Hold on tight! You’ve just boarded a runaway mine train speeding through an old Western gold rush town. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is an outdoor coaster with quick turns and bumpy hills.
It’s one of the most popular attractions at the Magic Kingdom and there’s no wondering why this attraction is known as “the wildest ride in the wilderness!”
Now, let’s check out our guide to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Quick Facts
Description: Thunder Mountain is a great intro coaster if you are looking to eventually work up the nerve to do bigger coasters. The theming is an Old Western mining town with lots of mountains, caverns and dynamite to make your way through.
There are no big drops compared to some of the scarier coasters, like Expedition Everest or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but there are some fun hills and dips that can lift you out of your seat.
Thunder Mountain is located at the back of Frontierland next to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Here’s the location on the map.
How to Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Thunder Mountain has a Standby Lane and a Lightning Lane. There is no Single Rider Line.
The Standby Line for Thunder Mountain is typically the lowest first thing in the morning and at the end of the evening. The middle of the day will see the longest lines.
Thunder Mountain’s standby wait time jumps after the first hour of park open and can see sustained wait times well over 60 minutes for most of the park day.
It is listed as an available attraction for Early Theme Park Entry. This means it will open 30-minutes before the official park open everyday for Disney World resort guests (and select others) only.
Eligible guests can also ride Thunder Mountain during Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
Do I need to use Genie+ at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Thunder Mountain is available with Genie+ and we would recommend using it at this attraction.
It’s a highly-popular ride that many park guests make a must-do during their park day. So unless you do this ride in the first or second hour of the morning, plan to reserve a Genie+ time for later in the day.
Make sure you check out our touring strategies for Magic Kingdom for more Genie+ advice.
Rider Switch /Child Swap
Rider Switch is offered for Thunder Mountain. This is Disney’s system allowing guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.
What to Expect When You Ride
The queue for Thunder Mountain is both outdoors and indoors. During those warmer days, the line can get very hot, so keep that in mind.
The line also splits when you reach a certain point, since the ride loads on two different sides. At this point in the queue, you can either go to the right or to the left.
There is no better side as each moves quickly into the loading station. Cast Members load guests into the mine train coaster on both sides.
This does have an interactive queue, which was added in 2013.
Guests can walk through and see the Mining Office, the Explosives Magazine Room, and even be able to look down into the mine thanks to a series of lenses and mirrors. There are several hands-on mining-inspired activities.
Thunder Mountain’s ride vehicles have three rows of seating attached to each other. So, if you have a party of six, there’s a chance you’ll be able to sit in one vehicle together.
Each individual row can accommodate two adults and possibly even two adults and one small child. There’s a lap bar to pull down for safety.
Warning: this ride does get bumpy and sometimes you’ll slide back and forth and even bump into the person in your row.
Guests must transfer from their ECVs or wheelchairs to ride. Service animals cannot accompany guests on this ride.
ECVs and wheelchairs cannot access the Standby Line or Lightning Lane. There is a separate entrance for mobility devices via where guests exit the ride. Be sure to ask a Cast Member for assistance.
Your wheelchair or ECV will be waiting for you when the ride ends.
Disney also states that guests should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.
They also recommend that expectant mothers do not ride.
Thunder Mountain is a fast coaster that also has many twists, tight turns, and bumps. It’s a ride that many people love, but it might not be a fan-favorite for everyone, especially when it comes to motion sickness.
We have a guide on motion sickness that’s filled with information and tips, so feel free to check that out.
On The Ride
After hearing the famous line, “It’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”, you take off on a very fun, but also somewhat bumpy adventure.
Leaving the boarding station your runaway mine train speeds off quickly into a dark cavern filled with explosives and bats.
It exits the cavern back into the open air as it twists and turns through the gold rush town. You’ll pass under some low hanging opossums and get caught in a shoot out near the saloon.
The train slows down to its initial ascent climbing up the main mountain. Look right to catch beautiful views of Cinderella Castle.
The train is off again twisting and turning at higher speeds around the mountain’s curves. You’ll enter an abandoned mine shaft which is dimly lit with lanterns and full of stalagmites, waterfalls, and low flying bats!
The runaway train exits the mine shaft back outside and speeds off around the backside of the mountain and through a dig site under dinosaur bones, past a geyser, and returns to the loading station.
Is Thunder Mountain Kid-Friendly?
Thunder Mountain is an intermediate level coaster. It is not as intense as coasters, such as Expedition Everest or Space Mountain, however it still is a fast roller coaster with many tight turns and bumps.
There are also a few dark areas you ride through with bats that could scare little ones, but there are also many children who love it. The highest drop has been calculated at approximately 35 feet so it is not as intense as many other coasters located at Disney World.
You may want to try a smaller coaster first, like Barnstormer, before heading to Thunder Mountain. We have a full guide on several other things that might scare little ones at WDW.
Strollers are not allowed in the queue for Thunder Mountain. You’ll need to park your stroller in the designated stroller parking area near the attraction entrance or leave it with a non-rider.
Thunder Mountain first opened at Magic Kingdom in 1980 and was inspired by Monument Valley in Arizona.
The attraction covers over two acres and rises about 200 feet above sea level. Thunder Mountain was the second mountain built at Magic Kingdom, with Space Mountain being the first and Splash Mountain third (closed permanently on January 23, 2023).
Did you know that the ride is set during the gold rush days and takes place in the flooded mine town of Tumbleweed? It even features 20 audio-animatronic figures from donkeys, to opossums, to chickens.
Other Fun Details
- While on the ride, there is a Hidden Mickey made of gears after you go under the dinosaur skeleton on the right. There’s also a Hidden Tinker Bell at the exit of the attraction. Look to your left, you’ll see an “H” crack in the rock and it’s actually Tink. You really have to look at it, but it resembles her profile and you can even see her bun on the top of her head.
- The names of the trains are UB Bold, UR Daring, UR Courageous, IM Brave, IM Fearless, and IB Hearty.
- On the slow climb up the mountain, look right to catch a beautiful view of Cinderella Castle.
- There is a Thunder Mountain attraction located at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Park in Paris.
Other Attractions in Frontierland
- Splash Mountain Reportedly Closing in May 2023 at Disneyland Park
- TRON Opening April 4, 2023 at Magic Kingdom
- Splash Mountain Closing on May 31 at Disneyland, Mama Odie Concept Art Revealed
- The Reimagined Splash Mountain ‘Princess & The Frog’ Attraction Opening In Late 2024
- Park Hopping Changes & More Coming to Disney World & Disneyland