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  1. #1

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    Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    May 28, 1960

    On this day in 1960, the "E" Ticket Disneyland attraction opened to the public after it's major expansion from it's previous incarnation, The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. For those who don't know what the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland was, it was an upgrade from it's former self, the Rainbow Caverns Mine train, which opened in 1956. The attraction covered a very large chunk of Frontierland and featured over 200 Audio-Animatronics and featured themes and scenery from Walt Disney's popular True-Life adventure films. As guests board one of 4 battery powered faux steam locomotive trains, they passed by the sprawling town of Rainbow Ridge which also served as the loading area for the pack mule attraction. From there the guests were treated to views of Beaver Valley, Cascade Peak, Bear Country (not the land known as Critter Country today) the Living Desert, Cactus Forest, Balancing Rock Canyon, and the magnificent Rainbow Caverns. It existed until 1977 when it was torn out for a higher speed mine train ride-- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.



    To this day, it still boggles me why I even have an interest in the attraction, let alone reserching the subject for a half a decade. I was born way too late to experience it. After hearing about a "Rainbow train ride" from my grandfather when I was little, I was intrigued by this attraction and wanted to know more about it. It wasn't until the internet where my knowledge about the attraction grew rapidly. I think it was the large variety of elements that grabbed me, some new and never before seen and others done in a new way. This ride had western towns, mountains, tunnels, hills, deserts, sandstone rocks, trestles, lakes, ponds, rivers, glowing caverns, geysers, mud pots, dinosaur bones, jiggling rocks, a variety of animals, it had trains, and it was a Disney ride.



    It's a shame such an example of one of Walt Disney greatest attractions is not around anymore, it was the victim of progress. Hopefully, someday, it can be resurrected in some form. But for now, for some it'll remain in the memories, for many (like myself) it'll be preserved in countless photos and stories told by older relatives.

    The last word in the attraction name sums it up well; it truly was a land of wonders that inspired the imagination and continues to today.

    -----

    But what's left of this attraction? I pooled together all of my research and created this map that shows where many of the features and nods from the attraction are today. Of course, there are quite a few more, but these are the major ones.



    All photo credits go to their respective owners.
    Last edited by Nautilus; 05-28-2010 at 06:56 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    I too missed out on the ride.
    A victim (ok, not a victim but mis fortune) of be born too late to ride it.


    Happy 50th!!!


    It would be nice to see it come back in a new form that celebrates the ride in a proper way without cutbacks or lack of imagination.
    Quote by Al:
    To that end I'd like the Internet community to join me in reminding the Disney company that "it all started with Walt." As you can see below we've created some T-shirts, plus a few simple graphics that you can copy and paste into your websites to let folks know how you feel.
    -Al Lutz



  3. #3

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    I love that then and now comparison! Thanks so much! And a happy birthday to the late great Mine Train!

  4. #4

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Excellent post, Nautilus, and very useful map..thank you.

    Happy 50th, Mine Train...sadly one I never got to experience for myself.

  5. #5

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Great thread!

    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  6. #6

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
    Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti,
    Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
    Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

    Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,
    Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte,
    Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,
    Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.

  7. #7

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Excellent OP! The diagram showing what's leftover is really great. Thanks!

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  8. #8

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Awesome work, Nautilus! The "then-and-now" map is superb.

    You beat me to it. I was planning to start a thread today about the 50th anniversary.



    Trains at station


    All aboard


    Beaver Valley


    Cascade Peak, Big Thunder Falls


    Cascade Peak


    Cascade Peak, Twin Sisters falls


    Bear River


    Bear River


    Natural Arch Bridge (trains went under, Pack Mules went over)


    Saguaro Forest


    Devil's Paint Pots


    "Old Unfaithful" geyser


    Balancing Rock Canyon


    Balancing Rock Canyon


    Rainbow Caverns


    Rainbow Caverns


    Rainbow Caverns


    Train arrives at station; Mineral Hall on right


    Aerial view, June 1962






    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC2vfUvhisI"]YouTube - Ike and Mamie Eisenhower on the Mine Train[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHbDJV38JmU"]YouTube - Disneyland Nature's Wonderland ride soundtrack[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HmcOtx_28U"]YouTube - natures wonderland DVD[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlURwBjGHv4"]YouTube - Frontierland in Color (part 1)[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzkhjtb6HUQ"]YouTube - Frontierland in Color (part 2)[/ame]

    Happy Birthday!

  9. #9

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Thank you Nautilus and Bob Weaver for posting all of those great photos! I wish that there were more pictures of the Rainbow Caverns, but I realize that technology at the time would have made such things difficult.

    This has always been one of those attractions that I've wished I could go back in time to ride.


  10. #10

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Outstanding thread on one of my favorite rides from the past. Thanks for the wonderful photos, graphics, and videos.
    "Not Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Astor together could have
    raised money enough to buy a quarter share in my little dog."

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  11. #11

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    I've always enjoyed the mine train ride at Knotts, particularly because it seemed to have alot of similar elements... I was happily surprised to later find out that walt had a hand in the design of that attraction as well...

  12. #12

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    I think today's cameras would be able to capture the true look of the Rainbow Caverns, if you could sit still and not have to take the pictures from a moving train. The Rainbow Caverns were very dark; there were no spotlights, colored lights or ambient lighting. The only light was that given off by the fluorescent waters and a few fluorescent signs, and it was all illuminated only by the black lights. Most old photos and films of it added light to make it more visible to the camera. The photo above of the train in the caverns was taken by National Geographic, obviously with the train stopped, and they added light to make the train visible in the photo. In a regular ride-through, it was so dark in the caverns that you would not see the train at all, or even the people sitting next to you. The stalagmites would only be silhouettes. It was necessary to have such darkness so that the colored waters would be appearing to glow. But the films available in the 1950s and 1960s were not sensitive enough to capture the feeble light from fluorescent materials. I believe today's digital cameras would be able to though.

  13. #13

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    I still remember the colored pools of water in the Caverns. They wound around each other and looked like they should have been mixed into one big blob of color - not individual streams. It was quite striking and beautiful.

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  14. #14

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    wow, this is one of the main reasons I would build a time machine to go back in time to ride this


    Happy 50th Rainbow Caverns!
    Hello? I seem to be in some sort of inter dimensional dimension with no way in or out....Send Help! and Pie! pumpkin peferably

  15. #15

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    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland!

    Yes, the Rainbow Caverns were an amazing feat of Imagineering, both in the design and engineering stages. Claude Coats gets credit for the design of it. Six separate plumbing systems, one for each color of fluorescent water. A scientist told Disney that it would never work; that the colors would eventually mix together, but Walt said "We do the impossible every day here," so they went ahead and built it. As I recall each color stayed true, the channels of color side by sided never mixed. There were individual channels of colored water that the train passed over; the channels were maybe 5 inches wide, with one green, the next one yellow-orange, the next one blue, then purple, etc. I can barely remember a spiral design on the floor, where channels of different colors spiraled around each other. I also remember the cool air being blown throughout it by fans, a distinct contrast from the Living Desert if you were there on a hot day.
    Last edited by Bob Weaver; 05-28-2010 at 04:25 PM.

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