Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Big Thunder Thrills

Discovering new details at Disneyland, no matter how insignificant, typically adds a jolt of excitement for me. I was surprised to notice the back of this sign, which shows four bullet holes and a yellowed playing card. Not sure where it fits into the scheme of things, but it gave me something to do with my camera as we entered the queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Wonder what's in the box shown below?

The Panhandle Hotel is one of the few buildings in Rainbow Ridge that I cannot find a counterpart for from the original Nature's Wonderland attraction that was located in this spot before BTMRR took over.

I've always admired this one's bone structure; I think a career in modeling could be in the cards.

A few shots of the Rainbow Caverns tribute area; still couldn't get a decent shot of the bats. Drat!

I was able to capture a few of the critters along the way, like these possums hanging from the trees:

and a howling coyote:

and two snakes:

even up close, they look impressive. You can almost hear that tail rattling!

A shot of the goat through the cab is cool…

but looks even better with the frame of a tighter crop:

The explosive moment of the grand finale:

A few final shots from our mine train's rapid descent:

I wonder which one does better on Yelp; the Panhandle or the El Dorado?

See more Daveland vintage & current Disneyland Big Thunder Mountain photos at my main website.


K. Martinez said...


Here's the Panhandle Hotel when it was originally in Nature's Wonderland. Perhaps you can zoom in your Daveland image to get the name of the building.

In this image it's located behind the Last Chance and Clarion buildings


Here it is again in same position from a GorillasDon'tBlog image:


Let us know if you figure out the name of the building.

Thanks, Dave!

K. Martinez said...

Still haven't figured out the meaning of the Ace of spades and four bullet holes unless it's referencing the phrase "Ace in the hole".

The hanging possums and howling coyote are my favorite critters from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Nice capture.

I love references to other attractions like Grizzly Gulch, Thunder Mesa, Rainbow Ridge and Tumbleweed on the "miles distance" signpost. I see the Hong Kong, Paris, Anaheim and Orlando mountains referenced. Wonder why Tokyo Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain isn't referenced on the sign post.

Unknown said...

Thanks Dave,

These types of photos always make me wonder how they managed to move the buildings in Rainbow Ridge to their present positions. The original buildings probably weren't too robustly constructed and moving them had to be a dicey operation.

For a while I had come to believe that Disney had simply made new ones from the old plans, but after looking at countless photos of the new Rainbow Ridge I've come around to the accepted view of them being the originals. Still, I'd love to see some construction photos of the moves.


Daveland said...

Ken - Thanks for finding the building. At some point I'll go back to my original source material and see if I can zoom in for more detail.

Patrick - Not sure about other renovations, but on the most recent one about a year ago, I am almost positive that RR was a complete rebuild.

K. Martinez said...

Dave - No hurry. Just thought I'd help you find your missing building. I'd still love to see you do a blog post (multi-part post?) on a building by building comparison of the Rainbow Ridge buildings from Nature's Wonderland to Big Thunder Mountain.