Description And Comments

A fast paced roller-coaster ride through and around Disney's 3rd "mountain," following Matterhorn Bobsleds and Space Mountain. Set in the boom of the gold rush, you board a run-away mine train based on the design created by Arrow Development in the mid 60's. Along with the usual thrills of a roller-coaster ride (about a five on a "scary scale" of ten), 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 completed a massive makeover of Big Thunder Mountain, replacing the aging track and trains, and reconstructing the ramshackle Rainbow Ridge buildings, which dated back to 1956. The track layout and vehicle stylings remain the same, but visitors will appreciate the smoother ride and enhanced final lift hill, which replaced the unconvincing old earthquake effects with an explosive new 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:

Being in the senior citizens' category and having limited time, my friend and I confined our activities to those attractions rated as four or five stars for seniors.

Because of your recommendation and because you listed it as "not to be missed," we waited for one hour to board the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which you rated a "5" on a scary scale of "10." After living through 3 1/2 minutes of pure terror, I will 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, a mining town, or an earthquake. In our opinion the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 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:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was rated "5" on the scary scale. 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?