Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Disney World

One of the most popular thrill rides in the Magic Kingdom is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  This outdoor roller coaster is in the Frontierland area, adjacent to Splash Mountain.  The two rides combine for quite a 1-2 punch that you may need to plan for.  Is Thunder Mountain a ride worth waiting for?  What can you expect on this roller coaster?  Let’s take an in-depth look at this popular Disney attraction!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – The History

In the early 70’s, the concept of this ride came to fruition at the hand of a few Disney Imagineers.  However, at the time there were a lot of resources being put into the opening of Space Mountain and a few other ideas, and the project was shelved until the late 70’s, opening in Disneyland in 79, and in Disney World in 1980.  Computer technology was first used by Disney on Thunder Mountain, which would lead to a better ride and a smoother overall experience.

The Ride

The basic theme is that the riders are in run-away mine trains through the American Southwest.  The ride is a chain lift, which gives it the distinctive sound as it rises, and as it makes twists and turns over the water, you have the illusion of flying into the water before you quickly turn back to safety!  There are earthquakes, geysers and other manufactured events that are all themed to give the feeling that things are out of control.

It’s a middle of the pack roller coaster.  There are no flips, twists, and it doesn’t go upside down.  The Magic Kingdom is a kids park after all, and so this is a GREAT roller coaster for your kids once they hit the proper height to ride it.  Even for adults, roller coasters are always fun, and theming is what Disney is all about anyway!  Thunder Mountain excels in that area.

big thunder mountain railroad disney world

Tips for Thunder Mountain

Like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, the wait times can get really high, especially during the mid-day and in peak periods.  As such, you need to plan to attack this ride with Fastpasses.  Some people love coming to the back end of the park early in the day and hitting Splash and Thunder first thing.  While that might be a smart idea if you really love these rides, it’s not our preferred plan.  Why?

Because these rides are fastpass eligible.  Many of the Fantasyland rides are not, and in addition there are a LOT of rides in Fantasyland.  While the crowds are low, we find that it’s best to hit them all at once, early in the morning immediately after rope drop.



After Fantasyland, you can head to Frontierland if you’d like.  Wait times on Fastpasses for Thunder Mountain usually won’t be too long if you get there before 1pm or so.  We recommend getting a FP for Splash Mountain,  eating lunch, then getting a FP for Thunder Mountain.  Then you can ride Splash, head over to Pirates, and come back and finish at Thunder Mountain.

We’ve also found that late nights are great for Thunder Mountain.  As the fireworks and parades are getting ready to start, you’ll find that the bulk of the crowds will move to the front of the castle.  This leaves the back end with very manageable wait times.

Thunder Mountain Info

  • Height Requirement is 40 inches
  • Ride is FastPass and Fastpass Plus eligible
  • Child Swap/Rider Switch passes are available

Do you enjoy Thunder Mountain?  Tell us about your experiences or any tips you have below!



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