|Big Thunder Mountain|
|Disneyland Park (Paris)|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Theme||Runaway mine train|
|Opening date||April 12, 1992|
|Ride duration||3:56 minutes|
|Height requirements||40" (102 cm)|
|Number of lifts||4|
At Disneyland Paris, Big Thunder Mountain sits on an island in the middle of the Rivers of the Far West, where Tom Sawyer's Island would normally sit. Unlike all of the other versions of the ride, this version has an elaborate backstory concerning the town of Thunder Mesa, founded by Henry Ravenswood to support the mining in the mountain. This backstory influences not just Big Thunder Mountain but also Frontierland's other major attraction, Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris's equivalent of the Haunted Mansion.
Although the ride itself is located on an island, guests board the trains at a depot on the mainland. The overall layout of the ride is influenced primarily by the Florida version, but significantly altered with a lengthy extension, with twin underwater tunnels to allow trains to travel under the river to the station on the mainland.
Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris is more heavily themed than the other versions of the ride. Among some of the noticeable differences are the trains, which are painted to appear rusty and old rather than in mint condition like the American versions.
Leaving the station on the mainland, the trains immediately dive into the outbound underwater tunnel crossing over to the island, before making a right hand turn, and make a quick steep rise. Suddenly, the loud rattling of anti-rollback dogs can be heard as the train starts up the first lift hill. All three lift hills are fitted with two chains - one on the flat straight leg of track prior to the climb that serves to slow the train down, and a second one for the climb, to relieve tension on the chain. As trains climb out of the darkness of the underwater tunnel, stalactites and stalagmites can be seen growing next to the track. The sounds of bats swooping up above can also be heard. At the top, a waterfall parting around the tracks suggests that the tunnel is flooding. Trains pop out of the tunnel, leave the lift hill, slow as the rest of the train crests the rise, and drop around a left hand turn, pass through a small cave, then make a swooping right turn. If the trains are being dispatched timely, when the train goes through this curve, a dueling illusion can be made between the guests' train and a train in the 540 degree helix.
After this turn, the trains pass under the second lift hill and its drop, making a slight hop, before making a left hand turn onto a bridge. A vista of the main ride and Phantom Manor can be seen as the trains travel along the river, make a slight right hand turn, and suddenly fall through a washed out section of trestle, where the on-ride camera is located. After splashing down in the water, the trains go around a turn on an unstable portion of trestle, enter one of the Big Thunder Mining Company's camps, and start their climb up the second lift hill. Anti-rollback dogs are installed on the turn, emitting an ear-piercing rattle that makes it seem like the trestle is creaking under the weight of the train.
As trains start up the lift hill, two tied down donkeys can be seen to the right of the track, braying at passing guests, with an empty watering pail in front of them. A goat can be seen pulling on a piece of clothing hanging on a clothesline to the riders' left, as the trains pass a parked steamroller and mine elevator, and travel under a water tower. Guests are also treated to views of Frontierland and Phantom Manor as the trains climb the lift hill.
At the top of the lift, it is possible to make out The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Walt Disney Studios Paris on the horizon before trains drop around a left turn and cross back under the lift hill. The prerecorded sound of screeching wheel flanges can be heard as trains go around the curve. As guests come out of the drop and go over another rise, they pass a sign warning of a broken trestle that is mounted to the water tower post (this warning sign can also be seen by sitting in the very back of the train and looking backwards while going up the lift hill). Cresting the rise, trains cross over the broken trestle and spiral down through a 540-degree counter-clockwise helix.
Exiting the helix, the trains pass through a short cave and go over a quick rise and drop as they shoot down a canyon. As the trains drop through the tunnel and pass over a trim brake, a loud gust of wind is heard. Trains then make a right hand turn on a trestle that seems to creak under the weight (again achieved through the use of anti-rollback dogs) into a tunnel with a sign reading "DANGER! T.N.T." over the portal, and climb the third lift hill.
As the train starts up the hill, an unseen miner's voice can be heard yelling "Fire in the hole!" After that, it becomes evident that the miners are dynamiting the cave the riders are going through, and the lights of blasting can be seen on both sides of the train. Midway up the lift hill, an earthquake hits. The tunnel seems in danger of collapsing. A lantern on the left hand side of the train starts swinging back and forth, while a lantern on the right hand side goes out. Animatronic rocks in the ceiling start shaking back and forth, struggling to break loose. The train is seemingly rocked back and forth by the shockwave, an effect achieved by slightly banking the track partway up the hill (noticeable by sitting in the back row and looking backwards). A vein of gold can be seen rushing out of the ceiling before the trains crest the lift hill, and pop out of the tunnel. Riders get a view out over Frontierland, as well as Space Mountain in Discoveryland off in the far distance, then crest a small rise, and drop onto a straightaway on the side of the water, speeding up as they head towards a tunnel portal. Trains pass into the tunnel and enter the return tunnel. Guests encounter a swarm of bats in the tunnel as trains make another sharp counter-clockwise turnaround and drop underwater. The trains continue to accelerate through the dark until suddenly making a rise and popping out of the exit portal on the mainland. Because of braking, the last few cars do not fully make it over the climb, so it is necessary to have a chain that propels the train to travel speed. The trains coast past the station, through the loading dock, and then turn around to reenter either station track.
Big Thunder Mountain in Paris can be considered to have four lift hills if one counts the chain that prevents trains from rolling back into the return underwater tunnel as a lift hill