Ah, Splash Mountain. One of the finest thrill rides based upon a racist movie from the 1940s.
For those of you unfamiliar with this attraction, it’s a log flume ride in which you ride along a river as characters from Song Of The South–Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, and others–sing and are generally entertaining. After the initial incline there are a bunch of “fake-outs” in which you just drop down a little bit, and it all leads up to a 53-foot drop into the “briar patch” and the big splash.
It’s also the source of a couple of entertaining stories over the years.
In the first Splash Mountain misadventure, my companion and I were coming around the first bend and looking up at that first climb in anticipation when… the ride stopped. We were at the base of the incline, watching that roller coaster-like track perpetually going up while our log stayed still at the bottom.
A minute turned into a few, which ticked away into several, and at some point it started to drizzle. Granted, part of the point of going on Splash Mountain is to get wet, but the idea of getting wet because of rain and not the climactic splash was a point of amusement for some of the riders (and grumbling from others). Through it all we were hearing occasional announcements that advised us to stay seated and informed us that the ride would be resuming momentarily, but after some time we were seriously questioning their definition of “momentarily”.
Finally, after being trapped in a log for upwards of twenty minutes, a pair of apologetic cast members appeared along the walkway next to our car. They explained that the ride was being taken out of service due to technical issues, and asked us to follow them as they opened the car door and helped us out onto the walkway.
What followed was actually pretty cool, as we ended up being led through walkways in the ride to an exit. We basically got an impromptu walking tour of Splash Mountain which, for a Disney geek like me, was more entertaining than the ride itself. All of the animatronics were still running, and we walked through most of the attraction until we reached the exit. Honestly, despite everything it became one of my favorite experiences on that trip.
On the way out, to apologize for the issue, a cast member handed us each a one-time-use, any time/any attraction Fastpass (which helped us jump past a 70 minute Space Mountain wait later that day).
We figured that we’d give it some time, let them fix whatever was broken, and try again later. Towards the end of the day we finally made it back to Frontierland, approached the ride, and saw people stuck in a log car in the exact same spot. We obviously opted to not give it another try.
A bunch of years later, my wife and I went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. This led to a second bizarre Splash Mountain experience.
The ride was functioning normally until we were close to the end. We could see the vultures who warn you of the impending drop, we were all getting excited… and then the ride stopped. We figured it was a momentary problem.
A cast member’s voice came over the PA system, advising us to stay seated and that the ride would resume soon. After several of these announcements, my wife and I started chatting with the other people in the car to pass the time (who, as it turned out, were from Massachusetts like we are). In addition to the repeated original announcement, a new one started popping up: “Tyler, pick up the phone.”
Apparently Tyler wasn’t picking up the phone, because this was called over the PA several times (much to the entertainment of those of us waiting for the ride to resume). There were a few variations of the announcement, but the basic theme involved a cast member named Tyler and other cast member(s) who wanted to speak with him.
From a hidden door, a cast member appeared and started to come down a nearby set of stairs. Suddenly that same voice came over the PA:
“Tyler! Stop! Turn around. Go back up the stairs.”
The young man quickly followed the directions, reversing course and vanishing through the same door he had come through, and very shortly after that the ride resumed. We all cheered for Tyler, and on the way out I passed him and gave him a high-five. I mean, apparently he saved the day, right?
I’ve been on Splash Mountain a lot, and mostly without incident. It just seems that when there is an issue on this particular ride )based on a movie that will probably never see any sort of re-release), it’s weirdly entertaining.