Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Frontierland attraction at Disneyland, opened on September 2, 1979. Also Frontierland attraction in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, opened September 23, 1980. Also in Westernland at Tokyo Disneyland, opened on July 4, 1987. A Disneyland Paris version opened on April 12, 1992. For the original attraction at Disneyland, Disney designer Tony Baxter was intrigued by the scenery at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, so he designed the first Big Thunder Mountain to resemble it; the three later ones resemble scenery in Monument Valley. The mountain itself is completely manufactured, with Disney Imagineers becoming expert on using cement and paint to create realistic-looking rocks. To add atmosphere of the gold rush era of the Old West, the designers scoured the ghost towns of the western states and came up with ore carts, cogwheels, buckets, and other authentic mining equipment. The roller coaster-like ride might seem tame to aficionados, but the addition of interesting themed detail everywhere makes the experience unique. Guests embark on a harrowing journey through dark caverns and deep sandstone gorges, encountering swarming bats, crashing landslides, and rumbling earthquakes along the way. Big Thunder Mountain replaced Rainbow Mountain and its Mine Train; some of that attraction’s set pieces were retained for the new attraction.