Game Review: Disney “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” from Funko Games

Funko Games has already brought so many classic Disney Parks attractions to homes through well-themed board games like The Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and Mad Tea Party. In their latest release, they’re delivering “the wildest ride in the wilderness” to your door with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, “the wildest game in the wilderness! The introductory release is timed to the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, with a holographic sticker on the box to help bring “the happiest celebration on Earth” home.

For 2-4 players and ages 9 and up, the game instantly welcomes you into Frontierland with the rocky bluffs near Rainbow Ridge as the board game’s centerpiece. Each player is a miner with their own train and there are four to choose from each the name of an actual ride vehicle: Will you choose U.R. Courageous, U.B. Bold, I.M. Brave, or I.M. Fearless?

The pawns for the game include both an engine and a mine car, which run on two separate tracks. The main track that circles the mountain is just for the mine cars, while the engines go on a scorekeeping track at the bottom of the board. Rather than trying to reach an end space, the object of this game is to get the top score. Game play ends when a player reaches 20 points, at which time they also count up any other loot they may have earned.

There’s gold in them there hills! The goal of Big Thunder Mountain is to pick and pan for gold in the mountain, bringing it back to town to sell. Colored marbles get dispensed by rotating the mountain’s tallest peak at the start of every player’s turn, or as specified by actions on cards. Yellow marbles are gold nuggets while brown ones are raw ore, worth half the amount of a nugget. Blue marbles represent water, which is how you determine if you will pick, pan, or bail the water out (credits can be earned for bailing water, which then allows players to pick). The actions a player can take are contingent on icons on the supplies cards in their hand, with a handy guide for each player to keep it simple.

There’s one other marble I forgot to mention, the red fate marble. When this lone marble rolls down into one of the mines, the player needs to draw a fate card. These often affect all players and aren’t necessarily a bad thing, although some upgrades players can purchase may make things difficult on an individual level. At first glance, the game feels like it has a lot of rules, but gameplay is easy to grasp once you play through a turn. As always, Funko Games provides a video tutorial of the rules for players who are better visual learners.

With great artwork across the board and cards, Funko Game’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad really made me feel like I was back in Frontierland (or Westernland if you’re in Japan). The rolling marbles add kinetic energy to the gameplay that feels reminiscent of the many twists and turns on each version of the attraction around the world. There are also extra hidden goodies in the box, with artwork on the interior as well.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad game is now available.

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