Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Continuing along on our Mountain Tour of WDW, we head towards the far end of the Magic Kingdom's Frontierland. In the arid dessert the spires of rockwork fashioned after the rising buttes of Utah and Arizona's Monument Valley rise high into the air, but it's below in the mine shafts under the landscape that guests can climb aboard and encounter the thrill of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Big Thunder Mountain RailroadBig Thunder Mountain Railroad
Guests climb aboard one of six 30-45 passenger trains each with a unique moniker all it's own. Trains named U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty and I.M. Fearless take guests on the "wildest ride in the wilderness" racing and careening around the peaks and spiraling down at exuberant speeds, and perilously wisking through abandoned tunnels. If you want to adjust your experience, sit in the front of the train for a more controlled ride, and towards the back of your train for even more excitement and thrills as you feel as if you're flying through open air.

I.B. Hearty TrainI.B. Hearty Train
Having opened in the fall of 1980 at Walt Disney World, you can find it's sister attractions in Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland with just slightly different back stories. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was designed by Imagineer Tony Baxter and ride design engineer Bill Watkins. The back story and concept of the attraction came from prior concept work on a land that never came to be called Western River Expedition.

Careening Through a Fantastic LandscapeCareening Through a Fantastic Landscape
Big Thunder Mountain was closed for six months in early 2012 for repairs and renovations. When it reopened guests found a reconfigured queue, the town of Tumbleweed had been spruced up, and the rock projection was somehow set to project rocks floating up and down at the same time!

The Spires of Big Thunder at NightThe Spires of Big Thunder at Night
One of my favorite ways to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is at night time. Not only does the barren landscape hold an eerie beauty when illuminated, but the darkness gives the attraction and entirely different feel. Definitely plan two stops here in your touring strategy so that you can experience them both!

Many thanks to Joe Penniston and Bucky Schwarz for offering all these fantastic Big Thunder Mountain photos through Creative Commons. It's a treat to share them with you. Are you a fan of Big Thunder Mountain? When is your favorite time to ride? Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite part of this attraction is!

Sharon wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:15:

Sharon's picture

This attraction was closed in May when we were there. Am looking forward to riding it in October when we go back.

Jenn wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:40:

Jenn's picture

This is a must for our trips! We ride it both day and night, and it is totally different depending on the time of day.

I made my first trip to WDW as a kid in March 1981, and this ride was one that I remembered and was one of the first that I took my own kids on when we went together. It's one of their faves as well!

J wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 15:58:

J's picture

A classic example of pure Disney Magic. Lots of parks have mine cart rides, but Disney has clearly surpassed them all. Something you can’t forget to mention about this ride is for many kids it is their first thrill ride. It is always neat to see a roller coaster rookie experience that excitement for the first time. I am glad it is open again as a true Disney classic was missing on my last few visits.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 16:47:

Kristen K.'s picture

I'm a total coaster wimp but I do love Big Thunder!

Poppet wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 17:47:

This is a "Must Do" for our family. We LOVE this ride. It's the first ride we go on when we hit MK. It's just perfect.

dontthrowsand wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 17:25:

dontthrowsand's picture

I love this ride! It is well themed and it is fun while not being too intense for everyone else.

The Cookie Crumbler wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 17:54:

The Cookie Crumbler's picture

Can't wait to go on this again! It's one of the few coasters my stomach can handle.

Belinda wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 18:29:

Belinda's picture

This is just a great ride - and I agree - even better after dark!

Alicia wrote on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 22:12:

Alicia's picture

Me and my husband are going to Disney World for the 3rd time in 4 years, and will be riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when we are at Magic Kingdom.

JoAnn C wrote on Thu, 08/30/2012 - 01:47:

JoAnn C's picture

I love BTMRR. I've never ridden it at night. I'll have to change that this year.

BoBo713 wrote on Fri, 08/31/2012 - 19:33:

BoBo713's picture

I love Thunder Mountain, but the night rides are even better.

salejune wrote on Fri, 08/31/2012 - 21:49:

salejune's picture

I've never ridden this at night and I look forward to it this December!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.

More information about formatting options