The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

Tyler Slater

by , Public Relations Manager, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products

“The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” is one of my favorite Disney Parks Blog series, so I’m excited to take the reins from my fellow author, Erin Glover. And I’m even more excited to begin with one of my favorite attractions, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

When we announced that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was reopening at Disneyland park a little over a month ago, it was absolutely amazing to see the excitement on the Disney Parks Blog and I, too, was thrilled for the return of the “wildest ride in the wilderness.” Now that the miners are back at Big Thunder Mountain, I knew the next installment of “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” had to be about this classic attraction. So, are you holdin’ onto your hats and glasses? Ye-howdy, here we go!


According to legend, a supernatural force has dwelled deep within Big Thunder Mountain and would be angered by any trespassers. Many believed these ghostly tales were what largely kept the area uninhabited for many years. But when an old prospector found some gold nuggets along the mountain’s slopes in the late 1860s, miners rushed to the town of Rainbow Ridge for their own chance to strike it rich.

For several years, Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company produced a large quantity of gold and the myths of a supernatural force remained simply legend. However, by 1883, the miners were forced to blast deeper and deeper into the mountain to continue producing profits. Shortly after the explosions began, strange things started happening: eerie noises echoed through the new shafts, cave-ins became frequent and equipment would mysteriously fail. As soon as the mine trains began rolling out of the station on their own, people started fleeing the area.


Today, the Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company welcomes guests to hop aboard a train, but beware – you just may experience the mountain’s more supernatural forces and perhaps even stumble upon an explosive mine shaft.

Next time you hop on board Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, keep an eye out for the horseshoe at the entrance to the first mine shaft; you’ll notice it hangs right-side-up to keep the luck inside. Nearing the end of the attraction, you’ll enter another mine shaft with a “Keep Out” sign in front. There, you’ll see another horseshoe, however this time, it is upside-down.

Have you had a chance to ride the newly reopened Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? What is your favorite part? Leave your answers in the “Comments” section below!


  • I’ve been on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad several times since it reopened. I love how smooth it is. The bats in the cave are so neat! My favorite part is the dynamite explosion and I was lucky enough on my first ride to be at the right time for the smoke from the explosion to engulf us!! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a must do ride on each visit!

  • See you real soon Big Thun!

  • Yes it was the Indians Thunderbird God that would clap it’s wings and cause the mountain to shake and rocks to fall when gold was removed by miners. Dynamite had nothing to do with that lift C explosion in all 4 Big Thunders.

  • Hi Tyler,

    Congratulations on a most informative and fun piece, and now I’m really excited to see the new enhancements first-hand this Fall. I’ll be sure to look for the horseshoe at the beginning and end of the attraction. I’ll be excited for lurks around the bend too.

    I love how Disney Imagineers leave no stone unturned.

    Thank you,

  • I’ve ridden it a few times since it reopened. I LOVE the new explosive finale in the final lift tunnel!

    • Me too, Fred! It sure is a “blast”! 😉

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