If you’ve been to a Wild West town before – whether it was an old authentic ghost town or right out of a theme park (like, say, Walt Disney World?) – you probably know the keys to a good western locale. First, there should be lots of wooden buildings. Second, there should be a saloon, or two, or four. Third, there should be some rollickin’ good music to put you in a square-dancin’ mood.
The Frontierland area of Magic Kindgom park has all three of these keys. The music in the area really transports you back in time to the good ol’ days and gets everyone excited to be in that area of the park. Whether you are eating at the Pecos Bill Cafe or heading to the queue for Big Thunder Mountain, you are successfully inundated through the atmosphere and AtMousePhere.
Let’s take a closer look!
There are some songs that have not only withstood the test of time around campfires under the stars, but also live on in our music books as being classic American folk songs. A couple of those can be heard in Frontierland, like “On Top of Old Smokey,” “Home on the Range,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” and more.
As much as we like to assume that “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” has been around since the 1800s, it was only composed in 1954 for the Disney miniseries Davy Crockett. However, with the gigantic following that the song (and the coonskin cap), it would be silly not to include it in the Frontierland loop. After all, the Frontierland we know and love probably wouldn’t exist had the Davy Crockett craze not taken place!
Another song in the loop that wasn’t popularized until the 20th century is “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” originally composed by Stan Jones but popularized by Johnny Cash and others. I find this to be a neat addition to the loop, because while many of the other songs have a very upbeat, nostalgic vibe, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” is a tale of warning and woe, and that minor key can still be felt in the loop, despite the peppy arrangement.
As I researched, I noticed that I recognized many of the songs without even realizing it. I’ve heard the tunes in the background of movies or television shows without knowing the title or words. I didn’t want to call this group “unfamiliar” because many people might be just like me: they’ve heard it before but never knew what it was called. But there still might be others who know these songs very well!
A few well-known tunes include “Git Along, Little Dogies,” “Back in the Saddle Again,” “I’ve Got Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle,” and “The Old Chisholm Trail.”
A relatively complete list of Frontierland songs can be found here. Unfortunately, most of the songs aren’t available to purchase, which probably means they were arranged and recorded specifically for Disney.
One of the most important parts of Frontierland music is the instruments that go with the songs. If you were to hear “A Lonely Cowboy” with a full orchestra, you might get a little confused. However, play the song using instruments common to people in the western frontier 150 years ago, and the songs begin to feel more comfortable and familiar.
If ever there was an area’s music that could successfully transport you out of this time and into the past, Frontierland would be it. Not only do the songs fit the theme, but the instruments lend a hand to give you that “down-home” feeling.
As Roy Rogers and Dale Evans liked to sing, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again!”
Did I miss your favorite Frontierland tune? Have you ever recognized “Ghost Riders in the Sky” while walking in the park? I’m almost done with the Magic Kingdom – which park should I cover next? Please comment below!