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big-thunder-mountain-disneyland

It’s been a long time Disneyland fans, but your patience is about to pay off. A much needed, very thorough, refurbishment to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is almost over. The well-known wildest ride in the wilderness reopens March 17 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. Disney has thrown in a few new surprises, too.

While you wait for March 17 to roll around, here’s a POV on-ride video to enjoy and a list of fun facts:

  • Along with the new track, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopens in 2014 with an enhanced audio system that sharpens the sounds heard by guests on the trains and in the caverns and buildings. Even the wildlife at Big Thunder can be heard more distinctly.
  • 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).

Tony Baxter, Senior VP Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, recently chatted with the ForceCast, one of the more respected Star Wars fan podcasts, about Star Tours. They discussed the new version a bit, but Baxter was really excited to explore some of the history of the original Star Tours attraction, including tidbits I’ve never heard before.

You can listen to it here, or I’ve included some of my notes below the jump: