Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain Show Quality Advisory

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Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park has been experiencing significant technical difficulties in its various show scenes during the past few days. It has been conveyed to us by the employees who staff the attraction that certain mechanical parts are needed to make the necessary repairs and those parts are not readily on hand. Disney is, at this time, choosing to operate the attraction with non-functional show scenes during the interim period. There is currently no estimated timeline for the repairs to be completed.

It is understandable that some guests may not want to subject their children or even themselves to “bad show” at Walt Disney World. If you want to experience the attraction as it was designed, you may wish to visit the Magic Kingdom at a later date. If you want to see for yourself what exactly is wrong, you can preview a video of the problem provided by Kevin Yee and then decide for yourself if you want to still visit the attraction. An update with be posted when there are any further details.

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Posted on January 23, 2012

33 Responses to “Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain Show Quality Advisory”

  • That link brings your readers to a blog from Sept 2010. Oops.

  • Wow, that is one sad video. Will check it out during my late Feb. trip.

  • Looks like the same problem that’s been plaguing the attraction on and off for the last six months or so, except far more severe. Looks like that whole “boat” section is completely down.

    I know they’re loath to shut Splash down for any length of time while Big Thunder is being rehabbed, but this is typically the time of year when Splash undergoes it’s own rehab, and the signs of neglect have started to show. It’s bad show business, especially since this problem is during the ride finale.

  • It’s not fun that it isn’t working properly. But I hope they don’t shut it down. We’re are there this Friday and with BTMRR down and Dumbo gone, no parade at night and the daytime parade rerouted. It seriously impacts your days at the MK.

  • Okay, the immobile chickens on the showboat are just … disturbing. In soooo many ways.

    If I recall correctly, these effects are also broken:

    1) Hopping Br’er Rabbit with the hobo stick
    2) Several “jumping water” effects in the Laughing Place
    3) The fish-on-a-line effect tied to Br’er Frog’s toe
    4) The fish hopping through the broken net held by the storks

    Is it really that technically difficult to keep this stuff operational? Or is the maintenance budget set at something like 90% of the minimum needed to keep it all running?

    • Len – I thought the same thing about the chickens. They look sort of drugged or something. Thought that little ones might find this a bit creepy…

    • Regarding:
      1) Hopping Br’er Rabbit with the hobo stick

      I noticed on my last few visits (in 2009, 2010) that this effect would almost ALWAYS be working properly during the daytime. However, it seemed to be not working the majority of the days I would ride Splash at night. I found it very strange, like it was almost something that they kept having to reset each morning.

  • It’s also bad business to have half the MK under rehab — lots of bad choices all around. Some family is on their one and only trip, and they discover Dumbo isn’t spinning, BTM isn’t running, the parade routes and then Splash is also closed? Skrim everywhere on Main Street, there was a big crane behind the castle yesterday…

    The park is not a good show right now, period.

    I’d bet the “we don’t have the parts, we’re looking for them, we promise” is almost surely a ‘creative story’; almost surely, the real reason it’s down is that they don’t want to take down Splash because there’s nothing to eat that excess capacity right now. It would basically mean all of Frontierland is skippable. Which shutters everyone over to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland. And Fantasyland is in the midst of a major transformation and now lacking capacity as well…

    They don’t have great choices: run Splash and put on a crappy show at the micro ‘attraction’ level, or bring down Splash and put on a crappy show at the meta ‘park’ level, where Space has a 120 minute peak wait on a ‘slow’ day and Fantasyland is crammed with people “looking for something to do.”

    I don’t know which is worse and if this was really avoidable.

  • Although Splash is usually quite uncrowded in January due to the mild weather and the perception the rider gets soaked…Maybe bringing Splash down at the same time at BTM and Dumbo was the best play.

    The real, very fundamental problem — one which the Fantasyland expansion should alleviate but not totally solve — is that WDW has experienced huge growth in 40 years, but the footprint of the MK and the attraction count hasn’t grown with it…the result is that MK management is probably loathe to make needed refurbs due to capacity concerns, not budget. That makes it understandable in the short run – I really don’t think they’re penny pinching. But it does mean strategic vision for the past decade or two (attendance doubles, capacity does not) hasn’t met the reality. I think Fantasyland expansion gets some of the way there but the MK is the most popular theme park in the world. They need more people-eaters.

    • Just to finish my thought: with more high capacity attractions, you then don’t have a ‘lesser-of-two-evils’ decision to make when two of your headliners desperately needs TLC because there’s alternative entertainment available. You could bring down Splash and BTM at the same time if the rest of the park could swallow the excess crowds. It can’t, so MK Suits are left with this bad decision to make.

      Simple solution would be to provide alternative entertainment they CAN provide without hauling out an excavator to break new ground on an attraction: they could do character dance parties or shows at their unused show spaces (Diamond Horseshoe) like they do during special events, or run another parade, or add variable castle shows.

      The problem here is still that Splash and BTM are marketed to the parent set as the “must-do” attractions for the tween/teen kids in their group looking for something “off the chain” to do, and dancing with Mickey or watching another parade probably won’t fill the void.

      • Excellent points. I would completely agree with you, but…

        Splash Mountain has, more or less, been in this state since last May. Some quick fixes have been made to solve problems temporarily, but overall, it has been bad since last May.

        My point with that is that, at one point, it wasn’t an issue of not taking Splash down when BTMRR (and other attractions) were already down. This could’ve been fixed in 2011 when as many other attractions weren’t down.

        In general, though, I do agree with you. MK desperately needs capacity so it’s not such a “big deal” (people will always complain–even if Swiss Family Treehouse is down–that their vacations are ruined, but I mean a big deal from the perspective of capacity) when a few attractions must go down at the same time.

        • Right. Some of this should have been addressed earlier. FWIW, I rode in mid December and it was certainly worn down, but not drastically so, and the finale was operating. So the drastic downturn appears to be sudden. The constant problems with Splash like Len mentions are…constant. :)

          I’m not an operations expert, but I suspect the reality is Splash needs good a few months down, at least, to get it back to an outstanding show with all the working animatronics functioning as designed, fixing the audio, giving it a good scrub down (dirt/filth lingers on some elements in the water rides).

          And unfortunately for the Splash lovers, it needs this *constantly*. Not being an expert or having research thoroughly, but having a memory, it seems like Splash goes down 1-2 months a year, plus has lengthy 6 month type rehabs every 5 years or so. I think a quick look back on the Splash refurb history would probably bear out that’s close to accurate. I know it had a lengthy, 5 month refurb from I think Jan-June 2007, and it’s usually down 30-60 days in Jan-Feb.

          That’s 20-25% downtime (12-15 months out of every 60) — and as we’ve seen — it needs MORE than that.

          They’ve shown with BTM and Space that they’re willing to bring down an E-ticket thrill ride for a considerable length of time; I think Splash’s problem is that it needs that kind of repair consistently, it’s got a large capacity, and they want it up during the holidays, summer, Easter.

          Even with it’s 1-2 months down/year, a lot of the effects Len mentioned go down, audio problems manifest, lighting goes down, things get grimey looking, paint gets worn.

          It *would* have gotten some but not all of that TLC during it’s yearly downtime in January, were it not for BTM being down.

          Seems identical to the Yeti Problem at AK. I’m guessing there’s just a perception that MK lacks thrills for the tween/teens and they need to maximize up-time of those attractions, even if up-time means a subpar show. In both cases, it’s more of a long term issue — both parks are missing high capacity “thrill” rides.

          But Splash itself it still a problem because of its nature. Water + sophisticated animatronics + intricate sound system = nightmare for operations. Add to that the key role it plays in keeping people busy in the park and it’s somewhat intractable. It probably needs to 1 month of downtime for every 2 of uptime to keep the experience pristine. Clearly 1 month down out of every 4 or 5 up, at least at the pacing has, doesn’t cut it. But I don’t know how much more ‘down’ MK can handle for its E-tickets until Fantasyland is back to normal.

  • Really unbelievably sad. What exactly does “not readily at hand” mean? Isn’t it someone’s job to make sure parts for attractions are always at hand for emergency situations?

    And to run the show anyway is simply a poor decision. I know that 80% of guests probably won’t know the difference, but somehow it just seems wrong.

  • by Isabelle Boivin on January 23, 2012, at 11:55 am EDT

    It is just sad. Really. Hope to get a chance to ride it anyway late February.

  • I agree with Barb in that “It seriously impacts your days at the MK.” We are also going to be there from Thursday – Sunday but aren’t too upset about the closures because we have plans to make two more trips to the World in 2012. If I was a family with kids and MK was my only stop then I would be plenty upset. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing Splash Mountain again even if it’s subpar this time around. It will make me appreciate it that much more on a future trip once they fix it.

  • by Geoff Krieger on January 23, 2012, at 12:42 pm EDT

    I guess the question is, what could Disney do about it? They have more going on now then probably anytime since the initial construction. Maybe it’s poor planning, but the truth is there isn’t ANYWHERE that the crowds could go, except to another park.

    I think the bigger problem is Disney has decided to do too much at once. Fantasyland, Dumbo, Main Street, BTM and don’t forget the Peter Pan queue and walkway. Then you’ve also got facade work on Pecos Bill, and you are probably already cutting down on people heading into frontierland. Add to this, and maybe Disney just doesn’t care for a few more months?

  • The same morning I read about the deferred repairs on Splash Mountain, I also see that Disney chief Bob Iger made a nifty $31.4 million last year:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-iger-salary-20120121,0,329935.story

  • Back in August, many of those same show items were broke quite often. I remember thinking that some of the chickens looked like they had been shot like at the end of a old mobster film.

  • The water rides are some of the very hardest to keep perfectly operational, and even 20 years on, the Splash animatronics are still quite sophisticated. Splash needs yearly refurb to keep the show condition respectable. Some of the stuff Len mentions is commonplace by the time the end of the year rolls around.

    But the fact the entire Doh Dah Landing finale is off-line is just sad.

  • All these comments about some things being broken are ridiculous. “It seriously impacts your days at the MK.” and other nonsense statements. Are you really going to be souring you heads at the end of the day because a couple of things we’re broken on Splash Mountain? I’ll take a 80% Splash Mountain any day of the week. Everybody get’s the idea of it, they get the thrill of the fall, they get all the benefits of the ride, god forbid a couple of birds and other such plastic animals are not moving at the end.
    And someone said it right. They will not shut it down while Big Thunder is down, just aint going to happen. They will repair it after hours as quick as they can.

    • Good point. Disney got to where it is by having okay quality and “you’ll get the idea of what we meant here” attractions. Seriously? The idea that this is acceptable from a company that has built itself on a man who was fixated on producing the highest quality entertainment possible is absolutely laughable.

      • I’m currently reading “Walt & the Promise of Progress City.” Tom I know you despise any statement that reeks of ‘what would Walt think,’ but so many parts of this book keep ringing in my head as I read these comments, and I can say with absolute certainty that running Splash Mountain on anything less than all cylinders is not characteristic of a man and or company that strives for and stakes its reputation on perfection.

  • I hope they don’t shut it down – my family will be there the 31st and we don’t get to visit Disney yearly, Once over 4 years is more like it. It will put a damper on our trip if they close it

  • I was on it the other day when they evac’d us off the ride after an hour and a half. Anyways I too noticed these problems as well as the projection effect of Br’er Fox and Bear chasing Br’er Rabbit over the hill was terrible.

  • The big problem for me is that it ruins any possibility for the suspension of disbelief. I think the ability to immerse ourselves in the scene is what brings so many back to Disney, and not other amusement parks. Broken animatronics do seriously impact the show and the ride enjoyment for many people, myself included (I endure the drop to see the show!).

    • I agree with Katherine completely. I also ride for the show and not the drop. For that matter, I live in Pennsylvania, so if I want a regular log flume ride there are definitely closer options available. I would rather have the ride shut down for my next visit than ride it in its present state.

  • It’s my son’s favorite ride… and probably for the adults too. I hope it’s back to working by mid-February…….

  • I think the other problem is this: Suppose this is your kid’s only visit to WDW, and you go on a bunch of rides working at substandard conditions–what impression does that kid take away from the park? To my mind, there’s a big difference between going through a ride populated by singing, dancing characters, and riding a log ride down a chute surrounded by waxworks. Will that kid have the same attachment to Disney later in life? When it has children, will it make a huge effort to bring them back?

    Economizing to the point of compromising show quality may bring in the $ now, but the unimpressed child of today is likely to be the unimpressed adult of 20 years from now. One has only to look at the comics industry to see that it can be difficult to survive on nostalgia, once you stop generating it.

  • There is a much better video on YouTube. This one notates throughout the entire ride what is wrong with it and it’s in 1080p.

    Either follow this link or search “Broke Splash Mountain.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvqU8IjDTuk&list=UUU1Kc2unfecPN9hWrQzWazg&index=11&feature=plcp

  • I am a local so I always do the season pass route. Each year we alternate passes between Universal or Disney or Busch Gardens/Sea World. I’m glad I chose this year to take off from Disney.

    Spending the year at Universal has really opened my eyes as to how much Universal is NOT run down. Everything looks well kept. I’m a long time fan of Disney but the magic seems to flowing further east lately. I hope Disney gets its act together soon!

  • The next question is, what can WE do about it?
    So far, the Disney fan community has not been able to send a strong, unified message to Disney since the EPCOT anniversary fiasco. Perhaps we had some effect on extending the Fantasmic schedule, but that one is debatable.

    So, is this the next issue we make a strong stand on? If so, what do we do? How do we voice our disapproval in an effective way? Is it as simple as an organized letter-writing, e-mail and social networking campaign? Or perhaps try to push the Orlando-area media to treat it as a local interest news story? I think we understand that during a long refurb of Big Thunder and the construction of New Fantasyland, it’s asking a lot to have them board up Splash Mountain for major repairs. However, I would LIKE to hear Meg Crofton or MK VP Phil Holmes at least address the issue.