Situated in the far corner of Frontierland, Splash Mountain reigns supreme as one of the biggest thrill attractions on property in Walt Disney World. Since it’s visible from most places around the Rivers of America, Splash Mountain beckons thrill seekers in with the screams of those plummeting down Chick-A-Pin Hill and into the Briar Patch. Based on the 1964 film Song of the South, the attraction opened in 1992 as the result of Imagineer Tony Baxter’s creative thoughts while stuck in traffic on the way to work one day. Ever since, it’s been taking guests on a whirlwind tour of the south including stops at the Laughin’ Place and the Briar Patch and maintaining its place as a fan favorite.
The mountain itself is a huge structure housing an equally massive attraction. I find the best place to truly take in the view of Splash Mountain is on the bridge passing from near Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn towards the central area of the entrances to both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. This view gives guests a preview of what’s to come if they choose to ride. It can also provide a cool down as a hidden water cannon fires off a refreshing blast of water about every third log to those watching from the bridge. As you take in the view of Splash Mountain, there are several great details to notice. First consider the color of the rock work- it appears to be almost a faded magenta red, right? Originally the color was supposed to be a deep muddy brown to reflect the correct color of the soil and mud found in the Deep South. The color was changed to this magenta red in order to better mesh with the color and theming of the close by preexisting rock work of Big Thunder Mountain. Also be sure to look at the rock work surrounding the opening of the top of the drop. There is a Hidden Mickey built into the rocks and the easiest way to find him is to look for his nose protruding from the opening of the drop.
Once you decide to brave the drop and experience the attraction, one of the first things you encounter on the queue is a small play area called the Laughin’ Place. This playground was built in 1997 to help keep little ones who don’t meet the 40 inch height requirement busy while other members in their party ride. As you proceed further into the queue, you will find lots of great little details including many signs indicating just how wet you may get. One of my favorite details on the queue comes at the very end when you are just about to round the corner to get to the loading dock. There are a series of portraits and framed cross stitches along the wall. My favorite cross stitch features the wise hint “You can’t run away from trouble…ain’t no place that far.” A warning to Br’er Rabbit, perhaps? Immediately following the cross stitch is a series of portraits first introducing the three main characters you will follow on your journey through the mountain. Br’er Rabbit is “Lookin’ For Adventure,” Br’er Fox is “Lookin’ For Trouble,” and Br’er Bear is “Just Lookin’.” These great little details serve as an introduction to the story line of Br’er Rabbit becoming restless and seeking out adventure while constantly escaping the clutches of the sly Br’er Fox and his numbskull partner Br’er Bear.
Once you reach the loading dock, take note of just how wet you want to get. The closer toward the front of the log, the wetter you will be. If you want to remain rather dry (or even prefer getting soaked) simply ask the Cast Member assigning the seating to situate you according to your preference. They will most likely be able to honor your request. Don’t worry about getting extremely wet during the colder months of the year as the water level on the attraction is lowered to prevent guests from being too wet and ultimately cold. If you are curious about seeing the reservoir where all of the mountain’s water is held, be sure to take the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. The tour takes you backstage of the mountain to see the reservoir and other backstage magic of the attraction. As you are getting into your log, take notice of a flickering light along the loading dock. While it may seem fitting in the old fashioned looking area, it actually serves a more important purpose- it flickers to alert Cast Members of the timing of both loading and sending off the logs.
As you begin moving, you first encounter a lift hill bringing you past Br’er Frog who serves as a narrator to your tale. You then take a loop around the bottom of the drop where you encounter the first chance to get absolutely soaked, regardless of where you are sitting in the log. As you near the far side of the drop and are about to enter into the wood building housing another lift hill, watch the right side of the log for a hidden water cannon that goes off when logs drop and is aimed directly at your log’s path. While often times it will miss your log, if it’s a direct hit you can get soaked (I’ve been a victim of this). After going up the next lift hill, you encounter the first area of critter homes on your journey. These homes have great detail as the show you little nuances that each animal would actually prefer and feature in their homes. Some feature laundry hanging on lines, a vegetable garden, and other small props. Be sure to look all around you and take in as many details as you can as they add a great depth to the attraction’s experience.
Next you finally enter into the mountain and are met with the Fishin’ Hole featuring a medley of singing frogs and geese welcoming you by singing “How Do Ya Do?” While you pass through the Fishin’ Hole look for another Hidden Mickey in the form of a large fishing bobber with two smaller bobbers attached as ears. Soon after this you will finally get your first real glimpse of Br’er Rabbit deciding to leave home followed by Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear beginning their pursuit of him. While Br’er Fox uses every trick in the book, Br’er Rabbit manages to continually evade his clutches. Eventually Br’er Fox sets up a fake sign pointing to the Laughin’ Place which actually sends you down a dark hill into a room full of bee hives. As you exit this room you see Br’er Fix sneak up behind a laughing Br’er Rabbit with a bee hive with the intent to finally catch him. Before you have a chance to see what happens, you plummet down another hill into the real Laughin’ Place featuring more singing audio-animatronic animals and lots of water fountains.
Shortly after entering the Laughin’ Place you’ll see a gopher drop down from the ceiling and yell “FSU!” This pays homage to Florida State University where many of those who helped to create and build the attraction attended. As you near the end of the Laughin’ Place, suddenly the music turns ominous and two vultures appear above warning you that their version of a Laughin’ Place waits up ahead. Between the ominous music and the creepy vultures you know where they are sending you isn’t going to be good. Suddenly a massive lift hill appears before you ending in the opening of the big drop, creating an added sense of excitement for the grand finale of the attraction. As you are headed up the hill, look for the Hidden Mickey I mentioned earlier that juts out of the rock work surrounding the top of the drop. You can see it from inside the mountain as well. When you finally reach the top of the lift hill you see that Br’er Fox has finally captured Br’er Rabbit and intends to either cook him or send him over the falls and into the Briar Patch below. It seems as though you are in for the same fate! As you plummet down Chick-A-Pin Hill into the Briar Patch you are at a forty-five degree angle dropping fifty-two feet and traveling at forty miles per hour. That’s faster than Space Mountain, making this the fastest attraction in the Magic Kingdom! That’s quite a thrill!
After you reach the bottom of the hill and assess how wet you are, you move into the finale scene featuring the classic Disney hit “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and the massive steamboat “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Lady.” The steamboat is one of the largest animatronics ever built by Imagineering and is thirty-six feet wide, twenty-two feet tall, continuously rocks back and forth with the music, and features twelve singing and dancing animatronics. Talk about a big prop! The celebration in this scene is centered on Br’er Rabbit’s escape from Br’er Fox and return to his birth place the Briar Patch unharmed. As you pass by the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah-Lady, look on the wall to the right for the final Hidden Mickey of the attraction. As I mentioned in a previous post on Hidden Mickeys, up in the sky is a full body profile of Mickey laying down on his back and watching the clouds. All in all this scene is really wonderful to take in, and don’t worry about missing out on it if you don’t want to ride the attraction: you can get a glimpse of the scene from riding the Walt Disney World Railroad.
Since opening in 1992, Splash Mountain has securely claimed its spot as the third mountain in the Magic Kingdom’s range and continues to thrill guests on a daily basis. This is my favorite mountain of the three and I love experiencing it multiple times on each visit to Disney World. Although I will admit, I hate getting wet! So look for me sitting towards the back of the log and enjoying all the great details and fun this attraction has to offer.
Is Splash Mountain your favorite mountain in the park? Do you like to get soaked or stay dry? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.