Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Sepember 1979

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a reworked version of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland which was suffering from decreased attendance due to that fact that it was perceived as mildly educational.

Big Thunder is a roller coaster-style ride, in which guests ride on a "mine train" which is "out of control" past animatronic "animals" and through "mountains" and an "explosion." The queue for the ride passes through a faux mining town that is decorated in some places by actual mining machinery and other props used in Disney films (including Hot Lead and Cold Feet and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

There are a number of hidden features on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. For example, at one point the train goes up a hill and passes an animatronic goat. If a guest in the first third of the train looks at the goat and keeps looking at it until it is almost out of sight, something strange and wonderful will happen! (The result of this trick is based on the assumption that guests think a strained neck is "strange and wonderful.")

Big Thunder Mountain RailroadA interesting note is that water splashed by the train as it reenters the station has gradually worn down a section of rock, revealing an enormous tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. This skeleton -- which has come to be known as Sue -- is the largest, most complete, and best preserved skeleton of her kind. She was named by park guest Sue Hendrickson in 1990, after Hendrickson pointed out to a cast member the true nature of the "weird rocks" they were preparing to dispose of.

Trivia: A companion roller coaster, Little Thunder, was once located in Walt Disney's back yard.

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