In the fictional mining town near Big Thunder Mountain, the locomotives are running around on their own with no drivers. Realizing that there's more than one way to put gold in their pockets, the miners let tourists take rides on them. Those tourists would be you.
You'll ride a runaway train and careen through an abandoned mine complex. You'll zip past scenery reminiscent of Bryce Canyon and the desert southwest, see a goat or two and be back where you started before you know it.
The trip includes three climbs. It's fun and packs more into the small footprint than you might expect.
What You Need to Know About Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Most riders say Big Thunder Mountain is a must-do or they think you should ride it if you have time.
- Location: Big Thunder Mountain is in Frontierland.
- Rating: ★★★★
- Restrictions: 40 inches (102 cm). Children under age seven years must be accompanied by a person aged 14 years or older.
- Ride Time: 3 minutes, 25 seconds
- Recommended for: Families with kids and teens, anyone who likes roller coasters.
- Fun Factor: Medium
- Wait Factor: High. Use a Fastpass to shorten your time in line
- Fear Factor: Low
- Herky-Jerky Factor: High. This ride is not for anyone a neck or back trouble, heart problems, or for expectant mothers.
- Nausea Factor: Prone to motion sickness? Take precautions. And don't try the goat trick (which is explained below).
- Seating: Ride vehicles look like open-topped train cars. Each one has three rows of bench seats that can hold two people per row. You step straight on from the platform.
- Accessibility: If you're in a wheelchair, ask a Cast Member how to get to the boarding area. You will have to transfer from the chair to the ride vehicle, either on your own or with help from your companions. More about visiting Disneyland in a wheelchair or ECV
How to Have More Fun
- Don't stand in line twice. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad offers a time-saving option for parents that is sometimes called Rider Switch or Child Swap. It’s designed for two adults who both want to enjoy a ride but have children with them who cannot — or don’t want to — ride. To use this option, get in line with everyone else and tell the Cast Member in the loading area that you want to “swap off."
- If you want the wildest possible ride, ask a Cast Member in the boarding area to seat you in the last car.
- For an out-of-the-ordinary experience on this ride, try the "goat trick" as it's known among some Disneyland insiders. When you get to the hill with a goat at the top, try to keep your eyes on the goat by turning your head as you go down the hill and around the next curve. You may be surprised by what happens.
- While you're in line, look for hidden Mickeys among the stones or painted on the ground.
- Put away your glasses and hat before you ride, or you may lose them.
- Big Thunder Mountain is one of the best rides at Disneyland. Here's the rest of the list.
- Big Thunder Mountain is also one of the Disneyland roller coasters. If you crave more thrills, you'll find them in the guide to Disneyland roller coasters.
While you're thinking about rides, you should also download the recommended Disneyland apps (they're all free!) and get some proven tips to minimize your Disneyland wait time.
Thunder Mountain is fast, and speeds can reach 30 miles per hour.
The trains used on this ride have names: U.R. Courageous, I.M. Loco, I.M. Bold, U.R. Fearless, I.B. Hearty, and U.R. Daring. Make up your own similar names to have fun while standing in line.
Check out the town as you pass it. During the day, it's quiet, but at night it comes alive, as it would if it were a real mining town.
Is it Different than Big Thunder Mountain in Florida?
Even if you rode in in Florida, you’ll definitely want to try Big Thunder Mountain again in California. Although the Florida version lasts longer, an extensive renovation provided the California ride with a track that’s smooth as silk, and there’s a fun surprise waiting for you near the end.