Daily Figment 115: Zip-A-Dee River Run

For those of you who have been hanging around awhile, you know that The Disney Geeks love the Disney Mountains. In last week’s poll question, Splash Mountain was voted the second favorite Disney mountain by you. We hit you with Expedition Everest first because of its win, but this week we bring you some tasty tidbits about the runner-up, Splash Mountain.

Michael Eisner became a proponent of building Splash Mountain the first time he saw the models that the Imagineers had built. It was a tenuous time for the Imagineers as their budget had been strangled by previous Disney bosses. The timely entrance of Eisner and his immediate buy-in to the Splash Mountain concept may have saved the Imagineers. See the quote from Disney War in our previous post, The Daily Figment 27. In fact, Eisner is credited with naming the attraction as well as suggesting it be presented as a mountain. Its working name was the Zip-A-Dee River Run. Marty Sklar recalls Eisner wanting to name the ride after the surprise hit Splash with Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah that Disney lucked into. He even suggested adding Hannah’s mermaid character to the attraction. Imagineers waffled on the name but held fast to the long understood and respected “Darryl Hannah ruins any attraction….guaranteed” mentality that permeated flume ride construction methods since the early 1400’s.
Eisner tested the patience of the Imagineers by bringing his teenage son to the initial showing of the Splash Mountain model, calling his son an ‘expert on theme park rides’. He was, in fact, their target market. Eisner’s 14-year old son bought in once he saw the ride had the world’s longest flume drop. This record was previously held by Andre the Giant’s bathroom.

When the ride was nearing completion, Eisner insisted on the first test ride. He was covered in trash bags because the ride still had wet issues after the final descent. The ride passed his test as he asked to go again after the conclusion of the first test. Other accounts have Eisner getting drenched and after the ride saying he loved it but that the water was too much.

Hmmm….Eisner in trash bags….how prophetic.

The attraction has made residence in every Magic Kingdon-style park, except Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. In Toyko Disney, Splash Mountain has significantly reduced splash due to the colder weather (and the fact that the Japanese patrons do not like getting wet at theme parks).

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13 thoughts on “Daily Figment 115: Zip-A-Dee River Run

  1. Great post about one of my favorite rides! However, I have one comment to make – Disneyland Paris doesn’t have a Splash Mountain either. I remember going there for a day in 2000 (without doing much research) and walking all around Frontierland looking for it.

    Their Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor make up for it though. 🙂

  2. I can’t tell what is real and what is false in your report, so I’ll have to ask you outright: is it true that Tokyo’s Splash Mountain has reduced splash? And reduced by how much?

    Because, like, I wanna’ ride a Splash Mountain but I have issues with getting wet at theme parks too. If Splash Mnt. makes a nice wave but doesn’t make me a drowned rat, I might actually ride this one when I go to Tokyo in ’09.

  3. Good call, Jessica…uh, it was a test! Just to see if you are actually reading every word of every post!

    what is interesting is that Andy had it right and I changed it. shame on me!

    Cory–I read a book somewhere that talked about changing all of the splashes at Tokyo Disneyland since the guests tend to dress up more. They had to work on changing the splash at the beginning of Pirates for this reason. I will have to look through my resources to see if I can find the Splash Mountain info.

    But keep us updated on your trip plans!

  4. Great post, George, about one of Disney’s truly classic attractions. It has it all – story, theme, thrills, chills… you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll… oh, sorry…

    Anyway, let me shamelessly plug here and let you know that if you’re a fan of the mountain and the Disney Mountains book, I’m going to have an exclusive interview with Imagineer/Author Jason Surrell on the WDW Radio Show this week to talk all about it.

    AND… he let’s us all know what’s next on the horizon for him… which I must admit may be his bets project – ever! 🙂

  5. Lou–So…next week’s show will be a perfect choice for listening to while traveling to MouseFest?

    Oh yeah…and Andrew actually wrote the post, I just edited it and added the pictures.

    Also, our advertising fees for pimping the WDW Radio show on our blog are pretty cheap.

  6. The generalization that Japanese do not enjoy getting wet is pretty true, but it sure doesn’t stop them from getting effing SOAKED at their parks – they had a parade a few seasons back that was basically like getting hit with a firehose on wheels. TDL even has a seasonal event now where they put up water misters and such in various places around the park where you can (unexpectedly?)get wet.

    Cory, DO NOT miss Tokyo’s Splash Mountain for ANY REASON – it’s the best, biggest, longest and most complex version of the ride, and that version of the attraction rivals Disneyland’s Pirates for being a fully, brilliantly realized attraction. The other two are like peanuts in comparison.

  7. But see, my problem is that I don’t like getting wet… especially at a theme park. Splash Mountain, whatever the variation, just sounds to me like a recipe on how to ruin my day.

    I think, well, every other ride in the resort will compensate for my missing on Splash Mountain… Otherwise, Splash Mountain would have to be good enough to compensate for every other ride, since it’s a guarantee that I’m heading back to the hotel after riding it.

  8. Cory,

    You aren’t alone. I will ride Splash Mountain, but I go to great pains trying to stay dry. You probably won’t see me on the photo they take on the drop because I’m balled up in my seat like one would be if their plane was going down.

    I won’t ride Kali River Rapids because I just don’t see a joy in walking around the parks wet. I walk around Animal Kingdom and see all kinds of people sopping wet. Just not appealing to me.

    Now, I have the excuse of very expensive camera equipment to discourage my wife from making me go on those “wet” rides

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