One of these days, we’re going to be able to return to Disneyland, and when we do, we’re going to want to hit some attractions. To keep you in the mood until then, let’s take a deep dive into Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in this week’s “Better Know an Attraction” series. Read on for more!
What is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is an E-Ticket roller coaster attraction set in a mining town in the Old West.
Where is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is in Frontierland, and will be on your right-hand side after you pass Rancho Del Zocalo.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad History
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was designed by Imagineer Tony Baxter and opened at Disneyland on September 2, 1979, replacing Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. It includes numerous nods to the space it once occupied, which was also a mine train ride through scenes of the old west. For example, the western town at the end of the attraction is Rainbow Ridge, in roughly the same form as it existed when it was Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. The attraction received a major renovation in 2014, during which the entire track was replaced, as were the ride vehicles, and several scenes were upgraded with new effects. The attraction is extremely detailed and includes several references to Disney history.
What You Need to Know About the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Queue
The queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a two-lane winding path surrounded by rockwork and the conclusion of the attraction itself. The queue is shaded in parts, but it’s entirely outdoors and there is no serious protection from the rain. It cannot accommodate wheelchairs or ECVs, so guests using them will be directed to enter through the exit for boarding.
What is the Ride Experience Like for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain is a heavily themed, fast, thrilling roller coaster ride that has three lift hills and will take you through caves, tunnels, banked turns, humps, and drops. The ride is generally fairly smooth (far smoother than Matterhorn, for example), but it will mildly shake you side to side on occasion (intentionally), so it’s not as fast or smooth as Space Mountain or Incredicoaster. There are no inversions and the ride, while a lot of fun, is not overly intense, making it a great coaster for someone looking to upgrade to a “real” roller coaster but that doesn’t feel ready for the other E-Ticket roller coasters. The ride does contain darkness, loud noises, and unexpected movements that may frighten some children.
What are the Ride Vehicles Like for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad features mine train vehicles that accommodate up to two guests per row. There are no inversions, so the only restraint is a lap bar that you’ll pull down yourself.
What You Need to Know About Accessibility for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Guests do need to be able to transfer into the ride vehicle to be able to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Guests in wheelchairs and ECVs should enter through the exit where you will be directed by a cast member for further boarding instructions.
What You Need to Know About Health and Safety Warnings for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Disneyland warns guests that, “[f]or safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.”
What are the Height Restrictions for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Guests need to be 40″ or taller to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Guests under 7 must be accompanied by someone 14 or older.
Does Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Offer FastPass?
Does Weather Affect Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is outdoors, so extreme weather can shut it down. It will generally continue to run in the rain, but lightning or heavy rain can result in it being closed until the weather passes.
What’s the Best Time of Day to Experience Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a headliner attraction, and should be experienced before 10:30 or after 6:30 if you don’t use FastPass. It is traditionally a fairly easy FastPass to get without a serious wait even in the middle of the day, however, so target other headliner attractions first. Expected wait times on a crowd-level basis are noted here, but be sure to check out the expected wait time for the date you intend to be there. One final note: if you can time your ride to coincide with the fireworks when they are running, it’s a pretty amazing experience!
Is Big Thunder your favorite of the Disney Mountains? Is it on your short list, or your skip list? Let us know in the comments!