Category Archives: Frontierland

Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Yee-haw! It’s time to mosey on over to the back of the park–no, not Toon Town, the other back of the park–for a round-up Jamboree (speaking of which, I haven’t done a Search Engine Roundup in a while, have I?).


So back behind Big Thunder Ranch there’s a big space with a stage. There used to be a Hunchback of Notre Dame stage thing there at one point, but I never saw it.  Well, it’s got a new thing now, and that new thing is the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree!

You know, you would think it would occur to me to take pictures of the entrances to things instead of just the things inside of the things, but I forgot, so…

[insert picture of Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree sign here]

The Jamboree consists of three different things: character meet and greet, interesting booths and stuff for kids to do, and performances. The character meet and greet is what initially drew me back there.

Theo was not in the least bit interested in taking this picture

Actually I say “initially drew me back there” because I had heard of this Jamboree thing but hadn’t been over to check it out or anything, and then I get this Facebook message from my friend Kristin, who was like “OMG DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE CHARACTERS ALL OVER THE PLACE FOR PICTURES WITH NO LINES AND IT’S SOMEWHERE BACK BEHIND THE COWS AND STUFF???” Not a direct quote, but that was the gist. And I thought oh yeah, that’s what the Jamboree is!

Theo was so uninterested in taking a picture with Goofy that he wouldn’t even let me put the stroller up next to him, so here’s someone else’s kid interacting with Goofy.

There were a bunch of characters there, all dressed in Western outfits–even Clarabelle the cow and Horace the horse.

While Theo couldn’t be bothered to post for a picture with the characters, he was completely enchanted by this stationary fake cow in the bushes.

He found it so fascinating I felt obliged to take a picture of it.

There were booths of traditional Western-type crafts and such. For example, quiltmaking.

A brief explanation of quilt making, which is to say, making quilts

And demonstrations.

They were kind of cheating by using machines. They should be sitting their spinning their own wool into thread, then thread into fabric, then fabric into quilts, if they really want authenticity

My mother in law is a fabulous quilter, by the way.

Theo really liked the wood carver.

Explanation of wood carving, which is to say, carving wood

They had a Real Live Woodcarver there, and he was really a nice guy.

Unlike another prominent Disney woodcarver, this one was not carving a wooden boy because he wanted a real son and it was the next best thing

His table of carvings was impressive. Unfortunately, none were for sale.

The Disney characters were awesome!

And look! There’s a Pinocchio! Heh.

For the kids, you could try out twirling a lasso

It was kind of a cheater lasso, really

But Theo’s favorite part was the low-tech one


You could just pick up your free coloring sheet and the little tables had baskets of crayons.

Finally, Theo’s having a good time

The best part was the performance.

Howdy Y’all!

Naturally, the music featured…

Farley the Fiddler!

Farley’s awesome, y’all.

The dancers grabbed willing audience participants to do a little country dancing.

A little country dancing

And they had some helpers

It’s Mickey and Minnie, y’all!

Right now the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree is on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and I believe in the summer season you’ll find it every day. Check your daily entertainment guide!


A Nice, Shady Space

Kevin’s favorite restaurant in the park is the Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.

Because it’s more than just a restaurant. It’s a Restaurante! Ole!

Anyway, good Mexican food. Good atmosphere. And conveniently located in Frontierland right by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But also back here is a nice little shady spot to rest.

Well look at that!

I love finding these little nooks and crannies through the power of MYWTM.

How does that sound? The power of MYWTM? My blog is a SUPERHERO, Y’ALL!

Another picture, please

Sometimes you’ll see entertainment or even a surprise character here, but most of the time it’s just a nice place to kick back and take a load off.

Okay, not all of it is shaded

And also near this area is the Big Thunder Mountain Fastpass machines.


And here’s a hint. Right now the Big Thunder Mountain Fastpass is disconnected from the network, which means that you can hold a Big Thunder Fastpass along with two other Fastpasses. It doesn’t count against you–you can hold it as long as you want. Same goes for Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, also disconnected. Subject to change, of course.

The Fastpass machine is so cute!

With big arrows showing you where to put in your park ticket or annual pass in order to get your Fastpass.

There’s also a water fountain in this area too, if you’re like me and you take a drink every time you see one.

So a nice little area to kick back, maybe check out if there’s something going on, and pick up your Fastpass!

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!

Santa’s Reindeer Roundup

Now that you’re in the holiday spirit…

Oh wait, what? You’re not? It’s January? Well, whatever. I’m still catching up on holiday posts.

Santa’s Reindeer Roundup is located in the Big Thunder Ranch area, and I posted a little bit about it before but I’m adding it now because we actually took Theo back there.


I have NO idea what that kid is doing


Outside of the trail there’s a sleigh that many people take pictures on and often some characters appear back there. It was closed when we were there.


It's actually a really beautiful sleigh


Anyway, back to the reindeer. The reindeer roundup is sponsored by Brawny paper towels.

Because when you’re cleaning up after a reindeer, you really don’t want to use bargain paper towels.


Brawny is not "the quicker picker-upper" however, so reindeer cleanup might be slow


There are real reindeer in the reindeer area!


The signs tell you who's in the pen


Theo loved them. He really wanted to pet them, but in the end was content to just wave at them.




I tried to get cute pictures of the reindeer, but they all turned out like this one.


Reindeer butts!


Ah well, the one facing the camera is cute.

I do have to say, I love the classic, woodsy, traditional feel of this place and its theming, so it was a little disappointing to see a barrier of cheesy cartoonish reindeer.


This is what I mean


But you can’t have everything.

Also back in this area is Santa’s house!


Santa lives in a rustic log cabin! In Disneyland!


The cool thing is that Santa is actually there during the day!

The bummer is that we weren’t there during the day, and Santa had already gone home–the North Pole home, I heard a cast member telling another child–for the night.

So I took a picture through the window.


Insert Santa here


I should Photoshop him in. Nobody would ever know.

Anyway, I fully intended to get a Theo-Santa picture back here, but it never happened. Luckily, there’s next year!!


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