Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Thunder Mountai Railroad, August 1982

How did 1982 get to be 31 years ago? It's like some kind of crazy conspiracy. Anyway, I have a small group of slides from the 1980's and today we're going to enjoy three exteriors from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. 

At this point the attraction was only 3 years old. I really like it, even though it kills me that it replaced "Nature's Wonderland". Strictly from a business viewpoint it was probably the right thing to do, but still.... 

Our photographer used a rainbow filter occasionally; it's like a storm has passed and now everything's going to be OK. Steam from geothermal vents drifts from that stack, because those miners were all about non-polluting energy sources. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Nowadays you can ride 4 different versions of the BTMRR (Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris), but in 1982 there was only one. The fantastic landscape of natural pinnacles and towers are based on the wind and water-carved "hoodoos" found in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Those miners dug for gold, but purely by happenstance they discovered large deposits of nacho cheese powder, which changed the face of our nation. The heavy powder ran down these wooden sluices, and got caught in the wooden slats, where it was collected, refined, and made into the most delicious chips in the world.


Nanook said...

Don't tell me this is where the Nacho-Flavored Dorito Chip was invented-??!! Finally, the secret can be revealed.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

By 1982 there were actually two Big Thunder Mountain Railroads of which I was lucky to ride both within a year of their debuts.

Disneyland - Sep. 1979
Magic Kingdom - Nov. 1980

While I love the Bryce Canyon landscape and mine town theming of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in California , I find the roller coaster itself lacking and anti-climatic. The Florida version definitely has the edge over California. JMO.

Chuck said...

I like the Disneyland version's theming as well. Not only did they keep Rainbow Ridge from one of the most fondly-remembered extinct attractions of my youth, they also re-used as set pieces the two locomotives from the race scene in "Hot Lead and Cold Feet," one of the most fondly-remembered Disney screwball comedies of my youth (which I refuse to see as an adult for fear of it becoming something less-fondly remembered).

I'm glad these two mines are still operating at full capacity with no signs of petering out. With the economy on somewhat erratic grounds over the past few years, I don't think we could stand a shortage in nacho cheese products at this time.

Melissa said...

Wait a minute, Major - are you telling us you found the Rainbow Connection?

So these pictures were taken just a few months before my first trip to WDW, when my Dad convinced my coaster-phobic, mildly hypertensive Mom that Big Thunder Mountain was just a gentle, scenic train ride through the Old West (strategically standing in front of the signs that told her she shouldn't ride it) and then spent the rest of the afternoon laughing at her for fainting halfway through the ride. Moral of the story: Moms can be really good sports even when they have a right not to be.

Irene said...

Big Thunder has been down for refurb at Disneyland for months now. It is scheduled to reopen sometime in the Fall but no date has been given. I've read rumors of delays to that opening. They have completely replaced all the tracks - it was quite something. They actually built a huge crane that totally blocked the Big Thunder trail going to Big Thunder Ranch. I was there one day when they moved a piece of rail over and into the construction area. That part is done now and the crane is gone. Which is good. There were stories that some guests actually thought that crane was a ride! They are also completely rebuilding Rainbow Ridge. I completely agree that as a roller coaster the Magic Kingdom's is superior. We shall see what this is like when it reopens.

PsySocDisney said...

I must ask, is a Mountai like a cowboy Mai-Tai? Because I can't drink those anymore after our cruise LOL :P
(Sorry, It was a silly typo I just couldn't resist!)

Melissa said...

A Mountai is what an RCMP officer wears around his neck.

SundayNight said...

I remember reading an article back in the 80s in Model Railroader Magazine about one of the guys responsible for the beautiful rock work on Thunder Mountain. His model railroad was so great and the article showed his rock building technique. Wish I could find that article again. It almost pushed me over the edge to becoming a model railroader myself!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it was a story that needed to be told - this is bigger than Wikileaks.

K. Martinez, you are right - I did my research and STILL screwed it up!

Chuck, do you mean that the locomotives from "Hot Lead and Cold Feet" are still there? I don't recall them.

Melissa, all I know is that I see a lot of rainbows, and my hands look like they are melting. And thanks for the story about your mom and dad!!

Irene, I will be very curious to see how the attraction looks after the refurb…. will it look just the same, except it will be safer? Or will there be some noticeable changes?

PsySocDisney, arg, typos are the bane of my life. I often write six or seven posts at once, and obviously quality control is not doing its job.

Melissa, somehow when I read "mountai" I think of Timmy from South Park.

SundayNight, I would love to know how they did the rock building as well. Maybe you'll find that magazine, we can share it here!

Anonymous said...

"It is scheduled to reopen sometime in the Fall but no date has been given."

CMs confirmed on my visit two weeks ago that it will reopen on halloween day.