July 17, 1989. Disneyland turned 34 years old and Splash Mountain opened. Several days later I broke my arm. Here is the story.
As is the norm with any new Disney project, Splash Mountain had been heavily advertised. A Disney-freak since my diaper days, I was every bit as hungry for Disney information back then as I am today. I remember visiting "the park" a few months before the attraction opened. At the time, I was madly in love with the show America Sings (which is where Disneyland's Innoventions is now housed). My parents and I were walking by the now closed attraction when a nearby custodial Cast Member heard my lament about it no longer being there. He came over and started talking to me about it. To my ten year old self, this was better than talking to any movie star. I was being given individual attention by a Disneyland Cast Member. Someone I desperately aspired to be. And he started giving me inside intel. I can't remember distinctly, but I'm fairly certain that I was salivating at his words. He told my family
"You know that new ride they're building over in Bear Country?"
I answered "You mean Splash Mountain?"
"Yeah. Well, they're moving all the characters from America Sings over there into that ride!"
Ho ho hooo! This was exciting news. I had a Disney scoop! My first! And oh man, I spread the news to anyone who would listen. I was so excited to know this!
I also remember that at the time, if you rode the Disneyland Railroad trains (which in this day and age pass directly through Splash Mountain and offer a preview of the final scene) the voice over would tell you that you were passing through Splash Mountain and you could see where there was going to be a gimps into the attraction. They were killing me with this. I was so jazzed for this thing to hurry up and open already.
Then on July 7, 1989, ten days until Splash Mountain opened, during The Magical World of Disney on tv, they aired a special called Ernest Goes To Splash Mountain. It kept building up to Ernest getting to the darn thing and then finally showed scenes from inside the attraction. I was in a frenzy. I had to ride this.
A few weeks later, the day came. We were going to Disneyland and I was FINALLY going to get to see how all my old friends from America Sings had been re-purposed. I would get to plunge down five stories of awesome and land in a watery haven that was sure to leave me soaking wet. This was going to rock. The night before, I could hardly sleep. I was so worked up about something new at Disneyland that I couldn't even stay in bed. I got out and stood in front of my mirror to practice my "AAAAAAAAH" face for the fall. (Did I mention that my true self in an actress?) If I couldn't make the hours evaporate any quicker, I might as well pretend I am on the ride. Bored with practicing in the mirror, I decide to jazz it up and add some stunt action to the play. I turned and faced my bed. I got ready to throw my hands up, mute scream (because I was supposed to be in bed asleep) and fall down face first onto my bed.
I went through all those actions, but when my face hit the bed the scream was only "muted" because I burried myself into a pillow. (Here comes the 'what had happened was' part) When I threw my hands up with all of my might, the back of my right hand smacked full force into the box spring of my mattress. And broke. Not the bed. My hand. Of course I didn't know it was broken. I was only ten. I remember being scrunched up on my bed with my face in a pillow, internally writhing in agonizing pain and thinking "Okay. It's okay. Oh my GOD! Okay. It's gonna hurt for a minute and then it will all be over. Just make it through this pain. AAAAAAAAAAAH! Okay. Okay. Okay okay okay okay okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!! Oh God, when will it stop?!"
When it never stopped, I had to go get my parents and explain what S-T-U-P-I-D thing I was doing that caused this to happen. So we're in the emergency room and they're putting a cast on my arm when I almost drop DEAD as I hear the doctor say "Now, be sure to keep this thing dry. No going in the water and be careful in the shower with it."
What?! Are you kidding me? No. This can't be happening. You don't understand. I am going on SPLASH Mountain in less than a dozen hours. What the? Wha? Oh no.
None of that came out of my mouth, because I had left my body. I had no control over myself. I can't even remember the next few minutes of that evening. God bless my mother, who knows me better than anyone on earth. I cannot imagine what was going through her head when she heard the doctor say that, and when she saw my face loose all it's color and my eyes turn gray and well up with tears. I'm certain she was laughing a little under her breath. But she knew that she could never torture me like that. She knew how much this meant to my little ten year old self. She would make it right. She would fix it. She did fix it. In the simplest way ever. She just got a plastic shopping bag and brought it along for me to tie around my arm and cover the cast during the ride. Sweet child of mine, thank you mom!
Crisis averted, I am now sitting in the FRONT SEAT of Splash Mountain!!! I've had my arm covered for about a half hour, just so I wouldn't forget. Ha ha. It was so awesome. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. My eyes would widen and my pointing finger would fly every time I recognized something I had seen in the Ernest special. I had already been splashed a few times, as had everyone in my party. We were all laughing. It was great. And then....
Here it came. The big drop. Oh snap! As we started to climb, the music turned ominous. The two vultures I recognized from America Sings (the only part of that show that scared the hell out of me were those two damn vultures, and now here they were again). They warned "You're looking for a laughing place, eh? We've got your laughing place...right up here."
For crying out loud, that climb went on forever. I started to panic. This was going to be a long freaking drop! I remember as we got to the top and I could see all of Bear Country, New Orleans Square, some of Frontierland and beyond I had a moment of "Please God, get me off of this ride." And suddenly, the log stopped moving and locked into place. I breathed an audible sigh of relief and kissed the front of my seat, but all too soon. For a split second later the log released and threw me into a free fall five stories long.
To this day, Splash Mountain is my favorite Disneyland attraction.
|My daughters first time on Splash Mountain. Me in front, my mother screaming in the back.|