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Shootin' Galleries

Jack Spence Masthead


Shooting galleries have been a part of county fairs, carnivals, boardwalks, and amusement parks for over two hundred years, and Disneyland would be no exception to this tradition. The Happiest Place on Earth would eventually host four such attractions.

The first shooting Gallery opened on Main Street in July 1955. However, it only featured eight guns and demand quickly outpaced its capacity. In addition, the noise and theming of a shooting gallery really didn't fit the quaint city life depicted on this thoroughfare. It closed in 1962.

To increase capacity, the Frontierland Shooting Gallery opened in July, 1956. This arcade featured twice the shooting opportunities with 16 rifles. Guests were given 14 shots.

The Safari Shooting Gallery opened in Adventureland in June 1962 and featured 12 rifles. This arcade offered more variety of targets than any other shooting arcade in the United States. During its run, this venue was renamed Big Game Safari Shooting Gallery and Big Game Shoot.


Adventureland Big Game Shoot

Adventureland Big Game Shoot


The early Disneyland shooting galleries featured traditional chain-driven targets that moved back and forth in front of an appropriate backdrop. The rifles fired lead pellets and cast members would reload the rifles between rounds. Every night after park closing, the entire target area was repainted, requiring several gallons of paint and eight hours of labor. After all, this was Disneyland and Walt wanted his park to look brand new at opening the following day.

MacGlassine Guns had supplied Disney with their rifles from the park's opening, and in the 1970's, MacGlassine began tinkering with a new arcade rifle that shot infrared beams of light rather than bullets. When a marksman hit a target with one of these new electronic beauties, music, lights, and motion would ensue.

The advantages of this new system were obvious. First, the targets were much more interesting to hit and watch. Next, it would take fewer cast members to man the attraction. Then there was the matter of maintenance. The arcade would not need to be repainted nightly. But most important was safety. The lead pellets had a tendency to bounce off their targets and hit guests. (Do I hear lawsuit?)

By the time the electronic age came to firearms, the Adventureland gallery had already given way to a shop, leaving only the Frontierland Shooting Gallery to tempt marksmen. This pellet driven western arcade bit the dust in September 1984 for a major refurbishment. When it reopened the following year as Frontierland Shootin' Arcade (later, Frontierland Shooting Exposition) it featured these new-fangled infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shooting Exposition


The Davy Crockett Arcade in Frontierland was the fourth and last to join the Disneyland shooting arcade roster and was geared to young rifleman and riflewomen. It entertained guests from 1985 to 1987 and also used the new, infrared rifles.

On a related but different topic, Disneyland scaled back the number of fake guns seen and sold in the park after the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre. In 2001, the California legislature passed a law requiring all toy guns be manufactured in a way that there was no mistaking them for the real thing. This saw the end of the 1800s-style wooden rifles sold in Frontierland as they were pulled from all Disneyland stores. However, plastic space and pirate guns remained on the shelf as they were easily seen as fake. In 2010, Disney once again began selling western rifles due to the many guest requests and the availability of plastic firearms that could not be mistaken for the real thing. As Florida had no such law at the time, wooden rifles were never banned in the Magic Kingdom. However, those sold in the Magic Kingdom today are brightly colored and are obviously toys.


Fake Rifles at the Magic Kingdom


The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has only ever had one shooting gallery, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade. And like Disneyland, it too once used lead pellets to knock down targets (1971 to 1982). Once again, safety and the 2,000 gallons of paint used each year to repaint this attraction had a lot to do with its conversion to infrared rifles.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


The shootout setting for the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade takes place in a surreal recreation of 1850 Tombstone, Arizona -- Boot Hill to be exact. The scenery includes a hotel, bank, cemetery, livery stable, and jail. When one of the 97 targets is hit, a vast array of activities ensue. Owls hoot, bank robbers emerge, vultures flap their wings, mine cars appear, tombstones rock, and much, much more.


Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill

Boot Hill


Unlike most other attractions in the Magic Kingdom, this one is not included in your admission price. It costs $1 for 35 shots. The machines to activate the rifles take quarters (not tokens) and a change machine is located nearby.


Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade


It's interesting to note, the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade and the Tomorrowland Video Arcade are not listed on the current Magic Kingdom guide map. I suspect this is because these attractions require an extra charge.

Although the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade is a favorite of many children, countless adults also find the targets challenging and the ensuing animation entertaining.


Adults Shooting


Check out this one minute video of the Frontierland Shootin' Gallery.



And if target shooting isn't your thing, a rustic checker board can be found nearby.


Checkers


Now if your kids aren't too particular about actually hitting real targets with a rifle, the Magic Kingdom also offers another opportunity for sharpshooting. Over at Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island, marksmen can take aim at the Liberty Belle Riverboat, Thunder Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. The rifles do not fire pellets or laser beams, but they do make a “shooting” sound.


Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn

Fort Langhorn


At Tokyo Disneyland you can test your skill at Westernland Shootin' Gallery. Here you fire one of 19 Winchester-type rifles at targets found within a saloon recreation. Just like at the Magic Kingdom, the targets react when hit. For example, shoes will dance, bottles jump, and the piano plays.


Westernland Shootin' Gallery

Westernland Shootin' Gallery


At the completion of the game, you receive a score card with a message from Goofy. The cards are printed in both English and Japanese. If you're fortunate enough to get a card that says “lucky,” you also receive a gold sheriff's badge. And if you can hit 10 out of 10 targets, you receive a silver sheriff's badge.


Sheriff's Badge


Like the Magic Kingdom, the Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery at Disneyland Paris offers targets within a recreation of Boot Hill. However, the two arcades look nothing alike. Once again, lasers are used to activate targets.


Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery

Rustler Roundup Shootin' Gallery


Hong Kong Disneyland opened without a Frontierland. In 2012, Grizzly Gulch was added and is this park's answer to the American West. However, no shootin' gallery was included with this expansion.

As details for Shanghai Disneyland are scarce, I have no idea if this newest Disney Park will include a shootin' gallery.

That's it for this time, partner.


The previous post in this blog was Hodgepodge 3.

The next post in this blog is “I’d Ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”.

Comments (14)

Herb M.:

Great walk down memory lane! I also remember a shooting gallery in the old Food & Fun Center on the first floor of the Contemporary (where The Wave is now) that used infrared rifles. I last saw it in the late 70s or early 80s. Do you know if it was ever relocated elsewhere, or just phased out when that area was remodeled?

Jack's Answer:

I remember the Food and Fun Center, but I don't remember anything other and stand-alone arcade games. I don't recall a mini-shootin' gallery. So I have no idea what might have happened to it. Sorry.

JaySwash:

Fun article Jack.

I still clearly remember how excited I was as a little tyke (would have been late 70's or early 80's) to find a real pellet Shooting Gallery in MK. I had done the laser rifle galleries at King's Island in Ohio and other places (and loooooved them) but never one where you actually shot at and hit real targets.

Actually shooting real pellets and hitting real targets ( like in my beloved cartons) is one of my fondest memories of my first trip to WDW. =)

Lilu:

Every time we end up at a disney park we hit the shooting gallery at least once. It's so silly but it's fun to make the shoes dance and I love the goofy little lasers.

Josh Weiss:

Hey Jack
I have only done the shootin' gallery a couple of times. It is fun and gives me something to do if I'm waiting for a fastpass. I did know that pellets were used and it still shocks me. Having it repainted every night certainly had to be a challenge. Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Hi Jack -

I can't remember the last time I played the Frontierland Shooting Gallery - 20 years ago, maybe. I do remember that the experience wasn't the same as it was in 1978 and felt a little cheated not being able to actually "shoot" at the targets. In 1978, I remember thinking how realistic the attraction looked and how it was so much better than the travelling carnival, shoot the red star on the paper shooting galleries of the time, and it didn't seem out of place in Frontierland. I had a great time shooting the BB's - I had only been target shooting with a real gun once then, so this was exciting. I'll have to give it another try - though shooting lasers just isn't the same as shooting BB's. One thing that sticks in my mind is how the Shooting Gallery had the smell of oil and machinery.

Thanks again for another great Disney Lesson.

- Jeff

Sue:

Thanks for the wonderful article. I've always enjoyed the MK Shootin Gallery. While dating my now husband, I showed him the many fun ways to play. You can call your target and your partner must hit it too. You can try combo shots. You can call your opponents target with their back turned and time them. You can try to get as many correct shots in 15 sec or 30 sec. It's fun to wager your favorite snack (Citrus Swirl) or who's buying lunch.

Thanks Again!
-Sue

Paul:

Great article. Saw the shooting arcade the last time I went to the Magic Kingdom in Florida and it brought up an interesting question. Sort of off topic however does deal with Disney. In Denver, Colorado, Disney opened the Celebrity Sports Center and ran it from 1961 to 1979. They had an elaborate shooting gallery so I was wondering if you know if that was by Disney and what might have become of that shooting gallery after the demise of Celebrity in 1994. Thanks!

Jack's Comment:

I am one of the few hardcore Disney fans that ever visited the Celebrity Sports Center -- but I don't remember a shooting gallery.

To answer your question... I don't know. However, Disney is well known for reusing their assets. It's very possible that property from the Celebrity Sports Center found its way to Disneyland and/or Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, the Celebrity Sports Center is one of those Disney endeavors that the company would prefer not to talk about.

Fred:

Great article, Jack. I've always loved the Frontierland shooting arcade at WDW. We tried it out last November but found it needed some refurbishing. We lost a dollar on one of the guns that wouldn't work. I know it's not a big deal, but we do tend to have higher expectations from Disney. They should fix the problem arcades or take them out.

Keep up the great posts!

Jack's Comment:

As I told another reader, all you needed to do was stop by any of the stores in Frontierland. The cast members would have made sure your complaints were addressed and reported the problem to maintenance so it could be fixed. Another reader told me that when she complained, not only did she get her money back, but a cast member rigged one of the guns and gave them three free rounds.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack!
My husband just did the Frontierland Shootin' Gallery at MK on Sunday. He loved it, but said the gun got heavy towards the end. He did it while we were waiting for the 11 o'clock viewing of the Electrical Light Parade. It's a nice way to kill some time.
Half way through my trip and I'm already sad that I only have 3 days left. The weather has been perfect, magic bands WONDERFUL, and POFQ the perfect place to stay....

Eileen Miller:

I'm always amazed at how many people have no idea the Shootin' Arcade exists at WDW. We always make sure we have our quarters available. I do wish the guns weren't so heavy, as it gets tiring to hold after a couple of minutes - at least for me. Like another reader, we have lost $1 now and then, and some of the guns aren't reliable. The last time that happened, we found a nearby cast member, who not only got us our dollar back, he also rigged 3 of the guns so all of us could shoot for free. It's interesting to read of the different galleries in other parks - and fascinating to learn that the originals had to be repainted every night! As always, great article!

Reagan Herman:

Last July my daughter and I lost a couple of bucks in non functioning "guns". There was no cast member present. Losing a couple of bucks isn't a big deal but, hey this is Walt Disney World. I expect better. We've gone from painting it every night to sometimes it doesn't work? Come on Disney we your loyal customers expect more from you. That's why we pay big bucks to come to WDW. If I wanted shoddy I'd go to Six Flags. Either fix it or replace it with something better.

Jack's Comment:

I think you're being a little too hard on Disney. Things go wrong, that's a fact of life. And you could of easily gotten your money back. All cast members are empowered with what Disney calls "Guest Recovery." All you had to do was go to any of the stores in Frontierland and they would have been able to help you -- and they would have reported the problem so it could have been fixed and others wouldn't have picked up the same guns. And if you stumbled upon a cast member that didn't know how to help you, all you had to do was ask another or go to guest relations (City Hall). Disney does not want guests to be unhappy and they would have gladly made right this most minor inconvenience. In fact, you might have gotten more than the couple of bucks you lost.

Wonderful article Jack! You inspired my throwback Thursday photo today of me at the Fiesta Fun Center's Shooting Gallery at the Contemporary Resort back in 1983. Would you happen to have any better photos of that shootin'gallery?

Melissa:

One of my favorite memories of our first Disney trip was an older gentleman cast member playing checkers with my son after we tried out the shooting gallery. I am so glad that we didn't rush on to the next attraction because my son's interaction with this wonderful cast member was worth more than any other attraction we did that day! I hope Disney never gets rid of these priceless little corners of WDW that make it so special.

I'm curious do they still give out the cards at the end?

Jack's Answer:


I don't remember Disney every giving out cards at the Disneyland or Magic Kingdom Shootin' Galleries. I'm only aware of this practice at Tokyo Disneyland, and yes, they still distribute them in Japan.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 10, 2014 6:14 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Hodgepodge 3.

The next post in this blog is “I’d Ate the Back Door Buttered Ma!”.

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