Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of my favorite Disney attractions! Upon arriving at Magic Kingdom, my family heads straight for Frontierland. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is so much fun, and it’s a great way to dry off after a ride on Splash Mountain. For a different experience, be sure to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad after dark.
Walt Disney World
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened at Walt Disney World Resort in 1980. Guests enter the ramshackle headquarters of the Big Thunder Mining Co. and board converted ore cars through a deserted mine shaft. As the train winds around the majestic mountain, passengers experience an adventure during which they brave rushing waterfalls, rumbling earthquakes, crashing landslides and hairpin turns.
The queue at the Magic Kingdom has some interactive elements to help pass the time. The most popular (and fun) part according to Lori from Adventurer Mom are the gears you can crank to set off explosions.
I still remember riding Big Thunder Mountain for the first time. It was my family’s first trip to Walt Disney World in 1988. My dad actually videotaped the entire ride! I remember thinking it was so neat because it was a roller coaster that the entire family could enjoy together. Now, years later, I can ride it with my family and get that same feeling. It’s a classic!
Since its opening in 1979, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland has carried more than 225 million guests who are warned to “hold onto your hats and glasses” as they prepare to dip and drop into the canyons and caves of the Big Thunder ghost town. The attraction was updated in 2014 with an upgraded track, restoration of the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town, new paint on portions of the mountain and updates to the train vehicles.
I didn’t think that I could love Big Thunder Mountain Railroad anymore, but when the Disneyland version of the ride reopened in March, I was proven wrong. The Disney Imagineers have really outdown themselves with the special effects, and the new track is so smooth. Don’t worry, even with the smooth track, it is still the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness and will leave you wanting to come back for more.
At both parks wheelchair guests enter the attraction through the exit. Disney has also implemented a new service, the Disability Access Service Card. You can find out more about the program here. If wheelchair access is the only accommodation you need then you are not required to get the card. However, at attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad you may be given a time to return depending on the current wait time.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad also has transfer access vehicles to make transferring on and off the ride easier. You can find photos and more information at Rolling with the Magic.
FastPass and FastPass+
At Disneyland you can get a paper FASTPASS for the attraction. At the Magic Kingdom you can schedule at FastPass+ time using My Disney Experience 60 days before your vacation if you are staying on Disney property or 30 days in advance if you are a day guest or an Annual Passholder. You can also use the My Disney Experience app on your phone or visit one of the kiosks in the park.
Dumbo is a great example of innovation at work at Walt Disney World. Guests complain about long lines being boring, so Disney effectively eliminated the line experience. With the pager system, you can watch the kids play and keep them occupied until your Dumbo is ready for you. It’s ingenious, and we should expect more of innovations like this in the future.
At both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland guests must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride.
Big Thunder Mountain is the only Disney Roller Coaster this ride-wimp can handle! Since the coaster is designed with spiral drops rather than vertical it is easier on those who don’t like the feeling of a more traditional coaster drop.
For More Information
- Disneyland Ride Through Video – Love Our Disney
- Hidden Magic: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Queue – Frontierland Station
- Disney World vs. Disneyland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Disney in Your Day