Disneyland to Offer Ride With Lots of Zip (a-Dee-Doo-Dah)

Times Staff Writer

Disneyland is planning a new ride that will offer a respite of sorts to park visitors who just can’t handle one more exposure to the haunting melody of the Small World theme song.

The amusement park plans to break ground this summer on “Splash Mountain,” a ride featuring characters from Disney’s “Song of the South.” The ride will serenade customers with a rousing version of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”--the Academy Award-winning movie theme--as they float along a man-made river, watching Br’er Rabbit outwitting Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear in scenes taken from the animated portions of the film.

The movie has sparked controversy since its premier in 1946 because of its depiction in live-action scenes of relationships between slaves and plantation owners in the pre-Civil War South. But Disney officials say they do not expect the ride to provoke criticism because it uses only the animated animal characters.


The ride will be in Bear Country on the far west side of the park and will be styled along the lines of Disneyland’s “Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

“Splash Mountain” will be one of the highest capacity rides in Disneyland, able to accommodate up to 3,000 guests an hour. “Pirates of the Caribbean” seats 3,200 people an hour, making it the highest capacity ride in the park.

Disneyland’s apparent strategy is to spark new interest in the park--particularly from repeat, local customers. With “Splash Mountain” planned for debut early in 1989, Disneyland is following the pattern it pioneered in 1979 when “Big Thunder Mountain” opened: luring guests during the off-season with brand new attractions.

No corporate sponsor has yet been lined up for “Splash Mountain,” although the park reportedly will seek a financial backer for the ride.

Al Flores, a Disneyland spokesman, said Thursday that the movie “Song of the South”--which he said probably will be re-released when the new ride opens--was chosen as a theme for the ride because it fit into the Bear Country theme and will be a good marketing tool.

Disneyland officials, naturally, hope that the new ride will pay off and analysts seem to agree. “There certainly will be an increase in attendance” because of the new attraction, said Skip Palmer, a partner at Management Resources Inc., a Tustin consulting firm for amusement parks.