BACKSTORY (JULY 17, 1989—Present): Edited from Wikipedia:
The idea for Splash Mountain was originally conceived in the summer of 1983 by Imagineer Tony Baxter while stuck in rush hour traffic on his way to work. He wanted to attract guests to the often-empty Bear Country land and make use of the Audio-Animatronics from America Sings, which was also receiving poor attendance. It was Dick Nunis who insisted that the Imagineers create a log flume for Disneyland, but the Imagineers were initially unenthusiastic about it, insisting that log flumes were too ordinary a theme park attraction to include in a park like Disneyland. While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people into Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter then thought of Song of the South.
At the time it was built, Splash Mountain was one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering at a cost of $75 million. According to Alice Davis (wife of the late Marc Davis), when America Sings closed in April 1988, production of Disneyland's Splash Mountain had gone far over budget. The only way to recover was to close down America Sings and use the characters from that attraction.
Baxter and his team developed the concept of Zip-a-Dee River Run, which would incorporate scenes from Song of the South. The name was later changed to Splash Mountain after then-CEO Michael Eisner's mostly-ignored suggestion that the attraction be used to help market the film Splash. The characters from America Sings were used in many scenes, though all of the main characters were specifically designed for Splash Mountain. Coincidentally, the two vultures seen just before the final drop at the Disneyland version are the same vultures used as the Boothill Boys in America Sings.
Dave Feiten was then brought in to animate and fix story and staging problems. Feiten then moved nearly all of the animatronics to new locations and then took out 10 animatronic figures and removed them from the ride completely to improve the show.
Guests enter the queue in front the main drop viewing area. The queue winds past the Critter Country sign into the main entrance where a number of machines with cogs and gears dominate. Various thoughts and sayings from Uncle Remus are featured on signs throughout the queue, which winds around a barn structure and reaches the loading area.
Passengers ride aboard six-to-seven-seater logs with six single-file seats. The last seat in each log is larger and allows room for larger guests or an adult and a small child, thus allowing the capacity to be seven in each log. The log departs the loading area and ascends two conveyor-type lifts before floating gently through scenery designed to evoke the feeling of a river in the southern state of Georgia. The homes of the three main characters and aged farm equipment are incorporated into the landscape, along with an instrumental version of "How Do You Do?" emanating from hidden speakers along the waterway.
Before the logs enter the indoor portion, snoring is heard emanating from Brer Bear's cave. The snoring is a tribute to the original entrance to Bear Country (the former name of Critter Country) where a bear named Rufus was heard snoring from a cave.
After a short drop down "Slippin' Falls", guests enter the indoor portion of the attraction, where various Audio-Animatronic animals, such as geese, frogs, and opossums sing the attraction's first musical number, "How Do You Do?". Most of the animals on Splash Mountain were reused from the closed attraction America Sings. Brer Rabbit (voiced by Jess Harnell) is seen laughing at Brer Bear's misfortunes, preceding a "dip-drop" into the surreal Rainbow Caverns, where characters sing "Everybody's Got a Laughin' Place."
Brer Fox then manages to trap Brer Rabbit in a beehive. The mood turns ominous as two mother characters sing the "Burrow's Lament." The logs begin climbing up the final and longer lift hill, passing beneath two vultures that taunt guests and tell of foreboding danger. Shortly before the attraction's climactic drop, Brer Rabbit is seen alongside the hill, about to be eaten by Brer Fox.
But Brer Rabbit outsmarts Brer Fox and Brer Bear by tricking them into throwing him into the briar patch (where he was born and raised). Riders are sent down the final drop into the briar patch, mimicking his fall. The top half of the drop is highly visible from the adjacent areas of the park. A photo is taken as the log begins to fall, and it can be purchased after disembarking from the ride. From the top of the hill, riders looking toward the splashdown point will notice a full pond of water ahead of them.
The log then 'dives' under the water into an underground runout. The collective weight of the riders generally determines the degree to which they get wet here. An indoor segment follows the drop, after which the logs make a final entrance into a section of the mountain named "Doo-Dah Landing", where a full cast of Audio-Animatronic figures sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and the respective fates of Brer Rabbit (reclined happily at home) and the antagonists (fending off a hungry alligator) are seen.
Before the return to the loading area, riders are given a preview of their picture that was taken on the final drop via an overhead screen. Professor Barnaby Owl, an overhead Audio-Animatronic, calls the riders' attention to the screen as he remarks on their expressions. After disembarking from the log, riders enter a "dark room," where they preview their on-ride photograph before exiting to Critter Country.