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Splash Mountain: Disneyland's Delightful Log Flume Legacy

As many of you may know, Disneyland's iconic Splash Mountain, based on the animated sequences from the 1946 Disney film Song of the South, has been delighting guests since it first made its splash back in 1989. This classic Disneyland log flume attraction begins with a serene float-through journey, followed by immersive indoor dark ride sections, culminating in a dramatic 52.5-foot drop into a briar patch. The ride's finale brings an amusing indoor scene of cheer and celebration.

The enchanting story told throughout the ride follows the adventures of Br'er Rabbit, a curious character who leaves home to seek adventure, outsmarting the cunning Br'er Fox and the dim-witted Br'er Bear at every turn. Despite a few differences from the film, including the omission of Uncle Remus (replaced by Br'er Frog as a narrator) and a shift in Br'er Rabbit's capture method, the ride encapsulates the humor and charm of the original stories.

Splash Mountain had quite the origin story itself. Conceived by Imagineer Tony Baxter during a traffic snarl in 1983, it was designed as a crowd magnet for Disneyland's then underpopulated Bear Country. A striking example of repurposing, Splash Mountain breathed new life into the Audio-Animatronics figures from the under-attended attraction, America Sings. Initially christened Zip-a-Dee River Run, it was later renamed Splash Mountain by CEO Michael Eisner, aligning it with the marketing of Walt Disney Studios' 1984 film, Splash.

The debut of Splash Mountain in July 1989 was a landmark event in Disneyland's history. It was ushered in with a unique television special, Ernest Goes to Splash Mountain, with actor and comedian Jim Varney reprising his role as Ernest. The attraction continued to evolve, with a memorable moment in November 1990 when the thrilling addition of an in-ride photo-capture was announced.

But, as they say, change is the only constant. After years of thrilling visitors, the Disneyland version of Splash Mountain closed its doors on May 31, 2023. However, it will soon be reborn as Tiana's Bayou Adventure, based on Disney's 2009 film The Princess and the Frog, and is scheduled to reopen in late 2024. The project, led by Walt Disney Imagineer Senior Creative Producer Charita Carter with Tony Baxter as a creative advisor, promises to bring a fresh dose of enchantment to this beloved corner of the park.

Despite its transformation, Splash Mountain's spirit remains. A testament to innovation and ingenuity, it showcases Disneyland's commitment to creating immersive, enjoyable, and ever-evolving experiences for its guests. The legacy of Splash Mountain is far from over; it’s simply turning a new page. Stay tuned for the charm and delight that Tiana's Bayou Adventure will undoubtedly bring. Here's to the next chapter in this extraordinary Disneyland journey!

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