Big Thunder Mountain is definitely the most “rootinest, tootinest ride” found in all of Walt Disney World. The attraction lives in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom. During the ride, you take off in a train on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad through the mine with many incredible thrills and surprises along the way. The ride also holds various hidden secrets and extras that you may not have noticed, even if you have ridden the ride several times. Here are ten facts and secrets you may not know about Big Thunder Mountain:
10 – Big Thunder Mountain isn’t actually just made of rock.
It might look like a huge rock mountain, but there is so much more than makes up the structure and foundation for the “rock” mountain. Big Thunder Mountain was actually created with 6,500 tons of steel, 90,000 gallons of water, 4,675 tons of the mud that was created to coat the structure, and 4,000 gallons of paint that gives it the brownish, orange color that we see today with perfect details in the painting job.
9 – Nod to past Disneyland attractions that are no more.
There actually used to be another attraction where Big Thunder Mountain is at Disneyland. The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train opened in 1956 at Disneyland. The ride changed in 1960 to be the Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland. This closed in 1979 to make the space for Big Thunder Mountain. The rainbow-colored caverns at the start of the attraction are a nod to the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, and these same caverns are featured in the Magic Kingdom’s version of the ride. There is also another nod in the queue for the attraction where you see a picture of the mine, and it names the cave as “Rainbow Caverns.” You will also notice a mine shaft #71. This is the same year that the Magic Kingdom opened, 1971.
8 – Barnabas T. Bullion or Tony Baxter?
During the ride queue, you will see the portrait of Barnabas T. Bullion. He is noted as the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The image in the portrait is actually an image depicted after Tony Baxter, who was one of the main Imagineers that is responsible for the creation of this fantastic attraction. We love this great nod to Tony Baxter, and so glad that helped ensure that we have this amazing attraction to enjoy for year after year.
7 – You can trigger explosives on the mountain.
Yep, you can actually trigger “explosives” to go off on the mountain. When you are in queue, pay attention to when you are in the Explosives Magazine room. There will be instructions for how to use the cranks and plungers to set off the explosions. Follow all directions and watch to see what happens.
6 – The crate meant to be shipped to Fire Chief Richard Le Pere Jr.
Have you noticed the crate that sits next to the drinking fountain at the front of the attraction? The create states that it is to be shipped to Fire Chief Richard Le Pere Jr. Fire Chief Richard Le Pere Jr. is actually a real person and a real fire chief. He is the fire chief at Reedy Creek Fire Department. This is important before Reedy Creek Fire Department is the fire department that services all of Walt Disney World Resort.
5 – Exact replica (nearly) to Disneyland’s version of the attraction.
While the scenery is different, the ride experience on Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are (almost) the exact same. The track layouts mirror images of each other. The only difference is that the Walt Disney World version has a few feet of extra track, and the actual mountain is larger at the Magic Kingdom as opposed to the mountain that lives at Disneyland. It still isn’t anywhere near as tall as Cinderella’s Castle, the tallest building at the Magic Kingdom.
4 – Antique mining equipment.
Again with the fantastic details. The mining equipment that you see within the site and around Big Thunder Mountain is actually real antique equipment that was purchased to ensure that the area looked like a real working mine that you might have seen in history books.
3 – Benjamin Franklin voices the safety announcements.
Did you believe that? OK, so it wasn’t actually the real Benjamin Franklin, but the voice is the same actor that voiced Benjamin Franklin for the American Adventure at Epcot. The actor’s name is Dallas McKennon, and he has since passed away. Disney has kept his voice for the safety announcements over the years, and we are glad!
2 – A tie-in to the Enchanted Tiki Room.
OK, so you may not know that canaries used to be used to check for toxic gases in mines so that they knew if the mines were safe to enter or not. The Big Thunder Mountain Mine has machines displayed in the queue that can be cranked, and you will see various colorful birds, and you can smell what they smell. Well, you may recall when José asks what happened to Rosita during the show at the Enchanted Tiki Room. There is also a canary cage in the Ventilation Room in the Big Thunder Mountain ride queue that is labeled “Rosita.” What a great way to tie in the two different experiences!!
1 – The ride operates with 6 trains.
There are actually six total trains that make up the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad family. Their names are I.M. Brave, I.B. Hearty, I.M. Fearless., U.B. Bold, U.R. Courageous, and U.R. Daring. What fun names to set the expectation of what is about to occur once your train leaves the station.
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