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Saturday, March 20, 2010
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Animals
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad debuted in Frontierland at Disneyland in California in 1979. This attraction is a mine train roller coaster through a highly themed mountain filled with special effects and animated animals.
Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain was inspired by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. My favorite "character" on this ride is an animatronic goat that is chewing dynamite. The goat is also visible on the walkway from Frontierland to Fantasyland. I had to zoom in to get a picture!
Walt Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain opened at Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom in 1980. This version and later versions in Tokyo and Paris were based on the rocky formations in Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah.
The Walt Disney World version features a flooded mining town called Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed is also visible from the Walt Disney World Railroad, and features animated animals and people. When I was a kid, I thought the donkeys were real! Because there is so much going on here, and you pass by so quickly, there are many details you don't catch all at once. The pigs here include copies of pigs from Pirates of the Caribbean and a sitting pig seen in Epcot's World of Motion. The Bobcat on the cactus was being chased by wild pigs, and was based on a scene from The Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland (another mine train attraction that was at Disneyland in California before Big Thunder Mountain took over). There is also a roadrunner and a snake in Tumbleweed based on a scene from Nature's Wonderland. Maybe these animated animals were actually used in the Nature's Wonderland ride---does anyone know?
I have never been to Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland Paris, so I am curious how their Big Thunder Mountain Railroads compare.
I really like the mining town scene in Florida, but overall I prefer California's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I think the "rock candy" mountain is very charming, and I enjoy how the line to wait for the ride weaves under the railroad tracks and right past the dinosaur bones. I'm also a fan of the tortoises seen to the left on the second lift hill and the section with the howling coyotes. And I LOVE riding it at night!