WTDW – Splash Mountain

Splash MountainDear friends, today I would like to tell you a about a girl, rapidly approaching 30, who loves Walt Disney World. She also simply adores Florida, with its plentiful year-round sunshine, palm trees, citrus fruits, and soft, sandy beaches that reach out to turquoise waters. Most of all, she loves Florida’s warm climate. This particular girl HATES the cold. It makes her nose run, and it traps her inside for long periods of time, interfering with her running schedule. And generally, the short freezing days that lack sunshine make her grumpy.

This particular winter is being very tough on said girl. The temperatures have been exceptionally low, with plenty of snow to go around. This morning the girl awoke to a fresh 5 inches of powder – that while beautiful, left her toes numb and mood as gray as the sky.

IMG_2739Retreating to her cozy office, the girl turned her thoughts to Disney World in an effort to cheer her winter gloom. Before long she was imagining herself strolling down Main Street, U.S.A. deciding which attraction to visit first. Determined to be in a better mood, the girl decides to take her imaginary self to Splash Mountain in Frontierland. A great choice! Before long she is singing a snippet of the ride music to herself:

“Everybody’s got a laughing place, A laughing place to go-oh-oh! Take a frown, turn it upside down, And you’ll find yours we know -oh-oh!”

DSCF0370Sage advice, no? This log-flume style attraction follows the tale of Br’er Rabbit who ventures from home and meets Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, who have grand ideas of roasting Br’er Rabbit. With a bit of cunning, Br’er Rabbit tricks Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear into letting him loose and throwing him into the briar patch. As the story goes, Br’er Rabbit is able to maneuver through the briar patch, while the larger Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear are entangled in the painful thorns, barely escaping the briar patch’s Br’er Gator. As the ride wraps up, Br’er Rabbit is happily back at home and  it’s a “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Day.”

DSC05287The Splash Mountain storyline and music is derived from Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South, where Disney first interpreted the famous Uncle Reemus stories of Br’er Rabbit.

One of the great things about Splash Mountain is that the ride is nearly 11 minutes long. Through those 11 minutes is wonderful balance of story, scenery, music, and ride that includes 3 dips and one large 5 story drop where you appear as though you are plunging into the briar patch.DSCF0371The view from atop before you slide down into the briar patch is lovely. It’s always fun to get a bit of a high vantage point at WDW.

DSCF0363Being a log flume style attraction you may certainly get a little wet – which on many days at Magic Kingdom is a welcome thing. Riders in the front of the log are at higher risk of taking on more water than riders in the back. I have never been completely, totally soaked to a point of unpleasantness on this ride.

Riders must be 40″ tall to board, and generally I find Splash Mountain to be quite kid friendly. But as always, use your own judgement if you have a kiddo who is height/drop nervous.

TIP*  This attraction is popular and the queue can get very lengthy in the afternoon. My advice is to use a FASTPASS+ for this attraction or visit in the morning to avoid a long line. If you do find yourself in a situation where the standby entrance is lengthy and you’re out of FASTPASS+ don’t worry too much about it. The queue line is pretty well shaded and pleasantly scenic – a great way to spend time with family or friends.

Splash Mountain is the perfect spot to cool off a bit on a warm, sunny Florida day and lift your mood if you’re in the need of a pick-me-up like this girl today. But if you’re in Disney World, chances are your mood is more than fine, and you’ll simply just join in the merriment.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay. My, oh my, what a wonderful day…

W. T. D. W. – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom

Frontierland SignWhen I started WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY I told myself I would rotate parks weekly, so my dear readers could have diversity. But even though I wrote about classic It’s A Small World in Magic Kingdom last week, I’m staying put in MK this week to visit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I can’t help myself! When you have a whim, you have a whim. I have some great pictures and great stories about this attraction. So let’s head west into Frontierland and hop aboard a run-away mine train.

DSCF2151The story goes that once there was a mountain, and that mountain held plenty of gold. Prospectors discovered the mountain’s riches and set up a mining company. But before long, strange and unexplained things started happening. There were cave-ins and trains would take off unexpectedly. The miners high-tailed it out of there leaving the mountain abandoned. Years later a new group has decided to tackle the mountains treasure and they’re having a rowdy time about it. Guests are along for the adventure. As you board the train an enthusiastic voice rings out “Hang on to your hats and glasses ’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!” If you’re anything like us, you’ll be quoting that phrase after you’ve ridden Big Thunder.

DSC_0099This ride is my Mum’s well-chosen favorite in all of Walt Disney World. The attraction is full of humorous scenery, twists, turns and dips. Despite the warning of this being “the wildest ride in the wilderness,” Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is relatively calm for a coaster style attraction and not too scarey for kids. There are no giant hills and drops, just plenty of winding at a delightfully fast pace. So holding on to hats and glasses is good, accurate advice.

DSC01687Outside of the dashing, twisting train ride, this attraction is full of fun scenes, little details and great views. This is also an attraction that you should absolutely ride in both daylight and darkness. It has a different feel each time. (It’s especially fun at night around Halloween,.) Personally, I love it at night, but you do see more of the details in the day.

DSCF2129DSC_0097I can’t tell you all about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad without telling you a family story that always makes us laugh. The first time we visited Walt Disney World I was 4 and my brother was 2 and a half. I’m sure at that point I was already 40″ tall, which is the minimum height requirement for many of the more adventurous attractions. My family got into the habit of splitting up for big chunks of the day so my Dad and I, who are thrill lovers, could visit the more exciting attractions. My Mom, who enjoys thrill rides, but doesn’t crave them, would take my little brother to mild, kid friendly attractions. They spent A LOT of time on Dumbo and Mr. Toads Wild Ride, which is no longer at Magic Kingdom. My little brother, as a kid, was a big chicken. He wanted nothing to do with anything that even looked like a roller coaster. One trip, when he was big enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mom and Dad decided to see if they could bribe him into riding so we could ride as a family. They knew that if he would just give it a try, he’d like it. So we entered the queue, and I can remember the protesting beginning. My parents told him that if he’d ride, they’d purchase a Star Wars toy for him. As we moved along the queue, brother’s protests became more fervent, and the number of Star Wars figures promised kept increasing. Finally, Mom and brother boarded the train in a row in front of my Dad and myself, and poor brother is now having a full, crying meltdown. A cast member very nicely told my Mom that they couldn’t let him ride if he was so upset. So they got off, and had meet my Dad and myself at the ride exit.

DSCF2150I don’t remember on which of the family trips my brother first rode Big Thunder, but I am happy to report that he eventually did and now will happily face even the scariest coasters. We always laugh about the story, and I chuckled even as I was typing it. Memories such as that, and the time you spend with your loved ones, is part what makes WDW so special. The time my Dad and I spent on our own visiting thrill attractions is a priceless treasure. These days my husband is my ride partner, and I’m very thrilled to say he gives Big Thunder Mountain Railroad an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Big Thunder Mountain RailRoad