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  1. #1

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    Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    The Disney Mountains
    Michael Eisner at his Peak

    **Warning** This is a Michael Eisner bash. If you do not want to reflect on the past and "Keep Moving Forward," I suggest you stop reading here.

    This book has been mentioned before for it's preview of the New Grizzly Peak and it inspired me to pick up a copy.

    I have enjoyed all the different stories about the Disney Mountains and how they came to be. Each Mountain carries it's own history and is a reflection of the ever evolving approach at WED enterprises.

    One in particular really shocked me and I felt was something I needed to share with my fellow Disney Geeks. I imagine that not everyone has a copy of this book so I thought I might share a few quotes about how a certain mountain came to be...Splash Mountain.

    In the summer of 1983, Tony Baxter found himself every morning sitting in his car making the long commute from his home in Anaheim Hills to WED headquarters in Glendale. The daily drive gave him plenty of time to reflect on the past and think about the future of Imagineering and the Disneyland experience.
    And there was a lot to think about. First, there was the problem of what to do with Bear Country, the long underutilized and lightly trafficked "land" that was home to the Country Bear Jamboree. The musical revue starring a cast of Audio-Animatronics bruins never caught on at Disneyland as it had at in Walt Disney World.
    They had a similar problem on the opposite side of the Park in Tomorrowland, where America Sings was playing to half-empty houses.
    ...
    America Sings was one of the attractions to bear the personal stamp of Marc Davis, who was understandably aghast at the thought of its closure. Tony and his fellow Imagineers were just as concerned about the potential loss of the 114 Davis-designed Audio-Animatronics critters that made up the cast.

    Dick Nunis, the president of Walt Disney Attractions, had been looking for something else, too: a water flume ride to take a bit of the edge off the often-brutal summer heat. For years Dick had been pressuring Imagineering to create such an attraction, arguing that every theme park had one. The Imagineers, in turn, used the exact same argument against him: all theme parks had one; therefore, Disneyland should not.
    Some of you may have heard that story before, to some this is completely new. Either way, I wanted to include it because it gives a foundation to the story.

    Tony Baxter then started considering ideas that would save Davis's America Sings critters, lure guests to Bear Country, and answer Dick Nunis's request. He considered the potential of an 'E' ticket attraction themed to one of the Disney Studio's greatly untapped resources, Song of the South. Since Marc had also worked on this 1946 animated-live action classic, the solution seemed like a twist of fate.

    Some of the characters from the film-and other designs that didn't even make it into the film-were reborn as Audio-Animatronics figures in America Sings.
    Zip-A-Dee River Run was created, a lavishly themed attraction taking guests on a journey of it's own unique story. A story that would include Brer Bear, Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and many other critters

    Flash-back to a Saturday in 1984 when Imagineers were eager to put on a dog and pony show for newly installed CEO Michael Eisner and president Frank Wells.

    We had Star Tours and Zip-A-Dee River Run ready to show Michael and Frank," Tony says. "Michael brought his then-fourteen-year-old son Breck, saying, 'I bought Breck along because I'm new to this side of the business and my son is an expert on theme park rides, so I trust his opinion on what you guys have to show.' And I thought, great my life depends on a fourteen-year-old kid.
    Not only did Tony's reputation depend on a 'fourteen-year-old kid,' but the reputation of one of America's most beloved theme parks. Maybe it's just me, but Eisner already appears to be out of place within his first few days as the new CEO.

    Not convinced?? Well then...

    Michael Eisner may have been sold on the attraction, but he wasn't sold on the name. He didn't think the teenage audience in particular would flock to something called "Zip-A-Dee River Run"
    I agree with this...

    But the new executive was new to the art of Imagineering, so his own suggestion came squarely out of left field.
    That's a nice way of putting it...

    The recent Touchstone release Splash had been a surprise hit for the company...
    So what, what does that have to do with a Disneyland attraction??

    ...so Michael suggested incorporating a mermaid figure of Daryl Hannah into the attraction and naming it after the movie.
    WOW!!!

    Just...

    Wow!!!


    The Imagineers managed to convince him that theming based on the film would not be appropriate for Disneyland, but Michael was insistent about the name change.
    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Michael D. Eisner!! The rise of a man with a vision, the fall of everything else.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

  2. #2

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Nice. :P Oh well...regardless of the ridiculous reasons behind it, I do think the name change was a good thing. "Zip-a-Dee River Run" sounds like a DCA ride, and I'm not sure why.


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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    I agree that the name change was needed and Splash Mountain has a better ring to it.

    But the lack of understanding WED and its overall approach really shows in these stories.

    Leave the magic to the magicians, not to the assistants.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

  4. #4

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Interesting post. Thanks Robotic.

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    WOW. Thats a wierd way it came to be lol

    But yes, Splash Mountain sounds alot nicer than Zip-A-Dee River Run IMO.


    And a random off subject note; Micheal Eisner made a cameo on a Family Guy episode that aired last night on Adult Swim (rerun), in which Peter attempts to impress Lois's father. Micheal Eisner also said something about rehabing the Its a Small World ride in the episode.

    Now hang on to them hats n' glasses, cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!

    Quote Originally Posted by pussnboots View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    So is the consensus that Splash Mountain would be way more exciting than Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Paris?
    Zip-a-dee-duh.

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    I'm no Eisner fan, but to be honest, he was up-front about not knowing anything about the 'creative' side of things (at that time). I think him bringing his son to hear the ideas was a smart thing. I don't think for a second the idea was up to a 14 year old and it did happen.


  7. #7

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    For all his faults later:

    1. He did listen to Imagineers. As he was new to Imagineering he was still getting his feet wet. He didn't do it and didn't force them too. It was only later when he started to lose touch with the lack of cohesive storytelling.

    2. For bringing his 14 year old? I am sure Tony's reputation didn't rely on a 14 year old, but Eisner used his son as a focus group. He wants to bring teens back to DL. What better way to do it than with the opinion of a 14 year old. Does he have to listen to him? No. But he had some input into the mind of a segment of the population that DL was distancing at this point.

    I am not saying Eisner was the company's greatest asset by any means, but I will give props to the man for the early year he had with the company.
    It's a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah...Tip for Today!










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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Fascinating stuff. I agree that Splash Mountain is a million times better of a name than Zip-a-Dee River Run (perhaps that was a working title?).

    Mermaids would be even more out of place in Critter Country than Pooh, especially if it was entirely for the reason of promoting the movie "Splash".

    The 14 year old thing could go either way. If Eisner was taking his son's opinions into account, that might be a good thing. If he was letting his son decide whether or not the idea was any good because he had no way of being able to tell himself, that's a different story. Walt had a way of knowing what worked and what didn't because he was his own audience.

    I recently read on IMDB.com that an audience consisting mostly of 19 and 20 year olds walked out on a preview screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Director Robert Zemeckis, who had final cut, refused to change anything. And it would seem that he was right .


    Also, what with the mention of "Eisner bashing," I couldn't resist including this. (Note the inclusion of the "treasure cave" of positive accomplishments )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=http:...?v=bJVomam8tT8

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=bJVomam8tT8
    "Happy Working Song" parody for DCA remodel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-TYESfNTP8&feature=plcp

    Retro Rant Review of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II" (comedy review of direct-to-video
    Disney sequel):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../1/q1j7FU8QXu0
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/user/animagus.../0/sasNTMDRBLU

    Retro Rant Review of "Home on the Range" (comedy review of Disney movie):
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7mC-...feature=relmfu
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoUie...feature=relmfu
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


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  9. #9

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Maybe I am a little off base and I agree that it was 'good form' for Eisner to humble himself, to a certain extent.

    Eisner, admitting he has no experience in this field, should not be making suggestions to the point of insisting they be accepted.

    Let the creatives create, approve the projects and offer suggestions.

    The 'control factor' is what turned me off.

    I admit the name ended up working out but that's not to say that the 30 years of experience at WED could not have changed the name to something even better.
    Last edited by ROBONICS95; 11-03-2007 at 10:08 PM.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

  10. #10

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Wow...talk about out of touch! lol

    I think bringing his son was a great idea, so long as Eisner did not intend to have his son just dictate on everything but offer his opinion.

    The connection with the film Splash, however...wow. Just wow.

    Throwing a mermaid in with Song of the South just does not make a whole lot of sense. The title of the attraction certainly benefited from it, though.

    What perplexes me now is why Eisner let both 20,000 Leagues and Submarine Voyage close down, instead of refurbishing them to promote Splash.

  11. #11

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Eisners: "We Wants the Ferris Wheel!"

    hahahahahahaha!!!

  12. #12

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Quote Originally Posted by SnowflakeSparks View Post
    And a random off subject note; Micheal Eisner made a cameo on a Family Guy episode that aired last night on Adult Swim (rerun), in which Peter attempts to impress Lois's father. Micheal Eisner also said something about rehabing the Its a Small World ride in the episode.
    His words were "I have to be at Disneyland in the morning. We're ethnically cleansing the Small World ride."

    He's also known for telling Brian "See you at Disneyland. BRING MONEY!"

  13. #13

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    Interesting history. I'd like to read the entire book myself now.




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    Cool Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    I don't think it would've worked.

    That said, the best attractions are the result of people feeling free to throw their ideas into the pot, no matter how nuts or off the wall. Even if those are bad ideas that go nowhere, they may trigger a good idea. Creative people need to feel able to express their creativity.

    And BTW, in the book, right after this sentence:

    "We had Star Tours and Zip-A-Dee River Run ready to show Michael and Frank," Tony says. "Michael brought his then-fourteen-year-old son Breck, saying, 'I bought Breck along because I'm new to this side of the business and my son is an expert on theme park rides, so I trust his opinion on what you guys have to show.' And I thought, great my life depends on a fourteen-year-old kid."

    Is this sentence:

    "But then when I (Baxter) thought about it later, I realized that that was a very smart move on Michael's part, because though he was new to the business, he had a member of his target audience living in his house."

    Remember, that book also tells of Candy Mtn, a bad idea by Walt Disney (who had no theme park experience when he built DL).

    And, no, I am not equating ME with WD. As I'm currently about 2/3 of the way through "Disney War", I have little good to say about ME.

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  15. #15

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    Re: Touchstone's Splash...Mountain

    I think it is one of the many benefits of holding a creative position, it allows the mind to grow and expand. And while there is quite a bit of freedom with such a position, there is still a goal of moving in the direction that will ultimately benefit the project and concept as a whole.

    Eisner's suggestion really shocked me, in a humorous way, more than anything. It shocked me to think that incorporating a live modern day mermaid into an attraction themed to animated southern critters was thought of as possibly a good idea.

    Either way, the title worked out for the better and the attraction is a favorite of mine, but a truly interesting story of how it came about.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

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