Disney Files Permit for Major Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Refurbishment

Jun 14, 2024 in "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad"

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad overview
Posted: Friday June 14, 2024 3:52pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney has filed a permit for what we expect to be a major refurbishment of Walt Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The permit, which vaguely describes "General Construction," is assigned to long-time Disney coaster partner, Coastal Steel Inc., and expires on August 8, 2025.

Although not yet announced by Disney, we expect plans to be confirmed soon, with the fan-favorite attraction closing as soon as September 2024. As always, be aware that timelines frequently change, so await official confirmation before making plans.

The Magic Kingdom coaster needs a significant renovation involving substantial work on the ride system. According to sources familiar with the plans, this long-planned refurbishment is crucial to ensure the ride's longevity and continued operation for years to come.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad's refurbishment project will likely begin soon after Tiana's Bayou Adventure opens on June 28 in Frontierland. The reopening of the former Splash Mountain attraction will bring much-needed capacity to the park, allowing operations the chance to begin work on Big Thunder Mountain. The refurbishment will be the longest in the ride's history and will likely mean the ride will be closed for over a year.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad's most extensive refurbishment was over ten years ago, in 2012, when it closed for four months. Since then, the coaster has had numerous short closures to ensure continued operation until this year's major refurbishment.

Disneyland's Big Thunder Railroad underwent a similar major renovation in 2012, which saw updates made to the attraction, including new ride vehicles, track replacement, and repainting portions of the mountain itself.

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ToTBellHop8 days ago

When it will be closed this long, that’s not really a consideration. A ton of people will be impacted. It’s clear they have some other pressing refurbs they want to sneak in first since they won’t want any other major closures while this is down.

JoeCamel8 days ago

You say that like they care? This is 12+ years in the making and now they can spread the budget between another project

arich358 days ago

If they start it in the September that leaves it down for two sets of Halloween and Christmas crowds, you would think they would want to limit that and shut it down in January

PREMiERdrum8 days ago

18 months of actual track work with some other site stuff reaching the 2+ year mark AFAIK. I'd expect an 18ish month closure.

DisDude338 days ago

I wish I could say that your being negative but WDW’s track record is definitely in favor of your prediction.

Bocabear8 days ago

I would expect the standard 2-3 years....and in the end they will probably not touch the finale or any sets...

IanDLBZF8 days ago

Something tells me we're getting the Explosive Finale after all.

DisDude338 days ago

I’ve seen “18 months” thrown around in a few conversations but I don’t know how official that is.

DisneyRoy8 days ago

I don’t know. Can they retrack the whole coaster with a mountain around it in 12 months? Seems fast to me.

ddisneyd8 days ago

What’s the current rumoured timeline? August/September 2024 for 12 months? Or less? Surely they would want it open again by Summer 2025?

zipadee9998 days ago

This could even be a slow dark section after the finale that serves as an extended brake run. Disneyland has Rainbow Ridge, Paris has the tunnel beneath the river, and WDW has nothing. They could even just enclose the current stretch of track leading back to the station after the brakes and install two or three of the more famous Rainbow Caverns water features. Do we know if the track replacement will necessarily be a massive, one-time undertaking? I wonder if they wanted to minimize downtime they could slightly extend Big Thunder’s annual refurbishments and replace a portion of the layout every year for three or four years until eventually the entire layout has been replaced.

Brer Oswald8 days ago

Unless something serious happens, most insiders seem to point towards September for when this goes down.

tinkerblonde118 days ago

Closing in July or early August - oh the pain! My trip is in September... maybe they'll hold off a little (wishful thinking). I'm very glad it will be getting some TLC though. Man, I miss those shaking rocks that worked when I was a kid.

Brer Oswald8 days ago

I think it goes to show how desperately these parks (even MK) need additional capacity. Tokyo can afford to have two or three headliners down because there are so many offerings. You do the same here (especially with LL+ tiers) and it cripples the park.