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5 Reasons Splash Mountain is the Best Water Ride in Florida

3. The music

But, while the film has mostly been lost to history, its music has not. And, for Splash Mountain, the music really is the heart of the attraction.

I've said before that the music of Splash Mountain is its most important feature, and I still believe that. Each of the songs gave the Imagineers such a lush and colorful world to play around in, and the resulting scenes perfectly capture the energy of the music. The “Laughing Place” scene in particular is as merry as they come, with the music playing in perfect harmony with the movements of the animatronic characters.

However, the single best moment of the attraction comes near the end, with the Academy Award-winning song, Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah, playing in the background: The riverboat scene at the attraction's conclusion. It is the most joyous and celebratory scene on Disney property, and it showcases the heights that great music can lift an attraction to.

From the moment you first set foot in the queue until the moment you leave the gift shop, your entire experience within Splash Mountain lives in this musical world. It is the ride's most prominent and important feature, more so than the characters and even the massive plunge. Without it, Splash Mountain simply wouldn't be the same attraction, and it'd be tough to argue it's actually the best water ride around. With the music, however, it's not even a fair fight.

4. The design

Visually, Splash Mountain is absolutely stunning. When you see it out beyond the Rivers of America, it draws your eye from a distance. This, in effect, makes the attraction's exterior structure something of a weenie: An eye-catching physical feature designed to lure guests into a ride. As you draw closer, it starts to look more and more like an imposing mountain as the forced perspective of the design takes hold.

Imagineers were diligent in putting together an exterior look that hides most of the log flume mechanism behind painted rock faces and faux grass. It's all believable and, importantly, helps tell the story.

And then, once you're on the ride, the real design work reveals itself within the show's beautifully crafted set pieces. This is what separates it from other water rides: It isn't really a log flume. It's a dark ride, much like the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean, masquerading as a log flume.

Just as Space Mountain took the concept of a roller coaster and heightened it by using exquisite design work, so too have Imagineers uplifted the log flume into being something more – simply by taking care to put together beautiful show scenes.

You'd be hard press to find any attraction that rivals Splash Mountain's visual beauty, let alone a water ride.

5. The length

The ultimate point of an E-ticket attraction is that they're meant to feel special. Sure, Dumbo and the Carousel are great, but when you've waited 90 minutes to ride a log flume, you truly hope the experience is worthwhile. And, importantly, this is where Splash Mountain really delivers: Its length.

The ride is well over 10 minutes long, making it one of the longest at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

This isn't wasted time, however. The ride is brilliantly paced, and that 10 minutes flies by – but, it's long enough to feel like a substantial experience. At the end of it, it feels like it's worth the wait.

But the greatest aspect of its length is that it allows the attraction to tell a full story, one with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Because guests don't usually know the story of Splash Mountain before they board the ride, Imagineers take their time to introduce characters and plot out the action. Guests probably don't know who Br'er Rabbit is before they board, and so the Imagineers can't take anything for granted. And, because guests are likely unfamiliar with the plot, they can't take shortcuts in the story like they do on rides like Peter Pan's Flight and The Little Mermaid.

The result is an attraction that feels more like a short film, with rising action, characterization and an eventual climax and denouement. And, for you English teachers out there, it provides a good lesson in story structure, with the ride literally rising and falling alongside the action.

The length of Splash Mountain is really just the cherry on top. It allows the rest of the elements to breathe and pace themselves properly, and the result is a fully-realized work of art. Every second of it is committed to telling a story, and that is what lifts it above all other water rides. They all focus on a brief respite from the heat, getting you a bit wet with minimal effort. Splash Mountain, on the other hand, wants to take your mind off the heat by sharing a compelling story with you.

You just may wind up getting drenched, too.

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There are 4 comments.

Great article. Splash Mountain is one of my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom.

10 minutes?!? Really? Never seems that long from inside the boat. By the way, you forgot about what (I think) is the coolest feature of the ride, the melding of log flume and roller coaster inside the mountain. Never seen anything like that before!

I would argue that Jurassic ParkRiver ride in IOA is pretty close in just about all of the categories you cite (the ride is not quite as good in Hollywood)...If Spalsh Mountain is a solid 10/10, IOA's Jurassic is at least a 9.5/10

It doesn't even come close...
I've been on it multiple times, and while it is one of my favorites, Splash Mountain is in a league of itself.


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