Magical Blogorail – WDW vs. Disneyland – Frontierland

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney Nouns and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the  Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

It is truly like comparing Apples and Oranges when you are trying to compare Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  As we close this riding the rails series, I am going to take a look at one of my favorite lands: Frontierland and its counterpart in California, but in all fairness I am adding in Critter Country to my analysis.  

When we look at Frontierland we see the old west and undiscovered wilderness.  Looking at a map of the Magic Kingdom, Frontierland is located in the top left corner of the park.  If we stretch out a map of Disneyland, Frontierland and Critter Country almost take up the exact same space as Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom.  So are they really that different? Yes and no.

Disney World


Lets look at attractions first. The most obvious overlap is found in the major attraction of the land: Big Thunder Mountain.  Both parks feature this runaway train ride, although the location is slightly different.  Also, Disneyland’s version has just received some major upgrades and will be worth a ride even if you are a veteran park goer.  There are other similar attractions, but the differences become more evident the deeper we go.  Next lets look at Tom Sawyer’s Island.  Both parks feature this great escape from the hustle and bustle of the “main land.”  But only around seven years ago did the islands truly become different from each other.  In Florida, Tom Sawyer still rules the island and most of the theme relates back to the classic Mark Twain novel.  In California, however, Tom Sawyer has been replaced with Captain Jack and the rest of the Pirates crew.  Now dubbed Pirates Lair, Tom Sawyer’s Island even has the bone cage from Dead Man’s Chest that you can run through while exploring.  Around the island, Disney World gives you two transportation options to cruise the Rivers of America: Liberty Square Riverboat and Kneelboats to Tom Sawyer’s Island.   The Liberty Square Riverboat is located in Liberty Square, but it is a very close sibling to the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Disneyland counterpart.  Disneyland offers some unique experiences to ride the Rivers.  You can hop aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia or take an athletic ride in the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes.  Both of these options are completely Disneyland and you cannot find a copy in Florida.  As we move towards the back of Disneyland, we enter Critter Country, a place that for this article we are considering still in Frontierland.  In Critter Country we find Splash Mountain, an all time favorite.  Although the Splash Mountain in Florida is an almost exact replica of the original in Disneyland, the main difference is the ride vehicle.  In Florida you ride side by side, while in California you get to enjoy sitting in a row front to back.  Odd how this layout is swapped for Space Mountain, but that is another land.  
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Splash Mountain
Now we get to the elephant in the room, or should I say bear in the room.  At Disneyland Critter Country was created originally as Bear Country to hold the Country Bear Jamboree.  At Disney World the Country Bears still reside in Frontierland.  At Disneyland though, you cannot see the Country Bears anymore.  All you can see now is Winnie the Pooh.  Now I must admit that the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh outdoor loading area and queue is interesting, but I am sure there is a big group of devoted fans that miss Henry, Liverlips, and all the others.  

When it comes to dining the biggest similarity would have to be the saloons.  At Disneyland you have the Golden Horseshoe and at Disney World the Diamond Horseshoe, but neither really live up to their former glory days.  The other big dining option in Disney World would be Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe with a great fixins bar that almost makes a meal in itself.  At Disneyland you have Big Thunder Ranch and the Hungry Bear Restaurant.  I think the most unique location is Big Thunder Ranch, where the atmosphere changes with the seasons.  This area really reminds me of Fort Wilderness at Disney World only it is in the park and not at a resort.  

Kiosks and shopping change so much, but everyone knows the staple of Frontierland would be to grab a Turkey Leg and watch the parade walk through.  Some of the best images at a Magic Kingdom type park is Frontierland at sunset.  The landscapes and music all combine for great pictures and a relaxing walk.  At night Disney World has little to offer different from what is offered in the daytime, but in Disneyland the Rivers of America come alive with Fantasmic!  I know that veterans of Disney World have a hard time swallowing the view of Fantasmic! on the Rivers of America, but it is a truly magical experience.  The Disneyland version of Fantasmic! offers a few different scenes, my favorite being the Peter Pan scene that utilizes the Sailing Ship Columbia.  Also the Maleficent dragon is pretty incredible. 

Now, while both Frontierlands and Critter Country share the same spirit, there are so many unique twists and turns along the lands that you need to visit each and see for yourself.  

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Blue this month.  We will be back on May 15th with an all new theme.  Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos, and stories.  If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website ( see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

21 thoughts on “Magical Blogorail – WDW vs. Disneyland – Frontierland

  1. What a great first post for the Blogorail, Bryce! Thanks for sharing it with us! I really enjoyed my time at Disneyland last year, and since Big Thunder Mountain was going through those renovations at the time, I've got an excuse to go back! I loved the Sailing Ship Columbia, too!

    Did you decide which one you like best?


  2. Awesome detail of both parks! I haven't been to Disneyland yet, but I do think it would be weird to see Fantasmic on Rivers of America. Do you think the canoes would be a good addition to WDW?


  3. Great post! We loved being able to see the entertainment in the Diamond Horseshoe and had a fun conversation with the sheriff when he was just out walking around. I'm not the biggest Fantasmic fan but it was so cool seeing in on the RIvers of America with the Sailing Ship Columbia. So for me I guess Disneyland wins this one.


  4. Mike, to be honest I can't let go of WDW Frontierland. I love how Splash and Big Thunder are right next to each other and it really makes for some great vistas. Plus, we still have Country Bears. WDW wins.


  5. Bryce, I was thinking the same thing! It's practically too humid to walk at WDW. I'd definitely end up in the water, and just maybe it won't be because of my clumsiness!


  6. Bryce, have you had a chance to ride Big Thunder Mountain yet, since the refurb? I was lucky to ride it during the previews because I'm a DVC member and it was PHENOMENAL. The little touches really made the ride shine again! Great post! And welcome to the Magical Blogorail, the wildest Disney Bloggers in the wilderness!


  7. Great comparison of the two parks, Bryce! I've never been to Disneyland, so I have no personal experience, but I think I would learn your way and pick the WDW version. 🙂 It was nice to have you on the Blogorail this month!


  8. This one really is a toss up – I like so much about each land. I am a Disneyland gal and I miss my Country Bears so very much. However, I just rode Big Thunder in Disneyland and the upgrades totally rock. ~ Dawn


  9. This post got me thinking how Critter Country would probably be such a better fit being attached to Frontierland instead of New Orleans Square.
    I was lucky to ride BTMR the week it opened from the overhaul and it is AMAZING!
    I am excited to check out the WDW version and do my own comparison.
    Great post!


  10. This must just be my favorite-of-all-time Magical Blogorail loop! I simply love that each of you choose a particular land to compare/contrast. Yours might have been the toughest analysis, since these lands vary so widely from coast to coast. As you well point out, Disneyland and Walt Disney World have unique offerings in their Frontierlands. My vote? Disneyland Paris! (I'm a chicken. :D)


  11. When I was at DL, I didn't even notice Country Bears was missing… maybe that says something!! I would definitely choose WDW because of BTM Railroad and Splash being together! Love them both!


  12. You haven't been to DLR yet, but your posting a comparison and saying that you like WDW better. Okay then.

    Nothing will ever beat the original. You will see when you visit in August.


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