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The Magical Bucket List #4: Ride every version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain

While similar, Disney's various Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attractions are not identical. Have you experienced them all?

There are Big Thunder Mountain attractions at four of Disney's theme parks: Disneyland, Disney's Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland is the only current resort not to feature one, although it does have the similarly-themed Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars.

Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Image © Disney

The original version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad resides at Disneyland, where it opened on September 2, 1979. The ride was actually designed for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom by Imagineers Tony Baxter and Bill Watkins, but Disneyland managed to complete its own version first. The track layout was mirrored, placing it to the right of Frontierland's Rivers of America, whereas the Magic Kingdom's version is on the left. The "wildest ride in the wilderness" was manufactured by long-time Disney manufacturer Arrow Dynamics.

Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney's Magic Kingdom

Also built by Arrow, the Magic Kingdom's version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is near-identical to Disneyland's, but with that mirrored layout. These days it features an enhanced queue line, packed with interactive elements.

Tokyo Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland received its own installation of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in 1987. Like much of the rest of the park, it's virtually a clone of the Magic Kingdom's version. However, it was manufactured by Dutch firm Vekoma, rather than Arrow.

Disneyland Paris

Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris

Also manufactured by Vekoma was the Disneyland Paris of Big Thunder Mountain, which opened alongside the park in April 1992. It's the most unique of the four versions of the ride, sitting in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West. This changes the ride experience, as the train now has to pass through a tunnel to actually reach the island on which the mountain is located. It also provides a stunning visual centrepiece for Frontierland.

Not only that, but it's the most likely version of Big Thunder Mountain to be covered in snow. We experienced a ride on the coaster back in 2010 while it was blanketed in the white stuff, at sunset. It remains one of the most amazing experiences we've had at a Disney theme park.

Have you ridden them all?

How many versions of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad have you experienced, and which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

There are 5 comments.

I have been on 3 out of 4, never been to Tokyo I am afraid. But Disney World's is by far my favourite!

I've ridden both the ones at WDW and Disneyland Paris. Paris has to take it for me, I love the tunnel and sights from the ride. The tunnel makes it a lot more exciting.

Completely agree with Jordan above. I've ridden BTM in WDW & in Disneyland Paris & the one in Paris is by far the better version. I believe the general community also rates the Paris version as the epitome of all the BTM's.

In Florida after the third lift hill it just seems to pitter out, where as in Paris it's a fast paced journey back to the shore from the island, all under ground giving a dramatic climax to a great ride.

Paris' version also offers some spectacular views of the whole of Frontierland & Phantom Manor as you race around the exquisite mountain setting.

I was at Disneyland opening day of BTM and was too scared to ride, but made up for it later in life. I have been to wdw a few times. But with 57 trips to DLP under my belt, I have ridden the best version in paris 100's of times. It has been a long time since all the effects have worked, but it is the best by far with a fantastic finale in the end tunnel run under the rivers of the far west.

Been on everyone except Tokyo, the one in Paris is by far the best. Looking forward to going back to visit daughter and tackle it again!!!

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