Five Things You Might Have Missed Aboard Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

Tyler Slater

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

Tomorrow, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland park celebrates 35 years of taking guests on the wildest ride in the wilderness. My niece recently experienced this runaway train as her first roller coaster, and I was positively thrilled to see her beaming as we got off the attraction. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, like many of the thrill rides at the Disneyland Resort, is the perfect blend of fun and storytelling. In honor of the iconic attraction’s anniversary tomorrow, here are five things to point out to new pioneers braving Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or maybe details you may have missed in the past 35 years.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

1. Wilderness creatures – Most guests know to look for the famous dynamite-wielding goat, but the runaway train also passes coyotes, skunks, possums, turtles and rattlesnakes.

2. Real mining gear – In the attraction queue and all around Big Thunder Mountain, you will see a century-old stamp mill, a hand-driven drill, press gears, picks, shovels and other artifacts. These objects are actual mining gear, purchased from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming.

3. Steam mules – When you’re boarding your train and while careening around the mountain, look for two steam mules. These Victorian-era portable engines were used as set pieces in the Disney film, “Hot Lead and Cold Feet.”

4. Grizzly Gulch sign – Just before passing Dinosaur Gap in the queue, look for a wooden post with signs to nearby locations. If you look closely, you may see a nod to Grizzly Gulch at Hong Kong Disneyland, located 11,743 km away.

5. Willard B. Bounds, U.S. Marshall (Retired), President, Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company – Willard B. Bounds, the President of Big Thunder Mountain Mining Company, has signed several notices and proclamations around Big Thunder Mountain, including a sign at the attraction entrance. This is a tribute to Lillian Disney’s father, who was once a blacksmith and U.S. Marshall on the Nez Perce Indian reservation in Idaho.

Bonus fact: Did you know the sound of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad trains was used in the mine chase sequence in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”?

Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a trip aboard the wildest ride in the wilderness! Tell us your favorite memory aboard this iconic attraction in the comments below.


  • BTMRR is our favorite ride in this park. We go each day we are in the park, sometimes multiple times. We love night-time rides. We only come during the off-season, so we generally have short lines. Really fun when we get to walk right on without a line! We have been enjoying this ride every visit since it opened 35 years ago. Looking forward to returning in November.

  • Actually in Disneyland and all 4 Big Thunders, no artifacts came from Minnesota or Wyoming . Disneyland has artifacts from actual working and non working mines in California,Arizona,Nevada,Texas, and Colorado. Some mining treasures were recovered from caved in mines and had to be dug out.

  • Loved showing Knott’s Bud Hurlbut around the artifacts back in 1979 as well as John Lasseter just before Thunder was finished to open.

  • Another unknown fact is that Big Thunder has the oldest treasure in Disneyland. Even older than than Walt’s petrified tree. Over 100 tons of actual gold ore and silver mine tailings were selected on location where the stamp mill once stood, and purchased for use in Big Thunder at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

  • Taking my mom for her very first trip this November. Hope I can convince her to ride this with me!
    My favorite memory was 5 years ago, riding it with my two cousins at night!
    Also, I didn’t know that there were real props, always thought they were reproductions!

    • I prefer to experience Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at night, Matthew! See you in a few months and good luck convincing your mom!

  • I believe the sign referencing Grizzly Gulch also references Thunder Mesa – the name of the town Frontierland represents at Disneyland Paris. I noticed this sign on my last visit. Having been to all the parks in the world I very much appreciated it.

  • Thanks, now I have to go find Hot Lead and Cold Feet. Have not seen the movie since I was a kid. When they meet, it will be like Hot Lead and Cold Feet!

  • Even though I have been enjoying the “wildest ride in the wilderness” since close to day 1, my favorite memory is from this year, taking my Grandkids, Payton (5) and Easton (3) on the Railroad for the very first time. Happy Anniversary Big Thunder!

    • Such a great memory, Julie! Thank you for sharing! I will never forget my niece’s first experience on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad either. 🙂

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