In The Parks: Last Ride on Big Thunder at Disneyland

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on January 04, 2013 at 4:03 am with 41 Comments

Get to Disneyland now if you want one final holiday fix.  Starting Monday morning, Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world will be going down for the removal of their popular holiday overlays and you only have this final weekend to enjoy them before the next holiday season. And, since the rumor is that Christmas will be a special ticketed event next year, this may be your final chance to catch the wonderful Christmas fireworks and parade without paying extra for them. Also, Big Thunder Mountain will be going down for a major refurbishment on Monday that is scheduled to last until October 2013.  That is three major E tickets all going down at once.  But there is still plenty to do and to look forward to in the park.  The Fantasy Faire village construction is coming along and is well on schedule for a Summer opening.  We also look at the minute progress visible for the Fantasyland Theatre.  But beware, if you do decide to hit the parks this weekend expect big crowds as well.


This weekend is your last chance to take a spin on Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before it goes down for a major refurbishment and changes which will last through most of the year.  The high-speed, Tony Baxter designed, roller coaster will benefit from a full reconstruction of the track, a reconfiguring of the load/unload station, and a rebuilding of the iconic Rainbow Ridge townscape facing the queue.  Included in the refurbishment will be key story elements which are part of a new television series based on the attraction.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s last operating day will be Sunday January 6th.  The refurbishment will last for approximately 10 months and will begin this Monday (January 7th).


In the meantime, we have more pictures from the construction site of the upcoming Fantasy Faire Village Princess meet and greet.  The design pulls greatly from the Bavarian village style Fantasyland 1983 redo and looks as if it will be quite charming.

The canvas over the stage is being installed.

The facades are quite detailed.

Looks a bit like the entry to the Pinocchio ride, doesn’t it?


As part of the awkwardly titled campaign, Limited Time Magic, Disneyland is presenting, “A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Review”  This homage to the classic original stage show will run Thursdays through Mondays from January 10th to February 4th.  Guests interested in seeing the show during its run will have to reserve their seat by visiting the reservations podium in front of the Golden Horseshoe on the day of the show.   A cast member will issue a ticket for their preferred showtime based on availability.  But, of course, there is also a special dinner package available for Annual Passholders at $35 a pop. That $35 includes corn chips in a souvenir Golden Horseshoe boot mug, ham and roast beef sandwiches, raisin and carrot salad, potato salad, and berry fruit salad.

Inspired by the world-famous Frontierland show that Walt Disney himself began in 1955, A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue features a variety of songs and dance numbers from past productions and is an homage to fun-filled, family friendly musical entertainment.

In other words, this isn’t exactly like the old Golden Horseshoe show, but rather a show inspired by it.

Are you planning on attending this show?


New light posts were installed near the Fantasyland Theatre that reflect the ongoing celestial theme and rustic atmosphere.  Just this morning Disney Parks Blog has announced the Mickey and the Magical Map show for the Fantasyland Theater. It is slated for late may/early june.


Starting today and running through Sunday, Disney will be holding the second annual Three Kings Day celebration in the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree area from 10am-6pm.  The area will feature Latin themed music, food and characters ready for special photo opportunities.


While the New Years holiday brought lower than anticipated crowds to the resort, the following days have seen a resurgence.  Wait times on Wednesday this week were hefty for the e-ticket attractions.

80 minutes for the Matterhorn?!?! Holy moly!

Adventureland is always horrible when it’s crowded. The pinch point at Indy and the Treehouse tends to block things up.

The holidays will mercifully end this weekend and things should simmer down for a while.

Even when the park is packed, there are still quiet spots to be enjoyed.


Rumor has it that Innoventions will be closing in February to make way for a new, yet to be announced attraction.  Here’s to hoping that the space won’t sit unused for years again.

Go get your trip to future’s past in now.


The Disney parks have ushered in 2013 with crowds and pending construction. Happy Three Kings Day everyone. We’ll see you in the parks!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • wec

    Re: Big Thunder. Does anybody know if they’ll be replacing the missing set of drive wheels under the faux locomotives?

    • cwh_brazil

      I really hope they´ll put them back!

  • flayrah

    I was looking forward to the Golden Horseshoe show, but light of some of the other recent live entertainment productions, I don’t like the event being called a ‘salute’, rather than a ‘revival’. I can’t shake the thought that the songs will be updated to pop and rap. And somehow Mickey or other characters will end up on the stage.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Thanks again for a great update. I always look forward to seeing the pictures and reading In The Parks!!

  • mondo

    Question: Is Rainbow Ridge town at it exact, original location when it was part of the Mine Trains? Or did they moved them around a bit from BTMR?

    • DisWedWay

      Rainbow Ridge was moved and not all the buildings made it to the new Big Thunder camp.

      • DisWedWay

        The old Mineral Hall Building is still behind the restaurant or consider part of it now. Loved seeing all the mineral specimens there after riding Natures Wonderland. I bought my first mineral black light there which came with specimens. Great for show and tell and grade school science projects. Wish they would reopen it, but being part of the Mexican Resturant Rancho Del Zocalo, they could still feature displays on the walls of minerals and artifacts from Big Thunder traded for a good meal by it’s miners.

  • brianpinsky

    Hold on small world is not going down until January 22. The is only one attraction team and they won’t done with Haunted Mansion untill the 18

  • BassBone

    Even money says Big Thunder will lose its locomotive in the refurb in order to add more seats.

  • danielz6

    Why isn’t anyone talking about the climax of the ride, where there’s an earthquake just before the last lift. I’m hoping that those effects will be restored or enhanced somehow because to me that simple projection that they put instead or the moving rocks simply doesn’t do the ride justice. Disney can do way better than that!

  • danyoung

    How about “Catch the Magic”?

  • judearmstrong

    Oh BTM. I’m so glad I got to ride it in June. That was my second favorite ride to work, first being Jungle. It is in need of a referb, especially the wood work and a few ride control issues and maybe a few others here and there. I loved working that ride, when it wasn’t hot. Can’t wait to see it all new and the new ride vehicles, which they have been talking about for a few years and testing the track for. Bye bye bench seats

    • DisWedWay

      The Big Thunder Engines and box cars are a design inspiration from the older Natures Wonderland by Disney Legend Mark Davis and designed by George McGinnis. The present Big Thunder vehicles look great and fit the period, if they were to put the engines wheels back on. I only hope the new vehicles are not distracting from the period as the Matterhorn’s are. Work inside the envelope.

      • judearmstrong

        From what I understand, and what they’ve talked about for a few years is that the seats will be a 2 seater. Most times people only take up 2 seats but a family of 3, or 3 children can squeeze in and all can ride together. Sometimes its not the most comfortable ride. Reason being for making it a 2 seater is mostly safety reasoning. Picture yourself riding with a young child that just meets the height req. sure the lap bar is all the down for you, but for the smaller guest it isn’t. I imagine they will have a restraint system similar to Space Mountain or Ghost Rider. Each guest gets their own lapbar there by improving the safety. One draw back however is that now you have a row that used to sit 3 now seating 2 so now the line will be a little longer, though I’m sure they will be offering Single Rider to fill empty seats on the train. I’m sure they will keep the trains looking realatively the same, I really hope they aren’t as drastic as the Matterhorn. As far as the Engine wheels, I wouldn’t get your hopes up, they were there purely for show and did not have anything to do with the Loco, it would just be one more thing to replace and one more thing for Maintenaince CM’s to check over.

  • SFDave

    Just got home from the parks tonight. Crowd levels were pretty crazy during the day. Guess the word is out about BTMRR cause the lines were very long. Was talking to cm ‘s and they are scared and excited about the upcoming refurb. I cannot remember the last time I went into Innovations, so not going to miss that at all. I was joking with a cm about having a stroller free magic event, and they totally agree, that has got to the biggest problem that I can see! The whole esplanade in from of Small World is stroller parking! It is getting very crazy. The Three Kings event was really good, they brought the Mariachi Divas over from DCA and they did a really great show.

    • danielz6

      There’s only one solution to the problem…a third gate!

  • DisneyDrums

    Big Thunder Mountain going down is no big deal for me. There’s only so many coasters I’d be willing to go on, and BTM is not one of them. Innoventions, on the other hand… I don’t know what’s gonna happen over there, but I’m pretty sure they won’t do any Iron Man thing. Like I just said. IDK what’ll happen, but I hope that, if they DO do something with that area, it’s something GOOD. We’ll have to wait & see.

    Thanks for the update, Norman!


    Thanks Norm for the great update.

    I am a bit concerned about the upgrade/rehab to TMRR though. Is it in their plans to redesign as well as refurbish the cars? After the last redesign of the Matterhorn bobsleds, I now cannot fit into the cars due to hip problems, and being 6’4″ with long legs, the configuration is akin to only being comfortable for a 5 year old. Sadly, an attraction I love has had to be scratched off my list. I would hate to have to do the same after the refurbishing of Thunder.

    The construction progress on both areas looks great! And I sure hope that Innoventions can be repurposed into something that makes sense and is appropriate for the vision that Disney always had for Tomorrowland.

    Thanks again for the news and reviews!

  • bummerkit

    Sad to see that the rocks in btmrr still aren’t operating. Hopefully they will be fixed in the rehab.