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Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain.jpg

Opened

October 2, 1992

Land

Frontierland

Designer

Walt Disney Imagineering

Ride length

10:41

Vehicle capacity

8

Drop height

52 ft. (16 m)

Maximum speed

40 mph

Splash Mountain is a themed log flume attraction at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, based on the characters, stories and songs from the 1946 Disney film Song of the South. It begins with a peaceful outdoor float-through that leads to indoor dark ride segments, with a climactic steep drop into a "briar patch" followed by an indoor finale.

History

At the time it was built, Splash Mountain was one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering at a cost of $75 million. Imagineer Tony Baxter wanted to attract guests to the often empty Bear Country land in Disneyland and make use of the Audio-Animatronics from America Sings, which was receiving poor attendance. According to Alice Davis (wife of the late Marc Davis), when America Sings closed in April 1988, production of Disneyland's Splash Mountain had gone far over budget. The only way to recover was to close down America Sings and use the characters from that attraction.

Baxter and his team developed the concept of Zip-a-Dee River Run, which would incorporate scenes from Song of the South. The name was later changed to Splash Mountain after then-CEO Michael Eisner's mostly-ignored suggestion that the attraction be used to help market the film Splash. The characters from America Sings were used in many scenes, though all of the main characters were specifically designed for Splash Mountain.

Dave Feiten was then brought in to animate and fix story and staging problems. Feiten then moved nearly all of the Animatronics to new locations, then took out ten Animatronic figures and removed them from the ride completely to improve the show. In 1992, the Walt Disney World version of the attraction opened to the public.

Attraction Description

Without a Critter Country in Walt Disney World, Splash Mountain is located in Frontierland, across the way from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Construction of Splash Mountain necessitated the demolition of the existing railroad station and temporarily turning the railroad into a shuttle between Main Street, U.S.A. and Mickey's Toontown Fair.

Riders board eight-passenger logs, seated two by two. Logs are now equipped with lap bars for safety reasons. The log departs the loading area, where Br'er Frog provides introductory narration. The log ascends two dual-chain lifts before floating gently through scenery designed to evoke the feeling of a river in the Southern United States, particularly Georgia, where Song of the South was based. The homes of the three main characters and aged farm equipment are incorporated into the landscape, along with an instrumental version of "How Do You Do?" emanating from hidden speakers along the waterway.

After a short drop down "Slippin' Falls," guests enter the indoor portion of the attraction, where various Audio-Animatronic animals, such as geese, frogs, and opossums sing the attraction's first musical number, "How Do You Do?". Several vignettes establish the story of a restless Br'er Rabbit leaving home and being pursued by Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear.

"Everybody's Got a Laughing Place" begins to play as the log reaches a dark tunnel followed by a "dip-drop" into the Laughin' Place. There, singing turtles and dancing water fountains guide the log to a dark area in which Br'er Rabbit has been caught by Br'er Fox in a cave of stalactites and stalagmites. Two vultures taunt riders as they begin their ascent up the final lift. A scene to the side shows Br'er Fox menacing Br'er Rabbit, with Br'er Rabbit pleading not to be thrown into the briar patch.

At the top of this third lift hill, the log descends the 52-foot (16 m) drop at a 45 degree angle, reaching a maximum speed of 40 mph. After another outdoor flume segment, the log returns to the mountain, where critters at "Doo Dah Landing" are singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" in celebration of Br'er Rabbit's return, while Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear attempt to fend off an alligator. At the end, Br'er Rabbit sings with Mr. Blue Bird, telling guests that he learned his lesson. After exiting the log, riders may purchase a picture of their log falling at the final drop.

References in Pop Culture

  • In the Disney Sing Along Songs video Disneyland Fun, during "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Splash Mountain was one of the thrill rides the kids rode on.
  • In 1989, Ernest Goes to Camp aired during The Magical World of Disney. Prior to the movie, a special called Ernest at Splash Mountain aired. In this special, Ernest was seen training for, and finally riding, the newly opened Splash Mountain. The end result had Ernest bewildered and collapsing to the ground, leaving guests to step on him while boarding the attraction.
  • The Roger Rabbit animated short Trail Mix Up makes several visual references to Splash Mountain. At one point, though very briefly, it can be seen that the log Roger and Baby Herman are riding in has a bumper sticker that reads "We Visited Splash Mountain."
  • In Scary Movie 4, as Cindy is looking at pictures of the man and the woman, a photograph of them going down the drop at Splash Mountain can be briefly seen.
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls, Dorothy tricks her mother, Sophia, into going to counseling by giving her a life jacket and telling her they are going to Splash Mountain.
  • In an episode of George Lopez, George and his family visit Disneyland. Benny Lopez and George are shown taking the final descent on Splash Mountain.
  • The attraction was parodied in My Life as a Teenage Robot where Jenny forces the robotic animals on the ride to leave the theme park and be free.
  • Comedian Gabriel Iglesias mentions Splash Mountain in his stand up act Hot and Fluffy, where he talks about him and his friend Mondo flashing the camera during the descent. He also talks about how they were caught, but were mistaken for two large women because of how they appeared at the speed and angle at which they were going down the hill.
  • Despite Disney's great attention to detail and audience management, the monitoring represented by both security cameras and the strobe cameras have not proven wholly successful at eliminating one of the most salacious phenomena of the Splash Mountain experience. Hoping to make illicit use of the in-ride photographs that Disney later sells to ride patrons, some riders briefly expose themselves (e.g., a woman baring her breasts) during the descent. Collected on a website called "Flash Mountain" in the mid-to-late 1990s, the shots continue to circulate online. The "Flash Mountain" controversy at both Disney parks was used as a segment and was seen on TMZ on May 5, 2009.

Incidents

On November 5, 2000, a 37-year-old man from St. Petersburg, Florida was critically injured while trying to exit the ride vehicle while it was moving. He told fellow passengers that he felt ill and attempted to reach one of the attraction's marked emergency exits. He was struck by the following ride vehicle and died at a local hospital.

Sources & External Links

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