Big Thunder’s Secret Show Scene

If you’re like me, you woke up today wondering if there was any real connection between a singing legend, an octopus, and the greatest Disney coaster of all time.  Don’t feel ashamed.  Everyone ponders this at some point or another, although usually it is accompanied by a high fever and unusual doses of medication.
To answer your question, we have to go back.  Way back.  I will not give you the exact date, but it was sometime after Kramer discovered fire and before Steve Jobs invented the iPhone in his garage.  Give or take a day.
First, a little blatant self-promotion is in order.  I have to admit that today’s post is inspired because I recently wrote about Big Thunder Mountain on another blog that I’ve launched with my brother, who is also my writing partner.
Oh, smashing!  Groovy!  Yay, capitalism! is a place for us to promote our stories and talk about stories in general, which is my other big interest, beside Disney parks).  We currently have a series going on the 100 Most Extraordinary Adventures in any medium, and Big Thunder checked in at #84.  We’d love it if you’d give us a look, and maybe stick around if you enjoy it.  Anyway, back to the singing octopus thing.
This is me, on my first day as a Walt Disney World Cast Member.  I was a proud new attraction host at the world famous Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I was fresh out of college, ready to make my mark on the Disney company, and I think I lasted about 2 weeks before I got a job in Ohio that paid more than $6 an hour and actually required the use of my new degree.
I washed out.  I couldn’t cut it.  My ego was writing checks my body couldn’t cash – which was too bad, because I really could have used the cash back then.  But the experience did leave me with one of my most treasured possessions:
Do I hear a choir of angels?  Maybe.
I will pause for a moment as you wipe the drool off of your keyboard.  Got it all cleaned up?  Good, here we go.
There are many secrets in this handbook, and I dare not reveal all of them, because to do so would activate the microscopic explosive implanted in my cornea.  But one of them, I think, is safe because it turns out Wikipedia already has this info, though they spell it wrong.
On one page of the handbook is listed all of the official show scenes within the ride.  There are 20 of them, and I was actually required to take a test on them at the completion of my training.  You will not be surprised by most of them, other than that a few of them are a little trivial.
Here it is, in all its glory, but with one scene missing:

  1. Miners
  2. Bat Cave
  3. Grotto/Phosphorous Pools
  4. Waterfall
  5. Natural Arch Canyon
  6. Robber’s Cave
  7. Flash Flood
  8. __________
  9. Winch House
  10. Big Horn Sheep
  11. Spiral Butte
  12. Abandoned Mine
  13. Big Thunder Mining Company
  14. Avalanche
  15. Show Doors
  16. River Trestle
  17. Snow Shed
  18. Dinosaur Bones
  19. Geysers
  20. Sulfur Pools
The first thing that should leap to your mind is:  “Show Doors is a show scene?”  (another tongue twister to go with “Snow Shed Show Scene”).  Yes, you can see them as you exit the cave-in.  Your train dips down beneath the buried track and out into broad daylight.  Doors are mounted on either side of the exit to this tunnel.
Today they are always open, but as it was explained to me, they were originally intended to open and close automatically, blocking light from entering the cave-in scene and increasing the effectiveness of the illusion.  I have no idea if they ever worked under real operating conditions, or if it was simply something that they had to abandon before the ride even opened.

Now to the mysterious Scene #8…

This angle actually shows both scenes 7 and 9.  What is between them??

If you’re having trouble picturing any sort of scene in between the exit of Tumbleweed (“Flash Flood”) and going up the second lift hill (“Winch House”), do not feel bad.  You actually pass through a very, extremely, impossibly brief tunnel, and that tunnel is a mine.  And that mine has a name.

Does not belong in Frontierland.

If you’ve seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you might think that the character of Davy Jones is named for some sort of great sea legend, but he’s actually named after the tiny, worthless mine on Big Thunder, because my manual is dated several years before those movies came out.

Tony Baxter was a Daydream Believer

In fact, it is 1960s singing legend Davy Jones for whom the mine is named.  At least I think so, because Show Scene #8 is called “Dave V. Jones Mine.”  And who said Monkees don’t belong in Frontierland?

Okay, I have no idea why it’s called that.  The other mines are “Abandoned Mine” and “Robber’s Cave.”  But for some reason Disney felt it was important to name this little 4-foot tunnel after some fictional person.
I know you are now excited to ride, to see if you can catch some glimpse of why it is called that.  I actually have a theory myself, but I’m more curious to see if anybody can come up with an explanation, especially when you’re whizzing through it at 30mph.  Good luck!

Comments (8)

  1. Before Michael Jackson became such a Disney fan, I can recall anouther Buena Vista Production Fan in Bobby Sherman of the 60’s TV Musical Show ShinDig. Bobby being such a Disney fan was able to get all the plans and elevations for Disneyland’s Mainstreet which he recreated in a full scale model. That is a different Sherman on the Mainstreet Windows however.

  2. The Davy Jones / David Cassidy rivalry does indeed run deep. They’ve both performed at the Eat to the Beat series at Epcot, but Cassidy lags far behind in the obscure Disney mine names.

    And I’m very intrigued by invisible messages hidden inside my training manual, but so far the only thing I have been able to unearth is “Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine.”

  3. Actually we always did like to play with the names a bit especially on this adventure, Wildest Adventure in the West they say, and this mine No.8 is not related at all to singing Monkee’s. The idea was that all the water from the flash flood caused by Professor Isobar, would train deep beneath and into Ole Dave’Vs mine below the train. A spin off from Disney’s Treasure Island and Buccaneer Captain Flint’s treasure? Or was Dave’V a memeber of Mike Fink’s gang? It was reported that River Pirates used to stash their bounty in this deep cave before the Big Thunder Railroad decided to take advantage of it as a quick escape from the peril’s of Tumbleweed and the Professor. Why is it No.8 you ask? More than just a number between 7 and 9, the Chinese who help shore up the cave and lay its track felt it was a Lucky Cave and so gave it the lucky number of 8. Hang on to your manual as it holds secrets in invisble ink. PD

  4. You’re absolutely right oomingmak1. However, a little known fact is that Disney actually paid big money to David Cassidy so that Davy Jones could re-record his song for this ride. Why you may ask? Because at the time, everyone was still familiar with Cassidy’s “I Think I Love You”. But no one remembers “I Really Love You” by Jones.

    Hey, the suits have money to burn, and they weren’t about to change the name of Show Scene #8 from Dave V. Jones Mine to David B. Cassidy Mine. That would just sound way too “odd” for us curious types 😉

    Sorry Shane. I think I may have to take over your blog to make sure these kinds of facts are disclosed in a proper fashion to the general public.

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  6. I think I love you is sung by David Cassidy 😉

  7. That explains why I always see people riding with their hands cupped to their ears!

    And here I thought it was because the railroad ties in the track actually act like piano keys, playing your favorite Davy hits…

  8. I think the mine is named this because if you close your eyes and cup your hands behind your ears and listen really hard at the exact right point, you can hear Davy Jones singing “I Think I Love You” as it echos off the walls for approximately 1.45 seconds. No one every knew this before now because their hands are always in the air and everyone is screaming. I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one 😉

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