Big Thunder Mountain
As with all Disney attractions, your journey on Big Thunder Mountain starts with the queue – and in this case, a very detailed queue. The line twists and turns around rusting mining equipment, amusing signs, and dilapidated buildings. Periodically, a mine train rolls by.
Eventually you reach the boarding area and your train arrives.
Big Thunder Mountain is located on an island in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West. To reach it, your train descends into a deep tunnel that travels beneath the water. The track safety devices within the tunnel create a loud clacking sound – a VERY LOUD CLACKING SOUND. I cover my ears. Once you make it to the other side, hang onto your hats for the wildest ride in the wilderness.
The sights and sounds on Big Thunder Mountain are similar to its American cousins. You see stalactites and stalagmites, old mining equipment, bats, and possum hanging from a branch. In the Paris version, the earthquake scene has been replaced with a dynamite explosion. Also, the track layout in Paris is completely different than its Florida or California counterparts, making this a new experience for those of us familiar with the Disney World and Disneyland renderings.
The “story” behind Big Thunder Mesa is also very similar to the American versions of this ride. Gold was discovered and overnight the mining town of Thunder Mesa sprang up. But the mountain was cursed and calamity eventually befell the miners and the trains.
Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing
Disneyland Paris doesn’t have just one riverboat, it has two, the Mark Twain, which is a copy of the ship at Disneyland, California, and the Molly Brown, which was named after the famous wife of J. J. Brown, a successful Leadville, Colorado miner. Both ships travel the Rivers of the Far West and circle Big Thunder Mountain and Wilderness Island in about 15 minutes. The dock for the riverboats is directly across the street from the Silver Spur Steakhouse.
Here are a few pictures of the Mark Twain.
Here are a few pictures of the Molly Brown. Notice that it is a side-wheeler.
As are journey begins, one of the first sights we see is the back side of the Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery.
Next we see some mining equipment near the loading area of Big Thunder Mountain.
The following picture is of the river-pirates’ hideout and the loading dock for the River Rogue Keelboats.
The next sight should look familiar to you fans of the Liberty Belle at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.
Of course, no river cruise would be complete without spotting some wildlife along the banks.
You might even see a steam train chugging through the wilderness.
Unusual rock formations can also be seen. Note, the riverboats go around, not under, this rock bridge.
Mud pots bubble and geysers erupt as you pass by. Look closely and you might see the remains of a dinosaur.
As you return to civilization, you pass by an old cemetery and Phantom Manor.
In my next blog I’ll be discussing Phantom Manor.