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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was the third of four mountains in the Disneyland range. This roller coaster is themed as a runaway mine train and takes riders through desert canyons and an old mining town with several other diversions along the way. While barely a thrill ride by the extreme standards of modern roller coasters, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad continues to prove that theming can cover a lot of the gap. Unfortunately the reputation of the ride has been tarnished by a series of accidents in 2003-04 in which several people were injured and one life was lost.

General Information - Hide Section
  • Location: To the right beyond Rancho del Zocalo as you enter Frontierland from Main Street.
  • Date Opened: 9/15/1979
  • # of Ride Units: Five trains exist.
  • Ride Capacity: Each train consists of five cars, each car can hold six passengers in three rows for a total of 30 passengers per car.
  • Restraint Method: Lapbar
  • Ticket Rating: E Ticket
  • Ride Photo: No
 
Time Commitment Information - Hide Section
  • Open/Close: Opens and closes with the park.
  • Wait Times: Lines can be long with waits of 45 minutes not uncommon. When FastPass is available (the weekends), its use it recommended.
  • Length of Ride: 3 minutes 30 seconds
  • FastPass: Yes (on weekends and during peak period weekdays).
  • Single Rider: No
  • Queue Description: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has an attractive queue, winding through an old mining town. Unfortunately much of it is exposed to the sun which makes it unpleasant on hot days.
Access Information - Hide Section
  • Health Restriction: This is a roller coaster and riders should be in general good health and free of heart, back, or neck problems that could be exacerbated by sudden changes in direction and extra forces. Pregnant women should not ride.
  • Ride Access: The regular queue is not accessible to wheelchairs and ECVs. To reach the ride go to the exit of the ride. Go down either exit ramp (if only one side is operating, the gate will be closed on the other side making the decision of which direction easy!) The exit routes are narrow and extremely steep, so be careful of other guests. A cast member will direct you where to go.
  • Wheelchair Transfer: Riders will need to transfer from wheelchairs and ECVs and then step down into the mine trains. If the ride is operating such that you'll exit from the opposite platform as you entered, your equipment will be moved and waiting for you.
  • Service Animals: No
  • Audio: Sound plays only a minor role in this attraction.
  • Weight and Size Issues: It is possible to ride alone in a row if additional room is needed. Long legs may find the space a bit tight but manageable. The lapbar will accommodate riders of just about any size (though a large discrepancy in size between adjacent passengers may leave the smaller person feeling uncomfortably unrestrained.
Parenting Information - Hide Section
  • Height Restriction: 40" (102 cm)
  • Child Swap: Yes. Ask the Cast Member at the entrance to the Thunder Mountain queue for a Rider Switch pass. Two people may return through the Fast Pass entrance when the rest of your party finishes their ride.
  • Other Issues: Make sure children keep hands and feet inside of the train. A child lost part of his foot between the train and the "dock" once! This is a roller coaster ride so prepare your children for a fast ride.
History and Trivia - Hide Section
  • At this location: In 1955 this opened as the home of the Stagecoach, Conestoga Wagon and the Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules. In 1956 this location expanded into Disneyland's Living Desert (based on the True-Life Adventure film of the same name) and The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train opened. In 1960, the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was transformed into Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. At that time, the Stagecoach and Conestoga Wagon went away, but the Pack Mules remained. Pack Mules Through Nature's Wonderland closed in 1973. In 1979, Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland closed and construction began on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
     
  • This attraction's history: No significant changes have been made to the track since its opening. In 2002, the loading station was redesigned and air gates were added for safety.

    Unfortunately, the history of this ride took a turn for the worse on September 5, 2003, when a mechanical malfunction (eventually attributed to maintenance issues) caused a train to separate from its engine and then crash into it, killing one passenger and injuring several others. The ride was closed for almost six months for investigation and repairs, and then in July 2004 another accident injured several passengers when a switching problem sent one train into the wrong side of the platform, colliding with a train already there.
  • Other Trivia:
    • Train names: Each of the six trains used in this ride have a name. They are U.R. Couragous, I.M. Loco (originally named I.M. Brave, but changed after the accident above), I.M. Bold, U.R. Fearless, I.B. Hearty, and U.R. Daring.
    • Technical Specifications: The track is 2,671 feet long and the maximum speed reached is 28 miles per hour.
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