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Is Big Thunder Mountain Scary?: What to Know Before You Ride

Disney amusement parks are known for their thrill rides, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is no different.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a roller coaster ride that takes you through an abandoned mine site.

It is based on Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, home to the strange orange rock formations called hoodoos.

Sitting down inside the mine cart, you brace yourself for the impending twists and turns as your heart races with anticipation.

You’ll feel like you’re inside an actual mine cart and experience the thrill of going through the twisty tunnels, grottos, and canyons.

The ride is exhilarating and exciting with an Old West theme, making it the perfect attraction for those seeking an adrenaline rush.

But before you go barreling down this wild ride, there are a few things you might want to know to determine if it’s worth it or not.

In this post, I’ll cover all the elements that might make a ride too scary so you can determine for yourself whether you want to ride or skip.

Plus I’ll share info on health and safety restrictions, accessibility accommodations, best time to ride, and all of its locations.

Is Big Thunder Mountain scary?

A train zips through Big Thunder Mountain and past the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town in Disneyland.
Jushoua Sudock/Disney

The answer to this question depends on your definition of scary.

Some people may find Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exhilarating and fun, while others may find it terrifying.

Let’s break down the common elements that might make a ride scary so you can decide for yourself.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad doesn’t have any loops, corkscrews or other upside down elements, nor does it have any super steep drops.

It also doesn’t use over the shoulder restraints, so you won’t feel pinned down while you ride.

Compared to other roller coasters, it’s not nearly as smooth and in fact, is pretty rickety and bumpy. That might heighten anxiety for some riders, so if that applies to you, keep that in mind while you decide.

Overall, the Old West theme and the thrill of the ride can definitely get your heart rate up, but it’s nothing most people can’t handle.

Is Big Thunder Mountain scarier than Space Mountain?

That’s a tough call!

While both are amazing thrill rides, Big Thunder Mountain is less intense than Space Mountain, making it the perfect introduction to roller coasters for first-timers.

In fact, when my niece decided she was ready to graduate from kiddie coasters like the Barnstormer, Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom was the first “big kid” coaster she went on – and she absolutely loved it!

Is Big Thunder Mountain scarier than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train?

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride is a bit tamer than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, making it a great option for young children.

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rides super smooth compared to the bumpiness of Big Thunder Mountain.

How fast does Big Thunder Mountain go?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (right) and fiancée Camille Kostek (left) ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom.
Matt Stroshane/Disney

Big Thunder Mountain’s speed is relatively tame compared to other roller coasters at Disney parks around the world. It reaches a max speed of 35 mph.

That’s nearly half the speed of more intense roller coasters, like Rock n Roller Coaster or TRON Lightcycle Run.

So if speed is something that makes you anxious on a ride, you might actually enjoy this one over others.

How long is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

The ride’s exact length varies slightly depending on the location, but on average, it lasts for about 3 to 3.5 minutes.

It’s just enough time to feel the excitement of the ride, but I recognize it might be too long for some that are on edge as to whether or not they should ride.

What is the goat trick on Big Thunder Mountain?

If you’re a fan of hidden Mickeys and other park easter eggs, you’ll enjoy the goat trick.

Right before the ride’s biggest drop, a goat appears in the canyon. Supposedly if you keep your eye on the goat as the train turns, it increases the intensity of the drop.

So if you’re actually looking to increase the thrill of this ride, give it a try next time you ride.

Accessibility accommodations

Guests in wheelchairs or ECVs must transfer into the ride on their own or with assistance from their party. Cast members are unable to assist with this.

In addition, service animals cannot go on this ride, even if they assist with anxiety or panic disorders, as it is not safe for them.

However, cast members can place service animals in a safe area while you ride.

Health and safety restrictions

It’s crucial to note that you must be at least 40″ tall to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is to ensure the safety of all riders and prevent any injury or mishaps from occurring.

In addition, guests who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, prone to motion sickness, or have heart, back, or neck problems should not ride.

Is rider switch available?

Yes, the rider switch option is available, allowing guests who have a child that is unable to ride or waiting to ride do so without having to wait in line again.

It’s an excellent option for groups where some may be too scared to ride or don’t meet the safety requirements.

Is there a single rider line?

At Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland, there is a single rider line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Unfortunately there isn’t a single rider line at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom.

Is there a ride photo?

Unfortunately there isn’t a ride photo on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I wish there was, though!

Can I use Genie+ or Lightning Lane?

At Disneyland and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain is included as part of Genie+.

Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris have a similar system called Disney Premier Access in which guests can purchase a premier pass for this ride.

Best time to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Photo of guests riding by on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a popular attraction, so expect long wait times during peak hours. The best time to ride is early in the morning or in the evening when the park is less crowded.

I find that it has the lowest wait time compared to other coasters in Magic Kingdom. Average wait times there are around 37 minutes, but it can get higher at peak times (source).

I suspect once Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens up in 2024, wait times may go up for this ride as there will be more people visiting this area of Frontierland.

Where to find Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The Mark Twain Riverboat and hoodoos are reflected in the Rivers of America in Frontierland at Disneyland Park.
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is available in several Disney amusement parks worldwide, including Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland.


The original Big Thunder Mountain Railroad first opened at Disneyland on September 2, 1979. It was rebuilt in 2014 to replace the track and refresh the ride.

To find the ride, go right down Main Street and take a left into Frontierland once you get to the Walt Disney statue. You can’t miss the ride due to its trademark hoodoos!

Disneyland Paris

At Disneyland Paris, the ride opened on April 12, 1992 and has been running strong in Frontierland ever since.

To find the ride, take a left off of Main Street to go into Frontierland and walk around the lake to the ride entrance.

Tokyo Disneyland

At Tokyo Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain opened in Westernland on July 4, 1987 after the success of the ride at Disneyland and Disney World. What a fitting opening date!

To get there, walk through the main entrance into World Bazaar. Veer left through the circular path to the Westernland entrance.

Walt Disney World

At Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain opened on November 15, 1980 in Frontierland.

To get there, go down Main Street toward Cinderella’s Castle. Take the last left before you hit the castle, toward Liberty Square.

Once Haunted Mansion is on your right, take a left and follow your way toward Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, where you’ll take a right.

From there you can walk straight to the entrance of Big Thunder Mountain.

Are you ready to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

If you’re looking for a fun and engaging roller coaster ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is definitely worth trying.

With its Old West theme, thrilling twists and turns, and rider switch option, it’s ideal for families, thrill-seekers, and anyone who loves a good adventure.

Just remember to factor in enough time to ride this popular attraction, as lines can get quite long during peak hours. So, buckle up, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride!

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

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This ride was originally published June 27, 2023. It was last updated October 14, 2023.