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.

History

Background

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.

Development History

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.

Rainbow Ridge is one of three fictional towns created for Big Thunder. The Magic Kingdom has the town of Tumbleweed while Disneyland Paris has Thunder Mesa.

Disney Parks

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.

Disneyland Railroad

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".

Legends of Frontierland

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.

Main Street Cinema

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.

Other appearances

Printed-materials

Disney Kingdoms

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.

Trivia

  • 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.
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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

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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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 Cruise
Restaurants
Magellan'sJock Lindsey's Hangar BarSkipper CanteenExplorer's Club RestaurantThe Tropical HideawayColonel Hathi's Pizza OutpostCafe Hyperion
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 Chunosuke
Associated Characters
Alberta FallsAlbertArchibald SmeldingBeatrice Rose EndicottCaptain BrieuxCaptain Nemo • Charlie Allnut • Colonel Critchlow SunchbenchConstance Hatchaway • Cornelius Endicott II • Duncan the ParrotEmil Bleehall, Jr.Felix Pechman XIIIFletcher HodgesGeorge HightowerGiant SquidHathaway BrowneHoward StarkCliff SecordIndiana JonesKimballum HorriblusMadame ZarkovManfred StrangMaraMarion RavenwoodOtis T. WrenPacoOtis BigelowPamelia Perkins • Rose Sayer • RositaSallah Mohammed Faisel el-KahirSalty the ParrotSamantha SterlingTheodore RooseveltTrader SamUrsula • Victoria Marie Falls
Artifacts
Shiriki UtunduBalinese Music BoxMonkey King Statue
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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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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