Big Thunder Mountain Railway Review – Disneyland California

As far as big thrill rides go there is a distinct lack at Disneyland Park. Disneyland is not a park to rely on big scary rollercoasters but instead focuses on immersive theming and, as they put it, Imagineering. If you are coming for BIG rides you will be disappointed. However, Big Thunder Mountain Railway is one of the few rides that be considered Thrill rides in the Park. It is no Hypercoaster but an old-school steel Mine Train. This means the ride is focused on fun rather than thrill but it also means it’s ridable for “most” of the family. Our Big Thunder Mountain Railway Review takes a look at what you can expect.

Big Thunder Mountain Railway CA
  • Location – Disneyland Park – Frontierland
  • Type Runaway Mine Train
  • Duration – 3 Mins
  • Height Restriction – 40 In
  • Average Queue time – 10mins – 60 Mins
  • Genie+ – Yes
  • Additional Info – Fun Thrill Ride for Most Ages
  • Thrill Rating
  • Fun
  • Smoothness and Comfort
  • Uniqueness and Theming
  • Value For Time

What is the Big Thunder Mountain Railway

The Big Thunder Mountain Railway is a Steel Tracked Rollercoaster themed around a ghost mining town where the trains no bereft of human drivers continue to travel around their tracks by their own accord, well that is the back story. The Actual ride is a Mine train-style coaster that provides moderate thrills and is fun for most of the family. It’s intense enough to feel thrilling and exciting to the younger riders but still a fun-filled ride for those well-versed in bigger thrill rides.

Mine Trian coasters have been popular for decades at theme parks the world over but there are good and bad Mine Trains and this 1979 build has wowed families for decades. So let’s see how she holds up.


Big Thunder Mountain Railway

The queue is not particularly interesting and simply meanders around the front of the building. The Queue offers some nice views of the ride with the railway passing overhead a few times and you can enjoy the Thunder Mountain rising above you, but as there is no real story to the ride, there is not much to see or do.


The Ride is one of our top picks for the Genie+ service and offers a way of skipping a fairly long queue for a really quintessential Disneyland ride. This is one we ride EVERY time we visit and skipping the queue is definitely preferential. We used to head straight here for an instant queue-free ride, but Galaxy’s edge has put pay to that!

Ride Experience

Big Thunder Mountain Railway on ride CA

The Ride Itself has 3 hill lifts, the drops are quite small and without repeated lifts, the ride would be very short indeed. With the three climbs, it makes for quite a long and worthwhile drop. The track layout is very and it is one of the better Mine Trains out there. At a top speed of 35mph, it’s not a fast ride but the tight turns and low bridges and close scenery make it feel faster than it really is. The Ride layout focuses on fun, there are tight helixes, swooping bridges and a few Airtime jumps making it a solid coaster. For a 70’s Coaster, the ride is pretty smooth. There are very few Jarring sections and the ride flows down the hill nicely. It underwent a full renovation in 2014 and this has helped keep the ride running smoothly.

In the Multiple indoor sections, there are heavy theming elements such as Plunging waterfalls and exploding mineshafts and there is always something to see on the climbs. From the very top, you get a great view of the new Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars Land. The Rock formations are pretty spectacular and based on the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.


Big Thunder Mountain Railway on ride CA

The Big Mountain Railway is about as thrilling as it gets in Disneyland and anyone wanting for more would do well next door at Disney’s California Adventure. Mine Trains are always fun rides and the Big Thunder is one of the better ones. The Disney Magic sprinkled on it set it apart from most mine trains that are only mildly themed with the odd western artifact and some haphazard rock formations.

This makes it a complete experience and one not to be missed. It’s a classic ride and one that is likely to stay on top of the roster for a long time.

Have Your Say

Let us know your thoughts on the Big Thunder Mountain Railway. Did you enjoy it, was it too tame or a whole load of fun? Let us know what the Kids thought. Too Scary or the best ride in the park? We love hearing feedback on rides, so just drop us a comment below.

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