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Another Note on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

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Oh No!
Oh No!

Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss

I have one rule in life – no coasting of the roller variety. Regular coasting is perfectly acceptable, of course, but that’s the extent of things. So far, this rule has been fairly easy to follow, which keeps the butterflies from wreaking their unholy havoc in my stomach and also gives me a great sense of accomplishment most days. It would give greater satisfaction if I could manage to work these minor victories into polite conversation, but I lack that gift.

One of the drawbacks to this rule is that I know next to nothing about proper inertial positioning when it comes to these stomach-churning, coastery experiences.

Recently, I posted an article about Disney World’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in which I gave it a very mild rating. It was July when we partook of the little miners’ offering, so I was not able to give it the multiple rides required for proper scientific testing.

Armed with my ignorance and full of confidence—two things that often go hand-in-hand—we once again audibled our touring plan and decided to  risk Disney’s Running of the Bills (and the Petes, the Georges, and the rest) in order to work in an additional Mine Train ride before our FastPass+ reservation. Unlike the last time, I entered the queue cheerily and without trepidation. I smiled at everyone I passed; I even almost played with the many little diversions scattered along our way.

Then we loaded our train. Car number 8. It is a number that will be forever burned into my memory, seared there by those accursed and soon-to-be very angry butterflies. I quickly perceived something was wrong on the first drop when my stomach leapt free of its moorings and promptly slapped me across the face, indignant of my foolish, foolish arrogance. By the time we reached the little guys’ cave of gems and we began our ascent, my “Oh no!” in echo to Doc’s “Heigh-ho!” was loud, full-bodied, and lacked any of the humor of my previous trip. I was joined of course, by my chorus of butterflies. It was a nausemagical moment.

I thought perhaps it was my imagination, but my wife experienced more thrills this time, as well, not that I found anything I experienced particularly thrilling.

After we departed, shaken and disturbed, and quite frankly confused by the stark differences in my experiences, I debated whether or not I would have anything else to do with Snow White’s little friends ever again. They were definitely no longer invited to game night at our house. Briefly I even debated whether or not I was going to slug one of them if they crossed my path—except for Dopey, I don’t suppose any of this was his fault. But Doc . . .. That of course, would have depended on whether or not I could keep from curling up in the fetal position at the sight of him, which was also a possibility.

My wife and I returned to our touring plan and found ourselves ahead of schedule. We squeezed in some additional attractions and soon we had reached the time of our Mine Train FastPass+ reservation. My wife assumed that after the last experience, I would prefer to conveniently “forget” about the reservation and move on to other fun, and in truth we almost let the window on the reservation close, but I needed to answer the question of why the two experiences were so disparate. Plus, I had no considerable lack of guilt for recommending this attraction to my fellow chickens. So, we returned for our second encounter.

Third Time’s The Churn?

This time I requested a car at the front, which – despite the line – the cast members readily accommodated. In fact, there appears to be a little waiting area specifically set aside for such requests. Soon we were back on the train, but this time in car number 1. At the first drop, I immediately knew I had made the right choice and learned a valuable lesson about inertial positioning of coaster of the roller kind. The angry butterflies, so riled up and fluttery an hour earlier, were now quiet, and I could at long last sing “Heigh-ho!” when prompted by my old friend Doc. I’m sure glad I didn’t slug him!

Although this comes as no surprise to the experienced thrill rider and probably even to most chickens, if you are like me, ASK TO BE PLACED AT OR NEAR THE FRONT. I cannot stress this enough. The difference between the front and the back on even something as innocuous as the Mine Train is significant and may determine how well you enjoy the rest of your day.

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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.

27 thoughts on “Another Note on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Physics note: It’s impossible to get a “crack the whip” effect on roller coasters. In a spinning line of ice skaters, the people farther out are traveling farther/faster than the people closer in. On a roller coaster, everyone is on a fixed path, with a fixed distance between cars. One car cannot go faster than another and remain the same distance away…

    • Good information. All I had was a joke about growing up in the South and having no frame of reference to this thing called “ice” skating, but I figured it wouldn’t be helpful.

    • What Dennis says is true. At any given time, all the cars are moving at the same speed. However, not all cars will move at the same speed at any given point along the track.

      Take, for example, the spot just after the crest of an incline that you’ve just been ratcheted up. When the front car reaches this point, it’s still going slow because the rest of the train is being dragged along, still going uphill. When the rear car reaches the same point, the whole train is now careening downhill.

      Since the “fun” parts of roller coasters (turns, twists, bumps, etc.) usually occur when going downhill (and therefore, thanks to gravity, the speed of the train is increasing), the rear cars are usually going faster when they reach these points than the front cars were a split-second earlier when they reached those points. Greater speed at these “fun spots” means much bigger butterflies, because the stomach-upsetting centripetal acceleration you’re feeling increases with the square of your speed. So while only 10% more speed means 21% more butterflies, 50% more speed means 125% more butterflies – more than double! (If v_back = 1.1 x v_front (10% greater), a_back will be 1.1^2 x a_front. 1.1^2 = 1.21, so a_back is 121% of a_front, in other words 21% greater. If v_back = 1.5 x v_front, a_back will be 2.25 x a_front.)

      Of course, the full ride takes the same total amount of time no matter where you sit. When you sit in the back, going faster at the “fun” spots is balanced by going slower in “boring” spots that you probably don’t notice as much. An example is immediately above the brakes in the track. When the front car goes over the brakes, the train is still going fast. By the time the back car gets there, the train has slowed down. (Which, of course, is the point of the brakes!!) But brakes usually happen when you’re on straight track, so if you sit in the front, the greater speed when you reach that point doesn’t translate to greater butterflies because centripetal acceleration only exists when you’re turning.

      If you’re having trouble visualizing to make sense of it, don’t think of yourself as on the ride. Instead, think of yourself as on the ground, watching one of those downhill turns. Since that train is speeding up as it passes you by, it’s no wonder those poor folks in the back are getting a wilder ride experience.

      So it’s not exactly the same as the “crack the whip” effect, but it is related through the laws of circular motion. And yes Bob, there is a physical reason why those butterflies only get angry in the back of the train. 🙂

      • Thanks Tom for this scientific explanation. Great info!
        And Thanks Bob for your article. Planning a trip soon, and I have been dreading the “will I ride, and if I do, will I be sick” conversation in my head over and over. Which in fact (I think), makes the butterflies even worse.
        With this info, I will prepare for the best.

      • I hope it helps. Honestly, until I started this little series, I never had that conversation. My stomach quashed all dialogue on the matter. I was happy, the butterflies were happy . . ..

  • Love all of your entries. Great writing! They always make me laugh several times throughout!

    • Thanks!

    • I totally agree. When I saw this was another Bob Whitten article, I clicked immediately for the great writing and entertainment.

  • This is excellent advice!! my son is not a fan of roller coasters, and if we can find the seat that provides the least movement, that may work for him! Thanks!

    • My pleasure. I hope it helps.

      • This is great info. Is this true for RnRC as well? My wife hates coasters but maybe if she sat closer to the front at WDW she would be OK.

      • Unfortunately, I can’t answer that, since I don’t ride anything with “roller coaster” in the actual name. We have a very smart community here, so I’m sure someone can answer that. Sorry. I’m undecided how far this chicken will go in the name of research.☺

      • RnRC is definitely way bumpier in the back. But since it goes upside down, I’ve found that the front is still a bit of thrill. If your wife hates coasters, I would steer clear of RnRC.

      • Thanks for the info. I was afraid I was going to have to get on RnRC to answer it myself. 🙂 My hero!

  • I got some interesting info about the coasters in Magic Kingdom when we were there in July. The fastest coaster in the park is the Barnstormer and the slowest is Space Mountain.

  • This general rule of thumb is especially valid on the 7DMT. The cars all rock in a cradle, but this effect is far more pronounced in the back. So you’re getting an additional ‘bang for your buck’ in those back cars on this ride, with the extra swing.

  • I have the same issues on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – I’m a roller-coaster chicken too, I CAN ride BTMR if we are right at the front, but more than half way back and its a total no go – I learned that from experience – and not a very pleasant experience either 🙂

  • Thanks for doing this. I have not been on the ride yet and also am not a big roller coaster fan but since this is fantasyland I thought I would be able to handle it. I will ask for the front. Does the ride have one bar to pull down for two people like in Thunder Mountain? My husband is fluffy and I tend to bounce around a lot since there is more space between me and the bar.

    • Each seat has an individual bar.

    • Your husband is Gabriel Iglesias?!? That’s awesome!

  • Yep, a common rule of thumb for roller coasters. It’s like playing crack-the-whip on ice skates; the kid at the end of the whip moves much faster and more violently than the kid at the front.

  • We recently rode the Mine Train. The first time we were in the back and we greatly enjoyed it. The second time, we were seated in the front and it was as though the ride was moving in slow motion. What a bummer!

    • My wife feels your pain. While I’m quite content to sit in front and take a leisurely coast through the mine, I have to occasionally elbow her to keep her awake.

  • It’s a good rule of thumb for most coasters (some physics nonsense that I vaguely remember from high school – back of coaster more velocity, blah blah).

    I did Space Mountain twice. First time in the front seat, and I thought, it wasn’t too bad. Second time in the last seat, and I thought my kidneys might have been bruised and I was reeling from whiplash. It definitely makes a difference where you sit.

    • Where were you four days ago!!? On second thought, where was I *cough* *cough* years ago when I was supposed to be learning this stuff in high school? I probably thought it was never going to come in handy irl. Score one more for ignorant overconfidence. 🙂

  • TL/DR version: Mild in front, more thrilling in the back.

  • I went yesterday and went straight to the mine ride right at opening, the line was already crazy so I went to Space Mountain and Buzz LightYear, got straight onto both.
    Went back to the mine ride,25 min. standby time.


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