Today is the 40th anniversary of the wildest ride in the wilderness! On September 23, 1980, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom. This coaster is definitely the most “rootinest, tootinest ride” found in all of Walt Disney World.
Guests take off on a runaway mine train through a haunted gold mine with many incredible thrills and surprises along the way. The ride also holds various hidden secrets and extras that you may not have noticed, even if you have ridden the ride several times. Here are some facts and secrets you may not know about Big Thunder Mountain:
You can trigger explosives on the mountain
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has an interactive queue! Be sure to pay attention to when you are in the Explosives Magazine room. There will be instructions for how to use the cranks and plungers to set off the explosions. Follow all directions and watch to see what happens. *This may be unavailable due to updated safety measures*
Almost exactly the same as the Disneyland version
Disneyland park also has a version of Big Thunder Mountain. The scenery is different but the experience is almost exactly the same. The track layouts are mirror images of each other. The Walt Disney World version has a few extra feet of track and the mountain is taller than the one in Disneyland.
Big Thunder Mountain isn’t actually made of just rock
It might look like a huge rock mountain, but there is so much more than makes up the structure and foundation for the “rock” mountain. Big Thunder Mountain was actually created with 6,500 tons of steel, 90,000 gallons of water, 4,675 tons of the mud that was created to coat the structure, and 4,000 gallons of paint that gives it the brownish, orange color that we see today with perfect details in the painting job.
Barnabas T. Bullion or Imagineer Tony Baxter?
In the queue, you can see the portrait of Barnabas T. Bullion. He is noted as the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The image in the portrait is actually an image depicted after Tony Baxter, who was one of the main Imagineers that is responsible for the creation of this fantastic attraction. We love this great nod to Imagineer Tony Baxter!
There are six different trains operating on the ride
There are six different trains that make up the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad family. Their names are I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty, I.M. Fearless., U.B. Bold, U.R. Courageous, and U.R. Daring. We love how fun and creative the names are!
Benjamin Franklin voices the safety announcements
So it isn’t actually the real Benjamin Franklin that voices the safety announcements. The same actor that voiced Benjamin Franklin for the American Adventure at Epcot also voiced the safety announcements for Big Thunder Mountain. The actor’s name is Dallas McKennon. He has since passed away but Disney has kept his voice for the announcements.
Antique mining equipment
Disney is well-known for its attention to detail! The mining equipment you can see within and around the attraction is actually real antique equipment. It was purchased to ensure that the area looked like a real working mine you might have seen in history books.
Where does Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rank on your favorite rides list?
If you’d like to head to Walt Disney World to ride Thunder Mountain, contact me today! I am a travel agent with Amazing Magical Adventures, a Disney Earmarked agency. I can help you plan a magical vacation at no extra cost to you!