June 23, 2013

What's Behind Splash Mountain?

Splash Mountain Disneyland final drop rockslide mill front
I don't ride Splash Mountain as often as I used to; The log boat remodel a few years ago turned the once-moderate final splash into a super soak-a-thon, so I now only take a chance if we're headed back to the hotel (in case a change into dry clothes is necessary).

Even when I don't ride, however, I never tire of staring at this wonderful, magical work of imagination. If this were a real hill with a real rockslide, one would have to marvel at the strength of that old mill's roof!

My very first ride on Splash Mountain, way back in 1989, was extra-special, because my family and I got to descend via a staircase instead of a waterfall. The ride had been closed for repairs all morning, and we'd joined a very long line of eager guests waiting in the hot sun for its promised late opening. Finally, we boarded for our first trip. We got nearly as far as the first interior drop (the little one under the handcart), when we noticed the water level rapidly dropping. Moments later, we were beached in a dry flume, waiting for a cast member to escort us safely out of the mountain. When the assistance arrived, we were guided through one of those mysterious emergency exit doors. We stepped out into the sunlight and...

(SPOILER ALERT: Just in case you didn't know what the back of Splash Mountain looks like...)

 ...were startled to find ourselves descending a staircase behind a large, dull, warehouse-like building. I'd expected Splash Mountain to be a complete 360 degree sculpture like Disneyland's Matterhorn and Big Thunder. But those mountains are only complete because they need to be: Guests can walk all the way around them. Not so with Splash Mountain, which is more like a movie set. Guests (under normal circumstances) never see the back of the mountain...so there's no back.

Our disillusionment turned to grins as we re-entered the park proper and looked up the still-convincing mountain front. A friendly gaggle of suited upper management folks made every evacuee feel important as hands were shaken and enter-through-the-exit passes were given out for use when the ride got going again.

A few hours later we took our first full ride through the mountain, and loved every moment. My family's ridden Splash Mountain nearly every year since then. As I mentioned at the start, I've been watching from the sidelines lately. But no more: I'm climbing back aboard on the next trip.

But I'm tucking my phone into a sandwich bag first...

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