As word continues to spread about the future of Critter Corral and the Cottonwood Creek Ranch area of Frontierland, maybe we should mark the final few months when this corner of the Western landscape presents "life on the ranch" as you'd expect it in plain reality -- painfully quiet. Clues and surprises for the future can be found behind the famous green construction fences themselves...,
Besides the irregular flow of guests into and out of The Chaparral Theater and Frontierland Depot railroad station, there’s not a lot going on in Cottonwood Creek Ranch. Why, it’s almost like a real-life, sleepy ranch settlement! But for a Disney park? Yes, they want a little more life…
The Critter Corral area, with its sheds, paddocks, enclosures and ‘Woodcarver’s Workshop’ is now surrounded on all sides by green construction walls — from the path, and from the railroad. Above the fences, however, the old signage of the workshop/retail location can be seen sitting strangely beside modern day machinery and digging equipment in the Western corner of the area, next to the railroad. Interestingly, most of the outer paddocks are still open, suggesting they won’t be changed — perhaps left simply as grassy surroundings.
But how do you see behind the fences? Oh, there’s always a way. Be it the mirrors of Videopolis, the rockets of Orbitron or the Flying Carpets of Toon Studio, the Imagineers’ future projects always have a hidden viewpoint or two. Next time you’re walking toward Frontierland Depot passing the fences, take a closer look for several useful holes at various heights…
…and enjoy the confused looks on other guests’ faces as you hold your camera up and try to snap some photos. The view is worth it, however, showing such features as the entrance gate of the old Critter Corral still in place, with even the “We’ll be back next season” sign holding on for now.
A little to the left, and further back, the real surprise are some new concrete foundations recently laid, enclosing the centre of the former farm from the passing railroad. New foundations in Frontierland? It seemed like we’d never see the day!
Aaron has emailed with some photos by Jort Laban, providing a further update from this past weekend, showing that the foundations are now home to two new wooden constructions, similar in style to the buildings retained from the original Critter Corral:
The following aerial plan shows the two new constructions and gives a complete overview of the full Critter Corral area — including its original animal paddocks and the area accessible to guests. Unless the animals make a return for the new development, these large enclosures could add a lot of extra land for guests to stroll around.
As a whole, the development is similar in scale — and idea — to the Toon Studio Plaza area which opened with the new area at Walt Disney Studios Park in June this year, featuring dedicated character locations within their own themed environment. With the Woodcarver’s Workshop and other buildings available at Critter Corral, however, the possibilites here are even greater. Live music? Craft workshops? Whatever they’ve planned, the new area should be hive of activity, particularly for younger guests.
The use of this new location for Christmas (and possibly Halloween) seasons has already been confirmed. In fact, it’s said to be none other than the entertainment department themselves who are helping along the resurrection of this former Frontier-waste-land.
Photos by DLRP Today and Jort Laban (with thanks to Aaron). Aerial photo from Google Earth.