2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Published: February 2, 2010 at 6:10 PM
We're giving the nod to the Walt Disney World version, though we should note that the Disneyland version scores only a fraction behind with Theme Park Insider readers. On the original Disneyland version, you have the more traditional single-file log boats, while at Disney World, you ride in two-person rows. Log flume purists might like the Disneyland design, but the Disney World Splash Mountain tends to put through many more visitors per hour, keeping average wait times shorter. (The Disney World version offers a better visual at the top of the drop, too, with Cinderella's Castle and Space Mountain in view.)
Disney World's Splash Mountain opened in July 1992, three years after the Disneyland original. You also can find Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland.
Splash Mountain provided new life to the songs and Joel Chandler Harris "Uncle Remus" characters of Disney's "Song of the South." I don't want to get side-tracked into the running controversy over "Song of the South" except to note that Disney now treats the film, criticized for racial stereotyping, the same way George Lucas does his "Star Wars Christmas Special." In other words, don't look for it on Disney Blu-Ray ever in your lifetime.
But in Splash Mountain, the characters and Academy-Award winning music for the film can continue to entertain new generations of fans... while also leaving many of them soaking wet. You're following Br'er Rabbit on the way to your "laughing place," when Br'er Fox traps him. Br'er Rabbit "outfoxes" the fox by pleading with him not to throw him into the Briar Patch, which, of course, the Fox does, sending you along with Br'er Rabbit, down a 50-foot waterfall.
Of course, the Briar Patch is Br'er Rabbit's home, so, having safely escaped, everyone's treated to a rousing finale of Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah.
Okay, I can hear the Knott's Berry Farm fans grumbling that Splash Mountain's a rip-off of Knott's 1969 Log Ride, which includes much the same exterior look as well as the final waterfall down the mountain. But the music and narrative make the ride here - elevating Splash Mountain among the elite theme park attractions.
Let's hear your thoughts about Splash Mountain, in the comments.