Disneyland: Steps In Time, Frontierland

Here's another "before and after, and way after" series of images of Disneyland, beginning with the early 1950s concept art for the entrance to Frontierland, shown above. The 1958 photo of the completed entrance, below, shows a more elaborate version of the "fort" walls and towers, but no Indian village at the entrance. The Indian village ended up where Critter Country is today.
With the trees covering much of the fort, and modern metal railings keeping folks out of the pond, a modern view of the Frontierland entrance (shown below) doesn't seem quite as well themed. Somehow the grey concrete doesn't seem quite right either. Look back at that concept art again, and note the warmer tones and more natural look.
While new attractions have been added or updated in each of Disneyland's "lands", it seems Frontierland has gotten the mucky end of the stick. The last addition was Big Thunder Mountain (an outstanding ride) way back in 1979. But since then, Frontierland has lost the Mike Fink Keelboats, Fort Wilderness, The Golden Horseshoe Revue, and shops that sold Western merchandise, like the Pendleton Woolen Mills Dry Goods Store and the Indian Trading Post. And of course, Tom Sawyer's Island was re-themed with pirate stuff, making it more a part of New Orleans Square than Frontierland.

Having been sick at home for a week and a half, I've had the chance to watch a lot of Westerns on the new digital side-band channels. They range from poor to excellent, but they're all better than the "reality shows" and endless police procedurals produced today. Anyway, I can't help thinking that America is way overdue for a resurgence of interest in the Old West. All it would take would be one blockbuster movie or a couple major TV hits. If and when that happens, perhaps Disney will take another look at Frontierland.

By the way, Disneyland history fans will be interested to read Imagineering Disney's post about the Frito Kid, and Kevin Kidney's sad news about the mural at Plaza Pavilion. Both are worth reading.