Description And Comments

A roller coaster through and around a Disney “mountain.” The idea is that you’re on a runaway mine train during gold rush days. Along with the usual thrills of a roller coaster (about a 5 on a “scary scale” of 10), the ride showcases some first-rate examples of Disney creativity: lifelike scenes depicting a mining town, colorful caverns, and a dynamite-chewing goat, all humorously animated.

In 2014 Disneyland replaced the aging track and trains and reconstructed the ramshackle Rainbow Ridge buildings, which dated to 1956. The track layout and vehicle stylings remain the same, but visitors appreciate the smoother ride and enhanced final lift hill, which supplanted the unconvincing old earthquake effects with an explosive fog-fueled finale.

Touring Tips

A superb Disney experience, but not too wild a roller coaster. The emphasis here is much more on the sights than on the thrill of the ride itself. Regardless, it's a not-to-be-missed attraction. This attraction can grow quite a line as the day progresses, we recommend riding this in the morning or in the evening; an hour or two before the park closes. Finally, give Big Thunder a try after dark. The lighting gives the attraction a whole new feel.

As an example of how differently guests experience Disney attractions, consider this letter we received from a reader in Brookline, Massachusetts:

As senior citizens with limited time, my friend and I confined our activities to those attractions rated as 4 or 5 stars for seniors. Because you listed it as not to be missed, we waited an hour to board Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which you rated a 5 on a scary scale of 10. After living through 3½ minutes of pure terror, I rate that attraction a 15 on a scary scale of 10. We were so busy holding on and screaming and even praying for our safety that we did not see any falling rocks or a mining town. In our opinion it should not be recommended for seniors or preschool children.

A woman from New England discovered that there's more to consider about Big Thunder than being scared:

I won’t say it warranted a higher scare rating, but it was much higher on the lose-your-lunch meter. One more sharp turn and the kids in front of me would have needed a dip in Splash Mountain!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Wait Times

This chart shows you roughly how long you'll wait for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when you visit on a day with a given Disneyland Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average "peak" wait time (that is, how long the line will at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it's the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Wait Times.

Special Comments

Great effects, though a relatively tame ride; must be 40" tall to ride; those age 8 and younger must ride with an adult; switching-off option provided.

If you have a keen eye, you will notice tributes to the attraction that formerly occupied the real estate, Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland. Another hidden gem in the faint audio coming from the various shops as your train heads back to the station.

Special Needs

Other Attractions in Frontierland

Touring Plans with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

What is a Touring Plan?