Today, Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is celebrating it's 30th Anniversary. The following photos were all taken in September of 1979, just a few days after it opened. I shot these myself with a Kodak Instamatic Camera and Kodak 110 slide film.
All of these shots were taken while waiting in line to ride the attraction for the very first time.
I was twelve years old when construction began on Big Thunder and I remember being very anxious for it to open. After all, it took over two years to build and when your a kid, that's an eternity! I actually wrote to Guest Relations during that time and they sent me some pretty cool information on the attraction, which got me even more excited. I was even able to go backstage a couple times while it was being built, because a friend's father worked on it's construction.
Unfortunately when Big Thunder finally did open, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the finished product. One of my complaints was that Disney had made the whole thing seem so much better in both the description and the concept art....but my biggest complaint was (and still is to this day) that the trains have to stop THREE separate times during the ride to go up yet ANOTHER chain lift! I would much rather go on the Matterhorn....or Space Mountain, which gets all three of it's chain lifts out of the way at the beginning of the ride so you have a fun, uninterrupted free-falling trip to the finish!
Actually, I am even more disappointed today when I think back to the days of Nature's Wonderland Mine Train (which Big Thunder replaced.) I really wish that incredible attraction had never been removed! There was even further disappointment when I learned years later about how Big Thunder was originally going to be part of Big Thunder Mesa at Walt Disney World, which would have also included Marc Davis' legendary, but never built Western River Expedition attraction. Maybe someday that attraction will get built in one of the parks.
But enough of that! I hope everyone enjoys these photos. I still remember taking them thirty years ago and what it felt like to be standing in that line waiting for my very first ride.