This is actually tough for me. Not as in what to choose, but the reasons that I should and shouldn’t choose it.
I’m going with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the mine train roller coaster. The pros outweigh the cons as far as my memories go, but I have a feeling I’ll never ride it again at Disneyland, even if I am there.
First, the reasons I almost disqualified it, and will probably never board it again. In September of 2003, one of the “locomotives” derailed during the ride, went up into the air, and killed a man who was sitting in the front row behind it. Ten others were injured. The accident happened because one of the up-stop wheels (the wheels that run underneath the track to prevent just such an incident) had broken off. The last time the train had pulled into the station, there was a clanking noise coming from under the locomotive. The cast members heard it, and decided to pull the train off for an inspection…after one more run. The train never made it back.
Towards the end of March, 2004, the ride reopened after the investigation cited human error, and the ride was deemed safe. Less than a week later, two trains collided on the track. Fortunately, nobody was on board. The ride had been emergency-stopped due to a problem at the load area, and guests were evacuated off the ride. Then, as they were resetting, human error struck again — one train on the track was sent in motion before the train ahead of it. Once again, Big Thunder Mountain is closed for an investigation, this time for just a few days.
Then in July 2004, there was a third crash in ten months. One train entering the station crashed into the back of one that was already there. Four people were hurt.
So obviously I’m going back in time 8 years or so in calling this a favorite. Here’s why it still qualifies:
When I was a kid (we’re talking before kindergarten), I remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap reading Disney News Magazine with him. Well, I mostly looked at pictures while he read at first, but he always pointed to the words as he read them, and I started learning to read. The first article I read by myself was an announcement that the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was coming soon to Disneyland. In future articles, I kept up with the construction, the story behind the ride, etc. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to ride it.
The ride didn’t disappoint. It was fast, but not too fast. It was bumpy, but not too bumpy. You even got to face a mine collapse in a tunnel, and make it out just in time. Plus, there’s the goat with the stick of dynamite in its mouth.
So I do have great memories from this ride. I rode it once after the first accident, before the second, and I really didn’t feel safe. Then, after two more crashes, I knew I was done. So it’s my favorite because of the memories, but I have retired it as far as riding it is concerned.