party. The shape of the house was slowly transformed surreality by the evil forces.
Inside and outside, the house was decaying.
Dusty cobwebs cover every inch, the disheartened staff caring not, for it was rumored that Melanie had lost her mind. She wandered the house for years and years, singing softly to her groom while all around her demons and ghosts reveled and danced. Everywhere she went she was reminded of the wedding.
The phantom’s eternal laughter still carried through the walls of the house. Outside, the once beautiful grounds were falling apart and crumbling. The gilded staircase and structure was dotted with mold and trees and every plant on the grounds died.
As if sensing the evil inherent in the house, nothing living dared to tread there.
As Disneyland Paris took on a great level of sophistication and detail, Imagineers chose to place the Haunted Mansion in Frontierland and taking cues from the European love of the old American West, constructed an elaborate storyline connecting all of Frontierland, particularly the newly christened Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
The attraction itself would center around the popular bride character of other Haunted Mansions.
The Phantom, who only narrates the walking portions of the attraction, would be voiced by Vincent Price, but the Parisian demands for a French audio track lead to an early replacement of the narration by one recorded by Gérard Chevalier, who had done French dubwork over Price before.
Its queue, A large mansion confronting Frontierland, Is much based on the mansion in Alfred Hichcoc´s Psycho. Compare both mansions and take your conclusions.
The attraction, along with the rest of Paris’ Frontierland, would serve as a large homage to the unbuilt Western River Expedition, with Phantom Manor using a ghost town take on the attraction’s western town scenes.
Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing
Take the “Mark Twain” or the “Molly Brown” for a spectacular cruise of the Wild West.
All aboard an old paddle steamer for a leisurely riverboat ride around the Old West sights of Frontierland. Not to be “Miss- issippied” at any cost!
Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery
Fancy yourself as a hot-shot? Then step right up and take pot shots at cacti, or even that old varmint Peg-Leg Pete. Bulls-eye!
Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery is an attraction at Frontierland in Disneyland Paris. It simulates a shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, over Boot Hill in 1850. The gallery includes a jail, hotel, bank, and a cemetery with targets which are animated when shot. There are a total of 97 targets in the shooting gallery. Originally, the guns shot lead pellets, but were replaced with infra-red light rifles due to the maintenance costs of repainting the targets almost every night. This would use 2,000 gallons of paint a year.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, and Walt Disney World Resort also has a similar attraction, under different names.
River Rogue Keel Boats
Fink 169 Boats was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and at Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida under the name of Mike Fink Keel Boats. It consists of small boats navigating the Rivers of America. The attraction at Disneyland Paris is very similar and almost identical- existing currently, under the name of River Rogue Keel Boats.
The Fink 169 Boats were based on the Walt Disney television shows, later made into feature length movies, Davy Crockett’s 169 Boat Race and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.
The boats were free-floating and traveled on the Rivers of America and across Tom Sawyer Island. Yet, the ride was named after the “King of the River” who lost the 169 boat race.
People would sit inside the seating area inside one of the boats with a roof on the top where more people could sit also. This was the design issue that caused it to close. On the inside, guests could watch full episodes of Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett.
Pocahontas Indian Village
The Pocahontas Indian Village is the perfect playground for your young brave Indians. They’ll enjoy climbing and sliding near the reconstructed village of the legendary Algonquian princess.
Coming next up will be: Adventureland!
(Links to previous entries on our Europe journey can be found here, click the links above!)
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