For those of us who have been to Disneyland Resort, no doubt Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is probably one of your favorite rides (unless, for some reason, you don’t like roller coasters or are just plain crazy). I know it’s one of my favorite rides, and the recent refurbishment I thought gave it a fresh new twist at the end (which I loved). But, did you know that Big Thunder shares a few cool things right near by that some people don’t even know about?

UPDATE (1-19-2016): Well, it was fun while it lasted. A lot of this post is outdated now due to Disney’s construction for Star Wars Land. A lot of Big Thunder Ranch has been removed to make room. 

The path less traveled

The first thing you should know about Big Thunder’s area is that there is actually a pretty cool back way into Fantasyland. It’s often a lot less crowded than going through traditional routes, and you’ll even pass a often overlooked bathroom along the way, too. It’s a great way to sneak in a ride on Big Thunder then head right to Fantasyland in the morning (or vice versa, start in Fantasyland then sneak down to ride Big Thunder). Check out the map below with the dotted red lines to see the somewhat hidden path:

Big Thunder to Fantasyland

All you can eat BBQ

Next, and this was by far my favorite find during a recent trip to Disneyland Resort, the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. A glorious place where you can enjoy endless BBQ, sides, and drinks for one inclusive price. The BBQ includes chicken and ribs at lunch, and the same at dinner with the notable inclusion of sausage! For me, personally, I’m a huge sausage fan, so dinner reservations is the way to go for me here. In addition to the meats, you also get bottomless beverages and sides like corn on the cob, ranch beans, and cole slaw. You can also order dessert but that costs extra, though I do think everyone should try and save room for the S’mores Bake which features a warm chocolate brownie topped with roasted marshmallows, graham crackers, and hot fudge and is enough to feed two!

I know Blue Bayou gets a lot of Disneyland Resort’s table service street cred, but this place is a must try. My girlfriend and I loved it the last time we were here, so definitely carve out some time to visit, but make sure you don’t eat at least six hours prior, and make sure you’ve gotten all the fast rides out of the way first… otherwise, things may get messy!

Live animals – that you can pet

The third and final thing that you may not know about this area is the Big Thunder Ranch where they actually have live animals that you can pet and interact with. it really is kind of snuggled back there (along the same dotted line path I showed above) but it’s a lot of fun and a nice place (with a lot of shade) to hang out and relax with some furry friends. As you can see below, my girlfriend enjoys petting the goats.

2014-05-09 10.32.02

Did you know about these cool things near Big Thunder Mountain? Any that I forgot? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments! And, if you’re craving more Disney insight be sure to check out these other fun articles:

Thanks for reading!!
— Disney Dork Tom (follow me on Twitter and Facebook, too, for non-stop daily Disney action!)