Mine Train through
Nature’s Wonderland
“E” Ticket

Welcome to a great attraction in the tradition of the Jungle Cruise—only this time it’s the environment and animals of North American wilderness areas instead of those of the world’s jungles.

The loading platform for the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland is in the Western mining town of Rainbow Ridge. As you wait to board the train, listen to the sounds emanating from the buildings, such as the music from the Last Chance Saloon and the screams from the dentist’s office above it.

Take a seat on the bench that goes around all four sides in your bright yellow ore car. Or sit on the jump seat when the ride attendant closes the ore car door. When your train pulls out of the station, an old miner begins a recorded narration. Here’s some of what he says:

Photo of train in Rainbow Ridge
“Howdy, folks! Welcome to the little minin’ town of Rainbow Ridge, the gateway to Nature’s Wonderland. As we head for the wilderness, a couple of suggestions: please stay seated at all times, and keep yer hands and arms inside the train. The animals get mighty hungry. And, uh, no smokin’ please, ’cause we don’t want to start a forest fire. Now, beyond these hills lies Nature’s Wonderland. Yer apt to see a whole lotta wildlife, so... keep a real sharp hunter’s eye.”
Photo of train and waterfalls
“If yuh’ve never gone beneath a waterfall before, then get set, cause we’re comin’ up on Big Thunder, the biggest falls in all these here parts. Yuh don’t hafta worry though... unless the wind changes. Them other two falls they call the twin sisters—reckon that’s cause they’re always babblin’.”
Photo of bear with fish
“We’re comin’ into Bear Country now, folks, and, while we’re crossin’ the old trestle, ya gotta sit real still. No tellin’ how long she’s gonna last.”
Photo lazy bears
“Ya know, bears are one of the most playful animals there is. Lazy, too. All they want to do is lay around and scratch and fish and swim... that is when they ain’t sleepin’.”
Photo of cacti
“Now ahead of us, folks, is a giant saguaro cactus forest. The desert heat sometimes gets to ya and makes these here cactus take on strange shapes, like animals... and sometimes even people.”
Photo of Mr. Bobcat
“Aha! Look down there on yer left. Them wild pigs has caught up with ol’ Mister Bobcat. He’s in kind of a sticky situation!”
Photo of geyser
“Say... ever hear of the Devil’s Paint Pots? Real mystery of the desert. Bubblin’ pots o’ mud in all kinds o’ colors. This is geyser country, too. Uh-oh, there she blows! Sure glad ya all brought yer raincoats. But look out now! We never know when she’s gonna go off. That’s why we call her Ol’ Unfaithful. Look out now! Heh-heh! You folks in them last cars be ready... she’s a-threatenin’ again!”

Inspired by Disney’s True-Life Adventure nature movies of the 1950s, Nature’s Wonderland is home to two-hundred lifelike, animated mammals, reptiles, and birds.

As your train travels through Bear Country, Beaver Valley, the Living Desert, and Rainbow Caverns, you see:

  • Mighty waterfalls cascading off Cascade Peak
  • Industrious beavers building a dam
  • Brown bears swimming and resting—and even one scratching his back on a tree
  • Saguaro cacti that look strangely human
  • Balancing rocks that may just lose their balance as your train car passes by
  • Devil’s Paint Pots—bubbling pots of mud in all kinds of colors
  • Old Unfaithful Geyser shooting water high into the desert air
  • Colorful, glowing waterfalls inside Rainbow Caverns.

Here’s a secret that not many people know. If you board the Mine Train around 8:50 p.m., the train will stop on a hillside above the Living Desert. You’ll be treated to the best view of the fireworks anywhere in the park. Each pyrotechnic burst in the sky illuminates the otherwise almost-dark Living Desert. No crowds. And no noise, except for sound effects from the Living Desert and the explosions in the sky.

The Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland opened in Disneyland in 1960 as an expansion of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train (1956).

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a much faster ride than the old Mine Train.

A thrill ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, replaced the Mine Train in 1979.

A Mine Train tunnel at Disneyland in 2007
A tunnel on the other side of the old Beaver Valley pond is from the Mine Train in 2007

But not all is gone. And as you walk along the trail across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad towards Fantasyland, you’re walking through what’s left of Beaver Valley. Look across the pond for an old Mine Train tunnel.

Rainbow Rideg at Disneyland
Rainbow Ridge in 2005

Parts of Rainbow Ridge survived the transition to a thrill ride. Buildings from the little town still grace the hills above the waiting area for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes in Disneyland, 1996
A canoe from Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes and Cascade Peak in 1996

The biggest part of the Mine Train ride to survive the demolition of the old ride was Cascade Peak, a rugged mountain with several large waterfalls. Back in 1960, Cascade Peak was surrounded by little trees, giving the appearance of a mountain rising majestically above a forest. As the trees grew taller over several decades, Cascade Peak appeared to become smaller and smaller. The actual height of the peak didn’t change, but our perception of its height was changed by the relative scale of the trees and the peak.

Until the end of Summer 1998, the waterfalls of Cascade Peak continued to roar into the Rivers of America. Before the end of 1998, Cascade Peak was completely gone. Years of water damage had taken their toll on the man-made peak’s structural integrity. The problem was solved with a bulldozer.

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© 1997-2008 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 17, 2008.

Photograph of train in Rainbow Ridge: 1974 by Werner Weiss
Photograph of train and waterfalls: 1969 by Werner Weiss
Photograph of bear with fish: 1975 by Dennis Caswell
Photograph of lazy bears: 1975 by Dennis Caswell
Photograph of cacti: 1975 by Dennis Caswell
Photograph of Mister Bobcat: 1975 by Dennis Caswell
Photograph of geyser: 1966 by Werner Weiss
Photograph of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 2005 by Allen Huffman
Photograph of a tunnel on the other side of the old Beaver Valley pond: 2007 by Werner Weiss
Photograph of Rainbow Ridge as part of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 2005 by Allen Huffman
Photograph of a canoe at the base of Cascade Peak: 1996 by Werner Weiss
Excerpts from Mine Train narration based on transcript by Dennis Caswell.