Image from aloha75 on flickr and used under CC2.0
In the last few months I have received no less than a dozen private messages from panicked friends that read a little something like this:
“Mindy!!! My friend just told me/I read online/I saw on TV that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is closing for Star Wars Land! Is this true? It’s my favorite ride!!”
Apparently there is at least one news article being passed around Facebook talking about Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch closing with a prominent picture featuring the beloved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This post is to reassure you that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is NOT closing. It’s not being torn down. Everything is going to be okay.
However, a section of Disneyland Park known as Big Thunder Ranch is closing on January 11, 2016 to make room for the new Star Wars Land. This includes the Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque, and Big Thunder Jamboree and petting zoo. Big Thunder Jamboree was the former home of the Hunchback of Notre Dame-themed Festival of Fools show, and in recent years used for the Springtime Round-up and Halloween Carnival, where guests could meet Mickey, Minnie, and a bevy of other costumed characters. It was also used for special events, recently hosting a birthday party for little North West.
A few additional attractions will be closing temporarily on January 11, 2016 in order to make way for Star Wars Land. In order to construct Star Wars Land in the northern section of the park, the Rivers of America will need to be shortened and the Disneyland Railroad will be rerouted. This means the Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Colombia, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island, and Fantasmic! will all be closed through at least April 2017. While these attractions are undergoing a lengthy “refurbishment,” right now there are plans to bring all of them back in 2017. There is also speculation the Fantasyland Theater will close to accommodate the new Disneyland Railroad route, but I have not seen this confirmed by Disney. You can visit Touring Plans for an updated list on refurbishments and closures.
The gif below does an excellent job at showing the approximate shortening of Rivers of America and the new Disneyland Railroad route. You can see Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the light brown structure in the center of the picture, is safe.
Image from SlashFilm
This area of the park has undergone many changes in Disneyland’s 60 year history, and while I’m sad to see Big Thunder Ranch go (I’m going to miss those goats something awful), and the serene Rivers of America will be drastically altered, I have to remember that Walt himself said Disneyland would continue to evolve as long as there is imagination in the world. I’m excited to experience the magic of Star Wars Land in a few years.
If you haven’t been to Disneyland in a while and you need a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad fix, here’s a POV ride-through from MousePlanet.
Have additional questions or comments about the upcoming closures at Disneyland? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to provide an answer!