Splash Mountain

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Splash Mountain
SplashMW.jpg
The front of Splash Mountain.
Magic Kingdom
Land Frontierland
Opening date October 2, 1992
Number of vehicles 55 max.
Ride duration 10 minutes
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Audio-Animatronics 68
FastPass + Yes
Sponsored by Ziploc
Based on Song of the South

Splash Mountain is an attraction located in Frontierland.

Attraction History

Splash Mountain was originally developed as an attraction for Disneyland by Imagineer Tony Baxter. In the summer of 1983, there were three problems looming on Baxter's mind. The first, was that Disney needed to figure out a way to attract guests to the park's scarcely visited Bear Country land [1] . Also lingering was the fact that Dick Nunis, who oversaw Disneyland, wanted his Imagineers to create a log flume attraction for the park [1]. On top of all this, Tony was also concerned about the closing of America Sings and its 114 Audio Animatronics. Baxter would later recount:

I kept thinking, ‘What a terrible waste of all those Audio-Animatronics characters. Isn’t there something we can do with them?’”[2]

Finally, while driving to work one day, Baxter came up a solution to all three of these problems at once. Working with Bruce Gordon and John Stone, the attraction he came up with was to be a log flume ride called "Zip-a-Dee River Run" [1]. The ride would be based on the 1946 Disney film "Song of the South", which was chosen because its main characters- Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit- had been popular walk-around characters since the park's opening. By choosing Song of the South, Baxter also knew that he would be able to reuse the Audio Animatronic animals located in America Sings, thus solving two problems with one attraction [2]. Although Dick Nunis had demanded a log flume ride, Imagineers were not initially sold on the idea. Many felt that log flume rides were beneath Disney, since they were already in most average amusement park. Eventually however, it was decided that Disney’s log flume would be different due to the story that it would tell [3].

According to Stone:

"The three of us— Tony, Bruce Gordon and myself, literally spent the next three days in Tony's office preparing about 30 storyboards and outlining the entire project"[3]

Although the designs for Splash Mountain came together in a matter of weeks, it would be six years until the attraction would open to the public [2]. In 1984, the name of the attraction was changed to Splash Mountain after a suggestion by Michael Eisner that the attraction also promote the new Disney-Touchstone film "Splash" [3]. Although Eisner's other suggestion of adding a mermaid to the ride (to further tie in with the film) was rejected, the new name stuck [1]. On July 17, 1989, Splash Mountain opened in Disneyland and the attraction proved so popular that Michael Eisner decided to add it to Tokyo Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

Construction in Disney World

Splash Mountain concept art

Construction began on Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain in 1990 [4]. In order to build Chick-A-Pill Hill, (the structure which would eventually house Splash Mountain) the Frontierland train station on the Walt Disney World Railroad had to be removed. After the hill was built, the train station reopened and guests could now see the Zip-A-Dee-Lady scene inside Splash Mountain as the train passed by [1].

The rock formations on Chick-A-Pill Hill were first sculpted and then reinforced with rebar, wire mesh and sprayable concrete. When completed, the hill stood 87 feet tall and housed caves, swamps, and bayous. Also built was a 950,000 gallon water reservoir which supplies water for the attraction.

Splash Mountain (like Thunder Mountain before it) was designed to be controlled by computers. There are two main ride control computers which monitor the attraction. If the two computers don't both agree on the millions of the commands being sent to the ride, they will stop the ride automatically. Splash Mountain was also built with an infra-red intrusion system that alerts cast members if somebody steps outside of their log. When completed, Splash Mountain took up 9.2 acres of land, including 2,600 feet of track [1]. Splash Mountain began its soft openings on July 17, 1992 and it was officially dedicated October 2nd [3].

In May 2018, a new preshow video was added to Splash Mountain's queue [5]. Subsequently, in August 2018, Ziploc became the official sponsor of Splash Mountain. As part of the agreement, Ziploc will also furnish plastic bags for guests to use while riding the attraction [6].

Attraction Plot

Backstory

According to Disney historian Jack Spence, the backstory of Splash Mountain states:

Legend has it that deep in the “New-nited States of Georgia,” live critters that walk and talk in the same manner as human folk.
At the center of this magical land is Chick-A-Pin Hill and it's here that the Beaver Brothers had built their sturdy new dam.
But unbeknownst to them, Rackety Raccoon had also constructed a juice producing still in the same area. And it seems that while Rackety was concocting a new, experimental brew, he used a few too many blueberries with disastrous results.
When his still exploded, it took the Beaver Brothers' dam with it and water began to rush downhill and through the many caves, burrows, holes, and tunnels that crisscrossed the mountain.
From that moment on, the local critters started calling their home Splash Mountain and the name stuck. [7]

Queue

Brer Rabbit leaving home. Photo Credit: Disney

The queue for Splash Mountains begins as guests enter Chick-A-Pill Hill. As they wind their way through the caverns, portraits of the ride's main characters can be seen. Small houses belonging to various animals are also located here, and if guests listen closely sounds will emit from some of the homes. Further into the queue, guests can hear Brer Frog begin to tell the story of Brer Rabbit's adventure. After winding through Chick-A-Pill Hill, guests eventually reach the loading area, where they board their log flumes.

The Ride

After boarding their logs and moving out of the loading area, the first character guests encounter is Brer Frog. Located on the left hand side of the flumes, Brer Frog gives a warning about Brer Rabbit, "Mark my words, Brer Rabbit's gonna put his foot in Brer Fox's mouth." As the flumes continue on, an instrumental version the song, "How Do You Do" begins to play. Along the banks of the tracks, riders can see various houses including Brer Fox's, and also various pieces of farm equipment. These items were placed there so that riders would feel as if they were on a river in the Southern United States. After taking a right turn into a little cave, guests can see Brer Bear's house on their right hand side. After exiting the cave, the flumes go down the first drop in the attraction, "Slippin Falls".

Following the falls, the boats enter a swamp which has Audio Animatronic animals singing "How Do You Do". The animals (including Brer Frog) are fishing in an area clearly marked "no fishing". Continuing forward, riders see Brer Rabbit outside his house. Brer Fox and Bear are also there, watching intently as Brer Rabbit sings that, "It's time to be moving along". Ignoring the warnings of Mr. Blue Bird, Brer Rabbit leaves his home to go and find adventure.

After passing Brer Rabbit’s house, the flume turns a corner into a scene where riders see that Brer Bear has fallen into a trap set for Brer Rabbit. Brer Bear is hanging in the trap at the top of the tree, while Brer Fox scolds him and tries to get him down. Across the ride track, Brer Rabbit can be seen laughing at the situation.

The next scene that riders enter is the Laughing Place scene. Here on the left, Brer Rabbit tells guests that his “laughing place is where (he will) be”. The scene then progresses to show that Brer Rabbit has once again tricked Brer Bear, whose head is stuck a bee hive (apparently having thought that it was Brer Rabbit's laughing place). After riding underneath Brer Bear, the log goes down the ride's second drop, which happens in complete darkness.

The Zip A Dee Lady inside Splash Mountain

After the drop, the next scene riders see is Brer Bear with the bee hive on his nose. Once again it looks as if Brer Rabbit as outsmarted the antagonists. While he lies on the ground laughing however, Brer Fox sneaks up behind him and catches him. The flumes then pass a scene showing Brer Rabbit tied up by Brer Fox before going up the rides final hill. As the flumes continue to ascend up the hill, two vultures taunt guests as they pass by ("Everybody's got a laughing place, maybe this is one is yours"). On the left of the track, Brer Rabbit (who is still tied up) pleads with Brer Fox to do anything to him, except throw him down into the Briar Patch. Not realizing he's been tricked, Brer Fox does just that, with guests plummeting 52.5 feet down into the Briar Patch with him. While going down the drop, a camera takes guest's pictures which they can buy in the exit gift shop.

After reaching the bottom of the drop and going around a bend, riders end up in "Doo Dah Landing". Here, various Audio Animatronic animals are singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" in celebration of Brer Rabbit's return. On the left side, riders can see The Zip-a-Dee Lady, a large showboat which features some Audio Animatronics from the America Sings attraction in Disneyland.

In the final scenes of the attraction, guests see Brer Fox and Brer Bear fighting off an alligator attack; while the other animals sing "Brer Fox and Brer Bear are going to get it today". Finally, the flumes float past Brer Rabbit and Mr. Bluebird. Brer Rabbit claims that he has learned his lesson and will be staying in the Briar Patch, saying "Home sweet home is the lesson today", before guests reach the unloading area.

Songs in the Attraction [8]

Due to the attraction being located in Frontierland, the Walt Disney World soundtrack differs from the Disneyland one. Banjos and harmonicas are used as primary instruments to give the attraction a more country feel.

Brer Fox after he has captured Brer Rabbit. Photo by Lauren Javier

How Do You Do - The first song guests hear on the attraction, played first as an instrumental and then with vocals. "How Do You Do" is performed by The Floozies (a 29 piece band from Oregon). The lead vocals are performed by Walter Steven "Sim" Hurgle, the band;s lead vocalist. One of the bullfrogs who provide the backing track is performed by Thurl Ravenscroft.

Ev'rybody's Got a Laughin' Place-The second song guests hear on the attraction, is first played while the flumes travel through the Laughin' Place scene. "Ev'rybody's Got a Laughin' Place" is performed by Elisa, Georgia and Castell Newton who are three sisters from California that worked for The Walt Disney Company at the time of the ride's construction. Castell and Elisa sing the words, while Georgia is responsible for the high pitched, operatic 'ahh's' in the background.

Burrow's Lament (aka "Sooner or Later" in Song of the South)-This instrumental is played as guests climb the final hill before dropping into the Briar Patch.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah- The attraction’s final song, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" was recorded by a choir made up of over 75 members. The track was recorded in Disney's Burbank studio in 1987 and features Jess Harnell (as the voice of Brer Rabbit) singing a solo.

Cast [9]

Brer Fox-Jess Harnell

Brer Rabbit-Jess Harnell

Brer Bear-Nick Stewart

Brer Frog-James Avery

Bullfrogs- Thurl Ravenscroft

Vultures- Edward Conor and John Kelfreese

Watch the Attraction!

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • The Frontierland back story for Chick-A-Pin-Hill states that at one time it was damned. When the dam broke, it created the 52.5 foot waterfall that guests plummet down[10].
  • In the back story for the attraction, the logs that guests board were carved out by long tooth beavers [11].
  • The Zip-A-Dee Lady showboat is 36-feet long and 22-feet high [12].
  • The logs reach speeds of up to 40 mph when going down the large drop [13].
  • Nick Stewart, who voiced Brer Bear in Song of the South, reprised his role in Splash Mountain [14].
  • Disney World's Splash Mountain was created by a team of Imagineers led by Eric Jacobson [3].

Gallery

Brer Rabbit leaving home

Brer Frog at the beginning of Splash Mountain

Brer Rabbit leaving home

Brer Rabbit leaving home

Brer Bear caught in his own trap

Brer Bear caught in his own trap

Brer Fox closeup

Brer Fox closeup

Two turtles in the Laughing Place scene

Two turtles in the Laughing Place scene

Brer Bear caught in his own trap

Brer Bear caught in his own trap

Brer Rabbit after being caught by Brer Bear

Brer Rabbit after being caught by Brer Bear

Two vultures who taunt guests as they ascend to the top of Splash Mountain

Two vultures who taunt guests as they ascend to the top of Splash Mountain

The Zip-A-Dee-Lady celebrating Brer Rabbit's return

The Zip-A-Dee-Lady celebrating Brer Rabbit's return

Brer Rabbit back home after learning his lesson

Brer Rabbit back home after learning his lesson

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/06/splash_mountain_part_one_1.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://www.disneyavenue.com/2015/06/making-of-splash-mountain.html
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 https://www.mouseplanet.com/10394/Splash_Mountain_Double_Anniversary
  4. http://www.florida-project.com/walt-disney-world-photos/magic-kingdom/frontierland/splash-mountain
  5. https://wdwnt.com/2018/05/photo-report-the-magic-kingdom-5-9-18-infinity-war-tron-ducktales-cosmic-rays-main-street-enhancements-etc/
  6. https://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/splash-mountain/news/24jul2018-walt-disney-worlds-splash-mountain-to-have-new-sponsor.htm
  7. http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/07/splash_mountain_part_two.html
  8. http://www.worldlibrary.org/articles/splash_mountain
  9. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0287714/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_286
  10. This information comes from the narration on the Liberty Square Riverboat
  11. http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/07/splash_mountain_part_two.html
  12. http://www.songofthesouth.net/splashmtn/trivia.html
  13. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/splash-mountain.htm
  14. http://www.songofthesouth.net/splashmtn/trivia.html