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.
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.
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.
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!
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!