Disney Sisters: June 2014

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 10 Facts You May Not Know About the Classic Disneyland Attraction

Hold onto your ears! 
The wildest ride in the wilderness is back up and running - just in time for summer! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (one of our family favorites) has gotten a magical makeover with an upgraded track, restoration of the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town, new paint on portions of the mountain and updates to the train vehicles. Disneyland guests taking a ride on this runaway mine train will discover some new explosive surprises along the way. (Spoiler alert: there may be smoke and fire!) 

We got a chance to ride AND interview Executive Walt Disney Imagineer, Ray Spencer (he's also Creative Director for Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure Park.) Well, there may have been more laughs and screams than actual questions being asked, but it was so interesting to hear the stories from Ray about the remodel. How challenging it was trying to give the beloved attraction an upgrade, without changing too much of a classic.

Here are some interesting facts, you might not know about one of Disney Parks most famous attractions!

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad celebrated its grand opening in September 1979, becoming the third peak in the Disneyland Park “mountain range of thrill rides.” It was preceded by Matterhorn Bobsleds (1959) and Space Mountain (1977) and followed by Splash Mountain (1989).

  •  The attraction’s setting evokes 19th century gold-mining territory, with rugged bedrock and desert cactus. Guests board a mine train for a thrilling, high-speed adventure past the spires and buttes of the old West and into the tunnels and shafts of a dark and mysterious mine.

  • Since its opening in 1979, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland has carried more than 225 million guests who are warned to “hold onto your hats and glasses” as they prepare to dip and drop into the canyons and caves of the Big Thunder ghost town.

  •   The unusual rock spires of Big Thunder Mountain were inspired by the “hoodoos” of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The tallest spire on Big Thunder Mountain reaches 104 feet.

  • Objects that may be spotted by guests in and around Big Thunder Mountain include a century-old stamp mill, hand-driven drill press, gears, picks, shovels and other artifacts acquired from abandoned mines in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Wyoming, as well as museums and swap meets.

  • Subsequent versions of the attraction appeared in Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World, Florida in 1980; Tokyo Disneyland Park in 1987 and Disneyland Paris in 1992.

  • The miniature town of Big Thunder, seen at the end of the attraction, first appeared in 1956 as part of the Rainbow Cavern Mine Train and Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland attractions. Many Disneyland fans still call it by its original name: Rainbow Ridge. The town is said to have been a favorite of Walt Disney, who built miniatures himself as a hobby.
  • Other items from the Nature’s Wonderland days include the caves of Rainbow Caverns, the rock-work buttes at the entry to Balancing Rock Canyon, and some of the animals – the dynamite-devouring goat, coyotes, possums, snakes, turtles, vultures - who appear among the rocky cliffs surrounding the mine tunnels.

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was the first major design project for Walt Disney Imagineer and Disney Legend Tony Baxter, whose subsequent projects at Disneyland included the new Fantasyland of 1983, Star Tours, Splash Mountain and the Indiana Jones Adventure.

  • Along with the new track, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened in March, 2014, with an enhanced audio system that sharpens the sounds heard by guests as they ride through the caverns and buildings. Even the wildlife at Big Thunder can be heard more distinctly.

Have you had the chance to ride it yet? 
What was your favorite part? We'd love to know!

Show Your #DisneySidewalk Program with Disney Artist Noah (Interview)

If you're here to find out more about the #DisneySidewalk program, recently launched by Disney Parks Instagram Accounts - then you've came to the right place! 

We had the privilege of interviewing featured Disney artist, Noah at the start of the Rock your Disney Side 24 Hour Celebration. He was there to announce the Disney Parks new Instagram program, Show Your Disney Sidewalk! Guests can participate in Show Your Disney Sidewalk at home by tagging photos of their own chalk art with #DisneySidewalk on Instagram. They might even be featured on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Instagram accounts.

This beautiful 8' X 8' chalk featuring highlights of Disney California Adventure drawing made by Noah will be donated to Autism Speaks for auction.

Summer vacation is the perfect time to bust out the sidewalk chalk and perfect your craft of cartooning. We’ve been having a ball so far this summer doing simple things together such as chalk drawings on the driveway. It's an easy, inexpensive way to create art and anyone can do it.

Check out these amazing looking creations made by other Disney artists... We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Make sure to follow these Instagram Accounts:

And use the hashtag #DisneySidewalk

Photo Fun at Disney California Adventure and #DisneySMMoms

Professional photographer Tracey Clark (and first born Disney Sister) is always saying, it's not about how fancy the camera you are using is, it's about learning how to get the best results with what you've got. AMEN Sister! We don't know about you, but it we've always got our iPhones in our hands (or back pockets) at the Disney Parks ready to shoot at moments notice. Doesn't everybody?

We're celebrating the Disney Social Media On The Road Events this summer and sharing some of our favorite photos taken at Disney California Adventure. Since the update of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land this park creates one heck of a backdrop to shoot amazing images. Like SERIOUS Magic, don't you agree?

The Iconic Shot
When you think of Disney California Adventure Park the attraction that comes to mind is the iconic Mickey's Fun Wheel. It's big, bright, and has that loveable mouse face on it. Add in the reflection in the water and you've got one magical shot. Say cheese! (See what we did there?)

On A Ride
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is the perfect attraction for all ages. Take in glorious wilderness sights and embark on exciting adventures along the pathway to capture great photos of your family. Although you may have to look up (way up) to find them!

Sweet Treat
Nothing could be sweeter than enjoying a sweet treat at any of the Disney Parks. No matter what delicious snack you choose, (Churro!) (Dole Whip!) we bet it will be easier to capture more smiles from the family. Cruising down Buena Vista Street with a lollipop in hand - Life is GOOD!

The beauty about shooting black and white at the Parks is the vintage feel that it creates. This shot looks like it could have been taken 50 years ago, but actually it was taken on our last trip to Disney California Adventure. You'd also never known that it wasn't shot on film, instead it with an iPhone edited in Instagram. The best part is that you can shoot in color and edit your photos into black and white later.

Night Shots
Sure you can get your kicks at Route 66 during the day, but at night this park lights up with style! Cars Land is a visual wonderland, to take in while the neon signs glow and the vivid colors light up the night sky. It's incredible to see in person and is stunning to photograph.

To see more awesome Disney images & get a few tips, make sure to check out

You could win a copy of Tracey's book, Elevate the Everyday, click HERE for your chance to win.

She will be sharing her passion for photography at the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Celebration in Phoenix later this month. (YAY!) We'll all be there in Arizona together! All for one, and one for all. Plus we couldn't miss out on Disney Magic!

Will we see you there? Leave a comment letting us know! HOLLA!

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