If Tomorrowland  is all about retro-futurism, then Frontierland is all about retro-retro-ism, evoking a halcyon vision of the Mild West. While one wouldn’t expect to see cholera-infested wagon trains or massacres of Native Americans playing a large role in an escapist theme park, the sheer audacious silliness of something like the Country Bear Jamboree—in which animatronic bears sing cornpone songs that appeal to the very young and the very old—is something that only Walt Disney could imagine as part of the pioneer experience.
There are thrills to be found in Frontierland, most notably at its two marquee rides. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a loud and rickety wooden coaster that takes riders on a high-speed run through an abandoned mining town. The careening coaster dips into dark caves and plummets down the mountain, tossing you from side to side as it makes its way along the track. The ride can be quite intense for younger riders.
Splash Mountain is a bit less exhilarating than Big Thunder Mountain, but the 10-minute log flume ride—themed around Br’er Rabbit and his compatriots from Song of the South—can be deceptively calming. Multiple climbs and drops happen throughout the ride, and animatronic characters sing songs and tell the story of Br’er Rabbit in a series of densely detailed rooms, but it’s the final soaking plunge of nearly five stories that ensures long lines on hot summer days.
Tom Sawyer Island was rethemed in 2007 and is now known as “Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.” Despite the tie-in to the Johnny Depp film, which resulted in the majority of the island being turned over to things like “The Captain’s Treasure” and “Dead Man’s Cove,” there are still a few elements of the original Twain-inspired attraction like “Tom & Huck’s Tree House.”
Regardless of the facelift, Tom Sawyer Island is one of the least interesting places in the Magic Kingdom ; despite a freeform layout that should encourage exploration, the stifling crowds and numerous inaccessible areas make it feel more like a well-decorated ride entrance than an attraction in and of itself.