Historic Shutdown: Disney Ceases Operations After 53 Years, Thousands Notified

A large crowd of people gather at night in front of a brightly illuminated castle at a theme park. The scene is lively with the buildings on either side adorned with lights. The castle is glowing in blue, creating a magical atmosphere, hinting at the excitement for the upcoming Disney Parks Expansion in 2024.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Put the guns down, folks, because Disney has officially shut down its opening-day shooting attraction, removing the idea of real guns from the Magic Kingdom.

Frontierland at Magic Kingdom

Credit: Allen Castillo, Flickr

Walt Disney, a visionary in animation and entertainment, harbored a long-held dream of creating a place where families could escape into a world of fantasy and adventure. Disneyland, which opened in 1955, was the first manifestation of this dream. However, Disney aspired to create something even grander – a complete vacation destination brimming with magic.

In the early 1960s, Disney began scouting locations for his ambitious next project. Florida, with its warm climate and vast expanses of land, emerged as the ideal choice. Construction commenced in 1967, with the Magic Kingdom slated to be the centerpiece of the entire Disney World resort complex.

Sadly, Walt Disney passed away in 1966, unable to witness the completion of his grand vision. However, his brother Roy O. Disney took the reins, ensuring the project’s fulfillment. In 1971, the Magic Kingdom debuted as the first theme park within Walt Disney World, forever transforming the landscape of theme park entertainment.

A vibrant scene at a theme park featuring a large castle with blue turrets under a cloudy sky. In the foreground, a statue of a person holding hands with a cartoon mouse overlooks a bustling crowd of visitors. Lush greenery and flags decorate the surroundings.

Credit: chris czlapka, Flickr

The Magic Kingdom is comprised of six distinct themed lands, each transporting guests to unique and captivating worlds. Let’s delve into each one:

  • Main Street, U.S.A.: This nostalgic gateway to the Magic Kingdom evokes the charm of a turn-of-the-century American town. Guests stroll past quaint shops, horse-drawn trolleys, and iconic landmarks like Cinderella Castle.
  • Adventureland: Here, explorers embark on thrilling journeys through jungles, deserts, and lost river civilizations. Popular attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and the Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management.
  • Frontierland: This land offers a taste of the Wild West, complete with a thundering runaway mine train, a perilous raft adventure down the Rivers of America, and a rustic shootin’ arcade.
  • Fantasyland: This realm of classic Disney stories and fairy tales is a haven for families. Soar through the skies with Peter Pan, join Alice on a whimsical tea party, or shrink down to the size of a toy in Andy’s Backyard.
  • Liberty Square: This area celebrates American history with a nod to the nation’s founding principles. Guests can explore haunted mansions, witness the Liberty Bell, and board iconic steamboats.
  • Tomorrowland: Here, futuristic visions come to life. Guests can pilot spaceships on thrilling roller coasters, explore the depths of the ocean in a submarine voyage, and even meet iconic characters from Disney’s sci-fi films.

As of late, Frontierland has been undergoing a lot of change.

The image shows the entrance sign for "Tiana's Bayou Adventure" with a water tower in the background that also reads "Tiana's Foods." The scene is adorned with lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and a rustic fence, giving a whimsical, adventurous feel.

Credit: Disney

Firstly, Country Bear Jamboree has now reopened with all new animatronics, new looks and new songs, changing the landscape and tone of the once dated, and in certain contexts, inappropriate attraction. Additionally, in just a few days Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will officially open on June 28th. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure took over Splash Mountain, which was removed due to its connection with Song of the South, the initial IP on which the story is based, which has racial insensitivity, allowing Disney to move into a much more inclusive space.

Disney has since continued to hint at a further expansion of the land with the “Beyond Big Thunder” plan.

The 2023 Destination D23 presentation, “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” offered a tantalizing glimpse into the potential future of Magic Kingdom. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, unveiled concept art that has ignited speculation and excitement among Disney fans. Bruce Vaughn, head of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), further fueled the anticipation by expressing his own awe at the concepts being explored for Magic Kingdom.

People sitting in a themed amusement park ride vehicle appear excited and engaged, with dim, warm lighting enhancing the rustic setting as they prepare for the ride to start.

Credit: Flickr/Joe Penniston

The 2022 D23 Expo introduced “Beyond Big Thunder,” a visionary proposal to extend Magic Kingdom beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This proposal included captivating possibilities for incorporating themed areas inspired by “Coco,” “Encanto,” and even a dedicated Villains’ Land. This expansion concept has sparked discussions about the potential impact on Frontierland’s boundaries.

Disneyland’s New Orleans Square offers a richly themed environment steeped in the world of “The Princess and the Frog,” boasting the recently opened Tiana’s Palace. The absence of a similar dedicated area in Magic Kingdom has led some to speculate about its potential inclusion.

Various reports have suggested a possible shrinking of Frontierland to accommodate a New Orleans Square-inspired area, potentially replacing Pecos Bill with Tiana’s Palace. While this remains unconfirmed speculation, it presents an intriguing possibility for seamlessly integrating “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” into the existing park layout. Furthermore, it would allow for a theoretical expansion of Magic Kingdom’s footprint without requiring significant physical land acquisition.

The potential for “Beyond Big Thunder” to materialize could see Frontierland regain its “missing” land once construction commences. However, this could potentially encroach upon the designated space for the proposed Villains’ section. Finding a harmonious balance between expansion opportunities and maintaining a cohesive Frontierland experience will be a critical consideration for Disney Imagineers.

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Credit: edenspictures, Flickr

Today also marks another massive change for Disney and Frontierland, with the closure of the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade. Its final day of operation was yesterday, June 23, 2024, meaning the attraction is now barred from guests. As we have shared, the opening day attraction closed permanently to make way for a new Disney Vacation Club Member lounge.

According to WDW Magic, the attraction has already constructed walls around the shooting arcade.

Once the new DVC location opens, “Members will be able to relax amid the rustic charm of Frontierland in a new space inspired by the bygone era of exploration and adventure,” Disney said in a press release.

At the moment, there is no opening date for the new lounge.

Frontierland Shootin Arcade

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company, under CEO Bob Iger, has pledged a staggering $60 billion investment in its parks and Disney Cruise Line over the next decade. A significant portion of this investment is anticipated to be allocated for Magic Kingdom’s expansion. This commitment to growth fuels the optimism surrounding the concept art revealed at D23 and the potential for a transformed Magic Kingdom experience in the years to come.

Are you excited about the new DVC lounge, or would you have preferred a more inclusive addition to the park for all guests? 

About Alessia Dunn

Orlando theme park lover who loves thrills and theming, with a side of entertainment. You can often catch me at Disney or Universal sipping a cocktail, or crying during Happily Ever After or Fantasmic.


  1. I would like to see an inclusive attraction for all instead of a designated area for members only.

    • Patricia Ornelas-Jarquin

      Unfortunately I am not excited at all for the named DVC lounge. Disney from all clips he produced was very interested in making this wonderful place that is affordable and welcoming to all. Affordable is out the window because for the regular family of 4 it’s unrealistic to expect to pay for 1 park at prices now let alone a park hopper. The Magic keys do help to an extent because you can pay over time. But an exclusive lounge in the heart of a land is in my opinion a terrible idea. That’s a lot of room for a VIP target group. Veering away from Mr. Disney’s original dreams for all families. Club 33 shoulelegance one place with all of its nostalgia and elegance.

  2. I think it should be made into something for all guests and not for the elite few. Make it Frontierland themed and family oriented. Jean

  3. I prefer the “more inclusive experience “ for all families.

  4. Does not matter what lies you tell, it will not change history. Disney can try like many others to erase history but it will forever remain an event that has taken place that no one can change. Lie about certainly, actually change, never.

  5. Disgusting what Disneyland has become. I worked there in early 1960s, saw Walt every Sunday with his grandchildren on the carousel ????. This is NOT what his dream was. Thanks goodness me and my children got the best of DISNEYLAND. ????????

  6. I understand the need to update attractions and add rides or places associated with newer Disney movies and popular characters. But to take an attraction and then turn it into a “members only” lounge is just wrong. If you are going to make it a lounge then it should be for all to enjoy, not just an exclusive group of people. Kind of seems like it goes 100% against what Walt wanted out of Disney World.

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