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  1. #1

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    The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    I remember hearing that the story of BTM had more representation back when it first opened in 1979. Exactly how was the story represented (any pictures?) and when was this stuff removed?

    The story for those who don't know is basically:

    "Though the details of the backstory vary from park to park, all follow the same general story arcs. Some time in the late 1800s, gold was discovered on Big Thunder Mountain in the American southwest. Overnight, the small mining town of Tumbleweed (Thunder Mesa at Disneyland Paris) was established and the Tumbleweed Mining Company staked their claim. Mining was prosperous and an extensive line of mine trains were set up to transport the ore. Unbeknownst to the settlers, the Mountain was a sacred spot to local Native Americans and was cursed.[1] Before long, the settlers' desecration of the mountain caused a great tragedy, (terrible earthquake or flash flood, depending on the park) which befell the mines and town and they were abandoned. Some time later, the locomotives were found to be racing around the mountain on their own, without engineers or a crew. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was founded in the old mining camp to allow tourists to take rides on the possessed trains."

    This was taken from Wikipedia. I know one fact is incorrect: the town is called Big Thunder, not Tumbleweed.

    I basically knew the story before reading this, and I find it interesting that my Top 4 Disney rides (HM, IJA, POTC, BTM) are all based on supernatural themes.

  2. #2

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Actually, when you take the WDW railroad, (or is it the Liberty Square Riverboat), the canned conductor talks about the town of Tumbleweed and the gold rush and the booming sound of the dynamite used to make holes and the spirits, etc. So I think, at MK at least, it IS Tumbleweed.

  3. #3

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    I got to say the run away mine train idea is in a lot of theme parks across the country. But I never get that supernatural feeling rideing it,i would like to see more AA,s in the ride like skelton miners swinging a pic axe on the lift hill or paning for gold,and i mean moving skeltons not like the ones in POTC.Big Thunder should go with a little more haunted mine themeing because the ride itself can not tell its story.

  4. #4

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    This is the story behind the mountain as told in the book Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real.





    “The Miner Details of Big Thunder”

    Big Thunder Mountain dates back to the wild and woolly boom town days when every prospector west of the Rockies was looking for gold. The following is the tall tale heard tell by one of those prospectors who got it second-hand from old Sam, the last of the Big Thunder Miners:
    Yessir, is is 1840, and around these parts, things got prit’ near quiet as the hangin’ tree on Sunday after the Big Thunder Mine tapped out. One day there ain’t none richer, the next, even a ghost wouldn’t have much innerst in her.

    Things got mighty busted up and rusted down inside Big Thunder, so Sam told me while sluggin’ from a dusty bottle of Old Imagineer. He was the last prospector inside that mine. Fact is, poor old Sam took a spill and done landed belly up in one of them ore cars. Next thing he knows, the car takes off like a skinny coyote after a plump hen!

    Off he went, a headin’ fer the mine. Seems like that old ghost mine came to life for Sam. He swears the rusted winch engine was a pumpin’ and a wheezin’ and just when he was thinkin’ he must have bats in his belfry, there was bats! Then he sat up to see what he could see in the dark, and there was pools of rainbow water and waterfalls, and plenty of them rocks the schoolmarm calls “stalactites and stalagmites.”

    The walls of the canyon kept comin’ in closer and closer at old Sam and he yelled until he couldn’t yell no more. All of a sudden, the car thunders into a pitch dark tunnel, with Sam holdin’ on fer dear life. Comin’ back out the other side, he spots a couple a danged skunks foolin’ with blastin’ powder, like to blow the top off a whole derned mountain! Little ways away, danged if’n there ain’t a Billy goat chawin’ on a stick of the stuff! But Sam didn’t have no time to worry about that, ‘cuz next thing he knows he’s whippin’ down Spiral Butte and headin’ right back down into Big Thunder Mine. Sam figgered he was goin’ in and never comin’ out this time, with all that rumblin’ and shakin’ and rocks comin’ down all around him. He closed his eyes tight but the next thing ya know he was outside and high-ballin’ down on the track again, right over the Bear River Trestle Bridge.

    That ore car finally squealed to a stop right smack dab in the middle of Big Thunder Town. Sam just sat up, brushed off the dust and said, “I ain’t had this much of a whoop and a holler since the Grub Gang hit town. I just barely got out with my hide!”

    Sam’s amazing ghost story was told and retold over the years, and because of it, no one was ever brave enough to even set foot near the mine – until the day a bold young Imagineer heard the tale and thought it might be fun to take a ride on old Big Thunder himself. Sure enough, he did, and the train turned out to be so much fun he decided to officially re-open the mine. Folks soon heard the news about Big Thunder and began to arrive there to take their own wild ride on the legendary runaway train.

  5. #5

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    I never knew that BTMRR was supposed to be a haunted mine. I always thought it was just a Runnaway Train going thru a abandoned mine. Thats pretty cool!

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by Open_at_the_close View Post
    I never knew that BTMRR was supposed to be a haunted mine. I always thought it was just a Runnaway Train going thru a abandoned mine. Thats pretty cool!
    And honestly, that is all it feels like it is - a runaway mine train.

    And if the town is abandoned then why is there singing in the barber shop and talking in the houses at the brake run?

  7. #7

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyPro View Post
    And honestly, that is all it feels like it is - a runaway mine train.

    And if the town is abandoned then why is there singing in the barber shop and talking in the houses at the brake run?
    Tourists? I don't know.

  8. #8

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by JFSebastian View Post
    This is the story behind the mountain as told in the book Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real.





    “The Miner Details of Big Thunder”

    Big Thunder Mountain dates back to the wild and woolly boom town days when every prospector west of the Rockies was looking for gold. The following is the tall tale heard tell by one of those prospectors who got it second-hand from old Sam, the last of the Big Thunder Miners:
    Yessir, is is 1840, and around these parts, things got prit’ near quiet as the hangin’ tree on Sunday after the Big Thunder Mine tapped out. One day there ain’t none richer, the next, even a ghost wouldn’t have much innerst in her.

    Things got mighty busted up and rusted down inside Big Thunder, so Sam told me while sluggin’ from a dusty bottle of Old Imagineer. He was the last prospector inside that mine. Fact is, poor old Sam took a spill and done landed belly up in one of them ore cars. Next thing he knows, the car takes off like a skinny coyote after a plump hen!

    Off he went, a headin’ fer the mine. Seems like that old ghost mine came to life for Sam. He swears the rusted winch engine was a pumpin’ and a wheezin’ and just when he was thinkin’ he must have bats in his belfry, there was bats! Then he sat up to see what he could see in the dark, and there was pools of rainbow water and waterfalls, and plenty of them rocks the schoolmarm calls “stalactites and stalagmites.”

    The walls of the canyon kept comin’ in closer and closer at old Sam and he yelled until he couldn’t yell no more. All of a sudden, the car thunders into a pitch dark tunnel, with Sam holdin’ on fer dear life. Comin’ back out the other side, he spots a couple a danged skunks foolin’ with blastin’ powder, like to blow the top off a whole derned mountain! Little ways away, danged if’n there ain’t a Billy goat chawin’ on a stick of the stuff! But Sam didn’t have no time to worry about that, ‘cuz next thing he knows he’s whippin’ down Spiral Butte and headin’ right back down into Big Thunder Mine. Sam figgered he was goin’ in and never comin’ out this time, with all that rumblin’ and shakin’ and rocks comin’ down all around him. He closed his eyes tight but the next thing ya know he was outside and high-ballin’ down on the track again, right over the Bear River Trestle Bridge.

    That ore car finally squealed to a stop right smack dab in the middle of Big Thunder Town. Sam just sat up, brushed off the dust and said, “I ain’t had this much of a whoop and a holler since the Grub Gang hit town. I just barely got out with my hide!”

    Sam’s amazing ghost story was told and retold over the years, and because of it, no one was ever brave enough to even set foot near the mine – until the day a bold young Imagineer heard the tale and thought it might be fun to take a ride on old Big Thunder himself. Sure enough, he did, and the train turned out to be so much fun he decided to officially re-open the mine. Folks soon heard the news about Big Thunder and began to arrive there to take their own wild ride on the legendary runaway train.
    Thanks for typing all this up, it's very interesting. The Indiana Curse is mentioned in many sources outside of Wikipedia. I believe it is in Kevin Yee's 101 Things you Never Knew about Disneyland book also. I wonder if the Indiana Curse wasn't mentioned in that book because some might consider it politically incorrect.

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyPro View Post
    And honestly, that is all it feels like it is - a runaway mine train.

    And if the town is abandoned then why is there singing in the barber shop and talking in the houses at the brake run?
    They're ghosts you hear.

  9. #9

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by Wait Watchers View Post
    Actually, when you take the WDW railroad, (or is it the Liberty Square Riverboat), the canned conductor talks about the town of Tumbleweed and the gold rush and the booming sound of the dynamite used to make holes and the spirits, etc. So I think, at MK at least, it IS Tumbleweed.
    Yes, I remember that now, it is the WDW railroad. I have to watch a Youtube video of that train to hear it again.

  10. #10

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyPro View Post
    And honestly, that is all it feels like it is - a runaway mine train.

    And if the town is abandoned then why is there singing in the barber shop and talking in the houses at the brake run?
    Your right theres no sign of a ghost town and it is in fact a runaway mine train.

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHost2 View Post
    They're ghosts you hear.
    Then that explains everything!

  12. #12

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    Cool Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Now that we are on the topic of ghosts and BTMRR, I have to say that they should add a Halloween overlay on it. It is much more natural to "see" ghosts on a ride that has ghosts related to it, rather than a ride that has nothing to with ghosts.

  13. #13

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    As to why there is a singing barbershop and people talking in the town in the brake run its very simple..
    Big Thunder Mountain has a storyline where somehow you have gotten yourself into a dilly of a pickle, the trains are running without a human hand directing them, also if you notice in the stations, there are Horseshoes with the open side up at the base of each hill and the stations, but not the very last hill where its openside down, also just as things keep getting worse and worse, the train when it goes through Spiral Butte if you notice in the que the rails are coming apart, you somehow get back to civilization, and thats why the people are chit chatting in the town like nothings happening, because one of the basic concepts of the whole Mountain is that no one is going to believe your story, afterall you made back safe and sound after the crazyness that you went through in the "wildest ride in the wilderness" It must be noted that Thunder has one of the most detailed storylines than other mountains, eg Space.

  14. #14

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    I thought our town in Disneyland was called "Rainbow Ridge" and was left over from the rides that were there before (namely, Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland or whatever). I thought it was an inhabited town next to an active (or semi-active) mine... trains can run away through active mines as well as abandoned ones, right? And active mines are still pretty scary. There's still work to be done on that dinosaur (which I don't particularly like and doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the ride).

    And even if the mine is abandoned, it doesn't mean the town has to be a ghost town. They seem to have plenty of businesses to keep themselves afloat.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  15. #15

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    Re: The Story of Big Thunder Mountain

    Possessed trains. Oh joy.

    Nice to know what I travel on.

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