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Big Thunder Mountain or the Big Thunder Mountain Range is the name of the purely fictitious mountain which serves as the setting of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Description

Background

Big Thunder Mountain was a mountain or mountains and cluster of rock formations located in Arizona. During primeval times Big Thunder was home to a large amount of dinosaurs, most notably Tyrannosaurus-Rex and Triceratops. Following the K-T extinction event, the fossilized skeletons of many of these animals would be littered across Big Thunder.

Billions of years later, Big Thunder Mountain was home for the indigenous American shoshone tribe who likely migrated to the region c. 1750 due to competition and pressures from Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes. The mountain would receive the name of Big Thunder from the indigenous tribes due to the loud sounds made by the mountains waterfalls during rainy seasons. The shoshone considered Big Thunder Mountain to be sacred and home to a powerful spirit known as the Spirit of Big Thunder or Thunderbird.

In 1849, a white man named Henry Ravenswood traveled to Big Thunder for unknown reasons and happened upon gold within the rock-work of the mountain. Ever the opportunist, Henry established the Big Thunder Mining Company and mining-town of Thunder Mesa which forced the shoshone off of their own land, keeping them out a fortress known as Fort Comstock on the town border.

For twenty-years Henry and his company exploited the land of Big Thunder for its gold. Due to having angered the spirit of Big Thunder by his greed and evil deeds, accidents and natural-disasters would become common-place in Thunder Mesa, many of which claimed the lives of miners and townsfolk. This climaxed in the year 1860 when a massive earthquake hit Thunder Mesa and collapsed a the south-west portion of the town into a canyon. Countless lives were claimed including those of Henry Ravenswood, his wife Martha, the town mayor and sheriff to name a few.

The canyon would be named Phantom Canyon by the townsfolk due to it being known to be a literal ghost-town, inhabited by the spirits and animate corpses of those who had died in the earthquake. Mining operations too would stop for a time with the mining-trains of the company running wild and out of control, apparently being possessed by spirits. This halting of operation would not be long-last however as in 1869, another mining town would be constructed on a different peak of the mountain by the name of Rainbow Ridge.

Rainbow Ridge could be accessed from Thunder Mesa by the Mark Twain Riverboat and furthered mining into the mountain. By 1880, another mining town would be built called Tumbleweed which was built by the Big Thunder Mining Company under the leadership of one Barnabas T. Bullion. The disasters and accidents which plagued Ravenswood would torment Bullion's company as-well with earthquakes, accidents, floods and extreme-draughts being common. Additionally, Barnabas' foreman G. Willikers was a cruel man who frequently cheated workers of their money for his own pockets.

To try and keep his business afloat, Barnabas came into contact with his old contemporary Jason Chandler. Chandler and Bullion were members of an organization known as the Society of Explorers and Adventurers with Chandler himself being club-president in addition to being a gifted inventor. Concerned for Bullion, Chandler came into contact with his ally Madame Zarkov of the Museum of the Weird and learned that the land itself was the cause of the problems, leading to him warning Bullion against continued mining. The end of Big Thunder's story is a mystery though apparently Barnabas would die prior to the year 1899.

Features

Big Thunder Mountain has multiple peaks and faces as illustrated by a portrait in the queue for the Magic Kingdom's version of the attraction. There are also at-least two notable rivers within the Big Thunder Mountain Range with one surrounding the mountain-peak of Thunder Mesa while the other winds around Rainbow Ridge and Tumbleweed.

  • Dinosaur Gap:
  • Rainbow Caverns:
  • Spiral Butte:
  • Coyote Canyon:
  • The Nevermine:
  • Busted Flats:

Thunder Mesa Region

  • Thunder Mesa: A mining-town established by white colonists in 1840.
  • Big Thunder Island:

Rainbow Ridge Region

  • Rainbow Ridge:
  • Big Thunder Falls & Little Thunder Falls:
  • Natural Arch Bridge:

Tumbleweed Region

Other

  • Stillwater Junction: This is a colony mentioned in the Thunder Mesa Daily Messenger as being in the Big Thunder region along the Rivers of the Far West.
    • This has been theorized to be the setting of Tokyo Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad given the process of elimination with Tokyo having not named their town and how Tokyo's ride is the only to feature a, "Splashdown" hence the name Stillwater.

Fauna

  • Opossums:
  • Goats:
  • Wild Pigs:
  • Bobcats:

Development History

Big Thunder was largely inspired by plans for the plateau setting of the unbuilt Western River Expedition attraction. The locale takes its name from Big Thunder and Little Thunder Falls, two features in the attraction Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland which took up the space occupied by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland. Despite having only been a Disneyland attraction, Nature's Wonderland is alluded to in most if-not all of the Big Thunder incarnations. The design of the mountain itself was largely inspired by the Monument Valley of Arizona.

The original plans for Big Thunder's story by imagineer Tony Baxter would have had Jason Chandler as a working-class inventor who c. 1860 was lost in a cavern collapse with many other miners after using his experimental drilling-machine. The runaway mine-trains would have here been identified as the ghosts of Chandler and his fellow miners. However this would have connected to the proposed Discovery Bay land where Chandler and the miners survived with gold intact and would go on to establish an experimental science colony outside of San Francisco, California.

Appearances

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain is the central location of this attraction with guests boarding the runaway mine-trains which travel through the mountain. Going through the mountain, guests can witness the natural wonders of the landscape but also how the spirit of Big Thunder terrorizes the colonists trying to mine it.

Camp Woodchuck Kitchen

A map in this restaurant contains an illustration of a Junior Woodchucks camp at the base of Big Thunder Mountain.

Mark Twain Riverboat

Liberty Belle Riverboat

Phantom Manor

Big Thunder Mountain is visible in the horizon of the Phantom Canyon scene in this attraction where guests pass through the portion of Thunder Mesa sunken by the earthquake of 1860 and now inhabited by ghosts and zombies.

Other Appearances

Video-Games

Kinect Disneyland Adventures

In this video-game, Big Thunder Mountain is the primary setting for levels based around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Here, the player is accompanied by the ghost of a civil-war era ghost with a cannon-ball in his chest as they try to calm down the runaway trains which themselves are possessed by spirits.

Printed Materials

Disney Kingdoms: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the primary setting of this Disney Kingdoms comic. The world and story presented is a melting-pot with the characters of Walt Disney World's Big Thunder, the setting of Disneyland's and story elements recycled from Disneyland Paris.

Trivia

Gallery

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Disney Parks
Big Thunder Mountain RailroadPhantom ManorMine Train Through Nature's WonderlandBig Thunder RanchLegends of Frontierland: Gold Rush!Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine CarsPecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & CafeThe Western River ExpeditionGolden Horseshoe Saloon
Locations
Big Thunder Mountain • Ravenswood Manor • Rainbow RidgeTumbleweedThunder MesaGrizzly Gulch • Big Grizzly Mountain • Stillwater Junction • ArizonaCalifornia
Characters
Barnabas T. BullionJason ChandlerHenry RavenswoodSpirit of Big ThunderBilly the Disney GoatGeorge WillikersCumulus IsobarTyrannosaurus rexMadame Zarkov • T.W. Bullion • The Halve Knives GangPecos BillBeacon Joe • Cousin Elrond • Rosita • Old Prospector • Liddy Stockley • Colonel T.R. ClydesdaleSlue-Foot Sue

Characters from Spinoffs: Abigail Bullion • Onawa • Dolfo • Marybeth Bullion

Miscellaneous
Big Thunder Mining CompanyThe Ballad of Big Thunder MountainSociety of Explorers and Adventurers • Shoshone Tribe • Bandito Gang


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Series
Seekers of the WeirdFigmentBig Thunder Mountain RailroadFigment 2The Haunted MansionEnchanted Tiki Room
Disney Characters
Candleman • DespoinaReaper KingDreamfinderFigmentProfessor BrainardCumulus IsobarBarnabas T. BullionJason ChandlerThe Spirit of Big Thunder Tyrannosaurus Rex Billy the Disney Goat George WillikersCaptain GoreMadame LeotaConstance HatchawayHatbox GhostHitchhiking GhostsGhost HostPickwickOrganistDuelistsJoséMichaelPierreFritzTangaroaMauiTangaroa-RuPeleRongoNgendeiHina KuluuaOrange BirdBandito Gang
Original Characters
Maxwell KeepMelody KeepArthur KeepEllen KeepRoland KeepReaper KingChimeraFyeChairman IllocrantSingularAbigail BullionCapricious HarmonySparkDoubtfinderDanny CroweSaoirse Bullion-O'Callaghan
Concepts
Museum of the WeirdJourney Into ImaginationBig Thunder Mountain RailroadThe Haunted MansionMatterhorn BobsledsThe Enchanted Tiki RoomThe Western River ExpeditionSpaceship Earth Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment
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Linked Attractions
Fortress ExplorationsTower of TerrorMystic ManorBig Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom) • Oceaneer Lab (aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) • Miss Adventure Falls (Typhoon Lagoon) • Soaring: Fantastic FlightJungle CruiseAdventurers Suite (Disney Explorers Lodge)
Restaurants
Magellan'sJock Lindsey's Hangar BarSkipper CanteenExplorer's Club RestaurantThe Tropical HideawayColonel Hathi's Pizza OutpostCafe HyperionAbracadaBarTrader Sam'sClub 33
Members
Harrison Hightower IIILord Henry MysticBarnabas T. BullionJason ChandlerCaptain Mary OceaneerJock LindseyDr. Albert FallsMerriweather Adam PleasureCamellia FalcoProf. R. BlauerhimmelCharlton J. TaboretDr. J.L. BateristaMaestro D'ElfmanDr. Kon ChunosukeProf. Garrett Reed • Luana Teixeira • Chef Tandaji • Shango Sio
Associated Characters
Alberta FallsAlbertArchibald SmeldingArielBeatrice Rose EndicottCaptain BrieuxCaptain Nemo • Charlie Allnut • Colonel Critchlow SunchbenchConstance HatchawayCornelius Endicott IIDuncan the ParrotEmil Bleehall, Jr.Felix Pechman XIIIFletcher HodgesGeorge HightowerGiant SquidHathaway BrowneHoward StarkCliff SecordFrank WolffIndiana Jones • Hammerhead Fred • Kimballum HorriblusMadame ZarkovManfred StrangMaraMarion RavenwoodMickey MouseMinnie MouseOtis T. WrenPacoOtis BigelowPamelia Perkins • Rose Sayer • RositaSallah Mohammed Faisel el-KahirSalty the ParrotSamantha SterlingTheodore RooseveltTrader SamUrsula • Victoria Marie Falls • Yeti
Artifacts
Backside of WaterBalinese Music BoxDead Man's ChestFountain of YouthHyperion Airship • Jujus • Monkey King StatueShiriki UtunduTreasure of Cortés • Snarflblatt • Ursula's contract
Other Associated Attractions
Raging SpiritsAdventurers ClubWalt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
See Also
Disney KingdomsShinji Takahashi and the Mark of the CoatlLeague of AdventurersAdventure Isle Discovery BayDisney Springs
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Media
Films: The Haunted MansionReboot

Television specials: Muppets Haunted Mansion
Books: Tales from the Haunted MansionThe Haunted MansionDisney Kingdoms: The Haunted MansionKingdom KeepersThe Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic
Video games: Adventures in the Magic KingdomThe Haunted MansionWalt Disney World ExplorerKinect: Disneyland AdventuresDisney Infinity: 2.0 EditionDisney Crossy RoadDisney Emoji BlitzThe Haunted Mansion: The Black Widow Bride

Disney Parks
The Haunted MansionPhantom ManorMystic ManorHaunted Mansion HolidayMemento MoriMuseum of the Weird
Characters
Ghost HostMadame LeotaCaretakerMaster GraceyHatbox GhostHitchhiking GhostsThe Singing BustsGeorge HightowerConstance HatchawayRavenCaptain GoreLittle LeotaOrganistThe Coffin OccupantSally SlaterThe BridePickwickThe MarinerPrudence PockBluebeardDeathThe ExecutionerDuelistsGramsAlexander NitrokoffMiss April DecemberOne-Eyed Black Cat

Phantom Manor: Melanie RavenswoodHenry RavenswoodMartha Ravenswood
Mystic Manor: Henry MysticAlbertCaptain Mary OceaneerMaestro D'ElfmanThe Monkey King Statue
Haunted Mansion Holiday: Jack SkellingtonOogie BoogieLock, Shock and BarrelSallyZeroThe Vampire Teddy-BearZero • The Giant Snake • The Man-Eating Wreath • The One hiding under your bed • Skeleton Reindeer
The Museum of the the Weird: The Mistress of Evil • The Candleman • Madame ZarkovThe Grandfather Coffin Clock
Characters from Spinoffs: Elizabeth HenshawRamsleyEmmaEzraJim EversSara EversMegan EversMichael EversZombiesZeke Holloway • Friendly Ghosts • Atticus ThornAmicus ArcaneDanny CroweMaxwell KeepMelody KeepRoland Keep

Miscellaneous
Grim Grinning GhostsGracey ManorThe Flying DutchmanThe Ghost Relations DepartmentTarot Cards • Mystic Manor • Ravenswood Manor • Big Thunder MountainThunder MesaBig Thunder Mining CompanyIocane PowderBeacon of Souls • Bravery Tonic • Mumbo Doll • Soul GemsSeaman's Ring • Brotherhood of the Soul • Order of Shadows • Mystic Manor Theme SongThe Sinister 11
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