Notes from Underground: A Chicken’s Review of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

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Chickens Don’t Fly

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train SignI am a sick man . . . I am a chicken man. An unthrilled man. I think my liver hurts. As I desperately tried to dream up viable excuses to get me out of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue and into the relative safety of Fantasyland, the most theoretical and intentional of all the lands of the Magic Kingdom, it occurred to me there was nothing to be done. My best excuses failed on my tongue; my apprehensions about the looming thrills of this new experience rendered me dull, sheep-like, and sadly unconvincing. My wife—excited for an opportunity to actually experience some of Disney World’s more exciting offerings for once—would hear none of it. I had a job to do, and to be honest, even I wasn’t persuaded by my pitiful excuse for excuses.

Chickens don’t fly you see, or at the very least they shouldn’t. Ask any chicken; you’ll get no argument from them. In fact, all you’ll get is a blank stare, as they will typically refuse to dignify such a question with any response. It’s not so much flight, however, that is the problem, as much as descent—rapid, gravity-enforced, stomach-churning descent. That is the problem. For I myself and my fine-feathered fellows suffer from an over-acute consciousness of inertia. The laws of nature give me offense, but only those times when my slight frame is cast violently against them. In my heart, I have never been a chicken, though I constantly turn chicken in reality when it comes to attractions of the so-called “thrilling” variety.

Apropos of the Last-minute Change

The morning of my Mine Train adventure started off innocently enough. We originally had FastPass+ reservations for 10:40 that evening, which meant I had a full day at the park before my date as the (dis)honorary 8th dwarf, “Queasy.” Of course, that also meant 10:40 would hang over my head the entire day like the sword of Damocles. It gave “FastPass+ reservations” a new meaning, as I now had a whole host of them concerning our scheduled date with the Doc, Grumpy and the others.

It looks so peaceful. ©Disney

Before rope drop, a cast member polled the large gathering of guests pooled at the entrance, in an informal effort to ascertain which attraction we planned to visit first. When a practical paucity of people professed their intentions to visit the Mine Train, my wife suggested we alter our plans and head there first. Although my instinct is to doubt the integrity of claims made by large groups of people, I nevertheless assented—anything to remove that ominous, dangling blade from above my head, even if it meant bringing it down upon me sooner than later. Feeling reasonably confident of my survival, getting the experience over with seemed a logical decision. However, it also made the reality of my impending peril that much more palpable.

Fortunately, what transpired next had the unintended effect of mitigating my sense of dread, or at least putting it off until we reached the entrance of the attraction. I’m afraid the Morning Stampede, something we assiduously avoid thanks to Touring Plans and my chickenness, comes out none too well in my recollections. I lovingly refer to it as ten minutes of torture. Of course, that’s not fair, as it is something of a misnomer, as the stampede probably lasted no more than six minutes. It’s hard to say how long it truly lasted, what with my life flashing before my eyes a few minutes earlier than I had anticipated. It’s not that interesting a story either, so needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to watching it a second time once I began my Mine Train adventure.

After being pushed aside without warning or explanation by the lesser known and wildly less-popular dwarfs, “Shovey,” “Pushy,” and “Stampy,” we at last arrived at the entrance of the Mine Train. As we moved through the desolate, early morning queue, I attempted to make note of the fun little diversions put in play to pass the time, but we were moving too quickly, and my mind was already thoroughly diverted.

In the past, my experience with attractions whose intent is to provide some measure of thrills has been one of blissful ignorance or muted optimism, and then later shock and horror as I realize too late the fate that has befallen me. I’ve been told more than one occasion that an attraction really wasn’t “as bad” as I imagined, my companions not realizing how prodigious my proclivity for imagination happens to be. In nearly every one of those occasions, the experience had been much worse than their assurances. Of course, were my imagination truly great, I’d have come up with a better set of excuses.

The Mine Train

From the screams I overheard as we approached the boarding area, I was forced to conclude that mankind is in love with suffering, to the point of passion. After all, it’s not like they got onboard expecting a gentle, relaxing ride. No, people seek out these kinds of attractions for the enjoyment of that sickly sensation that produces screaming. If they wanted a scary adventure where no one screams, Snow White’s offering would still be around, but nobody wanted to sit through that; not even I.

Once safely inside our mine cart, we were whisked out of the mine and down a short, curving drop and to my surprise and great relief, my stomach remained steadfastly seated in its proper place. My greatest shock was just how smoothly we moved along the track. Our cart glided along with such ease that my jaw unclenched a little, and my death-grip on the safety bar relaxed, but not to the point of letting go.

We climbed our first peak, a relatively small one to folks accustomed to these sorts of experiences, but it may as well have been Everest. The riders seated in front of us, far more given over to the moment than myself, threw up their arms in an effort to drink in as much thrill as possible, but I would not play along. For me, the immediate fruit of inertia is consciousness, usually of my stomach clawing to get to safety. I folded my arms in conscious protest—granted, in my mind, as there was no way I was going to let go of my death-grip. Again, I was taken aback not by gravity-induced discomfort as I expected, but by the mildness of the descent. As relieved as I was, my skeptical self stiffened in anticipation of the big thrill I imagined we must be building toward.

As we entered Diamond Pass and returned to the mine, we were welcomed by the happy little dwarfs singing their happy little song and dig dig digging their whole day through. For a moment, I was drawn in and sang along, blissful in my ignorance, but never truly at ease. Then I spied the next peak, one even higher and more imposing than the first. At once, the happy little tune in my heart turned bitter; I looked on my dwarfen companions with contempt and loathing, and wondered how anyone else could possibly not feel the same way. Why were the little miners so happy? I imagined it was because of the terror they were about to inflict upon me and my poor, unsuspecting stomach.

Mockery now dripped from their song as we climbed and climbed and climbed. My own song turned to self-mockery, and burst forth, unrestrained, from my lips, echoing every “heigh-ho!” with “oh-no!” It was a sublime moment, and one I cursed myself for enjoying. Deep in my heart I suppose, it was difficult to accept my suffering. And if a person can’t mock himself, then where’s the fun?

We fell from the summit and from what I could tell from my half-opened eyes, our descent was in fact more of the same mildness as before. The track, it seems, was designed to take advantage of the mine carts novel tilting vehicle design, and as such we were subjected to a bounty of turns and bends but virtually nothing of direct drops.

We disembarked and at last I was free to assess the experience and perhaps enjoy it for the first time, now that the thing was known to me. My stomach, throughout the entire experience, remained quietly ensconced in its proper place without the least bitterness or protest, none the worse for wear and maybe even a little peckish. As we entered back again into the chaotic, but now peaceful flow of Fantasyland, I found myself considering the possibility of future visits to the Mine Train and not growing faint at the thought of it.


My rating scale for chicken-related thrill tolerance is one to five chickens–five being the most stomach-churning. Note: unless something very wrong happens, there will be no 5-chicken reviews. I’ve been on Tower of Terror once and it very nearly ruined my honeymoon. For the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it gets my best rating – 1 chicken.  Something tells me, however, it’s all downhill from here. Literally.



Bob Whitten

I made my first trip to Walt Disney World in 1973, but for some reason, did not return for 23 years. Fortunately, that year I married into a Disney family and my lovely wife eventually set me straight. We now make regular trips to the World, despite not having any kids. We do have one cat, though she has yet to express any interest in going with us.

42 thoughts on “Notes from Underground: A Chicken’s Review of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • August 5, 2014 at 7:18 am

    My new favorite article on!!!

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:47 am


  • August 5, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Great article Bob! I hung on every word! Can’t wait to ride SDMT in early December. I’m more of 4 out of 5 chickens, so this will be cake! :o)

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Thank you. I hope it’s not too tame for ya! I’m still amazed by how smooth it rides–so is my stomach.

      • August 5, 2014 at 10:06 am

        Not at all….most likely it’s just my speed! I’m not a thrill seeker and I made the mistake of riding Expedition Everest in March. Let’s just say that will be the first and last time I ever ride it! My neck was sore for two days afterwards, too!

        • August 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

          Ugh! I’ve haven’t had the *ahem* pleasure of experiencing Everest. I feel bad for my wife. She would love to go on it, but she doesn’t want to go by herself. She got me on the Tower of Terror 18 years ago, and I’m still weak in the knees. Come to think of it, I should probably see a doctor about that.

  • August 5, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Two weeks ago I had my 7DMT chicken experience two. Twice!!! The first time we drove in the second row and found the ride even milder than the Barnstormer! The second time we drove in the very last cart and I did fell the difference. There, it was more like the Big Thunder Railroad. So I would suggest all chickens like me, to ask for the front cars.

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Thanks for the tip. I had read something similar. We managed to get placed somewhere near the middle, so I had the best/worst of both worlds. That worked out well, because I didn’t think I’d have the stamina to face it more than once. That of course, turned out to be a non-issue, as I was unwilling to test my stamina waiting in that rather imposing line.

  • August 5, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Favorite article!! More, please!

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:49 am


  • August 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Love this! I have a super chicken for a husband. This will be great to share with him for our next trip. He refuses to go on Barnstormer (I had to go on concurrent trips with our boys) – how do you rate Barnstormer (for a point of reference). I will have to look up more of your articles. On our first trip I got him on Space Mountain (I hadn’t been to WDW in years and didn’t remember it being scary – but I’m a coaster nut) and he actually threw up and cried afterwards – it was our first ride of the day and ruined the rest of our day at MK!

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:56 am

      I have not yet screwed up my courage for Barnstormer. My wife and I have a trip planned in a few weeks. Since I’ve pretty much decided to go on all the questionable thrill rides, I’ll probably have to give it a shot. I’ll be reviewing Space Mountain in a bit (I’ve now completed the entire MK mountain range). Tell your husband I feel his pain. In fact, as I think about it, I’m starting to literally feel it . . .. 🙂

  • August 5, 2014 at 11:01 am

    So Bob, you didn’t say and I have to ask, did you go back to use your 7DMT FP+ for that evening?

    • August 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

      I did not. Had we stuck to that plan, we wouldn’t have gotten anymore FP+ reservations the rest of the day. Since 1040pm was the earliest we could reserve the Mine Train, and the standby wait hovered around 90 minutes, that pretty much ended my trips to it for the day. Maybe next trip.

  • August 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Great article. I love your humor. I rode the Mine Train for the first time last week and liked it. I would say I am not a chicken but I totally agree with you on Tower of Terror. I also rode that for the first time last week and hated it far more than I thought I would. My daughter’s favorite story of the trip is describing the look on my face and my yelling “Is it over yet?” It is good to face your fears, but only once is necessary.

    • August 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

      I feel your pain. There are no actual images of my face from my experience, as it was firmly planted in my wife’s shoulder. As we entered the “Buy a picture of your ride” area of the Tower, I remember just ushering my wife hastily out the door. I may have muttered something like, “Move along, there’s nothing for you to see.” At least, I hope I said something witty like that. I suspect, however, I was largely incoherent.

    • August 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

      I also rode Tower of Terror just once in my life. It was my honeymoon and I was so much in love… Nine years later I am still in love with my dear husband, but going again into ToT, never!

  • August 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Great article! I love hearing about the thrill (or un-thrill) of rides by someone who doesn’t like traditional roller coasters. I’m a bit of a chicken, though I will ride Thunder Mtn … I haven’t yet braved Everest. Can’t wait to try the Mine Train though!

    • August 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! I think it’s worth a FP+ reservation, if you can get it.

    • August 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      After watching the Expedition Everest several times on YouTube, I really thought it was no big deal and I could handle it. However, somehow I forgot that a video doesn’t quite give you the physical experience of the G-forces that you are subjected to. My 7-year-old was pinned to the side of the car and her head was partly hanging out. I had to pull her back in because she couldn’t move. I honestly thought she had passed out but it was dark and I couldn’t see her! NEVER AGAIN! But still sort of glad that I experienced it JUST once. ;oP

  • August 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Wow, thanks for that review….someone just like me! About 20 years ago I made the mistake of going on Space Mountain, and couldn’t walk straight for several hours (inner ear…) I had been thinking about going on this ride, but really was worried…..Thanks to you I will try it and maybe not be worried in that line….This may be the Best Article Yet for helping me plan!!!

    • August 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      I rode Space Mountain once. . . once. My wife convinced me to ride it by telling me it “wasn’t really a roller coaster.” I learned the hard way we have very different views of what a roller coaster consists of.
      Mariana made a good point about where on the Mine Train you sit. The closer to the front the better. We were in the middle, though and it wasn’t bad.

  • August 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    At least you started small, when I brought my mother to WDW she decided to try a roller coaster for the first time ever. Unfortunately she tried Everest, we had to carry her to an area to sit and rest for a while after her ‘experience’

    • August 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      The poor thing! I feel horrible for her, but I also have to tip my hat. I still haven’t ridden it, and doubt I ever will (I would need fairly substantial motivation, and even then, I don’t know). That is unfortunate. I suppose that experience may color how willing she is to try another.

      • August 9, 2014 at 2:33 am

        I thought you were going to say ‘fairly substantial medication’.

        • August 9, 2014 at 7:04 am

          Ha! That too!

  • August 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Great article – and I feel your pain! When we first started taking our kids to Disney World, I discovered I was scared to death of roller coasters. And I knew a day would come when my boys would INSIST that I get on Thunder, Splash and Space Mountain – never mind Everest or, heaven forbid, Tower of Terror!

    It was the drop I was terrified of. But I started small with the MK mountains and discovered that the people who put their hands up are on to something. Loosening my death-grip and throwing my hands up on the drop actually took my mind off of the expected effects on my stomach. Maybe it allows more blood to flow to the abdomen. But I think tightening up when the drop comes only makes it seem worse.

    The first time I rode Everest with them, I had to “take a few minutes” to recover while they rode it again. And after using the chicken-out line my first time in Tower or Terror, it has become one of my favorite rides.

    So now I’m a bit of a roller coaster junkie. Hulk at Universal IoA, Kraken at Sea World and Goliath at Six Flags over Georgia are my favorites. I “out-ride” my boys all the time. They’re the ones “taking a few minutes” while I go again.

    • August 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Wow. What a transformation. Sadly, that hasn’t happened for me. The one and only time I did the Tower left me in a foul mood(a really foul mood). It was kind of funny how grouchy it made me. I remember laughing a little at myself as I left my body and stared at the very, VERY irritable young man shambling out of the attraction. I’m not sure my wife found it very amusing though. Maybe she did later.

  • August 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    It’s not always the ‘thrill’ rides that get you. I can take all the coasters, althought not TOT. But the Mad Tea Party is a killer. On our last trip I mistakenly thought it can’t possibly be as bad I as remember, it’s just a kids ride, right? Wrong. My stomach was swirling like a washing machine as my husband and sons enjoyed the ‘thrill’ of spinning as much as humanly possible. When I staggered off after what felt like an age my 10 year old turned to me and said in a shocked tone ‘ Mum it looks like you’re about to cry!’ That’s because I was. Never again.

    • August 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      I’m with you Sarah. I love roller coasters but hate the spinning. I really don’t like the intense version of Mission: Space. That’s all the nausea with none of the thrill in my book.

  • August 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I think the drop on Pirates is bad enough. But I’ve promised to try 7DMT on our upcoming trip. Feeling a *little* better now that I’ve read this.

    • August 6, 2014 at 6:35 am

      I know what you mean about Pirates. I have to ride it, but there are times when the drop gets me. I think knowing it’s the only drop keeps me from jumping in the water and swimming back to shore–that and Disney tends to frown on such things. I felt no such drop in 7DMT. But like was stated before, try getting a car close to the front to help further.

  • August 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

    My mother had an open heart surgery 6 years ago, and before she will love to get in the rides at WDW, she even got into the Tower of Terror. Do you think this ride will be to ok for her? She is pretty healthy but I’m afraid that too much thrill may make her fell sick. I want to say that she got on the Goofy ride but the one that made her feel sick was the Star Wars ride at Hollywood Studios. What do you think about this one, I will really love for her to be able to see it.

    • August 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Gee, I’m really not qualified to render a medical opinion. All I can say is that 7DMT did not possess the quease-inducing drops typical of thrill rides. You do, however, feel some speed. Speed has never been an issue for me–I greatly enjoy Test Track and can even take Mission: Space orange though I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say I “enjoy” it. But I do know that these attractions (ESPECIALLY M:S- orange) are not necessarily recommended for people with heart conditions. You might want to note if Disney posts any warnings for 7DMT. I don’t recall seeing any, but I wasn’t looking for them either. Mission Space very clearly posts such warnings. I would suggest consulting her doctor about her safety. I know folks who like roller coasters, but stuff like Star Tours turns them green, so it may not be a good barometer for whether or not she would enjoy 7DMT. If her doc says it’s cool, and she wants to ride it, then this is probably the one of the mildest “coasters” she will experience. It’s also quite short. But if she has the slightest misgivings, I would yield to her wishes, of course.

  • August 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I love corkscrews & turns & upsides downs… but not *drops*. Thus, ToT is not too fun… but R&R Coaster is awesome for me. Also love all the “sim” rides like Soarin & Star Tours.

    Having said that… I got a concussion on EE. Was “slow” for about an hour & had to parse every word my wife said one. word. at. a. time. Never again on that one; not worth it. I did ride it twice that day, once in front (no problem), once in back (big problem).

    Bob, seriously the Barnstormer lasts about 30 seconds max. By the time you even react to anything, it’s done. Go for it. 😉

    I’ve got to ask: Do you enjoy Splash Mt? Because while I hate drops, that is my favorite ride of all-time at any park. It’s got to be the smoothest “drop” of all-time.

    Great article, lots of fun to read.

    • August 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks! Glad you liked it. I will give the Barnstormer a shot the next time we’re in the Magic Kingdom. I can probably handle 30 seconds. Probably.
      Sheesh, concussed by Everest? That’s awful. I would ask if the Yeti were involved, but I suspect he wasn’t much of a threat.
      As for Splash Mountain, I have been on it and my review of it will show up in the near future. Interesting that it’s your favorite. Something a “smooth” drop makes my stomach flutter just a bit.

  • August 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Thanks, Bob, for a great article. I’m (late 60’s) still a roller coaster enthusiast, but can’t go on teacups etc. What caught my attention was that you were able to get on 7 Dwarfs ride at rope drop without a long wait. Good to hear b/c about a month ago folks were reporting long lines unless you were able to get to front of line by sprinting to the ride. So I have set up our first fastpass for 9am at the Dwarfies. I think I’ll still keep it that way, since we’ll be there in a few days (summer crowd), and I want to avoid the rope drop madness for the first dash down Main St., since the fam will have 2 tots in a double stroller with us. So our plan is to hang back 5-10 minutes, then easy does it a bit to the ride.

    • August 7, 2014 at 9:24 am

      That sounds like a good plan. Had we been able to get an early reservation, it would have saved us some headaches.
      We were able to get through without a wait in part because as a rule, we arrive really early and are almost always at the very front of the line when the park opens.
      The cast members now walk the crowd down Main Street and split it up around the hub, based on where everyone is going first. Once the crowd/mob splits up, it becomes something of a “controlled stampede.” We didn’t sprint (as a point of principle, I won’t move faster than a brisk walk), and we were passed by many people, but the numbers were still in our favor that early in the day. With 2 tots and a larger group, hanging back sounds like a great idea.

  • August 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks for the info! As a fellow chicken, I think you just talked me into trying 7 dwarfs. Now, can I persuade you into scooting over to Universal to try Gringott’s for me? 🙂

    • August 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Hehe. It may take me a while to screw up my courage for that (and even then I’ll probably have to borrow some). The video actually made me a little queasy, though the effects look great.

  • August 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

    “practical paucity of people professed their intentions” — Favorite line ever. Alliteration at its finest.

    • August 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm


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