Roller Coaster Guide: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

in Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disneyland, Walt Disney World

Big Thunder Mountain Disney Parks

All Images Credit Disney

“Howdy, partners! For your safety, remain seated with your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the train — and be sure to watch your kids. If any of you folks are wearin’ hats or glass, best remove ’em — cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”

If you are a fan of Disney, and also a fan of roller coasters, then one classic experience you absolutely can’t miss is Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The runaway railroad is a staple attraction at four Disney theme parks and is a fun adventure for kids and kids-at-heart. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a rip-roaring roller coaster that will have Guests always coming back for more.

Big Thunder Mountain
Credit: Disney

Where Can You Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

The great thing about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is that Guests all across the world have access to the ride because it is located at multiple theme parks! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad can be found at the following Disney Parks:

Kids riding Big Thunder Mountain
Credit: Disney

At Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, Disneyland Paris, and the Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is located in the Frontierland area of the theme park. For Guests visiting the Tokyo Disney Resort, Thunder Mountain is located in the area of the park called Westernland.

What Is the Story of Big Thunder Mountain?

What makes Big Thunder Mountain the wildest ride in the wilderness? Why, the fact that it’s haunted, of course! Local legend says that ghosts of miners past haunt the railroads and control the tracks, taking Guests on an exciting ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Credit: Disney

Here is the official background of the ride from Disney:

Legend has it that after gold was discovered in the 1850s, eerie incidents took place in the mine. Trains would take off and race through tunnels… by themselves.

As you enter the cursed cavern, your train speeds up along the rickety track. Shoot under a booming waterfall and dodge a falling boulder from an unexpected landslide as you swoop around sharp turns and drop into desolate canyons.

On this rip-roaring adventure, you may learn that some legends turn out to be true…

Tokyo Disney Big Thunder Mountain
Credit: Disney

Who Can Ride Big Thunder Mountain?

Even though Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is fun for children of all ages, there are some restrictions in place for Guests who would like to ride the attraction. All Disney theme parks require Guests to be at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) tall to ride. For those smaller Guests who may be close to the requirement, Disney Cast Members will have height markers at the entrance to the attraction.

Thunder Mountain Height Marker
Credit: 907Vets

Disney also recommends that Guests who would like to ride be free from high blood pressure, heart, back, and neck problems. Expectant mothers are also advised against riding. Guests with motion sickness issues may want to avoid this ride — however, motion sickness pills like Dramamine can come in very handy if you just have to hop on this runaway train!

Thunder Mountain
Credit: Disney

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reaches speeds of 36 miles an hour and has a number of drops and turns. It is considered a “Thrill Ride” but does not have any age requirements. However, children under seven must be accompanied by someone who is 14 years or older. Service Pets are not permitted on the attraction and Guests who are in wheelchairs must be able to transfer from their wheelchair to a ride vehicle.

big thunder mountain
Credit: ITM Reporter Alessa

For those Guests who would like to ride Thunder Mountain with younger kids who meet the height requirement, please note that there are dark moments during the ride, as well as some loud noises. However, for the adventurous, the ride should not be considered scary.

What Is the Wait Time Like For Big Thunder Mountain?

The biggest factor to take in when thinking about how long you will wait in the Thunder Mountain queue is the time of year you are visiting the theme parks. If you are visiting the theme parks in what is considered peak season, then you can expect wait times upward of 45 minutes or more. If you are visiting at what Disney considers an “off-season” time, then wait times can be as low as 10 minutes.

Big Thunder Mountain in the Snow
Credit: Disneyland Paris

Peak season at Disney Parks is when crowds are heaviest — meaning summer, holidays like Christmas, and school break times, which vary by which country you are in. In the United States, mid-February through mid-April can be very crowded. After that, the crowds will wane until about mid-May, when schools begin to let out for summer vacation.

epcot crowds
Credit: Reddit

Fun Facts About Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a Disney staple, and many Guests won’t end their Disney visit without riding it at least once. In honor of the wildest ride in the wilderness, let’s take a look at some Thunder Mountain fun facts!

Mountain Challenge

Disney World

If you are visiting the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World in Florida, then you should try to conquer what is known as the Mountain Challenge! This informal challenge invites Guests to try to conquer all of the Magic Kingdom’s mountains in one day — the mountains being Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Mountain Challenge
All Images Credit Disney

Now, if you really want to challenge yourself, you can head over to Animal Kingdom and ride Expedition Everest the same day and complete an ultimate Disney World Mountain Challenge.

Expedition Everest in distance
Credit: Disney

Disneyland

Since Disneyland does not have a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction, the Mountain Challenge is slightly different. To complete the Disneyland Mountain Challenge, Guests can ride Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and the iconic Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park
Credit: Disney

Runaway Train Names

Similar to the names of the boats on Disney’s world-famous Jungle Cruise, the mine cars on Big Thunder Mountain also have names. At Walt Disney World, the trains have the names U.R. Courageous, U.R. Daring, U.B. Bold, I.M. Fearless, I.M. Brave, and I.B. Hearty.

Big Thunder Mountain
Credit: Disney

At Disneyland Park, the mine cars are named U.B. Bold, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Loco, I.B. Hearty, and U.R. Daring.

The Ride Can Help With Kidney Stones

In October 2016, the  Journal of the American Osteopathic Association came out with a report that had the amazing fact that riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad could actually help Guests who were suffering from kidney stones! The doctor who wrote the article cited that one of his patients had actually passed kidney stones while riding the attraction on three separate occasions. The doctor, with Disney’s permission, rode Big Thunder Mountain 20 times with a 3D model of a kidney stone and the stone was passed 70% of the time.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Credit: Disney

Nod to an Imagineer

Guests in the Big Thunder Mountain queue at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will see a portrait of the man who owned the mining town they are visiting. The man’s name is Barnabus T. Bullion — however, the portrait of Barnabus is actually based off of a true Disney legend, Imagineer Tony Baxter. Tony Baxter was the chief Imagineer behind the creation of the iconic railroad.

Tony Baxter/Barnabus T. Bullion
All Images Credit Disney

Baxter is also worked on a number of other iconic Disney lands and attractions, including Fantasyland in Disneyland, as well as the creation of Star Tours, Splash Mountain, and Indiana Jones Adventure.

Enjoy the Ride!

Hopefully have found this guide to Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain helpful for planning your ultimate Disney vacation. Big Thunder Mountain is a legendary Disney roller coaster and everyone should experience its magic at least once if they can. Hold on to your hats and glasses (and your Mickey ears) as you ride the wildest ride in the wilderness!

Do you love Big Thunder Mountain? Let us know in the comments!

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