July 1955 – January 1987
Frontierland – After crossing the bridge from Main Street USA into Frontierland, guests could find the Davy Crockett Frontier Arcade on the left, next to the walkway to Adventureland. This building now houses Frontierland’s gift shop, called the “Pioneer Mercantile”.
When Disneyland opened in 1955, Frontierland was a much more leisurely, quiet area without any major rides or animatronics. One of its original attractions was a walkthrough exhibit called the Davy Crockett Frontier Museum. The museum held a model of the Alamo, complete with knife and rifle displays. Guests could purchase Davy Crockett memorabilia, or pose with life-size wax figures of Davy Crockett (Fess Parker) and his pal George Russel (Buddy Ebsen) from the Disneyland television show. But after just three months, the unpopular museum closed, in favor of a more exiting and interactive activity.
Starting in January 1956, Frontierland’s busiest and most “modern” attraction was the Davy Crockett Frontier Arcade, which offered visitors the chance to play classic arcade games featuring Davy Crockett and his animal friends. For 30 years, the arcade survived major changes and updates, and became a nostalgic gaming experience in its last years of operation.
The Davy Crockett Frontier Arcade was a unique mix of a game center and a gift shop. In the center of the room, guests could purchase furs, dishware, clothing, and other collectibles. Along the walls of the arcade, guests could play a series of shooting or adventure games, and Davy Crockett himself made occasional appearances and had meet and greets.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Frontierland dramatically evolved into a lively western mining town, particularly with the addition of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. As a result, many of the older walkthrough exhibits and attractions closed, as visitors favored the more exiting coasters and boat rides. With the high-tech and boisterous Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition next door, the Arcade was all but forgotten to park visitors. So in 1987, the Davy Crockett Frontier Arcade closed, and a souvenir and gift shop opened in its place.
The hat shop in Frontierland is named after Crockett and Russel; you can see their names at the top of the building, located next to the Golden Horseshoe.