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Realityland's David Koenig

The Demolition of Rainbow Ridge

Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.
Nostalgic Disneyland fans have a little over seven weeks left to pay their final respects to some of the most visible remnants of the old Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland.

In January, when Big Thunder Railroad goes down for an extensive rehab, most of the remaining buildings in Rainbow Ridge will be demolished. Only the hardware store and the mercantile will remain. The mega-rehab, expected to last into the fall of 2013, will include upgrading the track, vehicles, show elements, and safety systems.

The first faux storefronts were built in 1956, as a backdrop for the loading area of the new Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. (Several buildings were removed and others added with the addition of Nature’s Wonderland in 1960.) Originally, the hardware store was the left-most building and the mercantile was the rightmost building. In other words, the hardware store was the last building on your right as you entered the tunnel to begin your journey, while the mercantile was the first building you passed as you exited Rainbow Caverns and arrived back at the loading platform.

When the Mine Train was torn out in the late 1970s to make way for Big Thunder, several of the original Rainbow Ridge buildings—along with various other show elements, tunnels, and sections of track—were left intact.

But in recent years, we’ve lost many of those elements, including Cascade Peak, an abandoned ride vehicle, the animatronic gophers, and part of the bridge over Bear Country. We’re about to lose a few more.

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  1. olegc's Avatar
    very unfortunate. I really liked the immersive elements of queues. This one, in fact, would have been even better had the audio track been left intact and volume turned up. Some of the jokes were very corny but provided that western element. I always thought the back story was the abandoned mine and the train that still runs through it and the mining town (Rainbow Ridge) that started it all.

    While I don't consider myself to be one of those "museum honks" that expect Disneyland to stay the same - I do care if show elements are removed for, what seems to be, the sake of cost containment on maintenance and operation. It is a show after all.
  2. JohnGar's Avatar
    And now I'm wondering if Disney will theme Big Thunder to match this script:
  3. flynnibus's Avatar
    Looks like Disney was out to prove you wrong. They even made a post on the DPB about rainbow ridge
    When the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment is complete this fall, Rainbow Ridge Mining Town will look very much the same as it always has. It is being refurbished with new materials, but many items from the original area will be reused such as props, signs and select doors, windows and shutters. Several other items are being turned over to the Disney Archives