Your Favorite Magic Kingdom Mountain!

Splash Mountain's 52' Drop!

Splash Mountain’s 52′ Drop!

By Mike Ellis.

The other day on Facebook I submitted this picture of Splash Mountain, along with pictures of Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (see below), and asked the following question:

“What is your favorite Magic Kingdom Mountain? Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?”

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74 Days til Disneyland – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Image ©Disney Parks

Image ©Disney Parks

One of my favorite roller coasters at Walt Disney World is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!  This roller coaster — which was the first roller coaster that I remember ever riding at the Magic Kingdom (despite my sister’s insistence that I rode Space Mountain in 1979) is a fun adventure through the Wild West!  I love this roller coaster, and so does Cindy and Sophie and everyone that I meet and talk about Disney with.

So I was really looking forward to riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland in 74 days — until I found out that the attraction is going through extensive renovations and won’t be open until mid-fall 2013.  Per the Disneyland attraction page for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Reopen Fall 2013

Starting January 7, 2013, the exciting Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will receive refurbishment attention. Come back mid-fall 2013 and climb aboard the train for a twisting thrill ride through the untamed landscape of the legendary Old West.

The disappointment in not being able to ride BTMRR is high, but that isn’t going to ruin our Disneyland trip!  We’ve still got all of these other great roller coasters that we will be riding:

So, it’s not BTMRR, but it’s not bad — and that just frees up a few more rides on Sophie’s favorite ride — Splash Mountain!

Thanks for stopping by, but make sure you come back around later, we’ve got a full day planned here on the site.  Next up is my writer Theresa talking about her Disney World bucket list, and then after that, we’ve got a special post about a new contest that starts tomorrow!  So stay tuned, and have a great Sunday!

The Thrill of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad


One of our favorite roller coasters in all of Walt Disney World is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!  Opened on November 15, 1980 at the Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland area, this roller coaster is a wild west rootin’ tootin’ good time!  In fact, this was the first roller coaster at Walt Disney World that I ever remember riding, way back when I was a kid.

What I like about the attraction is the way it incorporates such a great backstory into the attraction.  It almost makes you think that this isn’t just a ride, it’s actually a true story!  The story goes that in the late 1800s gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain, and the tiny town of Tumbleweed was formed out of folks looking to strike it big.  Since business was good, a mine train was installed to take people up the mountain — but what no one knew was that the site was actually the location for a Native American burial mound, and was cursed!

In response to desecrating the burial mound, the town of Tumbleweed was flooded, and the town quickly became a ghost town.  Later on, though, it was discovered that the mine cars were actually moving on the tracks on their own without any human interaction, and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was formed to provide train rides as entertainment.

Imagineer Tony Baxter and ride engineer Bill Watkins were the designers for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and it is to them that we owe a debt of thanks!  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was also one of the first Disney rides to utilize computer-aided design!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has a lot of interesting features.  If you happen to ride the train at night, as you enter Tumbleweed and approach the saloon, look to the second floor windows — you’ll see the lights are on and girls are dancing in the windows!  Also, there is at least one Hidden Mickey in the attraction.  Do you know where it is?

I really enjoy Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — do you?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

My first Disney trip


This picture is from 2006, the next time that my Mom would visit the Magic Kingdom!

I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first went to Walt Disney World.  My Grandma and Grandpa had retired the previous year, and moved to Florida, so the following summer my Mom and sister and I went down to visit them.  In the course of that trip, Grandma and Grandpa took us on a trip to Walt Disney World.

I don’t have any pictures of the trip, but I do have memories.  I remember that at that time Disney World consisted of the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian resort.  We didn’t stay on property, and we had to decide which rides we wanted to enjoy because the park had tickets for the individual rides.  The more popular rides took more tickets than the less popular ones.

I remember that I wouldn’t ride Space Mountain.  Robin (my sister) tried really hard to get me to go, but I was chicken.

Remember when the Theater on Main Street showed silent Mickey Mouse cartoons?

So many things have changed at Walt Disney World, but regardless of that, so much of the Magic Kingdom has remained the same.

Despite the changes, the predominate things that make Walt Disney World special remain.  The Magic began for me with the moment we would get into the car to make the trip to Disney.  The closer we got to the park, the more the excitement would build, and when we saw the “Walt Disney World Sign”, I was about ready to bust with excitement.

The excitement continued to build as we passed the parking attendants, got out of the car, and memorized where we parked (we were usually in Grumpy or Happy).

Then, as you ride the tram to the the Transportation and Ticketing Center, reality continues to fade into the background as you are magically transported to the world of Walt Disney.

For us, as we rode on the Monorail to the park entrance, seeing the famous Magic Kingdom landmarks approach always started a discussion on what ride we would ride first.  The answers always varied, but for me, and that first visit, I didn’t care which ride I rode first.

For me, the experience of it all is what was really special to me.  I didn’t care which rides I rode, that first trip I was all about where it all begins — Main Street, U.S.A.  Seeing the train station, experiencing the buildings around the circle, and then taking in all of the shops, that is, in many ways, what it is all about.

Even now, after years of visiting Walt Disney World, to me, nothing is as special as the feeling I get when I enter Main Street, U.S.A. and take it all in.