The Best Big Thunder Mountain

The year is 1860. Thunder Mesa has been virtually wiped off the map by an earthquake, with its infrastructure largely destroyed. Big Thunder Mining Co. is now shuttered, but indigenous spirits still possess the mine trains to this day.

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Things are a little darker here. Thunder Mesa has a cooler, richer, more mysterious energy than the other Frontierlands. Ravenswood Estate, also known as Phantom Manor, is where the owner of Big Thunder Mining resided happily with his family for a period of time.

Raging spirits reclaimed the land that was being mined to nothing – the largest vestiges of a thriving boomtown being the ghastly Raveswood estate and the still-moving mine trains of Big Thunder. Curious visitors lured in by the history of Thunder Mesa have lead to a return of commerce in the area, but trouble lies at every turn.

There’s no Tom Sawyer’s Island here – instead, an underwater tunnel takes trainloads across The Rivers of the Far West to the business end of Big Thunder Mining Co. You may recognize it as Orlando or Tokyo’s Big Thunder, perfected. Water on all sides offers the unique opportunity to see and be seen – particularly with the help of Thunder Mesa’s unique side-wheeler, the Molly Brown. Hop aboard for a trip around the river and you’ll hear more than just the screams of Big Thunder thrillseekers.

Over natural arches and through echoing tunnels; off a collapsed bridge and through the water tower – each turn is wilder than the last on Big Thunder. The donkeys bray at passing trains – are they in danger? Or are we? It’s too late now, regardless. Live dynamite is triggered as we climb the third lift, but we narrowly avoid disaster; a splendid view of Thunder Mesa greets us as we crest the final peak.

Had enough? The only way back to civilization is to take on the river once again, but not before plowing through a cloud of angry bats. Fast, faster, faster still – can we travel any farther below the Earth’s surface and still come out the other end in one piece? Just as the urgent darkness seems to totally overwhelm, a light at the end of the tunnel marks our portal back to Thunder Mesa. Upward and onward we go, erupting to the surface with our smoke stack intact, applause thundering from a crowd of satisfied survivors. Would it be tempting fate to ride again?

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