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8 Things We Love About Disneyland’s New Rivers of America and Frontierland Expansion

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In January 2016, Disneyland’s Rivers of America, train, and chunks of Frontierland closed to be chopped and/or reconfigured to make room for a huge Star Wars expansion. It was a long year and a half without all these wonderful and classic attractions, but we all managed to survive. Last week, all the attractions that closed last year have now reopened. While you can make an argument that the old/longer Rivers of America was better, or that you miss Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and so on, there’s no denying that there’s a lot of great parts with the new additions. Here’s 8 things we love about Disneyland’s new Rivers of America and Frontierland expansion.

#8: No Duck Poop On Anything

Hey, I get it. Animals poop. But over the years the ducks covered the Rivers of America’s props and things with so much poop that some of them were turning white. For example, look at this Native America boy and his dog on a log–they’re so clean now! Along the river you’ll also see moose, deer, birds, and other animals and scenery. All of them are sparkling and look fantastic.

#7: Disneyland Railroad’s New Left Turn

Disney hyped up the fact that the Disneyland Railroad, for the first time ever, makes a LEFT turn while circling around Disneyland. It’s as impressive as you would imagine. If you can’t wait to experience it yourself, skip to the 1:28 mark in the video embedded above.

#6: Five New Waterfalls

What’s better than one waterfall? FIVE waterfalls. Disney has added five new waterfalls along the Rivers of America. They are not only nice to look at, but they add great sound and kinetic energy to the area.

Look at these beauties!

#5: Nice New Props

Along the river and the Big Thunder Trail (which connects Frontierland to Fantasyland) you’ll find wonderful new scenery and props to look at and admire.

Like this mining stuff.

And this bald eagle in a nest.

As well as this stagecoach, which we hear was purchased from Knott’s Berry Farm (also notice the WED Imagineering reference on the door). Speaking of this stagecoach, there’s something very cool in its luggage rack, which brings us to number 4.

#4: A Reference to An Unbuilt Disneyland Land

This is one of the most wonderfully nerdy and obscure references I’ve seen Disney add in a while. Jason Chandler is a character created for Disneyland’s never-built Discovery Bay land. You may also know Jason Chandler as being a member of S.E.A., or Society of Explorers and Adventurers. S.E.A. is a backstory that weaves together multiple attractions and characters from Disney parks around the world. I love stuff like this.

#3: A Remnant of Long-Gone Disneyland Attraction

This dusty old trail may be overlooked by most park visitors but it’s actually a part of Disneyland’s history. This path was previously used by the Pack Mules Through Nature’s Wonderland attraction that ran from 1955 to 1973. It’s amazing that this path has survived this long.

#2: The Shaman Storyteller Talks to No One

The Shaman has been a part of Disneyland’s Indian Village for as long as I can remember. Previously the Shaman had a small audience that would watch him speak 24/7. Apparently his audience has decided to move on because now he speaks to no one. I don’t know why I love this so much, but the Shaman now talks to no one, unless you count the people that pass by on the train every few minutes.

Seriously, look at him. How did he even get up there?



Our number one favorite thing that we love about the new Rivers of America is this little beaver that is chewing away at the supports of the railroad track. I’ve affectionately named it “Murder Beaver” because of its fiendish look, and that it’s obviously in the middle of its plan to destroy the railroad bridge. It’s so cute and deadly! Murder Beaver is making good progress and we wish it luck.

Those are the 8 things we love, but what about you? Let me know if you agree or disagree with our picks. Also tell me your favorites in the comments below.

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Guy Selga Jr.

Disneyland writer for TouringPlans.com and co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Also a Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. Twitter and Instagram: @guyselga

3 thoughts on “8 Things We Love About Disneyland’s New Rivers of America and Frontierland Expansion

  • Hey Gary. I haven’t been back to the park in awhile. Is the beaver still there, chewing away?
    I worked at Imagineering for a few decades.
    I vividly remember being in that design review meeting where we were discussing all the changes that had to happen to that part of the river, because of the addition of Star Wars.
    Kim Irvine was going through the list of all the show elements that were affected.
    The Cabin, the Chief on his horse, and a number of the animals. Then she came to the little beaver.
    When she said that she had no idea where to put him, I said: “tell you what Kim. I know exactly what his new home should be.”
    I can’t remember the precise comments made by everyone but, there was quite a bit of chuckling going around the table.
    The best part was the carving crew. The people who carve all the rockwork and facades.
    I did a photoshopped shot of the trestle model up in Glendale. Adding the beaver doing his thing. When I showed it to Kim and the carving crew they went nuts laughing.
    And I might add those guys did a brilliant job carving and painting the scene.
    Close up it looks like real wood. Knawed away by the………little guy.
    I haven’t spoken to Kim in awhile. Ask her about the little guy. Is he still doing his thing?

    • That’s really a great story. Thanks so much for commenting.
      I’m happy to report that the beaver is still there! He’s still there chewing away at the bridge support.

  • MURDER BEAVER! Love that it’s gotta be the absolute Best!


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