• Welcome to the WDWMAGIC.COM Forums!
    Please take a look around, and feel free to sign up and join the community.You can use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up, or register directly.

A Brief and Incomplete History of Splash Mountain

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Last night I touched upon a little bit of the history behind Splash Mountain’s creation. I’d like to talk a bit now about the actual ride experience, and some of the storytelling techniques present in the attraction. I’m not an expert at any of this stuff- so if anyone has anything to contribute/correct please chime in. We’ve all ridden the ride- so I’ll focus less on the basics of the story and more so on the why behind it. Daveland has the best lit photos of the ride’s interior I’ve seen, so I’m going to be pulling heavily from that site. I tried to make the photos small for space reasons... click on any photo for the full size version.

Everyone’s first view of Splash Mountain is something like this (but with water and logs and music and strollers everywhere)-

WbWl4aKhSVOFRk5F4Tu-eNIC3nQcYUxl0FfOuxyeRVoJeyzJ4LHswvgFUQsdrCvm9hD5QAy6dvTuuE8HIBIkRl3d8LaH1fS8Tkj0clgOrD0ujKDasj2Lp748NDoDsXHtlUQDrTZU


This whole structure is very loosely inspired by Chickapin Hill as seen in Song of the South-


AlJpIYLACmwG9bzaVYPcFq-7zmkfD3080fU6ImHweqHmW2CIJbzhpxHpxojY2q39uejkS0zKy5ZWyzmVCfdV7i10KqOPZrzYaQ9cK3eMwmN_NjwKrG3jaimJbNxvqkBmAWI0JAk_


I’m not quite sure what the cabin on the left was intended to be (besides a beautiful aesthetic), but the structure as a whole captivates anyone that sees it. Having the riders drop out of site is intriguing- it creates a ‘wait! Where did they go!’ and for younger visitors, a slight fear since you can’t see how far you’re actually dropping. It added kinetic energy and excitement to that whole half of the park Placing the tree on the top of the mountain was initially pitched by Tom Morris (or at least, he says it was) to act as a weenie (another old school Imagineering principal), and worked to give the structure a far more defining presence than the Knott’s ride that inspired this one-

MkS7R2_x5wCnj3fu_8T5LU9_uCmkaOfeloYgCUg-k60IVBqewt6sV06s56GefK5pRSGp_4Dop92KfR7IhSvNVpD9sso1ltwsAdkVFsWpWkZmGGnImyjHrUXK5Qn3o-cyhXCe8ksz


You enter through the side of the Mountain into something inspired by an old cabin, with unattributed Uncle Remus quotes from the film on the walls. After passing through the cabin portion of the queue you enter the mountain portion you enter the load area.

EdAIT2XiYL0Lkq5SGfVjyqCol2-r9xpwI9auekTXEUTtt3BGxP_F3VAYpajtRZrfpTxp_UXmMDMDxxhUQ-B8yeTuI5j2WYkraN-Hg_Z5qY4h5R_bIAuRZGnW-UdBNi9CNvNuNoGy


See those windows on the top right? That’s the attraction’s control tower. Keen eyed tourists will notice the ‘Flood Gates open 1989’ sign hanging inside, if they look close enough (pictured above).

The initial part of the attraction an instrumental version of ‘How Do Ya Do’ plays while you traverse the outside of the Mountain and pass Brer Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear’s homes. Bruce Gordon likened this part of the ride to the opening bayou portion of Pirates of the Caribbean- it works to remove the visitor from the troubles of the rest of the park and into the world of the attraction. The first drop takes you into the show building, and outside Disneyland’s berm. Having you drop ‘into the action’ distracts from the transition, and gives riders a bit of thrill to lift their mood just before the singing starts. The initial scene is mostly populated by the old America Sings geese, but has a few wonderful vignettes I think are absolutely charming. Sadly, due to maintenance issues, this scene hasn’t been properly staged for years with animatronics either missing or malfunctioning, and inconsistent lighting issues.

wygr9NMT0Uxkg0rEwueSskpr3KjPGXyjpHoGmlVe4dTlQ3KAMK4xWJS8-sTilzlhs4pCkPrimR-Jbu4FEi6VY8mXPKW65g0hqMdBPkx1qHQsQDcl3LFBN8M5Vu8Six02Je1l2BRC
_SYtQcECrEzf8Ex3DK10Ce-ZwzLPpeMa38E79NktnJDGexWoXTkGvrpJkzTxoEhiowfehtPz5VNesul9CWalyT59s4Io4lz1wAMIO9qx-RzKqjmES9_Pym4LIrGZns_0RafkgFdo


Something worth noting- one of Dave Feiten’s stated goals while cleaning up the attraction’s staging prior to reopen was to give people’s eyes somewhere to rest- every scene should have a clear focus, and there needed to be downtime between scenes to allow riders time to imagine and immerse in the world.

As you go around the corner we’re introduced to our antagonists, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. One is obviously depicted as cunning, while the other aloof. It’s also the first of many Br’er Butts throughout the attraction.

O3uXfmCfQLipwDA_fMf4CiCiR3pDJe8e-xxF3NpPc5S7l08teet9unopdmWKzquejmxK4t4FQ-9Zm2wgw4aEz3ZrYPLp43Q_f3F2JfVJSbI8_gtAlcju9KJ4dSQGVR9fvLe38jDJ


This little vignette is directly lifted from this scene from Song of the South-


The next little bit of the attraction introduces us to Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Turtle, singing about how they’re leaving the Briar Patch.

oe-GemwJoU7ZRNGX6_mp_tuSo4M7bndnouFWohYY4_-HnznfuBCKAZYdM22yTXmOyLQMuvpgJS2L6NAyW2bNFnlvxf7DPlCNB6TKC8en-p2ckUxFaNg_PBi23D0cFi-VpwPHTv3S



The ‘How Do You Do’ portion of the ride then transitions into a new version of the song with ‘Do’s’ sung instead of actual lyrics. The Splash Mountain Medley that’s been frequently released has a bit of audio in it that I don’t believe is in either version of the ride-

A while back I remember reading somewhere that that audio was to be used in the pre opening staging of the ride- not sure how true it is, but it’s fun to speculate.

The similarities between Marc Davis’s design work for Song of the South and America Sings are really remarkable. These baby possums that were initially from America Sings look almost exactly like the ones in the film, all it took was a costume change.

QUOi_VSNNiRa_5OY38UO7cdFroinemXvS-fRDuUzOnkTNHk--jkhL6kfotD0rHaHFPHl6JxLJPZ5SRGAVWGwz2ymMoBUPbQawAJGnWtHnVGC3N0oWMcAurDsjLMtC1igxAYcioRl
\

The next bit is the Hitchhiking Alligator, singing yet another version of How Do You Do.

J5778iyiQWCpzE-yGPuYhp1WeEkmdecz9zq3oNGUU9IDW13jQKLJzb76fJis0Jfsey6kTuhGAi4lsXaSqymvtsfwfFv6fivP3ApLP1qfiVQW9OxCdNs5S1-Q9_Rzt124KlHIWTQy


On the right we see Br’er Rabbit quite amused with himself.. Just before we get a view of our second Br’er Butt.

_WCkzZijW3Bf7zdtz0DV9bbWb6joYDJY7_dPP75TCF_xD-fRVGLGbajXSObYSrAgxPgp0uZIWUvbRtrtjaEbal-1fwrG8ng951j7k80JNDQfBiSPMeatqfXueMVUw11d_BF5y9NE
x510VKog6RzA18yf798sGjXckcr6K_QkumGsGIEnclWZ_zVYlyxkxDqlJsef1Ign5HJrvM3U-9-rXudgj0ArQ6MuEptXIZw2JEAPPoZxBs9HS5zaQH2Ul3H4GwoRdo6zVDuezpEo


As you descend into darkness you hear Br’er Bear say “There’s nothing in here but bees!”. This vignette is another lift from the film-


The dip drop that follows was inspired by the one at the flume ride in Busch Gardens in Florida, a ride that had been developed by Arrow Development. Tony sent Tom and Bruce out there to see if they liked it. According to Tom, Bruce didn’t like the dip drop but Tom did, and Tony turned to Bruce and said “Tom wins”.

After the blackened dip drop you come out into the Laughin’ Place portion of the ride, introduced via blacklist beehives and a unique version of the song. This bit presents a significant tonal shift in the attraction, and also gives riders a chance to cheer/clap after the dip drop before getting their attention back for the Laughin’ Place animatronic segment.


You see Br’er Bear with the beehive on his nose. During a 1987 presentation on the attraction Bruce Gordon had this to say about the figure- “Once you make it through the bees you end up in the Laughin’ Place and see Br’er Bear. He fell down the hill with you and now has a beehive stuck on his head. He’s thrashing and kicking like nothing flailing his arms. He’s amazing too. The bear is something new um he’s mounted on truck shock absorbers. There’s three truck absorbers and everything else is giant springs, we fire the shock absorbers at random and everything flails. We don’t know how long it’s gonna last until it destroys itself.” I’ve never seen a video of Br’er Bear acting as described in this scene- if anyone who got to ride it in ‘89 can chime in and mention if it ever functioned as described I’m really curious.

cUeuFNXhxWIfGPV3vfdHavuRCqRMldBBtPxo87tudHf4zJRIXEtzy7AeWNboM8vH6jYunt9MtJ61U81WwQg39WNtiJv0xD1SHk3iv0Ehy2ILxTZNre1ecbzthzO9_82eyZ4MFv6h


Prior to open this pig got swapped out for a Goose, I assume by Feiten.

uvHpGMx3F8ObVtf331Vd8vr4l66ImmHvu-M9KIcKw5-LKgD4UIp2BVbd2W10jpGBnAyVgMJ7DIK8_wvHa89u92BtKg9GWoOJ-RsaIIns6GrKlnPNIVzqdhAoDl_zr83aG32qf1Qm
UAz5Ip9YzcN7sevJfPhdqL1FeZ1TL0VgyWYTvtYsYkQG2glInvHLxiu7fwIpkc30WdxZqiHI-N8BuNwTn_tuFJ8YQQs8Lrr01Adkka0K17VHGkiLVRB2CYzgXYIU0M1G_huFhiGw


The storyboards showed the ‘Old Grey Mare’ figure in this boat, and the figure being swapped I assume is another Feiten change. But again, could be wrong. I really wish the original staging was better documented, since things change from the original storyboards all the time.

RaG0GsJ1fSBBhrL8wDS6gpNtxfMPIC6Y0Zj3gI32u-1PXR6MVdK7qlDVaMDIskLid_TqGlAyJwCjt5vdmLiPyKmp5CCPEIdAG1AtN7vCRyfeNfbEgLJN1GKGRQaHuRwdeKyR853N
B2GF2ceCQGSSlIUiuK2qGvnGRdbLp0jPbs5lMS1UxfEWwZUJlRDmilbOB7iFIaRtUO1_eH2mv1qNshCh4K_j3S27pQIxq1yizlbdpUqJcfziI6e-QBtVM6XiVcj3ihKLeWh5zimd


We then see Br’er Rabbit get caught in honey by Br’er Fox, which is a very loose reference to the Tar Baby section from the film. We transition into Burrow’s Lament, and go up the lift to this scene which is a combination of two different scenes from the movie.


After the drop we hear an instrumental rendition of Zip a Dee Doo Dah. This track is designed to contribute to the celebratory nature of the moment, and not having an actual show scene right away gives riders a chance to recover and be excited without anything new in the story.

We then transition into the Showboat finale-

yLNeng0L_Bv2nds8WGzSnKmYlN--mGFvxV0w6H0CpY0lyZMdjklComFgjW7hbPVDWmJSH6c-hYM21fYO3yIIEkVYCBRrck7X7qKzrWtcOFFicfNHfnbtc63rLb_-f7hytcqwk6zX


Notice that the leaves from the ceiling are now painted in fall colors vs the green from the How Do Ya Do part, and how it’s painted as a sunset- both subtle cues from the Imagineers to give the ride a more satisfying finale. Behind the middle fox is a Playbill sign that reads “Capt Andy Presents A Song of the South in 3 Acts”

We see Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear (and our final Br’er Butt) caught by an alligator, and Br'er Rabbit celebrating his victory.

3n-xFVEsKmt-qZKV-H9HKNNwW5EEYf5Mrv-2NRDQCJonH40X1HePlNYuUR-PlKRkCe23nqLFxNZx7K-pOT58DIXhvMbvsKXO4tQ7x0RWo3e7W1QWX_pHIYEuRdFbedpFO9aiAGoE


For years you could preview your ride photo before exiting the log, but the screen was removed and the owl turned off (except for when the audio was mistakenly turned on briefly a little over a year ago).

x6ZU6Zx40ZGv4vY0_OeBQc63l3zmHmmqzREkqX5RfrXvg1Cwsh_kgTQqgky5idg-lM3L7-Ni9iLcWDOAQR9JnjjVAN-XnyMQ-xUQWiuRKy_ggiXEZUOxS15DIw_5MgyhiDj67PqG


Thanks to anyone who's actually read through all of this! There's a lot of neat little touches I left out- the over sized carrots and mushrooms in Burrow's Lament, the vultures, the various costume designs. I really like how this ride has a story that it uses to make the experience feel cohesive, but it doesn't rely on that story or force it down your throat. It's experiential storytelling vs. linear storytelling. I think my next 'Oh my goodness this is way too long' post will be a deep dive look into the music of the attraction- each version of the audio from the ride, where it's used, and where it originates from. And any information I can find about lyricists and performers.

Wonderful post!! Thanks for sharing!! It’s such a beautifully designed ride. I’m reminded by reading your post just how much I enjoy the beginning of the ride. Specifically after the first lift hill through the first drop. The instrumental “How Do you Do”, the anticipation and the views of Disneyland just work so well together.

I love the non linear story telling. It’s what helps make it a true Disneyland classic. Another thing that makes Disneyland’s Splash so great is the tonal difference created from it being darker and inclusion of the Burrows Lament segment that makes the Zip-a-dee-doo-dah segment feel that much greater.

At the very least the ride layout and most of the set dressing (both of which are brilliant) should stay the same. I love how windy the flume layout is as it really makes the rider feel that they re on an adventure and establishes a sense of place. The fact they call this a “refresh” is actually somewhat reassuring in that regard. The music will be sorely missed. I am very much worried that we will lose the non linear story telling for a very bright book report ride. With that said, the bayou theme of PatF gives me some hope.
 
Last edited:

disneyC97

Well-Known Member
Advertisement
So I know the Indian Village used to be a part of the area where Splash is now but what the heck was there when It was Bear Country? I definitely remember seeing CBJ many times as a young kid but don't remember anything else about the land.
I believe there was a building housing bathrooms done in a style similar to the (still existing) buildings that now house the Pooh shop right at the entrance to the left, across from Fowler's Harbour as well.
 

EagleScout610

Well-Known Member
You see Br’er Bear with the beehive on his nose. During a 1987 presentation on the attraction Bruce Gordon had this to say about the figure- “Once you make it through the bees you end up in the Laughin’ Place and see Br’er Bear. He fell down the hill with you and now has a beehive stuck on his head. He’s thrashing and kicking like nothing flailing his arms. He’s amazing too. The bear is something new um he’s mounted on truck shock absorbers. There’s three truck absorbers and everything else is giant springs, we fire the shock absorbers at random and everything flails. We don’t know how long it’s gonna last until it destroys itself.” I’ve never seen a video of Br’er Bear acting as described in this scene- if anyone who got to ride it in ‘89 can chime in and mention if it ever functioned as described I’m really curious.

cUeuFNXhxWIfGPV3vfdHavuRCqRMldBBtPxo87tudHf4zJRIXEtzy7AeWNboM8vH6jYunt9MtJ61U81WwQg39WNtiJv0xD1SHk3iv0Ehy2ILxTZNre1ecbzthzO9_82eyZ4MFv6h
I think you can briefly see him functioning as intended in the Ernest Rides Splash Mountain video. I could be wrong though.
 

BuzzedPotatoHead89

Well-Known Member
Would it make anyone feel better if they brought back America Sings? I know it won’t happen but if they have all these animatronics and an empty carousel over in Tomorrowland I’d like to imagine in some timeline they made use of that opportunity.

I would very much support this. I also support the concept of going back to a retro-80s Stylized futurism.

Would bring in 80s franchises like Tron and Wreck it Ralph (as either an Autopia “reimagining” or a new dark ride), alongside “80s classics” like the original Baxter/Lucas Star Tours, Captain EO, Videopolis, some new iteration of the Starcade/Flynn’s arcade.

One can dream.... 😉
 

Phroobar

Well-Known Member
I would very much support this. I also support the concept of going back to a retro-80s Stylized futurism.

Would bring in 80s franchises like Tron and Wreck it Ralph (as either an Autopia “reimagining” or a new dark ride), alongside “80s classics” like the original Baxter/Lucas Star Tours, Captain EO, Videopolis, some new iteration of the Starcade/Flynn’s arcade.

One can dream.... 😉
As long as they brought back the original words to "Who shot a hole in sombrero?" along with heavy Mexican accent.

Who shot the hole in my sombrero?
Who put the bullet through my hat?
Who shot the hole in my sombrero?
Who would do a terrible thing like that?

Was it Pancho from the rancho?
Did he do this because I kissed his wife?

They changed it to (in Texan accent)

Who shot that hole in my sombrero?
Who put that bullet through my hy-at?
Who shot that hole in my sombrero?
Who would do a turrible thang like thy-at?

I cain't figger who'd pull that trigger.
You don't reckin mah wife could be back in ty-own?
 

EagleScout610

Well-Known Member
As long as they brought back the original words to "Who shot a hole in sombrero?" along with heavy Mexican accent.

Who shot the hole in my sombrero?
Who put the bullet through my hat?
Who shot the hole in my sombrero?
Who would do a terrible thing like that?

Was it Pancho from the rancho?
Did he do this because I kissed his wife?

They changed it to (in Texan accent)

Who shot that hole in my sombrero?
Who put that bullet through my hy-at?
Who shot that hole in my sombrero?
Who would do a turrible thang like thy-at?

I cain't figger who'd pull that trigger.
You don't reckin mah wife could be back in ty-own?
Pop goes the weasel
 

George Lucas on a Bench

Well-Known Member
Those promotional videos from when the ride was new are completely different than how it looked whenever I've gone on it. The robots barely move anymore.

I went on Disneyworld's version when it first opened and everyone was floored by it, the robots functioned like those promo videos, but as time went by, they seemed to move less and less until it was in a fairly depressing state in the 2000s. They eventually refurbished it though.

The attitude toward DL's for years seems to have been to just run it into the ground.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Those promotional videos from when the ride was new are completely different than how it looked whenever I've gone on it. The robots barely move anymore.

I went on Disneyworld's version when it first opened and everyone was floored by it, the robots functioned like those promo videos, but as time went by, they seemed to move less and less until it was in a fairly depressing state in the 2000s. They eventually refurbished it though.

The attitude toward DL's for years seems to have been to just run it into the ground.

I imagine the speed at which you pass those AA's at DL factored into their decision.
 

Figments Friend

Well-Known Member
And I for one really like the difference in 'speed' between the two versions of 'Splash Mountain' here Stateside.

Disneyland's Original has always been very 'zippity' ( no joke! ) and your log moves at a quick pace.
The downside is you move by the show scenes faster and it makes taking in all that is to be seen more challanging.
The single log style vertical seating also gives the sensation of a much faster final plunge.

WDW's version with the double logs and typical horizontal seating arrangement does not create the same effect during the final drop....even more so now due to the lap bars.
Disneyland's is downright harrowing....from the narrow feeling of the logs, to the seating, to no restraints....you truly feel like you are free-falling into the briar patch....and it's great!!
I do not get that same experience at WDW's Attraction but that is suitable for their version.

WDW's versions is more 'laid back' in a sense that the travel speed is reduced so Guests can better view the more elaborate Show scenes.
WDW definitely has the better quality Show scenes in some areas, but Disneyland's has a charm all its own that has never been duplicated.

-
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
And I for one really like the difference in 'speed' between the two versions of 'Splash Mountain' here Stateside.

Disneyland's Original has always been very 'zippity' ( no joke! ) and your log moves at a quick pace.
The downside is you move by the show scenes faster and it makes taking in all that is to be seen more challanging.
The single log style vertical seating also gives the sensation of a much faster final plunge.

WDW's version with the double logs and typical horizontal seating arrangement does not create the same effect during the final drop....even more so now due to the lap bars.
Disneyland's is downright harrowing....from the narrow feeling of the logs, to the seating, to no restraints....you truly feel like you are free-falling into the briar patch....and it's great!!
I do not get that same experience at WDW's Attraction but that is suitable for their version.

WDW's versions is more 'laid back' in a sense that the travel speed is reduced so Guests can better view the more elaborate Show scenes.
WDW definitely has the better quality Show scenes in some areas, but Disneyland's has a charm all its own that has never been duplicated.

-

-


The speed of the logs and non linear story telling made Splash at DL very re ridable.
 

Kate F

Well-Known Member
While we’re on the subject of differences between the two versions, that’s one of the things I most dislike about the current proposal. Probably the same soundtrack, same general vibe, little that stands out about either version besides the different bones.
 

SuddenStorm

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The speed of the logs and non linear story telling made Splash at DL very re ridable.

I've been thinking about that. Disneyland relies primarily on emotional/experiential storytelling. At each point of the ride there's a very specific emotion you're supposed to be feeling, that loosely ties into the story of the attraction. This let's your imagination wander and creates a far more satisfying experience than, say, Rise of the Resistance which is a technical marvel but spoon feeds a very linear story.

Just looking at the dip drop- which is a huge surprise for first timers and continuously thrilling on repeat rides into a song that brings a smile to anyone who hears it is absolutely delightful.

But also, most of those figures and the song itself have little to do with the overarching story. I imagine a Disney attraction now would have spent the entirety of that segment showing Br'er Fox sneaking up on Br'er Rabbit, wouldn't have had figures that were completely unrelated to the main story, and would have had screens everywhere. An argument could be made it's weak storytelling to not actually show how Br'er Rabbit got stuck in a beehive- but on Splash it doesn't matter because it feels right.

When kids 'survive' the big drop they've been scared of every time they went to the park for the first time, they're given a solid minute or two to celebrate with their family before going into a room that's a literal celebration- all to the tune of the most iconic Disney song of all time. And Disney didn't come out and say 'this is the finale'. They simply painted everything in fall colors to subliminally show it's the end, and a quick figure or Br'er Fox and Bear caught, and Rabbit celebrating. And it's perfect. In a modern Disney ride that whole scene would have been showing the alligator chasing Br'er Fox and Bear.

Like, if Splash got built today we would have been 'recruits' to help save Br'er Rabbit from Br'er Fox, and would have had a narrator talking to us during the whole exterior of the attraction telling us about our mission and what's going on. We wouldn't have had a diverse cast of creatures populating the Mountain, we would have had one or two amazing Br'er Rabbit, Fox, and Bear figures and the rest would have been screens showing animation, and physical props with projection mapping on them.
 

Register on WDWMAGIC. This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.

Top Bottom