A Photo Essay at
Disneyland Then and Now:
Four weeks ago, I ran Then and Now: Main Street and the Castle, part of a series comparing Disneyland photos from the 1950s to similar photos in 2009. Here’s the next installment.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, October 22, 2009    

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

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

Welcome to Frontierland—and welcome to Frontierland a half century later. It’s a amazing how similar the two views (above) are. But there are some differences:

  • The Frontierland sign now has light text on a dark 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)

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 first photo, the Frontierland Shooting Gallery (to the left of the shop) has not yet been built.
  • A twin of the cigar store Indian from the Tobacco Shop on Main Street now stands in front of the store.

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

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

The Frontierland waterfront is surprisingly similar in the two photos. The buildings have had cosmetic changes, but only one building looks considerably different:

  • Today, River Belle Terrace looks like a Southern mansion, but the photo from the 1950s shows the Southwestern exterior style of Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House.
  • 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)

The southern tip of Tom Swayer 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.
  • Surprisingly, if you look to the left of the Matterhorn, you can still catch a glimpse of Sleeping Beauty Castle—despite the huge trees of today.

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)

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 looks small in relation to the trees.
  • There are now bushes along much of the waterfront trail.
  • There’s no dust on the digital photo from 2009!

Now, please take a look at other “Then & Now” photo essays at Yesterland:

Click here to discuss this page on the Yesterland Discussion Forum at MiceChat!

Then & Now: Three Lands
Then & Now: Main Street

© 2009 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated November 13, 2009.

Vintage photos of Disneyland: Charles R. Lympany and Frank T. Taylor, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Similar photos from 2009: Werner Weiss.