Splash Mountain | No. 9 | Top 10 Rides
Number 9 in our list of Top 10 Rides at Disneyland is Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain ranks a little low on this list, but it ranks high in the hearts and minds of those of us at Fresh Baked. But before we get to the scoring, check this post out for an update on how we decided to rank the rides. And now, on with number 9!
Ride Value: 8
For some, a ride value of 8 out of 10 may seem a bit high for a ride that is basically just a standard flume drop. And while this may be true, we know that going in, so our expectations are set. But that drop is a very good drop. It’s far better than the drop than the one on The Log Ride at Knotts Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park. Not that I want to hate on the log ride, as Splash Mountain owes a debt to it.
But many also forget that there is another very small drop at the beginning and an acceleration near the middle of the ride at the laughing place. This one always takes the casual guest by surprise because it’s in almost complete darkness. And in the end, this was the clincher for me for the 8 score. Excellent drop, everyone gets wet, and the hidden stretch of acceleration that sets it apart from all other flume rides.
When you want to ride Splash Mountain, you had better be prepared to wait for an hour. And for that reason I am grateful that the queue is as good as it is. It’s not stocked with theming mind you. It’s just very well designed. Plenty of lush grass, views of the drop, and expert rock work by the designers. So while you may have a lengthy wait, you’re at least kept calm by the soothing nature of the queue. And it is pretty much always in motion, which is nice.
Now the wait, as I mentioned, is usually pretty long on days when it’s worth riding (i.e., days that aren’t cold). But this is a ride that I would classify as having a “good” fast pass. A good fast pass is one that inserts you very deep into the queue, with little wait remaining. An example of a bad fast pass might be Autopia, where the fast pass queue is *maybe* half way in to the main queue.
The ride itself is not exactly steeped in history. Especially when compared to other rides. The ride opened in 1989, nearly 35 years after the park opened. So to many visitors around my age or older, it is still probably considered a new ride. This isn’t the rides fault of course, but since we’re including it as a unit of measure, it must be considered!
Being one of the newest rides in the park, I would have scored it lower, but I did have to give it credit for two things. One, it was designed by Tony Baxter (Big Thunder, Indiana Jones). So that’s instant Disney in my opinion. Two, the animatronics used in the riverboat scene at the end of the ride, after you’ve made your plunge, are recycled from America Sings. This was an extinct attraction that was where Innoventions is now. The robotics were borrowed and re-dressed to go along with the Song of the South theming in the ride.
It should be noted I haven’t forgotten Song of the South with regard to the rides history. This film is noted for its historical significance to the Disney library. The only problem is that it’s a negative note. I won’t go in to too much detail here, but you’re welcome to check out the films history yourself. Suffice it to say, I find the choice of theming somewhat curious, but I try not to focus on that when enjoying the ride.
And that’s because if you focus on the negative on this ride, you’ll miss out on one of the best parts of it. The ride is just about as charming as can be. It’s the kind of design Walt would have approved of. Right from the start it’s crazy, and funny, and cute. Brer Rabbit, Bear and Fox are up to some pretty funny shenanigans, and the theming depicting those shenanigans throughout are top notch! I believe the in ride theming here to be among the best in the park. Especially for a ride that is an actual ride, as opposed to a pure dark ride. In those terms, I believe only Indiana Jones beats it.
Splash Mountain is very popular. It is one of those rides that, on at least a reasonably warm day, will be crowded all day. This is evidenced by lines that often grow well past an hour wait. It is the Disney Ninja’s second favorite ride in the park behind Space Mountain, which goes a long way in showing that there’s more to the ride than a 50’ drop.
We would have scored it higher, a 9 or perhaps even a 10, if the ride wasn’t so seasonal. The fact that during the winter or on unseasonably cold days, it doesn’t perform as well, keeps it from ranking higher. In our opinion, to be considered one of the very best rides, it must be so every day of the year!
Top 10 Rides | Final Score: 38
The final score of Splash Mountain is a 38 out of a possible 50. Another fair performance, and probably lower than we believe it should be. But there are a lot of great rides at Disneyland, and there’s only so much room for the best.
See Also: #10 | It’s a Small World