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Splash Mountain 101, Magic Kingdom-Walt Disney World

Approaching Splash Mountain from Frontierland you are afforded some wonderful views of the attraction. It is pretty hard to say you did not know what to expect when walking to Splash Mountain from anywhere in Frontierland. There is an observation bridge where you can observe the logs on the ride. Be aware that you stand the chance of getting very wet on some days, depending on how the water canon is set! Since Splash is located next to Walt Disney World Railroad Frontierland station, it is possible to arrive via the train and enter the Splash Mountain queue without seeing the drops of the ride first. The signs certainly tell you that you will get wet though. It never ceases to amaze me that people will ask the Cast Member to dry off the seat so they can sit down. They don’t want to sit on a seat with a little bit of water on a ride called SPLASH Mountain. Please, expect to get wet on this awesome ride. Splash is located next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Frontierland section of Magic Kingdom.

If you have been to a Disney park before, you know that these attractions are so much more than a ride. Each attraction tells a story. Splash Mountain features characters and songs from a 1946 Disney film, Song of the South, which tells the story of a crafty Br’er Rabbit as he looks for his laughing place and eludes Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear who want to eat him. You ride in logs carved by beavers, and see over 60 critters including Br’ er Rabbit, Br’ er Bear and Br’ er Fox, and places with these names: Chick-A-Pin Hill, Critter Cave, the Fishing Place, Old Swimming Hole, Br’er Fox’s Lair, and Br’er Rabbit’s home in the Briar Patch. You will be treated to famous songs that make you want to sing along: Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Ev’rybody’s Got a Laughing Place, and How Do You Do? There are over 68 talking, singing, storytelling Audio-Animatronics critters such as geese, frogs, raccoons, possums, bees and alligators. Southern hospitality is a part of the story as well. The ride consists of lifts, dips, turns, and drops. As I already stated, you will get wet, and seating affects how wet you might get. Riders in the back may only have a quick splash while those in front can expect to get soaked. There are water cannons that spray water up when the boats come down the large drop. It is usually scaled back on very cold days, at the discretion of the ride manager.

If you don’t remember the Uncle Remus stories you can still find copies of them around, but finding the Song of the South film is a much more difficult thing to find. It has some elements that some consider politically incorrect today. Splash Mountain brings the best parts of the stories, characters and the great songs together in a way that we can still appreciate them today. Just in case you are wondering what “Br’er” stands for, it means Brother. Song of the South was a film that had live-action and animation combined. The ride captures the animated scenes and tells the story of Br’er Rabbit wanting to find his “laughing place” which brings some adventure along with his antics to avoid being captured and eaten by Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. The story begins where we meet Br’er Frog and he warns us there is some trouble ahead. Mr. Bluebird tries to advise Br’er Rabbit not to venture out of the briar patch, but the bunny will not listen. Br’er Bear manages to get himself caught in a trap that he and Br’er Fox had placed hoping to get Br’er Rabbit. The bungling duo manages to capture Br’er Rabbit and we see him in Br’er Fox’s cave up on Chickapin Hill. The two vultures sitting above welcome guests to come find their “laughing place, right up here”. Br’er Rabbit tells Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear “Don’t throw me into the briar patch, please!” to trick them into doing just that. The Briar Patch is where Br’er Rabbit lives. After the big drop we are brought back into the story and see the critters celebrating Br’er Rabbit’s return. The musical score for the Magic Kingdom version is identical to the one in Tokyo Disneyland but different from Disneyland’s version.

Disney rides have an annual refurbishment and Splash’s most recent was from January through the majority of March 2014. This was an extensive down time for the attraction but after a three month long refurb, which included painting and repairs, track work, removal of real grass and placement of artificial grass on the outside portion of the ride, it came back in the best shape it has been in for a few years. Everything was clean, fresh looking, and all the audio animatronics worked great.

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Opening on October 2, 1992, but having a soft opening on July 17, 1992, the ride length was about 11 minutes long. July 17 is an important date in Disney history. July 17, 1955 was Disneyland’s opening day and July 17, 1989 Splash Mountain in Disneyland was dedicated. The Disneyland ride was designed to increase guest count in Bear Country and true to Disney ways used several audio animatronics characters from a show in Tomorrowland that was closing called America Sings. Disney does not like to throw away useful items from any of its attractions. Guests had been asking for a log flume ride after visiting other theme parks and Imagineers finally decided to bring them one. The Disney Imagineers did not just want a flume ride, no; theirs had to tell a story. And so they did and that is what distinguishes a Disney water ride from any other theme park flume ride. The Song of the South characters did meet and greets with guests in Disneyland since opening day so the characters were familiar to Disneyland crowds. The story came from the famous Uncle Remus stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris, set in the south post Civil War. One of the animators of the film, Marc Davis, who is also one of Walt’s “nine old men”, would find himself the Imagineer who created many of the audio animatronics used in the ride. Those characters were first used in another attraction, America Sings, but found a new home in Splash Mountain in Disneyland. Everything in the Walt Disney World Splash Mountain was created just for this attraction. Look for the hopping Br’er Rabbit as he is the most expensive of the audio animatronics on the ride, at a whopping $1.3 million price tag.

The ride was originally called “Zip-a-Dee River Run” by was changed to Splash Mountain at the suggestion of Michael Eisner who also wanted to promote the newly released Disney film “Splash”. It was a successful attraction in Disneyland so the decision was to add it to Tokyo Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The Imagineers in Tokyo suggested the change from a single-file log flume to a side-by-side seating to better fit cultural norms in Japan. There are many Japanese visitors to Walt Disney World so it made sense to make its Splash Mountain the same as Tokyo Disneyland’s. This reconfiguration of the ride vehicle also increased the number of guests per hour that could ride the attraction.

During the construction of Splash Mountain in Walt Disney World much of Frontierland needed to change to accommodate this expansive attraction. The Walt Disney World Train station was torn down so for the first time since opening day at Magic Kingdom it could not run. The track elevation was changed so that guests would be able to walk below the train track to enter the queue. The train would also run through Splash Mountain giving riders a view of the Zip-a-Dee Lady scene. This gently rocking Mississippi River boat is 36 feet long and 22 feet high and is the largest ride prop at Walt Disney World. The attraction covers 9.2 acres, and it reigns as the one of the most beloved attractions in the Magic Kingdom.

Let’s look at the ride portion of the attraction. The ride restraint system is a lap bar, which was not added until 2011. The final drop is at 47-degrees and it is five stories tall. The length of the log flume is about ½ mile. The speed is 40mph, which makes it faster than Space Mountain! The ride vehicle is a log with four rows that can seat up to three persons per row. There is no flash photography on this ride. The amount of water rushing over the flumes is approximately 28,000 gallons per minute. During the 2014 refurbishment you could watch them drain the water in about 5 minutes and when they wanted to test the changes they had made they could refill it in a little more than 20 minutes. There is a reservoir behind the attraction that allows for this system to work, which holds about a million gallons of water and is 50 feet deep and 60 feet wide. To allow for this quick transference of water six pumps are utilized and 2 foot wide pipes.There is a camera on the last drop so smile when you are heading down that big hill. Flash photography is prohibited on this ride.

As a guest you will probably not notice what goes on behind the scenes to make this ride work, which is how you are supposed to experience the “show” of the ride. Backstage there are two main computers and they must both accept the millions of commands sent while the ride is moving. If one of the computers does not agree with the other the ride will stop. If a guest does something unexpected such as get out of a boat, change seats, throw something out of the boat, for instance, the ride will also need to stop. Do not think that Disney cannot see you in the dark areas of this ride; they can see you through 36 cameras hidden from your view. The Cast Member watching the monitors hooked to these cameras can see you and if you step out of the boat, sensors trigger an alarm and the ride stops. If the ride stops due to one of these extreme situations, you will most likely have to evacuate the ride. If you are evacuated from Splash Mountain you will be guided out one of 15 exit doors to back stage. You will most likely not notice any of these doors until you need them. Always wait in your ride vehicle until a Cast Member tells you to do otherwise.

There are five drops on the ride and three lifts. The lifts are very expensive pieces of the ride. The brakes at the bottom of drop four(the big one) can stop one of the 1-ton empty boats from their speed of 40 mph to 0 mph in less than two seconds. There are over 60 of the logs for this attraction with the average number riding at any one time somewhere between 50 and 54 logs. The dual computers keep track of where each and every log, by number, is while it is on the ride. The logs sometimes bunch up in what they call “stack zones” that actually make it easier to evacuate guests if necessary. Cast Members will run out to these stack zones to count the boats and enter the information into the computer. If the count does not agree with that already in the computer then the reset of the ride will take longer, and if they agree it will result in a quicker restart of the ride. If a guest gets out, everyone will have to be evacuated. After waiting in a hot line for a couple of hours, or using one of your three FastPass+, it is not appreciated to have a guest get out of the boat and have to evacuate.

This attraction has two gift shops. The one out front, Briar Patch, resembles Br’er Rabbit’s home, and there is another one at the exit of the ride where you can also pick up ride photos. There is a small playground located below the Frontierland Train Station for younger guests who are too small to ride. A character meet and greet and bathrooms are also in the back area of the Splash Mountain attraction. The characters are Sheriff Woody and Jessie, both from Toy Story movies. Splashdown Photos is at the exit where you can purchase your ride photo.

TIP: The FastPass+ is in high demand and without it you could wind up with a lengthy wait time to ride. You can also expect lower wait times for the first hour the ride is open in the morning and during Wishes and time remaining until park close.

CHARACTER MEET AND GREETS:Woody and Jesse from Toy Story are in the back of Splash Mountain. Just go under the railroad bridge and turn to the right after the playground. Br’er Bear and Br’er Rabbit come out for the Hoedown in front of Country Bear Jamboree during park hours, and Br’er Fox usually comes out for special events. Just check the daily Times Guide for the times they will be out.

The closest restaurant is Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café that is adjacent to Splash Mountain. Light snacks and beverages can be found at carts nearby and in the Briar Patch gift shop.

There are restrooms at the back of the attraction, just go under the train station to the right side of the attraction.

Other cool things about Splash Mountain: “Fussell Springs” is a sign placed next to Muskrat Moonshine in the upper area of the ride and is in honor of a very long time Splash Mountain Cast Member. Also, for any Kingdom Keeper’s book series fans, the character Wayne is based on an actual Cast Member by the same name who has worked at Splash Mountain for a very long time. He is a wonderful, friendly man and does not mind being asked questions about the stories and is happy to pose for a photo.

ATTRACTION DETAILS:

  • Log flume ride, with lap bar
  • Thrill ride
  • 40” or taller height requirement
  • 60 logs currently
  • Flume measures       8 feet across, 3 feet deep
  • 180 optical sensors along flume to monitor the logs
  • Has 67 hidden Mickey’s in the attraction
  • Based on 1946 film Song of the South
  • Ride is 11 minutes long
  • 5-story, 2 foot drop at 47-degree angle
  • 950,000 gallons of water
  • 68 audio-animatronic critters
  • Must be available to transfer from wheelchair/ECV to the log
  • Children under 7 must be accompanied by a person at least 14 years of age
  • Service animals are not permitted.
  • Rider switch is offered.
  • For safety you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
  • Shaded outside and also inside queue areas

ATTRACTION TIMELINE:

  • Soft Opening –July 17, 1992
  • Grand Opening October 2, 1992: Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1_1jTcLKTI
  • 2004-received the Disney Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for Favorite Attraction at Magic Kingdom Park.
  • Feb. 2011-lap bars installed
  • Jan-March 2014-refurbishment, track work, show details

For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289 Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.