Big Thunder Ranch
presented by Central Soya

Do you want to see some animals that are real—not Audio-Animatronic? Then visit the horses, sheep, and goats of Big Thunder Ranch. Don’t miss the most famous resident of the ranch, the bovine Mickey Moo. You’ll also find smaller animals in enclosures lining the trail leading to the ranch. While you’re here, watch a blacksmith demonstration and visit the old ranch house, a log cabin.

Big Thunder Ranch, Disneyland

Photo by Mike McKiernan, 1992

“Home of the Happiest Horses on Earth”

Big Thunder Ranch, Disneyland

Photo by Mike McKiernan, 1992

Mickey Moo, possibly the most photographed cow in history

Big Thunder Ranch, Disneyland

Photo by Mike McKiernan, 1992

Animals without famous cartoon silhouettes on their sides

Hungry? Sit outside and enjoy barbecued beef ribs and chicken at the Big Thunder Barbecue—but only during busy seasons and on selected weekends.

Big Thunder Ranch opened at Disneyland on June 22, 1986.

Thrilling Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had a smaller footprint than its mild predecessor, Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland. That freed up the northern part of Nature’s Wonderland—essentially the Living Desert part, including some of its rugged rockwork—to become Big Thunder Ranch.

After almost ten years of operation, Big Thunder Ranch closed in February 1996 so that the space could be reworked for The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools, an elaborate show based on the Disney’s ambitious 1996 animated feature. Some parts of Big Thunder Ranch were reused; the log cabin became Esmeralda’s cabin.

After Festival of Fools ended in April 1998, groups would occasionally rent the space for private events.

It seemed that Big Thunder Ranch would never return.

Surprise! Big Thunder Ranch reopened April 2, 2004, initially tied in with Disney’s animated feature Home on the Range (2004). This version of the animal attraction lasted until January 10, 2016.

The second incarnation of Big Thunder Ranch is the subject of its own Yesterland article: Little Patch of Heaven.

Patch of Heaven
Casa de Fritos

© 1998-2020 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 19, 2020