“If any of you folks are wearin’ hats or glasses, best remove ’em- ’cause” we’re about to learn more about Big Thunder Mountain or as the locals like to call it “the wildest ride in the wilderness”. Big Thunder Mountain has been a staple of the Magic Kingdom since it first opened in 1980. This mine train through the fictional town Tumbleweed in the American Southwest is known as one of the famous mountains of the Disney parks. However, most people do not know these Big Thunder Mountain Secrets.
Read below to find out some things about this Frontierland attraction.
10 Cool Big Thunder Mountain Secrets
1. 4 different iterations
Big Thunder exists in 4 different Disney parks. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exist in Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World. It is also located in Tokyo Disneyland and Big Thunder Mountain Paris (these two simply dropped the railroad).
Big Thunder takes place in the gold mining boom of the 19th-century, and the mountain you see in Tumbleweed was inspired by Monument Valley in Arizona.
Fun Fact: Monument Valley is also featured in Soarin
(the desert scene with the balloons).
3. There are 3 lift hills
for you to experience during the attraction. 2 of them are outdoors and one is inside. Not only do these lift hills help you go up the attraction, but they also serve as a safety tool.
These lift hills help Disney to be able to have more than one train on the track at a time as the left hills also serve as timers and safety stops along the attractions rails.
4. Indiana Jones Connection
This is one of the best Big Thunder Mountain secrets on this list. The sounds of the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness’s trains were used in the mine chase sequence in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”.
This attraction may call itself wild, but the top speed is only 36 miles per hour. This puts it 2 mph over 7 Dwarfs Mine Train also located in the Magic Kingdom, and right under the speed you reach on Splash Mountain while escaping the laughing place.
Big Thunder boasts a total of six trains. Each of these trains has its own name including, I. M. Fearless, I. M. Brave, I. B. Hearty, U. R. Old, U. R. Courageous, and U. R.
7. Antique Mining Equipment
Disney Imaginers are known for their attention to detail and authentic scenery. Because of this attention to detail all the mining equipment, you find throughout the attraction are real. These items were sourced from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wyoming, as well as from various auctions and museums. This includes an old ball mill, and an ore-hauling wagon, as well as an ore crusher.
8. Tony Baxter
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was the first major Imagineering project for Tony Baxter. He later went on to oversee the development of several Disney headliner attractions including Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones in Disneyland, and Star Tours.
The story of Big Thunder Mountain is built around the legend of a ghost town:
Legend has it that within the mountain of Big Thunder Railroad dwells a supernatural force. When gold was first discovered in the mountains a mining company was discovered. Soon though things turned dark, and miners started hearing ghostly sounds, mysteriously failing equipment, and frequent cave-ins. This is where the attraction comes in as trains would also frequently take off and race through the mines and mountains without a driver. Big Thunder became a ghost town after this, and now you get to travel on the haunted trains.
The queue for Big Thunder is filled with things to read, look at, and do. One of the most interesting is the Auto Canary machines. Mines used to send birds down into mines before going down to work to check for air quality and oxygen in the mines. Big Thunders queue features these Auto Canary machines which can be cranked to display an animated bud inside the machine.