Happy 30th birthday to Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain
Please join me in wishing Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
a happy 30th birthday. Disney's third "mountain" (following Matterhorn and Space) debuted on September 2, 1979 at the Anaheim park, though a version of the ride earlier had been designed for Walt Disney World. Disney World's Thunder ultimately opened just over a year later, on September 23, 1980.
Let's celebrated with some photos of Thunder, taken by Theme Park Insider readers:
And here is one of Walt Disney World's version, which I took when I worked there... long, long ago:
I would be remiss if I failed to note on this birthday that not all's been fun times on Thunder Mountain. Friday will be the sixth anniversary of the wreck that killed 22-year-old Marcello Torres. The tragedy helped prompt some significant management shake-ups within Disneyland, ones that ultimately led to the park's current renaissance.
Does anyone know why the one at WDW may have already been designed but opened after the Disneyland version of the ride? Also, can anyone tell me any differences you may have noticed between the two locations version of the ride? This ride is one of my favorites at WDW, and one of the most fun and detailed mine train type coasters out there in my opinion. I'd like it if Disney would also bring Matterhorn to WDW Orlando. The more mountain rides the better if you ask me. :-)
The "first draft" of Thunder, if you will, was part of the WDW Western River project, originally conceived as the east coast alternative to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. But fan demand for a Florida "Pirates" was so strong that Disney hurried up and installed an abbreviated version of the ride in the MK's Adventureland, killing the Western River project.
Wow, September 2 ought to be some sort of holiday for me. Not only is today the 30th birthday of Thunder Mountain, it is also the 40th birthday of Arapanet (the beginning of the Internet) and the 14th anniversary of the
BTMRR at WDW got bumped in favor of Space Mountain. It was placed on the shelf, as I understand, because the heat of a space-themed coaster was deemed more appealing than a rusty old mine train.
Thanks for that post, anonymous. Brings back the memories now.
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