The Big Deal About Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain rides again!
Big Thunder Mountain rides again!

Have you been on the “new” Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland?  While not truly new in the strictest sense of the word, this classic attraction received some much needed TLC.  Originally estimated for completion in Fall 2013, it took until March 17, 2014 before the ride re-opened, more than a year after it went down for refurbishment.  When it reopened, guests were treated not just to cosmetic finishes or touched up paint, but to an upgraded experience, some of it noticeable and some of it less noticeable.

*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

If you don’t want to know what updates were done before you experience it, don’t read any further!  If you want to hear about it, read on.

According to the Disney Parks Blog, the ride received new trains (although they still look the same), new track (same route), and a new paint job. What they didn’t reveal is that the ride also received a new ending!  Previously, the runaway mine train’s story reached a climax as it narrowly escaped a mine collapse with falling rocks included.  But as you enter the final tunnel now, you see something completely different.  The tunnel is packed with explosives and danger signs abound. As you enter, fuses are lit all over and they begin racing along the walls.  Minor explosions begin leading up to a main explosion right as your train descends down the final length of track.  Visually it’s quite stunning. The video below shows the final scene.  It’s slightly grainy and dark, but quite amazing.

The ride itself is smoother than before. The new track that was laid down and the new trains shake less. The trains seem faster, but that might be an illusion of the smoother ride. But the highlight definitely is the new final scene.  While the ride largely remains exactly the same (and I’m glad they did), it was nice to see that the Imagineers added a new touch to make it fresh and fun. Lines to ride Big Thunder Mountain are longer than ever before (although still not as long as Space Mountain) but the ride is definitely still worth it. The Disney Mountain Range got another face lift.  Is there another one in the near future?

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