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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Disneyland
Land Frontierland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering, Tony Baxter
Manufacturer Arrow Dynamics
Theme Runaway mine train
Opening date September 2, 1979
Hosted by Dallas McKennon
Vehicle type Mine train
Vehicle names U.R. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Loco, I.B. Hearty, I.M. Fearless
Vehicle capacity 45
Cars per vehicle 5
Guests per car 9
Ride duration 3:21 minutes
Length 2671 ft (814.1 m)
Total height 104 ft (31.7 m)
Track height 50 ft (15.2 m)
Maximum speed 30 mph (48.3 km/h)
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Number of lifts 3 - two indoor and one outdoor
Retired trains I.M. Brave (retired after 2003 incident)
Replaced Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Land Frontierland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Manufacturer Vekoma
Theme Runaway mine train
Soft opening date September 23, 1980
Opening date November 8, 1980
Hosted by Dallas McKennon
Vehicle type Mine train
Vehicle names U.R. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty, I.M. Fearless
Vehicle capacity 45
Cars per vehicle 5
Guests per car 9
Ride duration 3:26 minutes
Length 2780 ft (847.3 m)
Maximum speed 30 mph (48.3 km/h)
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Number of lifts 3 - two indoor and one outdoor
Safety restraint lap bar
Big Thunder Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland
Land Westernland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Opening date July 4, 1987
Vehicle type Mine train
Ride duration 3:40 minutes
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Big Thunder Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Land Frontierland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Manufacturer Vekoma
Theme Runaway mine train
Opening date April 12, 1992
Ride duration 3:56 minutes
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Number of lifts 4
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Big Thunder Mountain or simply Thunder Mountain for short) is a roller coaster attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, opened 1979; Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, opened 1980; Tokyo Disneyland in Uryasu, Chiba, Japan, opened 1987; and at Disneyland Resort Paris' Disneyland Park in Marne-la-Vallée, France, opened 1992 (the only ride that opened together with the park). A similar attraction opened at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2012 in a land called Grizzly Gulch (which is part of the expansion).

Theme

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is set in the American Southwest and follows the same general runaway train experience, though with varying backstories and geological structure.

During the Gold Rush in the late 1800s, gold was discovered in Big Thunder Mountain and boomtowns sprung up nearby accordingly such as Rainbow Ridge (Disneyland), Tumbleweed and Dry Gulch (Magic Kingdom) and Thunder Mesa (Disneyland Paris). A Mine Train system was established to transport the ore, but what the settlers didn't count on was that Big Thunder was sacred ground for local Indian tribes. The spirit of Big Thunder was not pleased with the gold being removed from the mountain and the towns and mining company suffered accidents from flooding (Magic Kingdom) and earthquakes (Disneyland, Disneyland Paris). The trains themselves began operating on their own, possessed by mischievous spirits. Though the towns promptly became abandoned, adventurous visitors still arrived to ride the haunted trains.

My Disney Experience Official Description

Streak through a haunted gold mining town aboard a rollicking runaway mine train.

Attraction Plot

  • Dash in and out of desert caverns and rumble through a haunted mine aboard a speeding train.
  • Amid rugged bedrock and desert cactus, venture inside a nearly 200-foot mountain to the Big Thunder Mining Company, established in the early days of America’s Gold Rush. Traipse down into an abandoned mine shaft and discover a mysterious 5-car locomotive waiting to take you on a journey inside an abandoned shaft.
  • Hurl forward into the darkness of the tunnel as the train’s wheels chug back and forth across a rickety track. Swoop around sharp turns and dip and drop into canyons and caves, darting through the ghost town of Tumbleweed.
  • Peel under a booming waterfall, past rock formations, and dodge a rumbling boulder from an inexplicable landslide. Along your adventure, glimpse the remnants of a flash flood and behold a bevy of local critters—including bats, opossum and a goat—before hastily making your way back to the safety of the railroad station.
  • Legend has it that a supernatural force dwells within the mountain. When gold was first discovered in the 1850s, a mining company was established. But soon, eerie things began to occur. Miners heard ghostly sounds, cave-ins became frequent and equipment mysteriously failed. Trains would take off and race through the mine and around the mountain driverless! Word got out that the mine was haunted and Big Thunder became another ghost town.
  • Years later, when eyewitness accounts had faded into folklore, new prospectors resurrected the Mining Company and began blasting into the spooky mountain once again. But as the new settlers became aware, some legends turn out to be true.

History

The first version of the attraction opened in 1979 in Disneyland after Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland closed. It is widely believed the roller coaster trains were reused from Nature's Wonderland. It is also well known that the Western Town at the end of the ride and the animal Audio-Animatronics were recycled from Nature's Wonderland.

The second version opened in Walt Disney World in 1980. The WDW version is based around Red Rock Canyon and provides a less tame experience. This time, it centers around a haunted mine in Big Thunder Mountain.

Both the Euro Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland versions use the same Bryce Canyon setting as Disneyland but have different track layouts.

Tributes to Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland

At Disneyland, a scaled-down western town sits adjacent to the queuing lines and tracks returning to the station. A Western sallon, a hotel, the assayer's office and mercantile appear among the buildings. This is the village of Rainbow Ridge, which used to overlook the loading platform of the sedate Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. Disneyland's version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was built on the land the Mine Train used to occupy. Many of the Animal Audio-Animatronics throughout the attraction are the Animal Audio-Animatronics from the previous attraction. Other allusions to the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland include:

  • The Rainbow Caverns - Glowing pools of water by the first lift hill.
  • Precariously balanced rocks on the third lift hill.
  • The Name of the ride itself - Big Thunder was originally the name of an enormous waterfall the train passed on the tour. Little Thunder was located nearby.

Name

At the Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland, the ride is known by its full name of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The Tokyo and Paris versions would drop the word Railroad in favor of the name Big Thunder Mountain. Tokyo Disneyland's Big Thunder, which is almost identical to Magic Kingdom's, opened in 1987, five years after the park opening. Also at Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland, the name of the ride is sometimes shortened to Big Thunder Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, or even just Big Thunder or Thunder Mountain.

Imagineers rethought the attraction for Disneyland Paris, creating a layout mostly based on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but with several significant changes to both the layout and the accompanying structure.

The revised European ride, takes the form of a large island, similar to Tom Sawyer Island, in the center of the Rivers of the Far West, accessed from its riverside station by tunnels underneath the water. Just like Star Tours, Disneyland Paris is also the only Big Thunder Mountain to open together with the park.

Hong Kong Disneyland does not have a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction nor a western-themed land, for that matter. However, a land called Grizzly Gulch is currently under construction at Hong Kong Disneyland with a theme similar to Frontierland and Critter Country. The planned attraction Big Grizzly Mountain Coaster will carry a similar theme to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad's theme. The attraction and the themed land is set to open in Summer 2012.

Trivia

  • The Disneyland version of  Big Thunder Mountain Railway replaced Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland, a sedate train ride through different animal habitats.
  • Magic Kingdoms Big Thunder Mountain Railway took 15 years to plan, tons of steel and concrete, hundreds of rock makers, 4,000 gallons of paint, and 900,000 gallons of water to create the realistic, red-rock buttes and mine buildings inspired by Arizona's Monument Valley.
  • In Australia's Disneyland Special The Wiggles Live at Disneyland Park, Greg and Murray went on this ride twice. The first one they went on twice was Splash Mountain.

Incidents and Accidents

Disneyland

  • On September 5, 2003, A 22-year-old man from Gardena, California was killed after suffering severe blunt trauma and extensive eternal bleeding in a derailment of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that also injured 10 other guests. It was determined that the cause of the accident was improper maintenance. Fasteners on the left side upstop/guide wheel on the floating axle of the locomotive were not tightened and safetied in accordance with specifications. As the train entered a tunnel the axle came loose and jammed against a brake section, causing the locomotive to become airborne and hit the ceiling of the tunnel. The locomotive then fell on top of the first passenger car, crushing the victim. The name of the train was I.M. Brave which retired after the accident.

​Disneyland Park (Paris)

  • On April 25, 2011 at around 2:50pm, a fiberglass rock and some wood on Lift C fell on the train, injuring 5 people out of 25 who were in the train. One of them was a 38-year-old man who was severely hit on the head and was transported to the Beaujon Hospital at Clichy Sur Seine, France. The other four returned to the park on the same day. The men left the hospital a few days later. The ride was closed for investigations to determine the accident. Once the attraction reopened, the falling rock scene was removed from the attraction.

Gallery

See also


Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Main Street, U.S.A.: Walt Disney World Railroad | Main Street Vehicles | Disney's Electrical Parade

Adventureland: Swiss Family Treehouse | The Magic Carpets of Aladdin | Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room | Jungle Cruise | Pirates of the Caribbean

Frontierland: Splash Mountain | Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Tom Sawyer Island | Country Bear Jamboree | Frontierland Shootin' Arcade

Liberty Square: The Hall of Presidents | Liberty Square Riverboat | The Haunted Mansion

Fantasyland: Cinderella Castle | It's a Small World | Peter Pan's Flight | Mickey's PhilharMagic | Dream Along With Mickey | Prince Charming Regal Carrousel | Dumbo the Flying Elephant | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh | Mad Tea Party | The Great Goofini | Cinderella's Royal Table | Pinocchio Village Haus | Sword in the Stone

New Fantasyland: | Seven Dwarfs Mine Train | Ariel's Grotto | Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid | Be Our Guest Restaurant | Enchanted Tales with Belle | Princess Fairytale Hall | Pete's Silly Sideshow | The Barnstormer featuring the Great Goofini | Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station

Tomorrowland: Tomorrowland Speedway | Space Mountain | Astro Orbiter | Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover | Carousel of Progress | Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin | Stitch's Great Escape! | Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor | Push the Talking Trash Can

Resorts: Disney's Contemporary Resort | Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa | Disney's Polynesian Resort | Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Former Attractions: The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) | Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes | Mike Fink Keel Boats | Mickey Mouse Revue | Mr. Toad's Wild Ride | Skyway | Snow White's Scary Adventures | 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage | If You Had Wings | Delta Dreamflight | The Timekeeper | Magic Journeys | The Legend of the Lion King | Mickey's Toontown Fair | Mission to Mars | ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

Others: List of Magic Kingdom attractions | Virtual Magic Kingdom


Disneyland
Disneyland Postcard
Main Street, U.S.A.: Disneyland Railroad | Main Street Cinema | The Disney Gallery | Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

New Orleans Square: The Haunted Mansion | Pirates of the Caribbean

Frontierland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island | Mark Twain Riverboat | Sailing Ship Columbia | Big Thunder Ranch | Golden Horseshoe Saloon | Fantasmic!

Critter Country: Splash Mountain | Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Adventureland: Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room | Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye | Jungle Cruise | Tarzan's Treehouse

Mickey's Toontown: Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse | Donald's Boat | Gadget's Go Coaster | Goofy's Playhouse | Mickey's House and Meet Mickey | Minnie's House | Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

Fantasyland: Sleeping Beauty Castle | Alice in Wonderland | Casey Jr. Circus Train | Dumbo the Flying Elephant | It's a Small World | King Arthur Carrousel | Mad Tea Party | Matterhorn Bobsleds | Mr. Toad's Wild Ride | Peter Pan's Flight | Pinocchio's Daring Journey | Snow White's Scary Adventures | Storybook Land Canal Boats | Pixie Hollow | Sword in the Stone

Tomorrowland: Astro Orbitor | Autopia | Space Mountain | Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters | Disneyland Monorail | Captain EO | Innoventions | Starcade | Star Tours: The Adventures Continue | Push the Talking Trash Can

Resorts: Disneyland Hotel

Former Attractions: Country Bear Jamboree | Star Tours | Honey, I Shrunk the Audience | Ariel's Grotto | PeopleMover | Skyway | Carousel of Progress | 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage | Fink 169 Boats | Swiss Family Treehouse | Adventure Thru Inner Space | Magic Journeys | Rocket Jets | Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland | Midget Autopia | The Party Gras Parade | Space Station X-1 | Flying Saucers | Aladdin's Royal Caravan | One Man's Dream | Mickey Mouse Club Theater | Fantasy Waters | Fantasyland Autopia | Rocket Rods | Snow White: An Enchanting Musical | The Lion King Celebration | America Sings

Other: List of Disneyland attractions


Kingdom Keepers
Kingdom Keepers I Disney After Dark
Books: Kingdom Keepers | Kingdom Keepers I: Disney After Dark | Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn | Kingdom Keepers III: Disney In Shadow | Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play | Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game | Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage

Original Characters: Finn Whitman | Charlene Turner | Terrence Maybeck | Dell Philby | Isabella Angelo | Wayne Kresky | Amanda Lockhart | Jessica Lockhart | Mrs. Whitman | Wanda Alcott | Greg Luowski | Storey Ming | Bess Maybeck | Gladis Philby | Sally Ringwald | Dillard Cole | Hugo Montcliff | Mattie Weaver

Disney Characters: Mickey Mouse | Minnie Mouse | Pluto | Ariel | Violet Parr Mulan | King Triton | Megara | | Stitch | Remy | Django | Rajah | Prince Phillip | Elsa | Rapunzel | Timon | Pumbaa | Chip 'n' Dale | Goofy | Tigger | Lilo | Winnie the Pooh | Piglet

Overtakers: Maleficent | Chernabog | The Queen | Cruella De Vil | Claude Frollo | Ursula | Jafar | Shan Yu | Jack Sparrow | Tia Dalma | Gaston | Prince John | Horned King | Big Bad Wolf | J. Worthington Foulfellow | Gideon | Shenzi, Banzai and Ed | Diablo | Magic Brooms | Green Army Men | Blackbeard | Shere Khan | Si and Am | Hopper | Flotsam and Jetsam | Judge Doom | Madam Leota | Sabor | The Headless Horseman | Stormtroopers | Scar | Zira

Locations: Magic Kingdom | Epcot | Disney's Hollywood Studios | Disney's Animal Kingdom | Typhoon Lagoon | DisneyQuest | Cinderella Castle | Escher's Keep | It's a Small World | Splash Mountain | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh | Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Expedition Everest | Fantasmic! | Voyage of the Little Mermaid | Disney Dream | Walt Disney: One Man's Dream | Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge | Soarin' | Mission: SPACE | Test Track | Wonders of Life | Morocco Pavilion | China Pavilion | France Pavilion | Norway Pavilion | Mexico Pavilion | Disneyland | Jungle Cruise | Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye | Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters | The Haunted Mansion | Casey Jr. Circus Train |Toontown | Matterhorn | The Disney Gallery


Tokyo Disneyland
Cinderella Castle of Tokyo Disneyland Japan
World Bazaar: The Disney Gallery | Omnibus

Fantasyland: Cinderella Castle | Snow White's Adventures | Snow White Grotto | Pinocchio's Daring Journey | Dumbo the Flying Elephant | Cinderella's Fairy Tale Hall | Castle Carrousel | Alice's Tea Party | Peter Pan's Flight | Pooh's Hunny Hunt | It's a Small World | Mickey's PhilharMagic | The Haunted Mansion | Sword in the Stone

Westernland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Mark Twain Riverboat | Country Bear Theater | Tom Sawyer Island | Westernland Shooting Gallery

Critter Country: Splash Mountain | Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes

Adventureland: Swiss Family Treehouse | Western River Railroad | Jungle Cruise | Pirates of the Caribbean | The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai!

Toontown: Mickey's House & Movie Barn | Minnie's House | Goofy's Bounce House | Donald's Boat | Chip 'n' Dale's Treehouse | Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin | Gadget's Go Coaster | Toon Park

Tomorrowland: Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek | Space Mountain | Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters | Star Jets | Grand Circuit Raceway | Captain EO | Star Tours: The Adventures Continue | Push the Talking Trash Can

Resorts: Tokyo Disneyland Hotel | Disney's Ambassador Hotel

Former Attractions: Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour | Mickey Mouse Revue | Honey, I Shrunk the Audience | Skyway | Magic Journeys | Disney's Party Express | One Man's Dream | Star Tours | The Party Gras Parade


Disneyland Paris
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant
Main Street, U.S.A.: Disneyland Railroad | Liberty Arcade | Discovery Arcade | Main Street Vehicles

Frontierland: Legends of the Wild West | Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Phantom Manor | River Rogue Keel Boats | Rustler Roundup Shooting Gallery | Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing | Woody's Roundup Village

Adventureland: Le Passage Enchanté d'Aladdin | Adventure Isle | La Cabane des Robinson | Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril | Pirates of the Caribbean | Following the Leader with Peter Pan

Fantasyland: Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant | Le Carrousel de Lancelot | Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains | Les Voyages de Pinocchio | Peter Pan's Flight | Alice's Curious Labyrinth | Dumbo the Flying Elephant | It's a Small World | Mad Hatter Tea Party | Le Pays de Contes de Fées | Casey Jr. - Le Petit Train du Cirque | Sword in the Stone

Discoveryland: Autopia | Space Mountain: Mission 2 | Orbitron, Machines Volantes | Videopolis Theater | Les Mystères du Nautilus | Buzz Lightyear Laser Blasts | Star Tours | Captain EO | Push the Talking Trash Can

Hotels: Disneyland Hotel | Hotel New York | Disney's Sequoia Lodge | Newport Bay Club Hotel | Disney's Hotel Cheyenne | Disney's Hotel Santa Fe

Former Attractions: Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes | Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage | Le Visionarium | Honey, I Shrunk the Audience

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