Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Celebrates 40 Years!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Celebrates 40 Years!

Today, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened at Disneyland in 1979. The “wildest ride in the wilderness” has been taking guests through the mines of Rainbow Ridge aboard runaway mine trains. Guests board mine trains of the Big Thunder Railroad: U.B. Bold, U.R. Courageous, I.M. Loco, I.B. Hearty or U.R. Daring. Soon they find themselves racing through the mountains and mines before returning to the station.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was designed by Imagineer Tony Baxter along with ride designer Bill Watkins. The idea grew out of work Baxter had done on Western River Expedition at the Magic Kingdom in Florida for legendary Imagineer Marc Davis. The idea was that a runaway mine train would be one component of the Western River Expedition. However, when that project was put on hold, Baxter suggested making it a stand-alone attraction. The project, however, kept getting superseded by other attractions. Both Pirates of the Caribbean and then Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom delayed the project. Eventually, it moved to Disneyland and construction began in 1977. The attraction opened on September 2, 1979.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was one of the first attractions to utilize computers in the attraction design. It was built with cement and paint to recreate the look of some of the inspiration for the attraction, Bryce Canyon in Utah.  The idea behind the attraction was that it was once a booming mine town. However, mysterious things began to happen and the booming town ended up being all but deserted. Where the town once had over 2,000 inhabitants, now there are just 38.

Through the years, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been recreated at different Disney theme parks around the world. In 1980, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Another variation, Big Thunder Mountain, opened in 1987 at Tokyo Disneyland. Disneyland Paris opened a version of the attraction in 1992 with the name Big Thunder Mountain.

For the 40th anniversary of this attraction, the Disneyland Resort celebrated by handing out stickers and also with a photo circle. 40 years after it starts, it still offers a family-friendly thrill as guests race through the mountains. For an added thrill, they stare at the goat as they circle down around it (if you don’t know what I mean, ask in the comments). It is an iconic and beloved attraction at the Disneyland Resort that offers just as much fun as new attractions.  Here is a look at the attraction on its 40th anniversary along with a ride-through.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 50th Anniversary Ride Through

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 50th Anniversary Photos

What is your favorite part of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? Do you stare at the goat as you race around it? Share with us in the comments below!


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