When I started WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY I told myself I would rotate parks weekly, so my dear readers could have diversity. But even though I wrote about classic It’s A Small World in Magic Kingdom last week, I’m staying put in MK this week to visit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I can’t help myself! When you have a whim, you have a whim. I have some great pictures and great stories about this attraction. So let’s head west into Frontierland and hop aboard a run-away mine train.
The story goes that once there was a mountain, and that mountain held plenty of gold. Prospectors discovered the mountain’s riches and set up a mining company. But before long, strange and unexplained things started happening. There were cave-ins and trains would take off unexpectedly. The miners high-tailed it out of there leaving the mountain abandoned. Years later a new group has decided to tackle the mountains treasure and they’re having a rowdy time about it. Guests are along for the adventure. As you board the train an enthusiastic voice rings out “Hang on to your hats and glasses ’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!” If you’re anything like us, you’ll be quoting that phrase after you’ve ridden Big Thunder.
This ride is my Mum’s well-chosen favorite in all of Walt Disney World. The attraction is full of humorous scenery, twists, turns and dips. Despite the warning of this being “the wildest ride in the wilderness,” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is relatively calm for a coaster style attraction and not too scarey for kids. There are no giant hills and drops, just plenty of winding at a delightfully fast pace. So holding on to hats and glasses is good, accurate advice.
Outside of the dashing, twisting train ride, this attraction is full of fun scenes, little details and great views. This is also an attraction that you should absolutely ride in both daylight and darkness. It has a different feel each time. (It’s especially fun at night around Halloween,.) Personally, I love it at night, but you do see more of the details in the day.
I can’t tell you all about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without telling you a family story that always makes us laugh. The first time we visited Walt Disney World I was 4 and my brother was 2 and a half. I’m sure at that point I was already 40″ tall, which is the minimum height requirement for many of the more adventurous attractions. My family got into the habit of splitting up for big chunks of the day so my Dad and I, who are thrill lovers, could visit the more exciting attractions. My Mom, who enjoys thrill rides, but doesn’t crave them, would take my little brother to mild, kid friendly attractions. They spent A LOT of time on Dumbo and Mr. Toads Wild Ride, which is no longer at Magic Kingdom. My little brother, as a kid, was a big chicken. He wanted nothing to do with anything that even looked like a roller coaster. One trip, when he was big enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mom and Dad decided to see if they could bribe him into riding so we could ride as a family. They knew that if he would just give it a try, he’d like it. So we entered the queue, and I can remember the protesting beginning. My parents told him that if he’d ride, they’d purchase a Star Wars toy for him. As we moved along the queue, brother’s protests became more fervent, and the number of Star Wars figures promised kept increasing. Finally, Mom and brother boarded the train in a row in front of my Dad and myself, and poor brother is now having a full, crying meltdown. A cast member very nicely told my Mom that they couldn’t let him ride if he was so upset. So they got off, and had meet my Dad and myself at the ride exit.
I don’t remember on which of the family trips my brother first rode Big Thunder, but I am happy to report that he eventually did and now will happily face even the scariest coasters. We always laugh about the story, and I chuckled even as I was typing it. Memories such as that, and the time you spend with your loved ones, is part what makes WDW so special. The time my Dad and I spent on our own visiting thrill attractions is a priceless treasure. These days my husband is my ride partner, and I’m very thrilled to say he gives Big Thunder Mountain Railroad an enthusiastic thumbs up.