Monday, May 29, 2023

19 Trips Down the Mountain (Splash Mountain)

 

From the archives of The Imagineering Fan Club, that time I rode Splash Mountain 19 times to try to find out what this sign said (I wouldn't see and photograph it until later the next year)...

The Walt Disney Imagineering Fan Club Annual Splash-a-Thon 2000
Sponsored in Part by Disney's FastPass™

You know, some people walk up to us and asked us, "Are you guys crazy?" Actually... that's not true, no one walks up to us. Maybe that's because we are crazy. Nothing can even come close to illustrating this as good as our annual Splash-a-Thon.

Inspired by our good friend Ernest P. Worrell… we decided to join the very elite group of "Splashtranauts" who has conquered the mountain! What defines a Splashtranaut? Well honestly I don't know...but I'm sure we qualify now.

The day was January 26, 2000...one year and one day after our previous Splash meet. Our day began at Splash Mountain at 3:00. It was sunny that day. Since it was just a weekday in January, there were no crowds and the wait time for Splash Mountain was a comfortable 5 minutes.

Don't be deceived, however...this wasn't just all fun and games. We were on a fact finding mission. Because of a rumor we had heard from the Internet (actually from a comment Bruce Gordon made in a Disney.com chat), we decided to find if there was in fact a sign at the bottom of the final drop and were determined to find out what such a sign would say if it existed.

Our first trip went off without a hitch. We were amazed at the colors and the sounds of Splash Mountain, almost as if it were our first trip through. We marveled at the characters, screamed during the drops, and pointed out some of the natural plant life appearing along the river. And then finally as we reached Chickapin Hill we prepared ourselves for our mission. The log hit the bottom, the wheels started skidding, and as we slid down the flume we peered down into the depths of the Briar Patch to see… mist! Unfortunately for us the misters would actually be working today. But then as we dove under the screen of mist we saw it off to the right! Success indeed! The sign did exist! Now to find out what it said.

Our next few rides through produced no answers. Four more times we plunged into the Briar Patch and each time the log moved too fast to get a fix on the words on the sign. This was not going to be easy. Of course we realized that if we were meant to read the sign, everyone would already know what it said. But we were just having fun riding Splash Mountain. How could you not? It's an Imagineering classic!

Unfortunately tragedy would strike on our 6th trip through. Our log was overloaded and made for a horribly tight squeeze. The ride seemed a lot longer than the nine and a half minutes the trip usually took.

Our following trips would not be so bad though. Time just flew by as trip after trip down the five-story plunge was made. A debate was sparked about the layout of the mountain. Strangely we just couldn't figure out where the final lift is in relation to the finale. Maybe someday we will find out. We also discovered another nifty bit of trivia. Seems that as the logs come down into the Briar Patch, they're supposed to dive under the water. Well if you're lucky enough to be right in front of the drop when another log is coming down, you'll notice a trail of splashes made in the water by the falling log! What a great detail!

Finally, on our 12th trip through the mountain, we were recognized by a Cast Member! We thought it funny that it would take twelve trips through before actually being recognized...especially since the lines were so short. But we knew that time was running out for us and our mission. Twelve times through and it was closely approaching 6 PM… sunset. And we both knew that there was no way to see the sign if the sun went down. So far the only thing we could make out was an L. The other letters of the sign appeared worn by years of Splash Damage. Then finally on our 14th trip through, the sun had finally set and night enveloped the mountain.

We decided to break for dinner. So for the first time in hours, we left Critter Country. But after dinner we came back for some more Splash fun. It was Splash-tacular! With our mission behind us we felt more relaxed. On our 15th trip we finally noticed the Bluebird was missing. On our 16th trip we peered up into the inside of the tree stump at the top of Chickapin Hill...it seems there is a small little hole exposing the superstructure and they have a worklight on inside for some reason.

Finally, our last trip through the mountain arrived...our 19th trip. Suddenly a bright idea hit us! Our first of the day! We asked the Cast Member on the platform if she knew what the sign said! Unfortunately she didn't and gave us a rather less than enthusiastic answer. But that's ok...we were waiting there and making them stay late anyway. Our 19th trip through the mountain would be our last of the night, and we would be the last guests to leave Splash Mountain on January 26th.

I must say we accomplished a lot. Thanks to our undying efforts we can now call ourselves "Splashtranauts" without feeling guilty. And of course our next Splash-a-Thon will be even better! And this was all made possible by the magic of Walt Disney Imagineering!

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