Today In Disney History ~ May 28th
The Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland was a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railroad attraction in Frontierland in Disneyland, that featured Audio-Animatronic animals that live in the desert themed in the environment they live in naturally. It opened in 1960 as an extension of Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, which opened in 1956. It closed on January 2, 1977 to make room for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which opened on September 2, 1979.
In 1956, the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was opened in Frontierland, as part of the Living Desert. Guests boarded a miniature train and were transported through the various scenery of the desert environment, which featured anthropomorphic cacti, the Balancing Rocks which precariously rolled back and forth above the guests, and the beautiful Rainbow Caverns. The Living Desert was also host to other attractions like the Conestoga Wagons, Stagecoaches, and Pack Mules, though the former two disappeared when Nature’s Wonderland was introduced.
Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland was designed by Marc Davis when Walt Disney requested him to insert more humor into Disneyland’s attractions. Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was closed and redesigned into Nature’s Wonderland, taking inspiration from True-Life Adventures. The scenes of the Living Desert and Rainbow Caverns were incorporated into the redesign, which had guests boarding a train at the fictional Western town Rainbow Ridge before heading off into the attraction. The train traveled through Cascade Peak, Bear Country, Beaver Valley, the Living Desert, Devil’s Paint Pots (multicolored geysers), and Rainbow Caverns before returning to the station. The attraction featured over two-hundred replicas of North American animals, and the narrative spiel was provided by Dal McKennon.
Due to the rise in popularity for thrill rides, Nature’s Wonderland was closed to build a new attraction, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which opened in 1979. However, Big Thunder Mountain is similar to Nature’s Wonderland, featuring a runaway train as the ride vehicle, the set of Rainbow Ridge is used as the loading area, and a tribute to Rainbow Caverns exists within the attraction.
TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart; Wiki