Yesterland Conestoga Wagons
Photo of Conestoga Wagon
“Westward Ho!” You’re a pioneer heading to a new life in the American West.

Climb aboard a Conestoga Wagon. You’ll be pulled by two strong horses, as your Conestoga Wagon takes you on a genuine dirt path along the Rivers of America and through the Living Desert.

Photo of Conestoga Wagon
The Conestoga Wagon loading area is next to the Rainbow Ridge Pack Mule loading area.

Yester-Frontierland is on the move. As you peer from under the canvas cover of your Conestoga Wagon, you might see Mike Fink Keel Boats and Indian War Canoes navigating the Rivers of America. As your trail continues to the Living Desert, you’ll see park guests on the backs of Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules, riding the Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach Ride, or being transported in the ore cars of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train.

Photo of Conestoga Wagon
A Conestoga Wagon follows a bank of the Rivers of America.

Disneyland launched the Conestoga Wagons attraction in August 1955, the month after Disneyland opened to the public.

Here’s how a newspaper advertisement for Disneyland described the Conestoga Wagons:

You will ride the Conestoga Wagon in Frontierland—one of the most picturesque and vital vehicles in history.
It was the Conestoga, not the Covered Wagon, that developed the West. The great wagons were first built in the Conestoga Valley of Pennsylvania, with water tight bottoms that permitted safe crossing of rivers.
You will also ride authentic stagecoaches, pack trains, and buckboards in this remarkable re-creation of the old West.
— Disneyland advertisement for Frontierland
Pasadena Independent
Sunday, December 18, 1955

The advertisement shows how the early Disneyland was all about having experiences that you were unlikely to have in the real world. By the way, the buckboards never materialized at Disneyland. (A buckboard is also a wooden wagon, but with a simpler, boxier design than a Conestoga Wagon.)

The Conestoga Wagons attraction was supposed to give you the experience of riding in a Conestoga Wagon. It wasn’t simply a ride vehicle from which you would see something. Sure, there was great scenery, such as the clever anthropomorphic cacti of the Living Desert. However, the real attraction was the wagon itself—an opportunity to travel like a “Westward Ho!” pioneer. (The reality is that the actual pioneer families typically walked alongside the Conestoga Wagons, which were filled with the family’s possessions, rather than riding in them. But that wouldn’t have been as much fun for a Disneyland ride.)

Speaking of “Westward Ho!” there’s a rather forgettable 1956 Disney live-action movie called Westward Ho the Wagons. The cast included Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker, Jeff “Mike Fink” York, Sebastian “Mr. French” Cabot, George “TV Superman” Reeves, and four Mouseketeers—Karen, Cubby, Doreen, and Tommy. Not surprisingly, the movie is about the experiences of settlers heading west by wagon train.

In September 1959, the Conestoga Wagons attraction ended its run of slightly more than four years. It was time to begin construction of Nature’s Wonderland for the 1960 opening of the Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland and the Pack Mules through Nature’s Wonderland.

Photo of Conestoga Wagon
Conestoga Fries, the only Conestoga Wagon now at Disneyland, was hosted by McDonald’s.

For almost ten years, you could again find a Conestoga Wagon at Disneyland... sort of...

Conestoga Fries, hosted by McDonald’s, opened in November 1998 at almost the exact spot at which guests originally boarded the Conestoga Wagons ride.

Photo of Conestoga Wagon
“Treats manly enough for his hunger and delicate enough for her taste.”

In September 2008, the McDonald’s logo disappeared from Conestoga Fries. The eatery was removed.

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Rainbow Mtn. Stagecoach Ride
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© 2007-2010 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated June 25, 2010.

Photo of Conestoga Wagon with “Westward Ho!” canvas: by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photo of Conestoga Wagon in Rainbow Ridge: courtesy of Ron Yungul.
Photo of Mark Twain riverboat and Conestoga Wagon: by Charles R. Lympany, courtesy of Chris Taylor.
Photo of Conestoga Fries, hosted by McDonald’s: 2006 by Werner Weiss.
Photo of Conestoga Fries, hosted by McDonald’s (detail): 2006 by Werner Weiss.