Encompassing 2,780 feet of railroad track and reaching an average top speed of 30 miles per hour, it may not be the fastest ride in the Magic Kingdom or Walt Disney World, but it is certainly the wildest ride. Located in Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad zips riders around sagebrush and pine, through an abandoned ghost mine, into dark caves, past falling rocks, and around the rocky scenery familiar to the American Southwest. Here are eight facts and secrets about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to look for the next time you hop on board.
8. Extensive Planning
Opening in 1980, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad took 15 years to design and plan. Amazingly, this attraction cost as much to build in 1979 as it cost to build all of Disneyland in 1955.
7. Word Play
Each of the six trains used in this attraction have a unique name that might be referring to the adventure awaiting riders. The names include U.B. Bold, U.R. Daring, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty, and I.M. Fearless.
6. A Famous Monument
The namesake mountain rises 197 feet up in the air and is modeled after Monument Valley. The Disneyland version of this attraction received its inspiration from Bryce Canyon National Park.
5. Local Wildlife
Riders can spot all kinds of Audio-animatronic animals on their runaway trip, including a bobcat, boars, a roadrunner, a snake, possums, and a goat. Dark tunnels reveal glowing red eyes of the local bats. Besides the animals, a miner can be spotted in a bathtub. This is one of the three bathtubs that are located in the Magic Kingdom.
4. Authentic and Expensive
While you’re waiting in the ride’s queue and speeding around the tracks, keep an eye out for the antique ore cars, lanterns, an ore crusher, barrels, and mining tools. They are all genuine and had a price tag of over $300,000.00.
3. Nighttime Parties
If you’re riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at night, check out the window of the second floor of the saloon. The patrons of the salon can be seen having a wild party. Nighttime is a great time to take a ride and enjoy the twinkling lights of the Magic Kingdom as you zip around the tracks.
2. The Best Time To Ride
While Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has an average top speed of 30 miles per hour, guests riding in the late afternoon and evening will have a wilder experience. The grease on the tracks gets thinner as the sun heats it up, so as the day goes on, your train ride will be faster, with tops speeds reaching up to 33 miles per hour. Sit in the back car to feel an even faster ride.
1. Hidden Mickey
Like other well-loved rides, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has its share of Hidden Mickeys too. My favorite can be found at the end of the ride, right after you pass the dinosaur bones on the right side of the track. A set of three gears on the ground make up a Hidden Mickey.