Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules

Written by Werner Weiss. Posted in Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Features, Werner Weiss

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wwearlymules

Published on September 05, 2013 at 11:01 pm with 17 Comments

There’s a ride that’s so low-tech that it keeps operating even if there’s a power failure. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always reliable. It can stop for no apparent reason—or for reasons known only to the mules that provide the ride.

Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules.

When you are done reading, please leave your comments below.

About Werner Weiss

Werner is the curator of Yesterland.com, the ultimate collection of Disney theme park past attractions. You'll find his handiwork featured here every Friday.

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17 Comments

Comments for Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules are now closed.

  1. I could never imagine this attraction being present at any Disney park today. It would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s amazing how people survived through the 50s!

    Werner, you should make an article about DCA before/after like you did for Future World and Islands of Adventure. It would be interesting seeing the same vantage point and angle for the old DCA and new DCA.

    • I’m working on DCA Then & Now (or DCA 1.0 & 2.0) comparison photo essays. I hope to publish 2 or 3 of them by the end of this year. (But don’t hold me to it.)

    • I agree about the problems that would arise if they tried this today. Ya know, Knotts also had a mule ride for many years. Theirs started at the West end of the mine train mountain and traveled around the back and circled past the front of that structure. As a kid, I liked both rides, but much preferred DLs for all the scenery in Natures’ Wonderland. The trails over the arched bridges were very nice.

  2. Werner, I felt sorry for the pack mules later in life, as there was a weight limit sign to ride them but operators did not want to insult over weight guests back then and let them ride. I still have a copy of that sign somewhere. A lot of the old mule harnesses were still around long after the mules packed up and left Rainbow Ridge.

    • Big Thunder closed down Rainbow Ridge in 1977 and opened in 1979. Hope Rainbow Ridge will reclaim it’s name in the overhaul.

      • One thing that was fun in the Nature’s Wonderland version of the mule ride was riding right by the buildings of Rainbow Ridge. Instead of just seeing the little town on the side of the hill in the distance, mule riders could get “up close and personal” with Rainbow Ridge.

      • Werner do you remember that the shops in Rainbow Ridge all had photo copy blow ups of dressed and themed WED Imagineers in the windows? My friend was in the Newspaper shop with a head visor on and rolled up sleeves.

      • I don’t remember the heads. I only remember the audio from the “businesses” of Rainbow Ridge.

        Has Rainbow Ridge still had audio is recent years?

  3. My dad says I rode the mules but I don’t recall. I have loads of memories from the mine train. Great stuff.

  4. I don’t have memories of the mules; I remember Knott’s mine train ride as donkeys. How long would the ride have been? My guess is that it was hard to convince adults to go on this adventure, like getting them to go on canoes or Tom Sawyer’s Island. The ride capacity must have been mini-mule. And didn’t they “pack up” at sundown?

    I have always had a deep subconscious affinity for mules and I wouldn’t be surprised if I got it at Disneyland, where I got so much else of my character.

    The mine train was cool, too. Big Thunder was cool and will be again soon, one can only hope.

    • Actually, Knott’s had TWO burro rides.

      One was, as you mentioned, near the mine ride. The other was way across in the parking area, out near where Independence Hall wound up.

  5. Boy, does this bring back memories. I rode those mules in 1967 when I was an 11 year old kid. Funniest part of this is recalling my dad in the saddle one mule ahead of me. Now Dad was a city boy through and through, quite the swank dresser and so forth, so to see him in his sunglasses, Don Loper sport shirt and alligator loafers (or “strollers” as he called them) happily riding that critter still makes me chuckle. Anything is possible in Disneyland!

    Additional fun fact: the cast member who helped you “saddle up” would take the floppy sun hats off women just as the mules were ready to start off and hang the hat up with a clothespin on a line in the boarding area. You could then retrieve the hat when your journey was done.That happened to my mom, who worried the entire time that her hat would be gone when we returned.

    Those were good, good times in Yesterland. Thanks, Werner.

  6. I rode the mules in third grade, 1963, and again as a senior in 71. The mine train through
    natures wonderland was one of my favorite rides in Disneyland. It put the frontier into frontierland! Big Thunder as a replacement was a huge disappointment for me. I’ll take a ten minute, totally themed western adventure over a two minute rollercoaster any day!

  7. I think my dissapointment about losing the mules and mine train to Big Thunder, is that being from north Texas, we already had the original mine coaster at Six Flags (and ours dove under a lake!) Big Thunder just wasnt as good. And to think they took out my favorite Disneyland area to give us something that was second best to Six Flags! Shameful!

    • Ride Big Thunder in Paris Disneyland that dives under the water and comes out on an Island and goes about as fast as Space Mountain. Its way better than Six Flags which I also rode.

      • True, but they didnt take out Rainbow Caverns to build it.

      • My wife and I were at Euro Disney when it opened in 1992. We thought their Thunder Mountain looked really cool and wanted to ride. We kept walking around parts of the lake trying to figure out how to get to the ride on the island.
        We were really surprised to find that you boarded the coaster in Frontierland and it went under the lake to the island.
        I remember the Mine Train at Six flags too. I was so scared of that drop under the lake. Saw it the vother day and the drop is about 15 feet.