Attraction Smackdown Week 1 – Disneyland vs. Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

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Welcome to a new series of articles that will pit your favorite attractions from Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort against each other. The way the Attraction Smackdown will work is each week a new set of attractions will go head to head against each other. These will be attractions that are the same on both coasts (ie. Big Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) and also some attractions similar to each other (Barnstormer v. Gagets Go-Coaster).

I sent out a call to the staff of WDWNT to those who have been to both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort and asked which of the attractions that, in their opinions, is the superior one between the two I’ve pit against one another. That being said, the article will be based on mine and the staff’s personal opinions on the specific attractions, and have all of you involved, too! At the end of each article, feel free to place your opinion on the attractions. Then at the end of the series of articles, I will have a special Fan Community edition, and reveal what the fan community says. With that all out of the way, let’s get on to our first ever Attraction Smackdown!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad(Disneyland):

I was quite surprised by the response this had with the staff. After collecting all the responses, the areas of which people love this version of the attraction is the new effects added during its last big refurbishment in 2014. The finale of this attraction is one that, when working properly, is amazing to see. During the final lift uphill, projection mapping effects show dynamite exploding throughout the cavern, leading to one massive fog filled explosion as you head into the final drop.

The queue here is not much to write home about. It is mostly outdoors, and brutal in the summer. I will say, it does move at a rapid pace. The queue does have some amazing props throughout, but it’s just not spectacular. The rebuilt town of Rainbow Ridge is one of the highlights of the attraction for me, as it dates back to Disneyland of yesteryear. The other point people made was the location; it is in a great location in the park, with incredible views of surrounding areas.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad(Magic Kingdom):

People love this attraction; that could not have been more clear to me during their responses. While most agree the attraction itself is a tad more exciting in Disneyland, no one can deny the queue of this attraction. This attraction has one of the best queues in all of Magic Kingdom, and when the queue was updated in 2013 to include some interactive elements, it took the queue to the next level.

The views you get of the Rivers of America and the rest of the park, while on the attraction, are fantastic. The attraction itself could use an update, to include some of the projection effects that its West Coast sister has.

After quite a few of responses, and weighing in the pros and cons of each attraction on each coast, it comes down to the queue on this one. And for that, this week’s Attraction Smackdown winner is: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom). 

Next week, we will be pitting Peter Pan’s Flight attraction on both coasts against each other!

What do you think of this week’s winner of Attraction Smackdown? Do you agree or disagree? Comment below to let me know your opinion for our finale of the series where YOUR voice will be heard!


About the author

Grant Myers

Traveling to Disneyland Resort every month since 2001, and the regular traveler to the Walt Disney World Resort. Disneyland Resort Cast Member Alumni. Love talking all things Disney related and Disney history related!