Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the Frog Family’s favorite Disney rides! Everyone from Lily to Mommy Frog enjoys the adventure in the Wild West aboard the rickety train.
Nov. 15 marked the 35th anniversary of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s "Grand Opening" at the Walt Disney World Resort. We decided this special occasion calls for the secret history of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! If you’re going to a Disney park soon, then you’ll want to read this post so you can learn more about the runaway mine train.
The Secret History of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has a home at each Disney theme park: Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Disneyland's version is the original, opening on Sept. 2, 1979. According to Disney Wikia, the roller coaster opened after the closing of Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. The town and Audio-Animatronics from the previous ride were placed inside Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! Shortly after, Magic Kingdom opened, its own version of the mine train in 1980.
Now, the legend and secret history of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom is crazy cool! Once a working mine during America’s Gold Rush, there was gold found deep within Big Thunder Mountain in Red Rock Canyon. Almost overnight, the town of Tumbleweed became a thriving mining town. According to Disney Parks Blog, a one Barnabas T. Bullion established the Big Thunder Mining Company to go after the gold. Barnabas was born into a powerful East Coast family, so naturally, he thought it was his very right to claim the gold inside the mountain. Well, the mountain had other ideas!
Big Thunder Mountain was said to be protective of its gold and would curse any who dare try to take it.While in operation, miners would hear ghostly sounds and believed supernatural powers inhabited the mine. Strange events would occur, including cave-ins and equipment failing. On a very stormy night, a flash flood completely wiped out the town, destroying the mining company. Rumors have it Professor Cumulus Isobar, a rainmaker, brought the flood to Tumbleweed. If you look carefully, you might just spot a mysterious machine with Cumulus’ name on it while experiencing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
Nowadays, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad travels through an empty ghost mine and rushes riders through the canyons, caverns, abandoned mine shaft and ghost town of Tumbleweed! Barnabas, however, is still trying to dig and find gold inside Big Thunder Mountain, despite the warnings and curses from the mountain. The legend is, the mountain and mine are both still haunted. Creepy stuff, huh? Didn’t mean to freak you out! To lighten the mood a bit, here are some fun facts about Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Fun Facts
- The “Wildest Party in the West” is happening on the second floor of the Gold Dust Saloon when you whiz through Tumbleweed. According to The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, you’ll see it through the window and only at night.
- The setting of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was inspired by Monument Valley in Arizona.
- A miner in his pajamas can be seen relaxing in a bathtub while you're riding the mine train!
- There used to be a burning cabin that could be seen across the Rivers of America in Disneyland. The story was the cabin had been burning for 31 years because it was made of firewood! In 2002, the fire was extinguished due to rules and regulations.
- The attraction reaches top speeds of 36 miles per hour and has a 40-inch heigh requirement.
- There are 3 lifts (two indoor and one outdoor) on the roller coaster.
- During a lengthy refurbishment of Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the old track was recycled and replaced. The ride is now much smoother. (But definitely sit in the back for a wilder experience!)
- The trains from Disneyland's version were used in the mine chase sequence in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"!
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad went through an extensive refurbishment in 2012 and added an interactive queue. The queue now includes the backstory of Barnabas T. Bullion, founder and president of Big Thunder Mining Company. You can also now take a look inside the Mining Office, the Explosives Magazine and partake in miners' activities.
- Big Thunder is one of four "mountains" — Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the newest, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, are the others.
There you have the legend and secret history of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Hop here for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad wait times, ride details and more! Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the mine train! Be sure to check out our other secret histories: Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion.