November 11, 2014

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Redesigned for Little Kids?

In the planning stages for Disneyland Paris, then EuroDisney, Imagineers designed a smaller, kid-friendly version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The cuter-than-cute named Lil Thunder never was built, but it sure would have been fun!

Just imagine a runaway train for the littlest of varmints, traveling on rickety rails, heading off for a journey they would never forget. Of course, this was a Disney attraction, so the theming would be top notch. At least back in the late 80's when it was first imagined.

Cacti, critters, and a landscape similar to that of  Disneyland's famous Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. It was all there. Just like that long lost gem, the ride would have concluded with a journey into the stunning Rainbow Caverns. Hopefully complete with the beautiful soundtrack, at once ethereal and melodic.

As many tales go, this attraction also never made it past the drawing boards. A replacement was found in Fantasyland's Casey Jr. ride, where young guests zoomed along the French version of the Storybookland Canal Boats, miniature houses and landscapes from fairy tales replacing the Wild West of Frontierland. (Guess that also means the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train won't ever come to Paris!)

Even though the park is rightly criticized for its lack up upkeep, Disneyland Paris does have the most incredible of Frontierlands. It's unfortunate that the land doesn't include the adult version of the mine train, the pack mules, the canoes, and everything else that made Walt Disney's plans iconic. All that would make it the ultimate take on the West... unless Marc Davis' Western River Expedition would ever get built. But don't count on it.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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