Big Thunder Mountain Railroad review

One of the most underrated rides at Magic Kingdom has to be Big Thunder Mountain. When people think of the Mountain rides at Magic Kingdom, they often think of Space Mountain or Splash Mountain—these are both great rides, definitely.

However, Big Thunder Mountain deserves some recognition. If you’re looking for an old school Disney experience, you won’t want to miss out on this train ride through the mountains. 

The Ride

For those who don’t know, Big Thunder Mountain is one of the old Disney World rides, making it a classic for those who have been to the park multiple times. Not everyone, though, knows the lore behind the coaster. Way back in the 1850s, when gold became the hot commodity, miners started blasting into the Big Thunder Mountain. The further they got into the mountain, the more spooky happenings started popping up. Before long, everything screeches to a halt and the town of Big Thunder becomes a ghost town.

This is where the ride comes in; you and your family are taken around in a train, on the hunt for gold. The more you go through the mountain, the more shrieks and creeks you’ll hear. You travel through caves and waterfalls as your train tries to escape the haunted mines. The ride practically takes you back in time, showing you the way things were back in the old West during the gold rush.

Scare Factor

If you’re traveling with little ones, this roller coaster will be a great choice. There aren’t many scary images or jump scares, so if your kids are nervous in nature, they’ll be able to relax and have fun on this one. The atmosphere, while based in a ghost story, doesn’t feel overly scary. Instead, there’s only a sense that mines were haunted rather than any outright imagery to state that fact. It certainly doesn’t have the same effect as the Haunted Mansion, but nevertheless the point gets across.

This ride definitely works for all age groups. Younger kids will enjoy the rich environment and adults will appreciate the subtly of the legend. The ride itself isn’t too bad, either.

Comfort Level

The level of comfort is the only major downside to this old school ride, though it does add to the overall atmosphere. Though the coaster is made of steel, it feels as though it’s an old wooden ride. The drops are not anything extreme when you compare them to rides like Splash Mountain or Space Mountain but they are present, so if you get travel sickness easily, then it may be a good idea to take an anti-nausea before riding. The real trouble lies in the bumps and jerks.

As stated, this ride feels more like a wooden coaster than a steel one, so you feel absolutely everything. For some, this adds to the coaster experience, but if you are someone who wants a really smooth ride, then this one may not be for you. If you have any neck or back problems, they may be irritated by Big Thunder Mountain; that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fun, though. Just be aware that this one may jostle you around.

However, planning to ride Big Thunder Mountain later in the day can help reduce its impact on your discomfort. Leaving Big Thunder Mountain for last when you have back pain allows you to enjoy the rest of your day without too much irritation. Then, when you’re nearly ready to go home, you can ride Big Thunder Mountain, maybe experience some irritation, then head off to your hotel to recuperate for your next day full of magic and fun.

Wait Time and Requirements

Like with any ride at Disney, there are a few requirements you have to abide by in order to ride.

Accessibility: You can ride this ride if you are in a wheelchair or ECV, but you must transfer from your chair into the ride.

Service Animals: If you have a service animal, they cannot ride with you. The ride is bumpy and jerky, so bringing on an animal would not be safe for you or the animal.

Height Requirement: All riders must be at least 40 inches or 102 centimeters in order to ride. Those who do not meet this requirement will not be able to ride, so make sure to check before getting in line.

Age Requirement: Anyone under the age of 7 must be accompanied by someone 14 or older.

Rider Switch: You are able to switch out riders if you speak to a Cast Member before you enter the ride. Rider switches are available to families with children too small to ride, so adults don’t have to wait in line twice if they want to ride the ride.

Luckily, these rules are in place for most attractions at Disney World, so these shouldn’t be too surprising. The wait times, on the other hand, may be strange to you.

For such a classic ride, you would expect the wait times to be extremely long. Not really the case with Big Thunder Mountain! You can usually expect a wait of about 35 minutes. Of course, there are times during the day when the wait is longer, but in general you can expect anywhere from 30 to 35 minutes. If you get to the ride at the beginning of the day, you’ll only have to wait about 5 to 10 minutes, so you may want to hit this one up at the beginning of your day.

The ride experiences another dip in wait times around 6:00 p.m. which is nice if you’d prefer waiting until you’ve hit all the bigger rides to hop on Big Thunder Mountain. In general, those trends are the same for all the rides at any given park, so it’s good to pick and choose which rides you want to get out of the way before investing a lot of time in standing in line—that’s one of the most helpful Disney World tips and tricks out there, so definitely take the time to plan out your ride schedule.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass+

Other than paying close attention to your ride schedule, you have the opportunity to book FastPass+ tickets for you and your family. If you don’t know what the FastPass+ service is, it’s essentially Disney’s answer to long lines. You are allowed three tickets per park, and each gives you the chance to skip out on lines.

In general, you’ll want to book these tickets for rides that are going to have the longest waits. You get to choose the time of day you want the FastPass+, so if you want to keep a tight schedule, you are able to do so.

As far as Magic Kingdom goes, there are a fair number of rides that, to put it bluntly, require a FastPass+ in order to enjoy the experience. Rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and It’s A Small World each have significantly long lines, so it’s best to get your FastPass+ tickets for those rather than Big Thunder Mountain.

If you plan carefully, you should be able to navigate the crowds and ride Big Thunder Mountain without a FastPass+. As stated before, there are times during the day when the lines only last about 5 to 10 minutes. The wait rarely ever gets over 45 minutes, which seems long but in Disney-time that’s not too bad at all.

Big Thunder Fun

Overall, Big Thunder Mountain is a ride you and your family don’t want to miss. You will love the atmosphere of the whole ride. Even the line leading up to the coaster engulfs you in the world of the West during the gold rush.

The only downsides are the jerkiness of the ride. You can still enjoy the ride, but if you’ve got some neck or back problems, you should be aware of that before you get in line. Children and teens will love the thrills, too. It’s a ride perfect for the whole family.

You definitely won’t want to miss out on this Disney World classic, so be sure to fit it into your schedule!

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