Rainbow Ridge, also known as Big Thunder, is a fictional mining town that serves as the setting of Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the previous Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland attraction.
- 1 History
- 2 Disney Parks
- 3 Other appearances
- 4 Trivia
Rainbow Ridge was a small mining town established in 1869 in the Big Thunder Mountain Range. In 1879, the Big Thunder Mining Company would come to Rainbow Ridge to continue their own mining into Big Thunder Mountain Big Thunder Mountain. With the wealth of gold in the mountain, it became "The Biggest Little Boom Town in the West", with its population peaking at 2,015 people.
However, with the mine becoming plagued by supernatural incidents caused by the restless spirits of local indigenous tribal folklore, the flow of gold from the mountain declined and the population went with it, going down to 38.
Points of Interest
- Assay Office - est. 1869. Chemical Analysis of every description made with accuracy of dispatch. Mining claims recorded, bought and sold.
- Barber Shop - Best clippings in town.
- Big Thunder Epitath
- The Big Thunder Saloon - Poker, Billiards, Entertainment & Dancing.
- El Dorado Hotel - est. 1870.
- General Mercantile - Plain & Fancy Dry Goods. The post office is here.
- Gold Nugget Dance Hall - We Serve the Finest Corn Whiskey. A bartender and a piano player are wanted.
- Ivory - Jeremiah Colt. Blacksmith. This is where the extra trains are held.
- Leather Goods - Buckskins, Our Specialty.
- Panhandle Hotel - Telegraph service. A portrait of Barnabas T. Bullion can be seen from the window.
Rainbow Ridge debuted on July 2, 1956 as a backdrop for the loading area of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and the Pack Mules, Stagecoaches, and Wagons that traveled through the Rainbow Desert of Frontierland. Built in forced perspective to hide the showbuilding for the Rainbow Caverns, the miniature mining town would be retained for the attraction's retool into Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland in 1960.
The attraction closed in 1977 and much of the town was demolished for Big Thunder Mountain. A few buildings were retained for the new attraction however, with the town taking on the name of Big Thunder, though it would still be informally referred to as Rainbow Ridge enough that a 2013 refurbishment and restoration would bring back the old name.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Rainbow Ridge is used as a backdrop for the loading area of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland. It could be seen at the beginning and end of the attraction.
Rainbow Ridge is referenced briefly on the Disneyland Railroad while passing over the bridge that goes overtop of the waterfalls along the Rivers of America known as Big Thunder Gorge. A plaque on the side of the bridge reads, "Big Thunder Gorge Bridge, commissioned 1869, township of Rainbow Ridge".
The conflict of the summer-long game was focused around the citizens of Rainbow Ridge looking to claim-jump their neighbors in Frontierland as a result of the mine's decline. Guests could pick a side in the conflict and stake their own claims on a daily basis.
There is a posting from the Disneyland Casting Agency outside of the Main Street Cinema which asks for applicants to go to Rainbow Ridge and lead tours through nature's wonderland.
Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland
In this ride, Rainbow Ridge appeared as a backdrop for the load-area which hid the Rainbow Caverns segment of Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland.
Rainbow Ridge is the setting of Disney Kingdoms: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Established by Barnabas T. Bullion, Rainbow Ridge is facing troubles with the deteriorating safety conditions of the mine and unequal distribution of the wealth. A posse lead by Jason Chandler has taken things into their own hands, stealing gold shipments and buying supplies and goods for the townspeople. When Abigail Bullion joins Chandler's gang and the conflict escalates, the Spirit of Big Thunder eventually shuts the door, with the townspeople lead by Chandler and the Bullions seeking to settle somewhere new.
- A portrait of Barnabas T. Bullion can be found within the Panhandle Hotel, seen through its window. Barnabas was created for Walt Disney World's Big Thunder and this connection was likely done to establish the shared mythology between the parks.
- A sign outside of Rainbow Ridge connects it to the other towns affiliated with Big Thunder. This sign points to Thunder Mesa, Tumbleweed and Grizzly Gulch; all apparently existing in the same region.