Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Hold on to your hats and glasses, ’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!

Yee haw!

I got over to Disneyland sans child which meant that I could finally go on Big Thunder! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of  the four Mountains of Disneyland. It’s Frontierland’s main attraction.

As far as roller coasters go, Big Thunder is a fairly mild one. Little kids tend to LOVE it. It’s like the first Big Kid coaster after they graduate from Gadget’s Go Coaster back in Toontown.

Big Thunder has both a standby and a Fast Pass line


I love the Big Thunder queue because it’s so tucked away. First you head down a partially-shaded walkway

It was not crowded


From there you can see the back of the loading station

which looks smaller than it is


When you come around the bend, you’re in Big Thunderland. That’s not an official name–I just made it up. Basically you’re surrounded by the Big Thunder story and can’t see or hear anything else in the park. Nice!

It's a working mine shaft! And by working mine I mean this large wooden thing that isn't actually a working mine shaft!


The coaster itself wraps back around the line, so you actually walk underneath it.

I told you it wasn't crowded


Big Thunderland has got it all, including all of the tools you’ll need on your mountain adventure.

Barrels, lanterns, panning-for-gold pans (or maybe you're just supposed to eat off of them)


There’s a little town too

"Panhandle Hotel" Ha!


I love the little buildings.

There’s also a water fountain.

I always stop and get a drink here.


I love the in-queue water fountains. I always take a drink even when I’m not thirsty. No, I can’t explain that.

You also get a great view of the train as it runs across various bits of its track. Here is where it goes by a partially excavated dinosaur. Can you believe there’s a dinosaur skeleton right there in Disneyland? What are the odds???

I’m actually extremely impressed with my photography skills here:

It's like a postcard!


Go up some stairs and you reach the loading station. They were only loading from one side, so I took a picture of the other.

I love that the rails are all metal pipes and joints


When it’s time to board your train, the seats are a bench with a bar. I have to say, this is my one beef with Big Thunder, because if you’re a small person and you’re sitting next to a big person, the bar only goes down to the biggest lap and then you get slammed around. For years I didn’t like this ride for precisely that reason.

And then I gained a bunch of weight and…

Just get in already


You head directly into the heart of the mountain

This is where you hold on to your hats-n-glasses


The mountain is dark, but soon you see some colorful ponds and stalagmites

Not postcard-quality


After you click-click-click your way up the hill, your ride begins!

I actually took this picture while we were moving!


You race along the mountain, up and over hills and valleys, into mine shafts and out again. And then there’s the big hill.

Doesn't this look ominous?


And at the top, you will find the goat eating dynamite.

Be careful, goat!


And this, my friends, is where you can do the “Goat Trick.” What is the Goat Trick? Excellent question! The Goat Trick is a way to trick your inner ear into interpreting the g-forces of the next turn a different way. How do you do the Goat Trick? Easy! When you see the goat, simply follow him with your head never taking your eyes off of him the whole way around. The mechanics of the ride  provide a lateral g-force, but your inner ear interprets something else that I’ve heard described across the internet as a “vortex” or “like being flushed down a toilet bowl.” And really, who DOESN’T want to be flushed down a toilet bowl! Apparently sitting at or near the end of the train increases this effect.

I have never done the Goat Trick. I have a sensitive stomach and this sounds like asking for trouble to me, but I WILL try it one day–I promise :). However, YOU are more than welcome to try it. Ask to sit in the back and see how it goes. Report back to me when you’re done!!

Beyond the Goat Trick, I tried taking a couple more pictures, but moving rides are always difficult so I ended up with a few like this:



Just sit back and enjoy the fun!

Once you round the final bend you do some dinosaur excavatin’ of your own before rolling into town

This is my favorite part of the ride


And the ride comes to a close. There’s so much more to see on Big Thunder than I photographed here. I particularly love the skunks as well, and there’s tons of details everywhere. If you don’t like roller coasters, don’t be intimidated. Big Thunder isn’t scary–it’s all about the view!

14 responses to “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

  1. MelindaB April 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I loved Big Thunder. I have always liked roller coasters, but I have to admit that I don’t take them as well as they used to–I rode the Rock ‘n’ Roll coaster at Universal Studios in Florida, and my stomach caught up with me at least 30 seconds after the ride ended. 😛

  2. freestuff April 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    totally agree on the idea of it being a “move up” coaster after gadget… my 4 yr old dd loves this one!! for some reason I was surprised she didn’t need to be taller to ride it. We’d been skipping it for awhile because of that.

    your photo skills on the dino pic are awesome!!! don’t worry, I won’t be expecting the same awesome-ness from now on 🙂

  3. Traci April 17, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Speaking of holding onto stuff, I’ve had a two friends lose their phone on this ride.

    We do the goat trick but we don’t call it that, we call it “Look at the goat.” I don’t know if that’s so much a title as it is a suggestion.

  4. aimeewrites April 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    This has always been one of my favorites! I’ve never heard of the goat trick, though…something to try next time I’m there!

  5. Michael H. April 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    This is our kids’ favorite roller coaster/thrill ride at Disneyland. Less intimidating than Space Mountain which is completely indoors or Splash Mountain with that great big drop you can see in front. Also, I’ve heard about the goat trick for a long time, but never really understood how to do it–thanks for the info!

  6. Michael H. April 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I’m also old enough to vaguely remember riding the train ride that was in the same space before Big Thunder opened. It was a leisurely ride around beaver dams and geysers and the same rainbow caverns you see when you first go into the tunnel. Kind of reminiscent of the Jungle Cruise with animatronic animals and corny jokes. I believe that town you see in the queue was where guests loaded onto the trains.

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  8. peagreen92705 June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    The little town that you pass by as you return to the loading station at the end of the ride is Rainbow Ridge, the small town from Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, which previously occupied the spot on which Big Thunder currently sits.

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