Thunder Mesa is a mining town in Arizona and the first town ever mined by the Big Thunder Mining Company. It is the setting of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the rest of Frontierland at Disneyland Paris, largely created by Imagineer Jeff Burke.

Description[edit | edit source]

Features[edit | edit source]

  • Big Thunder Island housed the mines that were once owned and operated by the Big Thunder Mining Company. Years after the earthquake, prospectors attempted to get the business going again. Though the old tales had become folklore, this new generation of miners discovered that they were true[1].
  • The Lucky Nugget Saloon is owned and operated by Diamond Lil, a showgirl and all-around entertainer. Her entertainment over the years have included dancers, puppets, and live bands to entertain both the townsfolk and any visitors to Thunder Mesa.
  • Ravenswood Manor was once home to Henry Ravenswood and his family. After his death, the townsfolk began to talk about the old house and the family that lived in it. Some say that Ravenswood still lives in that house, keeping an eye on it and his daughter, Melanie. The locals gave it a nickname - Phantom Manor.
  • Phantom Canyon is a canyon containing the collapsed part of the town from the earthquake of 1860.
  • Wilderness Island is home to Old Joe and his dog, Moonshine. They sit on the docks, as the riverboats pass by, waiting to catch any good fish[2].


History[edit | edit source]

Thunder Mesa began as a fur trading outpost in Arizona, with a Shoshone Indigenous settlement, a fort, and tents of explorers. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, gold was discovered in the hills of Big Thunder Mountain, and many moved out west to claim their fortunes. In 1848, Barnabas T. Bullion was given a land grant to establish the Big Thunder Mining Company to find more gold. The mines were personally overseen by Henry Ravenswood, who built a large estate on the highest hill of the town.

The mines thrived, but as time passed, the gold began to dry. The miners were ordered to dig deeper. The mines were plagued with unexplained instances, like self-moving trains, ghostly voices, and cave-ins, which the superstitious believed to be the work of the Thunderbird[3]. In 1860, Thunder Mesa was rocked by a massive earthquake, killing most of its inhabitants, including Ravenswood.

Thunder Mesa managed to get by as a quiet river town since, despite the rivers drying out for a while[2]. Bullion moved onto greener pastures, in the meanwhile, continuing the business in Rainbow Ridge in 1870 and Tumbleweed in the late 1880.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Disneyland Paris[edit | edit source]

Unique when compared to other Big Thunder towns, Thunder Mesa encapsulates all of Frontierland at Disneyland Paris. All of the attractions, restaurants, and shows within the land connect to the Thunder Mesa story.

Phantom Manor[edit | edit source]

The Phantom Canyon scene within the attraction is either the haunted remains of Thunder Mesa after the 1860 earthquake or the underworld. Undead residents, like the mayor, a showgirl, a bartender, and an apothecary are forced to remain in the ruins for all eternity, like the rest of the ghosts at Phantom Manor. Big Thunder Mountain can be seen in the background.

Other[edit | edit source]

The Thunder Mesa Daily Messenger expanded upon the story of Thunder Mesa and its citizens. Two issues have been published - one for the reopening of the Rivers of the Far West and one for the reopening of Phantom Manor.

Thunder Mesa is referenced in the queue in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Thunder Mesa is 9258 km away from Rainbow Ridge, as a reference to the real world locations of Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. A carriage line advertising in Tumbleweed offers carriage rides from Thunder Mesa to Rainbow Ridge, costing $10[4]. Land grant documents within the queue also list Tumbleweed and Big Thunder Mountain's greater location as being around Thunder Mesa in the Western River Valley of Arizona, and with a painting incorporating elements from multiple incarnations of the attraction within a single range, suggest that the towns all exist within the Western River Valley.

Thunder Mesa is referenced in an advertisement for the Mark Twain Riverboat in Disneyland's Rivers of America. This advertisement mentions the Rivers of the Far West and shows the riverboat passing by Fort Comstock.[5]

Connections[edit | edit source]

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Thunder Mesa’s name is a reference to the Western River Expedition - an attraction designed by Marc Davis for the Magic Kingdom that was never built.

References[edit | edit source]

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