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by Ken Pellman (archives)
March 29, 2002
Ken discusses some the recent rumors of changes at Splash Mountain.

Kenversations - March 2002 Edition

What's Getting In to the Original Splash Mountain?
I've already used valuable server space here at LaughingPlace.com to document my
past obsession with Splash Mountain and the resulting euphoric experience. A trip to the Disneyland General message area here will indicate what a hot topic the Disneyland Park attraction has been as of late. Heck it even got a story in the Orange County Register stating that it might not be open again until July. So, I felt it was time to babble and reminisce a little about this massive attraction, which has been devoid of happy, smiling, dampened guests since it closed on the evening of January 6, the longest time since it opened.

Speaking of When it Opened…
Splash Mountain officially opened to much fanfare on Disneyland Park's 34th anniversary - July 17, 1989, thus reaching what seemed like an absurdly delayed milestone (about seven months). You have to understand - this was before Jaws at Universal Studios Florida and GM Test Track at Walt Disney World Resort had delays that made Splash Mountain's seem slight.

Anyway, it has been about thirteen years since the attraction opened, and this is the first major renovation & refurbishing it has been given. It is nice to finally see a new coat of paint being applied. Apparently, there's a lot more going on than just repainting and fixing-up, hence the long duration.

Rockwork is being reworked for accessibility issues (remember that the attraction was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect). I would think the daily, constant flow of water and splashing would take a toll on the thing as well.

Then there are the passenger logs themselves. At this time, Disney has neither confirmed nor denied a change, but Ray Gomez's quote in the Orange County Register that the Park plans to open the attraction for Summer would indicate that the design isn't changing - for now.

Why the Logs Shouldn’t and Won't Be Changed
This is coming from someone who watched the construction of the attraction, has ridden the attraction hundreds of times, has scrutinized the plans, sections and elevations, has thoroughly examined and measured the logs, and has walked through the mountain, seeing it inside and out.

Remember - I know a little about Splash Mountain, considering I'd been almost as obsessed with the attraction as some people are with James Taylor Kirk.

First of all, it isn't necessary. When was the last time someone was thrown from a log on Splash Mountain? What's that? Never?

Okay. Tens of millions of people have ridden that attraction and none of them have been pitched out of the ride. Once, a guy stuck his hand out (against warnings) and lost a finger. Restraints would not have prevented that. People have climbed out of their logs of their own will. There was a guy riding the Walt Disney World Resort version who ended up with fatal injuries from doing just that. Seatbelts would not prevent that. Other kinds of restraints might or might not.

Okay, so that might not mean anything, just like it didn't mean anything that kids who were sitting down could not possibly fall out of Lenny the Cab in Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin ride as originally operated. We're living in an overregulated age with multibillion-dollar jury decisions against large corporations, even when people brought injury and death upon themselves.

With the way the logs are set up, with passengers straddling benches, what restraint system would work?

To answer that real question, rumors have popped up that Disneyland could get duplicates of the Walt Disney World Resort or Tokyo Disneyland logs, where people sit side by side in individual seats.

Which brings us to the second reason. Not possible. Those logs will not fit in the Disneyland Park version's flume.

"So what, Ken? They could rework the flume!"

Only, it isn't that easy. Splash Mountain is largely made of concrete. It is everywhere - even the set and props, and especially the flume. The flume is not fiberglass. It isn't plastic. It is concrete. This wouldn't be like putting new rockets in Space Mountain. Every bit of that flume would have to be torn out and rebuilt to accommodate the wider logs. Entire sets would have to be torn out. Extra support might very well be needed. Extra room would have to be made in the loading area. Really, the whole mountain would have to be rebuilt. Then, the after all was done, extensive testing and training would be needed… testing and training that would take several months.

The attraction would be more prone to breakdowns for the first year or two back from the overhaul.

It just isn't going to happen.

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