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Is Big Thunder Mountain Scary?: A Complete Guide

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

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

But before you go barreling down this wild ride, there are a few things you need to know.

What is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

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

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.

What is Big Thunder Mountain based on?

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

Which park is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in?

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.

When did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad open?

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.

At Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain opened a year later on November 15, 1980.

The coaster was so successful that it was replicated in other Disney amusement parks worldwide.

At Tokyo Disneyland, Big Thunder Mountain opened on July 4, 1987, while at Disneyland Paris, it opened on April 12, 1992.

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 three minutes. It’s just enough time to feel the excitement of the ride without it being too long or tedious.

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.

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.

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 families with young children.

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 for this ride.

Are there any accessibility features?

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

Are there any health or 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 there a ride photo?

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

When is the 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.

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. There’s a famous “goat trick” on the ride, where a goat appears right before the ride’s biggest drop.

Supposedly if you keep your eye on the goat as the train turns, it increases the intensity of the drop. So next time you ride, try it out!

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 depends on your definition of scary. Some people may find Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exhilarating and fun, while others may find it terrifying.

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.

Compared to other roller coasters, I find that since this is an older ride, it’s more rickety. Although I suppose that adds to the ambiance!

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 her first one (she 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.

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.

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.

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