Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Magic Kingdom


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the original “thrill rides” at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  Located in the Frontierland section of the park, this exciting but family-friendly roller coaster ride is one of the can’t miss attractions at the Magic Kingdom.

Known as “The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness” the story behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is set within the  mid-1800’s small town of Tumbleweed in the American frontier where prospectors from the Big Thunder Mining Company are searching for gold within the local area mountains.

Guests enter the mine and head down the shaft to board their train.  Once on board the train, the ride starts deep within a dark mine cavern where riders ascend to the top of mountain.  After hitting the peak, the train accelerates and the excitement begins with a number of twists, bumps and turns.

About Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Originally opened in November 1980, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the most popular attractions at the Magic Kingdom. This family-friendly outdoor roller coaster ride lasts about three minutes from start to finish and is suitable for young riders but has enough thrills for adrenaline junkies.

Although more than 40 years of age, the exterior facade and the queue of attraction is very well themed with an iconic mountain peak, water tower replica and desert feel.  One entire east side of the attraction fronts the Rivers of America that overlooks Tom Sawyer Island.  

It’s easy to miss the 20 audio-animatronic characters (including Professor Cumulus Isobar) while on the ride.

How fast is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad travel?

The attractions simulates a “runaway train” which takes riders on a exciting ride at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.  There are no major drops but there are a number of twists and turns including a 540 degree helix that add to the exhilaration of the ride.

The train is only wide enough to fit to two riders per row who are held in place with a lap bar.

What are the height restrictions for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has a minimum height requirement of 40 inches (40 centimeters).  

Is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad appropriate for kids?

While Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is considered a “thrill ride” and more intense than the Barnstormer Starring the Great Goofini, it is still fairly mild in nature so we think it is appropriate for younger riders.

How does Big Thunder Mountain Railroad compare to other Magic Kingdom rides?

We consider Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a little more exciting than the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but less intense than Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle / Run.  

How long is the wait for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?

Since Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of the more popular rides at the Magic Kingdom, wait times are lengthy and can average 45 to 60 minutes on a typical summer day.

Lightning Lanes can be obtained through the Disney Genie+ app for those not wanting to wait in the Stand By line.

Where Should We Stay When Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort?

The Walt Disney World Resort has a number of great on-site hotels and each and every one of them have their own benefits, characteristics and price points.

There are multiple “categories” of hotels which are as follows:

  • Deluxe Resort Hotels
  • Deluxe Resort Villas
  • Moderate Resort Hotels
  • Disney’s Campgrounds
  • Value Resort Hotels

Deluxe resort hotels include the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  These resort hotels are all located adjacent to the Magic Kingdom and offer easy access to that park as well as superior amenities and accommodations. 

In addition Disney’s hotels and resorts, there are a number of other hotel options including the hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area and those within the Bonnet Creek Resort.

Jerry Joyce

Jerry Joyce has been a Florida resident since 1998 and has lived in a variety of places in the South Florida area. Jerry is an avid boater & water sports enthusiast, beach aficionado, a lover of great food, muscle car fan and a theme park annual passholder for many years. Some of his favorite places in Florida include the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World, Cedar Key, the Loxahatchee River, St. Augustine and Ten Thousand islands.

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