In the musical Oklahoma, there’s a debate over whether the farmer and the cowman can be friends. In Toy Story, it’s whether the space ranger and the cowboy can be friends. Apparently, cowboys have trouble getting along with others. Perhaps it’s all that rugged individualism. If you’re on Team Cowboy*, you’ll find yourself in good company at Walt Disney World, where a variety of cowboy-related experiences can be found.
Here are five things to do in Walt Disney World if you love cowboys and the American West.
There’s a whole Western-themed land in Magic Kingdom, so you’re sure to feel like a cowboy. You can eat at your good friend Pecos Bill’s and practice your gunslinging at Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade. (If Back to the Future 3 taught us anything, it’s that all that time spent playing arcade games will prove valuable should you ever find yourself transported back to 1885.) If you get along with miners, you can take a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. There are lots of great Western-themed photo opportunities too. If you’re lucky, you might even catch Donald Duck in his Davy Crockett attire.
2. The American Adventure
Because The American Adventure covers the history of America, there’s naturally a portion covering the westward expansion. It’s short, however, just a brief video montage between the Revolutionary War and Frederick Douglass scenes.
3. Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness
If your child is the one who loves cowboys, they’ll love a pony ride at Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Fort Wilderness. When we went, only two of the kids were big enough to actually do the pony ride, but the cast members let us take pictures of the little ones on the ponies as well.
Adults and older kids can take 45-minute guided trail rides on horseback or by carriage. You can also tour the stables and see the horses up close. On this day we saw some getting a bath.
4. The Great Movie Ride
If you love Westerns, you’ll particularly enjoy the Western scene in The Great Movie Ride. You’ll see and hear Audio-Animatronics of famous cowboy actors John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also have your ride vehicle hijacked by bank robbers. Confused? The story of The Great Movie Ride is that your guide is taking you on a trip through the history of movies, but in one scene, the movies fight back and you’re taken hostage by a bad guy (or gal). Who that hijacker is can vary. Sometimes it’s a 1930s gangster, and other times it’s a bank robber from the Western scene. If you want the bank robber, tell the cast member at the front of the queue. He or she may be able to direct you to a particular ride vehicle that will experience that version.
5. Toy Story Mania!
Yes, Toy Story Mania! features both Woody and Buzz, but I’m counting this attraction in the cowboys list because of all the fun Western-themed cut-outs in the queue area. There’s the jail and wanted posters, the sheriff’s office and drawings of our hero.
There’s also a glimpse of the truth that, yes, the space ranger and the cowboy can be friends.
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Your day in the Wild West of Walt Disney World will cover three parks and a resort. I’d suggest starting in Frontierland, since you’ll likely want to spend the most time there. When you’ve had your fill of the attractions and atmosphere, take the boat over to Fort Wilderness and visit the ranch. From there, you can take a boat back to Magic Kingdom and then the monorail to Epcot, or you can take a bus directly to Epcot from Fort Wilderness. Experience The American Adventure, and then take the boat from the International Gateway over to Hollywood Studios for The Great Movie Ride and Toy Story Mania! Since you’ll be getting there late in the day, the wait for Toy Story Mania! will likely be quite long, but that will give you time to spot all the Western references in the queue area. Yeehaw!
*To be fair, in my next post I’ll cover things to do in Walt Disney World if you root for the space ranger.