Splash Mountain

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Splash Mountain
Disneyland-SplashMtn-exterior.jpg
Splash Mountain at Disneyland
Disneyland
AreaCritter Country
StatusOperating
Opening dateJuly 17, 1989
Magic Kingdom
AreaFrontierland
StatusOperating
Soft opening dateJuly 17, 1992
Opening dateOctober 2, 1992
Tokyo Disneyland
AreaCritter Country
StatusOperating
Opening dateOctober 1, 1992
General Statistics
DesignerWalt Disney Imagineering
Duration9:18 (Disneyland)
10:41 (Magic Kingdom)
10:00 (Tokyo Disneyland)
ManufacturerHopkins Rides[1] (Disneyland)
Audio-animatronicsabout 103
Number of drops3 (Disneyland)
4 (Magic Kingdom)
Length2640 feet (Disneyland)
2600 feet (Magic Kingdom)
2800 feet (Tokyo Disneyland)
Fastpass available at all three parks
Single rider line available at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland only
Must transfer from wheelchair
 
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Splash Mountain
Disneyland-SplashMtn-exterior.jpg
Splash Mountain at Disneyland
Disneyland
AreaCritter Country
StatusOperating
Opening dateJuly 17, 1989
Magic Kingdom
AreaFrontierland
StatusOperating
Soft opening dateJuly 17, 1992
Opening dateOctober 2, 1992
Tokyo Disneyland
AreaCritter Country
StatusOperating
Opening dateOctober 1, 1992
General Statistics
DesignerWalt Disney Imagineering
Duration9:18 (Disneyland)
10:41 (Magic Kingdom)
10:00 (Tokyo Disneyland)
ManufacturerHopkins Rides[1] (Disneyland)
Audio-animatronicsabout 103
Number of drops3 (Disneyland)
4 (Magic Kingdom)
Length2640 feet (Disneyland)
2600 feet (Magic Kingdom)
2800 feet (Tokyo Disneyland)
Fastpass available at all three parks
Single rider line available at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland only
Must transfer from wheelchair

Splash Mountain is a themed log flume attraction at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and 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. 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 53 feet.

Contents

Theme

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. It tells the story of the adventures of Br'er Rabbit, a mischievous rabbit that leaves his home in the briar patch to look for his "laughing place." Unfortunately for him, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, the antagonists of this story, are determined to catch and eat him.

History

The idea for 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 and make use of the Audio-Animatronics from America Sings, which was also receiving poor attendance. 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 too ordinary a theme park attraction to include in a park like Disneyland. While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people into Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter then thought of Song of the South.

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. 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.[2]

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.[3] The characters from America Sings were used in many scenes, though all of the main characters were specifically designed for Splash Mountain. Coincidentally, the two vultures seen just before the final drop at the Disneyland version are the same vultures used as the Boothill Boys in America Sings.

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 and then took out 10 animatronic figures and removed them from the ride completely to improve the show.[citation needed] A version of the popular attraction was planned for Disneyland Paris, but was scrapped due to budget reasons and the cold weather in Europe.

Attraction

Disneyland

One of the logs descending the final drop on the ride at Disneyland

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 Brer 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?". Most of the animals on Splash Mountain were reused from the closed attraction America Sings. Brer Rabbit (voiced by Jess Harnell) is seen laughing at Brer Bear's misfortunes, preceding a "dip-drop" into the surreal Rainbow Caverns, where characters sing "Everybody's Got a Laughin' Place."

Brer Fox then manages to trap Brer Rabbit in a beehive. The mood turns ominous as two mother characters sing the "Burrow's Lament." The logs begin climbing up the final and longer lift hill, passing beneath two vultures that taunt guests and tell of foreboding danger. Shortly before the attraction's climactic drop, Brer Rabbit is seen alongside the hill, about to be eaten by Brer Fox.

But Brer Rabbit outsmarts Brer Fox and Brer 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. A 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 Brer Rabbit (reclined happily at home) and the antagonists (fending off a hungry alligator) are seen.

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 to Critter Country.

Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

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 following a January 2011 renovation. 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 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.

"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 number of hitchhiking critters, 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 watches with joy. The logs then go over another short drop, and head further into the cavern scenes. 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 Brer Fox menacing Brer Rabbit, with Brer 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.[4] 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.

Tokyo Disneyland

Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland

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 exception to the Florida version, is that the small drop down "Slippin Falls', takes place in a cave, thus making it a dark drop.

Soundtrack

Disneyland

Splash Mountain at Disneyland features music in a jazzy "big band" meets orchestral style, fitting the attraction's proximity to New Orleans Square.

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.[5]

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 having to make characters "forget" their old America Sings settings and then perform 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 resets it and restarts the sequence from the beginning.

Magic Kingdom

One of the boats at the Magic Kingdom

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 close 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:

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. They are played along with various songs like Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Goober Peas, and others, all 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.[6]

Tokyo Disneyland

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.

Music releases

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.

AlbumTrack(s)Length
The Official Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World (1991 CD) • "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"
 • "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"
Disneyland/Walt Disney World: The Official Album (1997 CD) • "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"
 • "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"
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 Kingdom7:00
Official Album: Walt Disney World Resort Celebrating 100 Years of Magic (2001 CD)Medley attributed to Magic Kingdom8:00
Disneyland Park: The Official Album (2001 CD)Medley8:00
"The Official Album/Where Magic Lives": Walt Disney World (2003)Country-western medley featuring banjos7:57
A Musical History of Disneyland (2005)Medley12:00
Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth (2005)Medley featuring:
 • "How Do You Do?"
 • "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"
 • "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"
8:00
Walt Disney World's Four Parks One World Album (2008) • "How Do You Do?"
 • "Laughing Place"
 • "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"
Disneyland Resort Official Album (2008)Medley, same as previous, but also includes "bee buzz" non-vocal rendition of:
 • "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place"
 • "Burrows Lament"
10:30

Voice credits

Disneyland/Magic Kingdom

CharacterVoice actor
Br'er RabbitJess Harnell
Br'er FoxJess Harnell
Br'er BearNick Stewart
Br'er FrogJames Avery
BullfrogsThurl Ravenscroft
Vultures • Edward Conor
 • John Kelfreese

Tokyo Disneyland

CharacterVoice actor
Br'er RabbitMasashi Ebara
Br'er FoxTokio Seki
Br'er BearShigeru Ushiyama
Br'er OwlJunpei Takiguchi
Br'er TurkeyMasashi Ebara
Vultures • Kenichi Ogata
 • Daisuke Sakaguchi

In popular culture

See also

References

External links