Splash Mountain at Disneyland
|Opening date||July 17, 1989|
|Opening date||October 1, 1992|
|Opening date||October 2, 1992|
|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Drop||52.5 ft (16.0 m)|
|Speed||45 mph (72 km/h)|
10:00 (Tokyo Disneyland)
11:45 (Magic Kingdom)
|Height restriction||40 in (102 cm)|
|Manufacturer||Hopkins Rides (Disneyland)|
|Restraint||Lap bar (Tokyo Disneyland and Magic Kingdom only)|
|Number of drops||3 (Disneyland)|
4 (Tokyo Disneyland)
5 (Magic Kingdom)
|Length||2640 feet (Disneyland)|
2800 feet (Tokyo Disneyland)
2600 feet (Magic Kingdom)
|Theme||Song of the South|
|Height restriction at Tokyo Disneyland||35 inches (90 cm)|
Single rider line available at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland only
Must transfer from wheelchair
Splash Mountain is a log flume at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Magic Kingdom, based on the animated sequences of the 1946 Disney film Song of the South. Although there are variations in the story and features between the three locations, each installation 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. The drop is 52.5 feet (16.0 m). In June 2020, it was announced that the US versions of the ride would be reimagined with a theme based on the 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog.
The plot behind Splash Mountain is a composite of several Uncle Remus stories. The different versions of Splash Mountain feature similar stories, albeit with small differences. Each ride presents scenes taken from the animated segments of Song of the South, telling the story of Br'er Rabbit, the protagonist, a mischievous character who leaves his home in search of adventure. Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, the antagonists of the story, are determined to catch him, but are repeatedly tricked into letting him free. The sharp-witted Br'er Rabbit avoids a snare trap (as described in "Br'er Rabbit Earns a Dollar a Minute") and uses it to trap Br'er Bear instead. Br'er Rabbit continues on his journey to find his "laughing place". Out of curiosity, his foes follow but only for Br'er Rabbit to lead them into a cavern of bees. Br'er Fox eventually catches Br'er Rabbit in a beehive and threatens to roast him. Br'er Rabbit uses reverse psychology on Br'er Fox, begging the fox not to throw him into the briar patch (as described in "The Tar Baby"). Br'er Fox then throws Br'er Rabbit into the briar patch (represented by the ride's flume drop); Br'er Rabbit escapes uninjured. The other animals rejoice to have Br'er Rabbit back home, while Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear are last seen narrowly escaping the jaws of Br'er Gator.
Splash Mountain was originally conceived in the summer of 1983 by Imagineer Tony Baxter while stuck in rush-hour traffic on his way to work. He wanted to attract guests to the often-empty Bear Country land in Disneyland, with the only attraction as the Country Bear Jamboree (which later closed in 2001), plus a souvenir shop, and make use of the Audio-Animatronics from America Sings, which was also poorly attended. It was Dick Nunis who insisted that the Imagineers create a log flume for Disneyland, but the Imagineers were initially unenthusiastic about it, insisting that log flumes were a too ordinary theme park attraction to include in a Disney park. While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people into Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter thought of Song of the South.
Construction began at Disneyland in April 1987. By that time, Splash Mountain, whose budget had risen greatly to $75 million, had become one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering. The entire park cost around $17 million to build in 1955, which translates to around $80 million in 1987. 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 1984 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 moved nearly all of the animatronics to new locations, removing 10 animatronic figures from the ride completely, to improve the show.
The planned Grand Opening on July 17, 1989, could not be met. Early riders made up of company executives were getting soaked rather than lightly sprayed, and so the ride opening date had to be delayed for months so that the boats could be re-designed to hold fewer passengers, to build them lighter and to re-design the bottom and bow to make them less likely to splash so much water aboard.
To celebrate the opening of Disneyland's version in 1989, a special was made called Ernest Goes to Splash Mountain. Actor and comedian Jim Varney returned to play the title role of Ernest in the special. This time, Ernest is busy on becoming the world's first "Splashronaut" (a play on the words "splash" and "astronaut").
In 1991, construction began for the Splash Mountain attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland. On July 17, 1992, soft openings began at the Magic Kingdom. The two Splash Mountains officially opened within a day of each other in October 1992: the Tokyo Disneyland attraction opened on October 1, and the Magic Kingdom attraction opened on October 2.
In the late 1990s, The ride became synonymous with the phrase "Flash Mountain". Some female riders briefly expose their breasts during the descent, hoping to make illicit use of the in-ride photographs that Disney later sells to ride patrons.
In January 2011, Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom received lap bars for safety reasons. Each row of two to three passengers shares one lap bar. Meanwhile, Tokyo Disneyland received individual lap bars, which makes the height restriction 5 inches shorter than the other two versions.
On June 25, 2020, it was announced by Disney that both the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom attractions would be re-themed based on the 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog. Disney stated that development of the project began in 2019, prior to the online petitions that has been circulated during the George Floyd protests. The project will be led by Walt Disney Imagineer Senior Creative Producer Charita Carter with Baxter returning as a creative advisor. A spokeswoman said that there are no plans to redesign the attraction at Tokyo Disneyland, although The Oriental Land Company, which operates Tokyo Disney Resort, is currently engaged in discussions on whether or not to change the attraction.
All of the rides feature the same scenes and a nearly identical layout. The story of Splash Mountain "Br'er Rabbit Leaves Home" is told in the dark ride segment on the meandering river. The flume converts to a roller coaster-style track in complete darkness to transition to "The Laughing Place" caverns. After Br'er Rabbit is captured, the logs ascend up the attraction's predominant hill into the "Tar-Baby" segment (although in the attraction the tar baby is replaced with a hive of bees). Br'er Rabbit, now captured by Br'er Fox, tricks the villain into throwing him into the briar patch; the drop itself mimics Br'er Rabbit's fall. The log descends a fifty-six-foot drop into a briar patch before continuing back into the mountain, where numerous audio-animatronic animals sing a chorus of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."
Guests enter the queue in front the main drop viewing area. The queue winds past the Critter Country sign into the main entrance where a number of machines with cogs and gears dominate. Various thoughts and sayings from Uncle Remus are featured on signs throughout the queue, which winds around a barn structure and reaches the loading area.
Passengers ride aboard six-to-seven-seater logs with six single-file seats. The last seat in each log is larger and allows room for larger guests or an adult and a small child, thus allowing the capacity to be seven in each log. The log departs the loading area and ascends two conveyor-type lifts before floating gently through scenery designed to evoke the feeling of a river in the southern state of Georgia. 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.
Before the logs enter the indoor portion, snoring is heard emanating from Br'er Bear's cave. The snoring is a tribute to the original entrance to Bear Country (the former name of Critter Country) where a bear named Rufus was heard snoring from a cave.
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?". After rounding a corner, riders see Br'er bear caught in a trap while Br'er Fox berates him and tells him "We gotta catch that Br'er Rabbit!". Br'er Rabbit, seen outside his Briar Patch, tells Br'er Turtle that he's leaving home in search of adventure, and is heading for his Laughin' Place. Br'er Bear follows him only for the "Laughin' Place" to actually be a trick, and Br'er Bear winds up being attacked by bees as Br'er Rabbit laughs at the sight. Riders progress through the surreal Rainbow Caverns, where characters sing "Everybody's Got a Laughin' Place".
Br'er Fox then manages to trap Br'er Rabbit in a beehive. The mood turns ominous as two mother characters (an opossum and rabbit) sing the "Burrow's Lament." At the base of the final lift hill, two vultures bear ominous warnings for the riders. The logs begin the final ascent and shortly before the attraction's climactic drop, Br'er Rabbit is seen alongside the hill, about to be eaten by Br'er Fox, but Br'er Rabbit outsmarts Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear by tricking them into throwing him into the briar patch (where he was born and raised). Riders are sent down the final drop into the briar patch, mimicking his fall. The top half of the drop is highly visible from the adjacent areas of the park. An on-ride photo is taken as the log begins to fall, and it can be purchased after disembarking from the ride. From the top of the hill, riders looking toward the splashdown point will notice a full pond of water ahead of them.
The log then 'dives' under the water into an underground runout. The collective weight of the riders generally determines the degree to which they get wet here. An indoor segment follows the drop, after which the logs make a final entrance into a section of the mountain named "Doo-Dah Landing", where a full cast of Audio-Animatronic figures sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and the respective fates of Br'er Rabbit (reclined happily at home) and the antagonists (fending off a hungry Br'er Gator) are seen. As the log passes through the Doo-Dah Landing room, a series of glass windows can be seen near the ceiling, behind which is a tunnel used by the Disneyland Railroad track.
Before the return to the loading area, riders are given a preview of their picture that was taken on the final drop via an overhead screen. Professor Barnaby Owl, an overhead Audio-Animatronic, calls the riders' attention to the screen as he remarks on their expressions. After disembarking from the log, riders enter a "dark room," where they preview their on-ride photograph before exiting back out into Critter Country.
Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to the Florida version of the ride, with a few exceptions. The ride's layout is a mirror image of Florida's owing to the attraction's location on the opposite side of the river. The secondary characters are altogether different and the show scenes are in different orders. The Tokyo version also lacks a mill or barn-like structure on the second lift (although it is used as the main entrance to the ride queue). Instead, the logs venture into a cave-like opening to begin the second ascent. Another difference from the Florida version is that the Slippin' Falls drop takes place in a dark cave, making the final drop the only outdoor one. The Tokyo version doesn't have an extra drop after the biggest drop while the Florida version does.
Without a Critter Country in Walt Disney World, Splash Mountain is instead 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 following a January 2011 renovation. The log departs the loading area, where Br'er Frog provides introductory narration. The log ascends a dual-chain lift that deposits riders in a small pond at the bottom of the big drop. After a right turn, logs enter the barn and climb another lift to the space behind the visible mountain, 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, aged farm equipment, stagecoach wagons, and ale barrels are incorporated into the landscape, along with a country instrumental version of "How Do You Do?" emanating from hidden speakers along the waterway. After passing Br'er Bear's cave, the logs descend down the Slippin' Falls drop and cross back under the flume. The logs then enter the show building containing the indoor portion of the attraction, where various Audio-Animatronic animals including geese and frogs 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.
Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear see Br'er Rabbit telling Mr. Bluebird that he's going to his Laughing Place. Br'er Porcupine warns him of the danger ahead, but Br'er Rabbit continues on. "Everybody's Got a Laughing Place" begins to play after Br'er Bear springs Br'er Fox's rabbit trap. The logs continue onward past a roadrunner who asks to be taken along to the Laughin' Place, while opossums sing the song from overhead. The logs reach a dark tunnel followed by a "dip-drop" into the Laughin' Place. Bees attack Br'er Bear while Br'er Rabbit laughs with joy, unaware that Br'er Fox is behind him, preparing to drop a beehive on top of him. The logs then go over another short drop, and head further into the cavern scenes. There, geyser-riding turtles and laughing, singing bullfrogs, 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 (this time wearing top hats) taunt riders as they begin their ascent up the final lift. A scene to the left side of the flume shows Br'er Fox menacing Br'er Rabbit, with Bre'r Rabbit pleading not to be thrown into the briar patch.
At the top of this third lift hill, the log descends the 50-foot (15 m) drop at a 45-degree angle, reaching a maximum speed of 40 mph, into a tunnel underneath the Frontierland walkway. After another outdoor flume segment, the log coasts back into 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 Br'er Gator. At the end, Br'er Rabbit sings with Mr. Bluebird, telling him that he learned his lesson.
After exiting the log, riders can tap their cards or MagicBands to save their ride photo.
Splash Mountain at Disneyland features music in a jazzy "big band" meets orchestral style, fitting the attraction's proximity to New Orleans Square.
- "How Do You Do?" - Recorded specially for the ride in 1988 by The Floozies, a 29-piece band from Oregon. The backing track of 'Bom, bom, bom, bom...' that can be heard coming from the bullfrogs in accompaniment to the lyrics sung by the Geese was sung by 13 of the 29 members. Walter Steven "Sim" Hurgle (b. 1963) is the band's lead vocalist, and his voice can be heard singing most of the words, while his fellow band members provide harmony and backing vocals. One of the bullfrogs is voiced by veteran voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft.
- "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place" and "Burrow's Lament" - These songs are sung by Elisa, Georgia and Castell Newton, three sisters from California who worked for The Walt Disney Company at the time of the ride's construction. Castell and Elisa sing the words, while Georgia was responsible for the high pitched, operatic 'ahh's' in the background, which were removed upon the song changing from "Sooner or Later" to "Burrow's Lament". Burrow's Lament is mainly sung by BJ Ward. The vultures above the third lift hill are voiced by Jess Harnell.
- "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - A choir consisting of over 75 cast members was used to record this last score, recorded in the company's Burbank studios in 1987. Jess Harnell sings a solo as Br'er Rabbit as the logs take their final turn back into the station.
In addition, several other songs from Song of the South are heard as instrumental tracks, playing on a loop near the attraction and in the queuing area. These include "That's What Uncle Remus Said", "Sooner or Later", "All I Want", "Who Wants to Live Like That", and "Let the Rain Pour Down." The loop only features songs from the film and lasts about 25 minutes.
Animators took over 80 hours to synchronize each figure. To re-wire and test each figure took an additional three months before the attraction could open, as programmers were tasked with reprogramming the figures from their previous America Sings performances with a decent level of realism in accordance with the new settings. Each character can carry out 45 seconds of movement and dialogue before a loop function restarts the sequence from the beginning.
Like in Florida, the main melodies consist of banjos, fiddles and harmonicas. The vocals, however, are completely different between the two parks. Compared to the Magic Kingdom attraction, the specific verses sung within the show scenes are in different orders and the choruses and back-up vocals are arranged with different harmonies. Additionally, dialogue and lyrics in Tokyo are Japanese for "How Do You Do?" and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", but English for "Ev'rybody's Got a Laughin' Place". In both instances, "Burrow's Lament" is heard as an instrumental track with timpani drums (a take that was originally recorded for Disneyland, but never used), with dramatic orchestra and choir.
The ride features the same songs heard at the Disneyland attraction, which are variations of the three songs found in the animated segments from Song of the South, though the attraction does not present these songs in the same order as the film. Because of the ride's location in Frontierland, the soundtrack features a country feel, with banjos and harmonicas as the primary instruments, and also because of Florida's proximity to Georgia, where Song of the South is set. "Burrow's Lament" is the only exception, using an orchestral track with timpani drums originally recorded for the Disneyland version.
In the order heard in the attraction's ride-through segments:
- "How Do You Do?"
- "Ev'rybody's Got a Laughin' Place"
Songs from the film heard as instrumental tracks in the queuing area include "That's What Uncle Remus Said", "Let the Rain Pour Down", "Sooner or Later", and the opening theme from the film. Traditional songs like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" and "Goober Peas" are also played in a bluegrass style. The loop lasts about an hour, and includes different orchestrations of the three main songs heard in the ride as well.
Despite being released on CDs attributed to the Magic Kingdom or Walt Disney World in general, as well as often bearing specific track attribution (such as "from Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain"), the country-western style soundtrack actually found at the Florida and Tokyo parks has at least managed to surface on the 2003 Walt Disney World CD entitled "The Official Album/Where Magic Lives". Banjos are heard for over halfway through the 7:57 length, as well as at the end. It is a very different musical arrangement when compared to many other "Walt Disney World", "Disneyland", or combination "Walt Disney World/Disneyland" CDs labeled as "The Official Album". The Disneyland ride does not incorporate this particular country-western themed soundtrack. Fan-credited versions of the country-western version from the Magic Kingdom have also surfaced as MP3 downloads online. Tokyo Disneyland versions have surfaced also, but have been harder to locate.
|The Official Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World (1991 CD)||
|Disneyland/Walt Disney World: The Official Album (1997 CD)||
|Walt Disney World Resort: The Official Album (1999 CD)||"Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"|
|Walt Disney World Resort: Official Album (2000 CD)||Medley attributed to Magic Kingdom||7:00|
|Official Album: Walt Disney World Resort Celebrating 100 Years of Magic (2001 CD)||Medley attributed to Magic Kingdom||8:00|
|Disneyland Park: The Official Album (2001 CD)||Medley||8:00|
|"The Official Album/Where Magic Lives": Walt Disney World (2003)||Country-western medley featuring banjos||7:57|
|A Musical History of Disneyland (2005)||Medley||12:00|
|Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth (2005)||Medley featuring:
|Walt Disney World's Four Parks One World Album (2008)||
|Disneyland Resort Official Album (2008)||Medley, same as previous, but also includes "bee buzz" non-vocal rendition of:
|Disney Classics (2013)||Same medley attributed to the 2008 Disneyland album.||10:35|
|The Legacy Collection: Disneyland (2015)||Medley, same as previous, but does not include:
- Br'er Rabbit: Jess Harnell
- Br'er Fox: J. D. Hall
- Br'er Bear: Nick Stewart (Disneyland version)/James Avery (Magic Kingdom version)
- Mr. Bluebird: Jess Harnell
- Br'er Frog: James Avery
- Bullfrogs: Thurl Ravenscroft
- Mother Possum: B. J. Ward
- Mother Rabbit: B. J. Ward
- Vultures: Jess Harnell
In popular culture
- In an episode of The Simpsons featuring a parody of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer (played by Bart) and Huckleberry Finn (played by Nelson) go down a waterfall in their raft, after which their photo is taken to be sold as a souvenir. In a reference to the "Flash Mountain" phenomenon mentioned above, the manager spots a photo of a woman flashing her ankle and tells the photographer to get rid of it, which he does by slipping it into his shirt to keep for himself.
- On the American Dad! episode "Familyland", after the rest of the family off blows her plans to spend the day together, Francine and Klaus ride the Simpler Times Mountain, which is a parody of Splash Mountain.
- On American Housewife Season 1, Episode 23, Greg suggests that having a fourth child would be a wise idea because, "It'd be nice for there to be six of us. You know, so we can fill the toboggan at Splash Mountain. Not have some creepy stranger ruining our picture." To which Katie replies, "Great reason to have a baby, Greg."
- "Splash Mountain" is the name of a 2016 song by American rapper Yung Gravy, the song and cover art is a reference to the ride.
- NBA player Brook Lopez is nicknamed Splash Mountain, in reference to his height, his ability at making three-point shots (which are said to "splash" through the net when not touching the rim), and his love of Disney parks.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Splash Mountain.|
- List of Disneyland attractions
- List of Magic Kingdom attractions
- List of Tokyo Disneyland attractions
- Incidents at Walt Disney World Resort
- List of Disney attractions using Audio-Animatronics
- 2002 Hopkins Rides Flume Customer Ride List
- Ramirez, Michael (June 25, 2020). "New Adventures with Princess Tiana Coming to Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- Hipes, Patrick (June 25, 2020). "Disneyland's Splash Mountain To Be Reimagined With 'Princess And The Frog' Theme". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- "Splash Mountain History". SongoftheSouth.net. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012.
- The "E" Ticket, Summer 2009. Page 13-14
- GALANTE, MARY ANN (30 April 1989). "Delayed Ride at Disneyland Is Already Making Quite a Splash". Retrieved 18 August 2016 – via LA Times.
- "Ernest Goes to Splash Mountain (television)". Ernest P. Worrell. July 7, 1989. 30 minutes in. The Disney Channel. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
- Dickerson, Marla (January 11, 1997). "For Disney, It's a Case of 'Unzip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
- "Disneyland and Disney World to remake Splash Mountain with 'Princess and the Frog' theme". Orange County Register. 2020-06-25. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
- "Disney's Splash Mountain to Drop 'Song of the South' Depictions". NY Times. 2020-06-25.
- "Splash Mountain may also get revamp at Tokyo Disneyland". The Asahi Shimbun. 2020-06-27.
- "Off Track. Even Disney World Admits It..." Orlando Sentinel. November 26, 1990. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- "Splash Mountain" Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine Disney Reporter - Where the Magic Lives
- http://blm07.dreamhosters.com/wiki/index.php?title=Splash_Mountain_%26_Critter_Country_area_music[permanent dead link]
- "How Brook Lopez turned 'Splash Mountain' into a Bucks game-changer". ESPN.com. 2019-05-16. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (June 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Disneyland Splash Mountain
- Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain
- Tokyo Disneyland Splash Mountain
- Splash Mountain on IMDb
- L.A. Times article about "Flash Mountain"
- The Unofficial Song of the South website: Splash Mountain page
- Walt Disney World Magic
- "Amusement ride for traveling down a water chute with reduced splash – Patent #5,613,443". US Patent & Trademark Office. Retrieved November 17, 2005. – Patent for reduced splash logs used in Tokyo.
- Disneyland Splash Mountain construction photos