Hello ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our brand new series, where we look back at different attractions across all the Disney parks. Today we are going to start with a fan favourite, Splash Mountain.
Splash Mountain is a log flume dark ride based on the Disney Film, Songs of the South. Splash Mountain is currently in Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Splash Mountain 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, 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 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.
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 back 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 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 didn’t go quite as hoped for. Early riders made up of company executives were getting quite 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.
In 1991, construction began for the Splash Mountains 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 Magic Kingdom attraction opened on October 1, and the Tokyo Disneyland attraction opened the next day.
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.
A version of the popular attraction was planned for Disneyland Paris, but was scrapped due to budget reasons and the cold weather in Europe.
At this moment in time, this is my favourite attraction at Walt Disney World. I have always been a huge fan of the film, Song of the South. ever since I was a young boy I remember watching Uncle Remus tell his storeys and then to experience the ride when I first visited the Magic Kingdom was a dream come true. The Themeing is amazing and the ride itself is an absolute joy to behold.
Here is a POV Video of Splash Mountain.