A Photo Essay at
Yesterland
Disneyland Long Ago, Not-So-Long Ago, and Now:
Frontierland
 
Back in 2009, I ran a series of “Disneyland Then and Now” articles comparing Disneyland photos from the 1950s to similar photos in 2009. It’s now 2015. Because 2009 is no longer “now,” I went back to the same locations to take another look.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, February 13, 2015    



Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Frontierland entrance (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Frontierland entrance (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Frontierland entrance (2015 photo)

It’s amazing how similar the photos above are. But there are some differences:

  • The Frontierland sign originally had dark text on a light background, rather than the other way around.
  • The Pendleton Woolen Mills Dry Goods Store is now gone. A founding tenant in Frontierland when Disneyland opened in 1955, the Pendleton shop lasted almost 35 years until April 1990.
  • Bonanza Outfitters is still a pale green, just like Pendleton, but with a wider sign.
  • The Pioneer Mercantile’s sign has a similar shape to that of the Davy Crockett Arcade, but the shape is somewhat different.



Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Frontier Trading Post (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Westward Ho Trading Company (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Westward Ho Trading Company (2015 photo)

The rustic retail store inside the Frontierland entrance stockade has another name, but still looks similar on the outside.

  • The rather generically named “Frontier Trading Post” became “Westward Ho Trading Company,” possibly as a tribute to the 1956 Disney live-action film Westward Ho the Wagons.
  • In the oldest photo, the Frontierland Shooting Gallery (to the left of the shop) had not yet been built.
  • The cigar store Indian in the 2009 photo—a twin of the one on Main Street—disappeared a few years ago.

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Frontierland waterfront (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Frontierland waterfront (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Frontierland waterfront (2015 photo)

The buildings on the Frontierland waterfront have had cosmetic changes, but only one building looks considerably different:

  • The photo from the 1950s shows the Southwestern exterior style of Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House; in the two later photos, it has become River Belle Terrace, looking like a Southern mansion.
  • The Dixieland Band Stand is gone.
  • In 1956, the dock on Tom Sawyer Island was on the other side of the southern tip of the island—which explains why the rafts are where they are in the first Frontierland waterfront photo.

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Grist mill with waterwheel on Tom Sawyer Island (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Daytime view of Fantasmic! stage (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Daytime view of Fantasmic! stage (2015 photo)

The southern tip of Tom Sawyer Island looks very different today than in the 1950s:

  • Despite considerable effort to make the Fantasmic! stage look like random rocks, crates, and shacks, the results are not entirely convincing.
  • The “snow-capped” Matterhorn, not Sleeping Beauty Castle, is now the major distant landmark. The Matterhorn is painted differently in the 2015 photo.
  • Surprisingly, if you look to the left of the Matterhorn, you can still catch a glimpse of Sleeping Beauty Castle—despite the huge trees. The castle is being prepped for the park’s 60th anniversary in the 2015 photo.

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island (2009 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island (2015 photo)

Castle Rock was once a prominent landmark. With caves inside and a panoramic view from the higher parts, Castle Rock has been a part of Tom Sawyer Island since 1957. But it looks quite different today:

  • Wooden elements, made to look as if salvaged from a ship, have been added around Castle Rock for safety.
  • Castle Rock now appears smaller because the trees have grown so much.
  • There are now bushes along much of the waterfront trail.
  • There’s no dust on the digital photo from 2009!

Disneyland Then & Now, vintage photo
Golden Horeseshoe Saloon (photo from 1950s)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2009 photo
Golden Horeseshoe Saloon (2005 photo)
 

Disneyland Then & Now, 2015 photo
Golden Horeseshoe Saloon (2015 photo)

Slue Foot Sue’s Golden Horseshoe, an old Western saloon that never served alcohol, has served up entertainment and refreshments since Disneyland’s opening day.

  • You won’t find Pepsi-Cola in Disneyland any more.
  • The saloon’s exterior looks fancier—more golden—than it did in its early years

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© 2009-2015 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated February 27, 2015.

Vintage photos of Disneyland from the 1950s: Charles R. Lympany and Frank T. Taylor, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photo of Golden Horseshoe in 2005: Allen Huffman.
All photos from 2009 and 2015: Werner Weiss.