Disney Ride Allegedly Changed After Deadly Accident

in Disneyland Resort

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Disneyland Resort guests say Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has changed since a deadly derailment that killed one person and injured ten others.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a western-inspired rollercoaster in Frontierland at Disneyland Park. The attraction is so popular that Walt Disney Imagineers replicated it in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris Resort, and Tokyo Disneyland at Tokyo Disney Resort.

Empty rollercoaster track in a dark tunnel.
Credit: u/AspenSnowmass777

“Streak through a haunted gold mine aboard a speeding train on this thrilling coaster-style ride,” Disneyland Resort writes. “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…”

Deadly Accident

In September 2003, a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad train derailed from its tracks on the ride’s first tunnel/hill. Riders were trapped for nearly an hour before firefighters and paramedics rescued them.

Guests riding in the front few vehicles of Big Thunder Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Marcelo Torres, 22, had to be extracted from the rollercoaster vehicle and died on the scene, according to The Los Angeles Times. Ten other passengers, aged 9 to 47, were treated at the hospital.

In the wake of the accident, Disneyland Resort revealed that two bolts from the locomotive’s left guide wheel assembly came loose, causing the front of the locomotive to detach from the rest.

Did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Change?

Two decades after the accident, some Disneyland Resort guests feel Big Thunder Mountain Railroad feels different.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Magic Kingdom
Credit: jared422, Flickr

“Was the portion of track that’s in the tunnel right before the 2nd lift hill adjusted to be more tame after the 2003 accident?” Reddit user u/evz3000 asked this week. “I can’t tell if it’s from rose tinted glasses or not, but that portion of the ride used to feel really intense and whip you around, and now it’s almost a mellow straight portion of track before the turn.”

“The track is the same but they did reduce the speed out of the final lift hill after the accident,” u/Mylifeforhire89 replied.

“They didn’t change the tunnel,” u/wazziwoozi echoed. “And basically the only piece of track that could fit in that tunnel is the one that’s there now, which is straight with that turn at the end. Otherwise they’d probably have to build a new tunnel because of like guest reach and stuff.”

Guests riding on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

But others argued that the ride remains the same.

“The track hasn’t changed,” said u/adammerkley. “If you ride at the front that last bit feels slow. If you ride at the back it’s fast.”

Do you believe Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has changed since its 2003 derailment? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on personal Disney Parks Guest experiences. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

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