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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- Splashing into Critter Country

In a previous column, we learned about Bear Country and it's origins, as well as the evolution of the Country Bear Jamboree. This little land was about to become home to a brand new mountain. And to welcome it, Bear Country would need a name change.

It is said that Tony Baxter was sitting in traffic one day. He had been wanting to create a flume ride for Disneyland for a while now, and then it hit him to make one based on Song of the South. So, he and fellow Imagineers got to work on creating the attractio

Almost all amusement parks have flumes, so Disney had to get this ride to be more then just the 52 foot drop. They got together, and decided to theme the entire ride to happen in and around a mountain, called Chicapin Hill. The places inside the ride were based on the rich design of the southern bayous and areas in the south featured in the movie. The ride would be called "Zip-a-dee River Run", based on the iconic song Zip-A-Dee-Doh-Dah", which would also be featured in the finale of the ride. "How Do You Do" and "Ev'rybody's Got A Laughin' Place" would also be included in the ride.

Soon, the ride became monsterous, going far over budget- it was costing over $75 million dolars to make. Meanwhile in Tomorrowland, America Sings was loosing popularity after over 7 years of performances. The show was finally closed, and happy Imagineers were able to recycle these characters and put all 114 audio animatronic characters from America Sings into the newly dubbed Splash Mountain. The name change tied in better with all the other Disney Mountains and also promoted Touchstone pictures new film Splash.

Splash Mountain was so popular that new the ride was soon to be put into Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland. Because the new attraction was more then just about bears, the name of the land was changed from Bear Country to Critter Country. Down the road, though, the Country Bears' days would be numbered

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