The Complicated History Of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain And Song of the South

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Splash Mountain

Once I’m visiting Disneyland, which attraction is my favourite often shifts with my temper. However on a sizzling summer time day, that favourite attraction is incessantly Splash Mountain. The fourth “mountain” attraction at Disneyland, which additionally exists at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland, is a favourite for lots of individuals. It is a thrilling log flume journey that’s just about assured to soak you to the bone. For a lot of, Splash Mountain is nothing greater than a enjoyable water journey, however there’s much more behind the standard attraction, contemplating its connection to at least one of the most notorious Disney movies ever made.

Song of the South hasn’t been launched by Disney since 1986, and the film has by no means seen a house video launch in North America. Former Disney CEO Bob Iger made it clear on a number of events that he noticed no place for the movie in a contemporary Disney firm. The film is not accessible on Disney+ now, and it is unlikely that it ever shall be. The film has a really dated view of racial relations, and as such, with that matter being at the forefront of many minds, there are a lot of asking Disney to re-theme Splash Mountain. However how in the world did a film that no person desires to speak about get a theme park attraction in 1989, and even later when the journey was added to different parks after Disneyland?

Disneyland in the 1980s

The historical past of Splash Mountain dates again to the early 1980s. Disneyland was coping with a number of completely different points at the time that Walt Disney Imagineering was attempting to resolve. Whereas Disneyland was nonetheless loads standard at the time, one explicit space of the park, Bear Nation, was not. The solely attraction in the space, The Nation Bear Jamboree, was displaying its age, and as Bear Nation was a lifeless finish at the again of the park, the actual property given to Bear Nation simply wasn’t pulling its weight.

The different drawback was that whereas Disneyland was successful with younger youngsters and their dad and mom, the older teen market did not discover Disneyland to be all that cool. One option to attempt to repair this was to extend the quantity of thrill rides in the park. A log flume attraction was proposed as an answer, although magineers initially balked at the idea. Log flumes had been often fairly easy points of interest designed to provide visitors one massive splash and get them moist, and a few felt Disneyland was higher than that. The feeling was {that a} log flume at Disneyland wanted one thing extra. In Walt Disney communicate, they wanted to plus the attraction, and that meant including story to make it one thing extra.

The story got here from Imagineer Tony Baxter, who had the concept of utilizing Song of the South as the inspiration for the story. Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear had been walk-around characters at Disneyland for many years, so the story wasn’t completely out of place, however there was a whole different motive why utilizing Song of the South made sense for Splash Mountain.

America Sings

America Sings

In 1974, Disneyland had changed the Carousel of Progress with a present referred to as America Sings. In the present, a set of animatronic animals sang a medley of patriotic songs. The present was born to rejoice the nation’s coming bicentennial, however by 1983, the bicentennial was lengthy gone, and the present was displaying its age. America Sings was already on the chopping block and was preparing to get replaced.

The timing, not less than with this half, could not have been extra excellent. America Sings was the final attraction designed by Imagineer Marc Davis. He had been with Disney since he was an animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and in the 1940s, earlier than he made the bounce from animation to Imagineering, Davis designed one other group of animated characters: the animals from Song of the South.

As a result of Marc Davis had designed the characters from each Song of the South and America Sings, the fashion of the anthropomorphic animals was extremely comparable. This meant the menagerie of America Sings animatronics could possibly be transported throughout the park to the new Splash Mountain attraction, they usually’d match the Song of the South theme completely. Most of the animals you see on Splash Mountain by no means seem in Song of the South, however all of them appear like they belong there.

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain

Design work started on the mission, which was initially being referred to as Zip-a-Dee River Run.

In 1984, model new Disney CEO Michael Eisner was pitched on the mission. Eisner was particularly involved about getting youngsters into Disneyland, a lot in order that he reportedly introduced his personal teen son alongside to the assembly with Imagineering. In accordance with those that had been there, It was solely after the son instructed his dad that the attraction seemed cool that Eisner gave it the inexperienced gentle. The Song of the South connection was apparently okay with all people at the time.

The solely factor Michael Eisner did not like was the title. He got here up with Splash Mountain, to attach the new attraction with different Disneyland mountains, like Area Mountain and Large Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was additionally used as a result of, at the time, Disney was engaged on a live-action film referred to as Splash, that Eisner needed to see built-in into the attraction in a roundabout way.

Imagineers largely ignored this concept, which labored out as a result of building on Splash Mountain did not really begin for 3 years. Different tasks, like Star Excursions and Captain EO, took precedence over Splash Mountain.

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Further Splash Mountain points of interest would go on to be constructed at each Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland, and whereas a number of particulars of the journey construction are completely different, they’re all primarily the identical journey, all with Brer Rabbit and mates.

The Princess and the Frog

The Future Of Splash Mountain

Song of the South‘s final journey by means of theaters would happen simply earlier than Splash Mountain building started. The indisputable fact that 1986 was the final time the film could be publicly screened in theaters had as a lot to do with the rising dwelling video market because it did any points with Song of the South, however at the identical time, these points have stored the movie from seeing any type of dwelling video launch.

Splash Mountain does not embody and even make reference to Uncle Remus, as an alternative focusing solely on the animated characters from the movie. Whereas this retains the film’s most problematic parts off the attraction, it definitely does not erase them. It is for that reason that some have requested Disney to re-theme Splash Mountain, suggesting that one thing like The Princess and the Frog could be a significantly better alternative than Song of the South.

A retheme of Splash Mountain is definitely a risk sooner or later. No attraction is completely secure from the progress of time and Disneyland won’t ever be accomplished.

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