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Look Closer: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park

Last month, we took a closer look at Indiana Jones Adventure to see some of the immersive details that are often missed at this Disneyland park favorite. This month, let’s hop aboard the wildest ride in the wilderness! Located in the heart of Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was inspired by the stunning landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, and it’s full of western lore and references to Disney history.

At the attraction’s entrance, a sign welcomes travelers to the little town of Rainbow Ridge. If you take a closer look, you see that the sign illustrates how Rainbow Ridge went from prosperous to a ghost town. Legend has it that when the gold-searching citizens became greedy, mysterious things started to occur around the mountain, like trains moving on their own!

Wooden sign post pointing to the four Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attractions around the world

Continuing your way up to the train, you see a sign post pointing you to the four Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attractions around the world. Each mountain has its own unique personality and is inspired by red rock formations throughout the American Southwest. By looking at this sign, can you match the town to the Disney Park where it’s located?

A horseshoe branded into a wood post, one of five placed around the mountain to help bring luck to the caverns

Since miners are a superstitious lot, there are five horseshoes placed around the mountain to help bring luck to the eerie caverns. You can find four of the horseshoes hanging right-side-up throughout the loading station which, according to western lore, will collect good luck. However, just before passengers begin their last ascent into a cavern filled with dynamite, they are forewarned of the danger ahead with an upside-down horseshoe signifying bad luck!

As you finish your journey and pass the town of Rainbow Ridge one last time, try to catch a glimpse of a familiar face in one of the store fronts. Do you know who it is? Leave your answer in the comments!

A notice signed by Willard P. Bounds, U.S. Marshall,   an actual a blacksmith and U.S. Marshall in Idaho.

One of my favorite hidden reference lies in plain sight at the attraction’s entrance. There you will find a notice signed by Willard P. Bounds, U.S. Marshall. This is a tribute to Lillian Disney’s father, who was a blacksmith and U.S. Marshall in Idaho.

Do you have a favorite Disneyland Resort attraction or location with subtle historical references or storytelling elements? Let us know in the comments which one you think should be featured next month!


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