A tour of Disneyland Paris: Frontierland
Written by Robert Niles
Welcome to Frontierland at Disneyland Paris!Tweet
As you enter the land, you'll pass through a fort that looks a fair sight like the old Fort Sam Clemens that used to provide a play area on the north side of the Tom Sawyer's Islands in the United States.
Disney built the fort here at the land's entrance due to the fact that there is no Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland Paris. But we'll get back to that in a minute. For now, let's just note that we've entered the town of Thunder Mesa.
You can take a ride down the river on the Molly Brown.
Or visit the spooky Phantom Manor.
Phantom Manor is Disneyland Paris' version of the Haunted Mansion. Unlike the other Mansions, which are kept in (more or less) immaculate condition on their outsides, Phantom Manor's a decrepit old wreck of a house. It seems that the mansion itself was abandoned years ago, save for a lonely bride, who eternally awaits the arrival of her groom, who's hanging dead in the rafters.
Phantom Manor plays much like the Disneyland version of the ride, until we leave the ballroom scene. From there, we enter the bride's dressing room before leaving the manor and entering the graveyard. But that's not the end of the ride. Not even close.
Paris' Phantom Manor is easily the most gruesome of all the Haunted Mansions, with a skeleton-filled Phantom Canyon following the graveyard. This is the ghoulish land that Thunder Mesa became after an earthquake wrecked the town and a Phantom descended upon the manor, killing the bride's groom and cursing the surroundings.
It's said that the Phantom Canyon scenes represent some of the concept work for Marc Davis' never-built Western River Expedition dark ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. (That project was famously dumped when Disney decided to build an abbreviated version of Disneyland's hit Pirates of the Caribbean instead.)
The other major component of the Western River Expedition project that did get developed is the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster. In Paris, Thunder is not placed on the riverbank, as it is in the other Magic Kingdoms. Here, it's dropped smack in the middle of the river, replacing Tom Sawyer Island.
You still board Paris' Thunder on the mainland, though, then ride your runaway train under the river through a tunnel before ascending the first lift. From there, this Big Thunder runs much like its siblings around the world, except for the addition of another trip back through the tunnel to return to the mainland station. The drop in elevation to get through the tunnel helps add speed to the ride, making this version of Thunder Mountain the longest and fastest in the world.
As on Main Street, there's spectacular detail awaiting in Frontierland, for anyone taking the time to notice. As a former resident of Colorado, I loved the reference not just to Molly Brown (see the riverboat above), but also to Baby Doe Tabor:
There's plenty to look at in the stores, too, up there above the merchandise racks.
Natalie appreciated Disneyland Paris remembering the French-set "Aristocats" with plenty of Marie and Duchess dolls for sale.
Curiously, although I saw plenty of Aristocats and Ratatouille-inspired merchandise, I saw nothing for Hunchback of Notre Dame. Does that tell us something about the French view of Disney movies set in their country?
All this shopping makes some folks hungry, so the ladies stopped for a handmade cotton candy:
Your more substantial food options in Frontierland include the table service Silver Spur Steakhouse:
And if you're looking for a show with your meal, drop in The Lucky Nugget Saloon:
Previously: A tour of Main Street USA
Tomorrow: We visit Adventureland, and Paris' Jack Sparrow-free version of Pirates of the Caribbean.
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