|Designer||Walt Disney Imagineering|
|Opening date||July 17, 1989|
|Ride duration||9:18 minutes|
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 Audio-Animatronics from America Sings, which was also receiving poor attendance from guests. It was Dick Nunis who insisted the Imagineers to create a log flume attraction for Disneyland, but the Imagineers were initially unenthusiastic about it, insisting that log flume attractions were too ordinary to include in a park like Disneyland. One early idea involved guests being recruited by a sheriff to take care of some troublesome bears making moonshine, which would see guests using lightguns to shoot the stills, before getting into a gunfight with the bears themselves. This was considered too family-unfriendly and scrapped. While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people to Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter then thought of the 1946 Disney film Song of the South.
At the time it was being 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 is to permanently 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 the main characters were specifically designed for Splash Mountain. Coincidentally, the two vultures seen just before the final 52-feet drop at the Disneyland version are the very same vultures used as the Boothill Boys from America Sings.
Dave Feiten was then brought in to animate and fix the 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. A version of the popular attraction was planned for Disneyland Paris in France, but was scrapped due to budget reasons and the very cold weather in Europe.
The attraction generally receives refurbishments in January-February yearly.
The ride presents scenes taken from the animated segments of Song of the South. It tells the story of the adventures of Brer Rabbit, a mischievous rabbit who leaves his home at the Briar Patch to look for his laughing place. Unfortunately for him, Brer Fox and Brer Bear, the antagonists of this story, are determined to catch him. The story starts off with an intro from Brer Frog, who warns of the troubles ahead. Brer Rabbit outsmarts the two a few times, but in the end, they manage to catch him and take him to Brer Fox's cave at Chickapin Hill.
The transition into the Laughing Place takes place in the dark and the log out of the water and onto steel beams like a roller coaster.
Brer Rabbit outfoxes them one final time, by tricking them into throwing him into his home, the Briar Patch. At that point, riders are sent down the big drop into the Briar Patch. At the end of the ride, a showboat and a lot of critters sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah to celebrate Brer Rabbit's safe return.
Guests enter the queue in front the main drop viewing area. The queue winds past the Critter Country sign into the main entrance - an old barn. Inside, a number of machines with cogs and gears can be seen. Various quotes and thoughts from Uncle Remus are featured on signs throughout the queue, which winds the barn and enters a cavern before reaching the loading area.
Passengers ride aboard six-passenger logs with one single-file seat and a larger seat in the very back. 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 ride's three main characters (Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear) and aged farm equipment are incorporated into the landscape, along with an instrumental version of "How Do You Do?" eminating from hidden speakers along the waterway.
Snoring is heard eminating 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 possums, sing the attraction's first musical number, "How Do You Do?". Most of the animals seen throughout Splash Mountain were reused from the now-defunct America Sings attraction. Brer Rabbit is seen laughing at Brer Bear's misfortunes, preceding a "dip-drop" into the surreal Rainbow Hollow, where characters sing "Everybody's Has a Laughin' Place."
Brer Fox then manages to trap Brer Rabbit in a beehive. The mood turns ominous as two mother characters (a possum and a rabbit) sing the "Burrow's Lament" to their children. 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 in Brer Fox's lair 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 in a 53 foot drop where the riders' pictures are also taken. 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 (reclining happily inside his 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 with various phrases describing the looks on their faces. After disembarking from the log, riders enter a "dark room," where they preview their on-ride photograph before exiting back out into Critter Country.
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