Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Legend of Big Thunder Mountain

"Hang onto your hats and glasses, folks, cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!"

And so it is! 

As your mine train car rushes in and out of the mine, into the mountain, through canyons, into the town and over the river, you can almost believe the spirits of Big Thunder Mountain are real.  Disney lore tells us that gold was discovered in Big Thunder Mountain in the late 1800s and the towns of Tumbleweed and Dry Gulch sprung up around it.  Of course, you need a mine train to transport your gold to and from the mine and, hence, the establishment of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR).  Soon, the miners began to experience eerie things – cave-ins, flooding, equipment malfunctions and ghostly sounds in the caverns.  The trains themselves seem to take on a life of their own, apparently possessed by spirits of the mountain who were angry with the removal of its gold.  Word soon spread that the mine was haunted, the mine subsequently abandoned, and the towns became true ghost towns. 

Fast-forward to today and we see that new prospectors, ignoring the legends of old, have resurrected the Mining Company.  But as we soon shall see, some legends are merely the truth in disguise!

On November 19, 2012 Disney announced a new backstory for Big Thunder Mountain. According to the Disney Parks Blog:

Portrait of Barnabas T. Buillion.
He's supposed to look like Tony
Baxter (Disney Imagineer credited
with the design of BTMRR), but I
think he looks a bit like a young
Donald Sutherland. 
“Barnabas T. Bullion is the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain. According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since. And yet the Big Thunder Mining Co. is still in operation. In fact, Bullion is discovering new veins of gold and digging new shafts every day, offering a closer look at the Big Thunder mining operation than ever before. But a word to the wise for anyone attempting to visit the mountain: watch out for runaway trains.”
— Disney Parks Blog

This new piece of information ties in nicely with the original backstory of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and enhancements to the queue will provide more to the story as well as the introduction of a new character, Barnabas T. Bullion to the story line which currently includes two colorful residents of the town of Tumbleweed.  Cousin Elrod floats along the now flooded town in his bathtub, and Professor Cumulus Isobar, with this rain making machines, which seems to have worked a little too well.  Speaking of the residents of the town of Tumbleweed, if you take a peak inside the Gold Dust Saloon, you’ll see a lively party upstairs and evidence of a card game on the first floor.  The cards are facing up on the table and it appears to look like a real hand in a card game.  Look quick, because your mine car travels fast.  You might have a better view of the town from the Walt Disney World Railroad which passes just along the edge of Big Thunder Mountain.  I often wonder if the cards on the table have a secret meaning.  Maybe the dead man’s hand?  Similar to what you might find on the wall in Pecos Bill’s Tall Tales Inn?  I would love to find out if anyone knows?   

Look quickly!  It's the flooded town of Tumbleweed.
It's hard to see but there's a table with cards inside.  Anyone
know what hand is being played?
Could it be Wild Bill Hickok's "dead man's hand"?  This
item can be found inside Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn.

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