Yee-haw, partner! Are you ready for a wild ride through the Old West on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? This roller coaster attraction is one of the most beloved rides at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, and it’s easy to see why. With thrilling twists and turns, a spectacular theme, and a rich history, this gold-mining adventure is sure to get your heart racing. So, buckle up and let’s explore everything there is to know about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

History of the Attraction

Concept and Design

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was designed by legendary Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter. Inspired by the scenic landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park, Baxter aimed to create a family-friendly roller coaster experience set in the heart of a bustling gold mine. The ride first debuted at Disneyland in California before making its way to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort.

Opening Dates

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened at Disneyland in September 1979, followed by its Walt Disney World counterpart on September 23, 1980. Later, the ride was also introduced at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.

Ride Experience

Setting and Theme

The ride is set in the fictitious mining town of Tumbleweed, located in the heart of the Old West. The storyline follows the legend of the mountain being haunted, causing the mining trains to race uncontrollably through the abandoned tunnels and tracks. The intricate details, rockwork, and mining equipment bring the theme to life, making you feel like you’re truly stepping back in time.

Queue and Pre-show

The queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad takes guests through an interactive mining camp, complete with crates, barrels, and tools. As you wind through the queue, keep an eye out for the old mining company signs and even a few surprises along the way.

Ride Vehicles and Safety

The ride vehicles are designed to resemble old mining trains, with each train named after a different character from the attraction’s story. The ride has a lap bar restraint system, ensuring guests are secure as they experience the thrilling journey.

Ride Layout and Scenes

The roller coaster features three separate lift hills, each followed by a series of twists, turns, and drops that take riders through caves, across bridges, and past waterfalls. Along the way, you’ll encounter animatronic animals, dynamite explosions, and the remnants of the once-thriving mining town.

Trivia and Fun Facts

Did you know that the sounds of the trains on the tracks were recorded from actual steam trains? Or that the ride’s finale was inspired by a real-life mining disaster? The attention to detail and authenticity is part of what makes Big Thunder Mountain Railroad so special.

Accessibility and Rider Requirements

Guests must be 40 inches (102 cm) or taller to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The ride can accommodate wheelchairs, but guests must transfer from their wheelchair to the ride vehicle. For those with hearing impairments, assistive listening devices are available.

How to Make the Most of Your Visit

Best Time to Ride

To beat the crowds, try riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad first thing in the morning or during the evening fireworks show. Another option is to ride during the parades when many guests are watching the entertainment elsewhere in the park.

FastPass+ and Genie+ Tips

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a popular attraction, so utilizing FastPass+ or the new Genie+ service is an excellent way to reduce your wait time. Make your reservation as early as possible to secure a spot.

Nearby Attractions

While you’re in Frontierland, don’t miss out on the other attractions in the area. Visit the nearby Splash Mountain for a wet and wild adventure or hop on the classic Walt Disney World Railroad for a relaxing journey around the park.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is an iconic and thrilling attraction that has delighted guests of all ages since its debut. With its immersive theme, exhilarating ride experience, and rich history, it’s no wonder this roller coaster is a fan favorite at Walt Disney World Resort. So, what are you waiting for? Saddle up and hold on tight for the wildest ride in the wilderness!


  1. Is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad too intense for young children? While the ride is a roller coaster, it is considered family-friendly and suitable for guests who meet the height requirement. However, children who are sensitive to sudden movements or loud noises may find the experience overwhelming.
  2. How long is the ride? Big Thunder Mountain Railroad lasts approximately 3.5 minutes, providing a thrilling and immersive experience.
  3. Can I bring my belongings on the ride? Yes, there are small storage pouches in the ride vehicles to store personal items such as bags, hats, and sunglasses. However, it’s best to keep any loose items secured or stored in a locker.
  4. Does the ride operate during rain or inclement weather? Big Thunder Mountain Railroad may close temporarily during heavy rain or lightning, as it is an outdoor attraction. The ride will usually resume operation once the weather clears up.
  5. What is the difference between the Walt Disney World and Disneyland versions of the ride? While the overall theme and concept are the same, there are slight differences in the ride layout, scenes, and details between the two versions. Many fans enjoy experiencing both to spot the unique elements of each.