It is not the newest, not the scariest and not the fastest attraction at Walt Disney World. But Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the "wildest ride in the wilderness" and an experience you will look forward to on every visit.
The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMR) was not part of the Magic Kingdom opening day in Orlando, and in fact had to wait for its development first at Disneyland. But no one was disappointed at its actual opening with the highly realistic and detailed designs of Imagineer Tony Baxter's railroad and scenery integration which makes BTMR a family favorite.
Actually, the larger footprint in Orlando Florida and a more realistic setting than the Anaheim theme park are better aligned with Mr. Baxter's original drawings that went back to the early 1970's. And then on September 23, 1980, Big Thunder Maintain Railroad opened to the public. And it is the tallest mountain at the World, even higher than Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom.
Tony Baxter is Senior VP of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering and well known and respected among the developers and fans of Disney attractions. More about Mr. Baxter can be found in an good article in the Imagineering Disney blog.
BTMR is not only my favorite ride but has a wonderfully decorated queue area as well. There are some rides I avoid at WDW (not my wife though, she rides them all). I have a problem with fast dark rides like Everest or Space Mountain. I will ride the Tower of Terror, but that's another story. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, however, I've always found exciting but not overwhelming. It's just plain fun which is why I like it so much.
This video here that I found on YouTube is not a spoiler, but if you make if full screen and stare right at it, you can feel yourself moving in the direction of your ride vehicle. It's a good sensation.
BACKSTORY - BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD
Every attraction at Walt Disney World has a back story, and BTMR is no different. It is not a roller coaster, but a runaway mine train. The design is based on the landscape of the southwest in the area of Monument Valley, Arizona. Around the 1850's after the Gold Rush began, strange occurrences near Sutter's Mill and the BTM Mining Company property was the result of supernatural forces within the mountain area that the railroad was built. Entire trains, perhaps the one you'll be riding in, "would race driverless at breakneck speed along the spiraling steel and wooden track"... maybe the mountain and the mine are cursed!
If you want to learn more about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and about all the Disney Mountains around the globe, read a book by Imagineer Jason Surrell, which is appropriately named, "The Disney Mountains - Imagineering at Its Peak."
"Hang on to your hats and glasses 'cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness.
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