Splash Mountain History Walt Disney World

This article covers the history of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. For the most part, the history of the Walt Disney World Florida version of the ride is covered here. Information on the other Splash Mountain rides at Disneyland California and Tokyo Disneyland are not fully reviewed in this section of the site. The history of the Disneyland version is covered here as it was the first edition of the ride.

The Start of the Ride - Disneyland California

The idea for Splash Mountain was created by Disney Legend Tony Baxter in the late 1980s. According to The Walt Disney Company’s D23 site, Mr. Baxter came up with the idea for a water log flume ride while stuck in traffic on the way to work in 1983. After showcasing his concept to the company, they decided to implement his idea and build a ride water log ride in the Critter Country section of Disneyland California. The Disney Splash Mountain project was started in April 1987 and became one of the most expensive rides to build at the time. According to the Song of the South fan site, the cost to build the ride was $75 million dollars, which was the most expensive ride that Disney had built up to that point.

Zip-a-Dee River Run and Splash Mountain
When the ride was designed, the Tony Baxter and the Walt Disney Company Imagineers had created Zip-a-Dee River Run as the name for the attraction. That name was based on the song that is featured in the movie Song of the South. Mr. Baxter and this team decided that the characters and storyline from the movie Song of the South would fit well for the ride. The ride’s storyline features Brer Rabbit’s journey for adventure from the Song of the South. While on his journey, Brer Rabbit is confronted by Brer Fox and Brer Bear who try to capture him. Zip-a-Dee Do Dah is one one of the songs that is featured in the movie, and the company decided that they wanted the theme song to be a key part of the ride. As you know, Zip-a-Dee River Run is not the name of the ride as changes were made before the ride was launched to the public.

Michael Eisner, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company at the time, recommended that the ride be called Splash Mountain to help market the release of the company’s Splash movie. The recommendation resulted in the company changing the name of the ride from Zip-a-Dee River Run to Splash Mountain.

Opening Day – Disneyland

The Disneyland version of the ride opened to the public on July 17th, 1989. A few years later, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts began to develop versions of the ride for Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

Splash Mountain Walt Disney World History

The Walt Disney World version of Splash Mountain was the second version of the attraction developed by the company. The firm began building Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain in 1991. The ride was completed sometime in 1992, and the company opened up the ride to the public on July 17th, 1992, three years after the Disneyland edition opened. The July 1992 opening for the ride was a “soft opening” where the ride was opened to only a select number of guests. The attraction was opened to the entire public on October 1st or 2nd, 1992. We are unsure on which day the ride was fully launched because numerous resources are reporting both of those days as the official full opening day for the ride.

Splash Mountain History page photo featuring the front of the ride at Walt Disney World

Above photo of Splash Mountain by Bob Owen on Flickr. Photo enhanced by NavFile and released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Since 1992, the ride has continued operations and is one of the most popular attractions in the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World. Over the years, the ride has had some modifications made to it. The queue was modified at some point to integrate the FastPass line for the ride. Significant alterations to the ride itself have not been made. The only exception to that was the installation of a safety bar or lap bar in 2011. The safety bars were installed after there were concerns with guests standing up while the ride was in motion.

Splash Mountain is a great ride that guests can enjoy while spending time in Walt Disney World. We recommend that everyone that visits the Magic Kingdom rides Splash Mountain as it is one of the best attractions that the park has. What started as an idea has turned into being one of the most historic and iconic rides that The Walt Disney Company has created.

To learn more about Splash Mountain, feel free to visit the other pages on the site that have detailed information on various topics for the attraction.

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