February 2, 2010

Disneyland's Nature's Wonderland

In the long ago, Disneyland's Frontierland was home to the ultimate western atmospheric attraction: Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland.

Guests boarded old and creaky mine trains for a tour of the wild west. Encountering creatures large and small along the way, these stories of nature enthralled the youngest guests to the oldest visitors. Geyers, cacti, bubbling "paint pots" and cascading waterfalls created the perfect backdrop for this western America version of Adventureland's Jungle Cruise.

Eventually, guests longed for bigger thrills- and the success of Space Mountain paved the way for the beloved mine train ride to give way to Tony Baxter's project, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. So, seventeen years of a mild tour became the "Wildest Ride in the Wilderness".

In tribute, Imagineer Christopher Merritt created this gorgeous map detailing journeys no longer taken. (I left this image extremely large to enable a closer inspection.) Nowadays, Frontierland is a pale reminder of its past grandeur. However, Christopher Merritt's beautiful artwork is a stunning reminder of days gone by with attractions which had the personal touch of Walt Disney. Thank you, Mr. Merritt.

(Artwork copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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