The idea for Splash Mountain was originally conceived in the summer of 1983 by ImagineerTony Baxter while stuck in rush hour traffic. He wanted to attract guests to the often-empty Bear Country land and make use of the Audio-Animatronic characters from America Sings, which was also receiving poor attendance from guests. It was Dick Nunis who insisted that the Imagineers create a log flume attraction for Disneyland, but the Imagineers were initially unenthusiastic about it, insisting that log flume attractions were too ordinary to include in a park like Disneyland. While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people to Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter then thought of the 1946 Disney film Song of the South.
At the time it was being built, Splash Mountain was one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering at a cost of $75 million. According to Alice Davis (wife of the late Marc Davis), when America Sings closed in April of 1988, production of Disneyland's Splash Mountain had gone far over budget. The only way to recover was to permanently close America Sings and use the animatronics from that attraction.
Baxter and his team developed the concept of Zip-A-Dee River Run, which would incorporate scenes from Song of the South. The name was later changed to Splash Mountain after then-CEO Michael Eisner's mostly-ignored suggestion that the attraction be used to help market the film Splash. The animatronics from the former America Sings attraction were used in many scenes at Disneyland, though most of the figures of the ride's main characters (Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear) were specifically designed for Splash Mountain.
Dave Feiten was then brought in to animate and fix the story and staging problems. Feiten then moved nearly all of the animatronics to new locations and then took out 10 animatronic figures and removed them from the ride completely to improve the show.
A version of the popular attraction was also planned for Disneyland Paris, but was scrapped due to budget concerns and Europe's frequently-frigid weather.
Glide along a colorful bayou in a hollow log—past delightful singing critters—to a thrilling 5-story splashdown.
Gently drift past rocky caves, vine-strewn swamps and sun-drenched meadows as you accompany happy-go-lucky Brer Rabbit on the adventure of a lifetime. But be warned: Brer Bear and Brer Fox are in hot pursuit of the roaming rabbit and they’ll do anything they can to catch him!
During your log-flume adventure, visit such whimsical watering holes amid Chickapin Hill as:
The Fishing Place
The Old Swimming Hole
Brer Fox’s Lair
Brer Rabbit’s home in the Briar Patch
The ride presents scenes taken from the animated segments of Song of the South. It follows the adventures of the mischievous Brer Rabbit, who leaves his home in the Briar Patch to look for his laughing place. Unfortunately for him, the cunning Brer Fox and the bumbling Brer Bear, the antagonists of the story, are determined to catch him. Brer Rabbit outsmarts the two several times, but towards the end, they succeed in capturing him and take him to Brer Fox's Lair at Chickapin Hill.
Brer Rabbit manages to outsmart his two enemies one final time by tricking them into throwing him into the Briar Patch--his home.
At the end of the ride, many critters sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah to celebrate Brer Rabbit's safe return.
Guests enter the queue in front the main drop viewing area. The queue winds past the Critter Country sign into the main entrance—an old barn. Inside, a number of machines with cogs and gears can be seen. Various quotes and thoughts from Uncle Remus are featured on signs throughout the queue, which winds the barn and enters a cavern before reaching the loading area.
Passengers ride aboard six-passenger logs with one single-file seat and a larger seat in the very back. The log departs the loading area and ascends two conveyor-type lifts before floating gently through scenery designed to evoke the feeling of a river in the southern state of Georgia. The homes of the ride's three main characters (Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear) and aged farm equipment are incorporated into the landscape, along with an instrumental version of "How Do You Do?" emanating from hidden speakers along the waterway.
Snoring is heard emanating from Brer Bear's cave. The snoring is a tribute to the original entrance to Bear Country (the original name of Critter Country) where a bear named Rufus was heard snoring from a cave.
After a short drop down "Slippin' Falls", guests enter the indoor portion of the attraction, where various Audio-Animatronic animals, such as geese, frogs and possums, sing the attraction's first musical number, "How Do You Do?". Brer Rabbit is seen laughing at Brer Bear's misfortunes, preceding a "dip-drop" into the surreal Rainbow Hollow, where characters sing "Everybody Has a Laughing Place".
Brer Fox then manages to trap Brer Rabbit in a beehive. The mood turns ominous as a mother possum and mother rabbit sing the "Burrow's Lament" to their respective children. The logs begin climbing up the final and longer lift hill, passing beneath two vultures that taunt guests and tell of foreboding danger. Shortly before the attraction's climactic drop, Brer Rabbit is seen in Brer Fox's lair alongside the hill, about to be eaten by Brer Fox.
But Brer Rabbit outsmarts Brer Fox and Brer Bear by tricking them into throwing him into the briar patch (where he was born and raised). Riders are sent down the final drop into the briar patch, mimicking his fall. The top half of the drop is highly visible from the adjacent areas of the park. A photo is taken as the log begins to fall and it can be purchased after disembarking from the ride. From the top of the hill, riders looking toward the splashdown point will notice a full pond of water ahead of them.
The log then 'dives' under the water into an underground runout. The collective weight of the riders generally determines the degree to which they get wet here. An indoor segment follows the drop, after which the logs make a final entrance into a section of the mountain named "Doo-Dah Landing", where a full cast of Audio-Animatronic figures sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and the respective fates of Brer Rabbit (reclining happily inside his home) and Brer Fox and Brer Bear (fending off a hungry alligator) are seen.
Before the return to the loading area, riders are given a preview of their picture that was taken on the final drop via an overhead screen. Professor Barnaby Owl, an overhead Audio-Animatronic, calls the riders' attention to the screen with various phrases describing the looks on their faces. After disembarking from the log, riders enter a "dark room," where they preview their on-ride photograph before exiting back out into Critter Country.
Riders board eight-passenger logs, seated side-by-side. The logs are now equipped with lap bars for safety reasons following a January 2011 renovation. The log departs the loading area, where Br'er Frog provides introductory narration. The log ascends two dual-chain lifts before floating gently through scenery designed to evoke the feeling of a river in the southern United States, particularly Georgia, where Song of the South was based. The homes of the three main characters and aged farm equipment are incorporated into the landscape, along with an instrumental version and whistling version of "How Do You Do?" emanating from hidden speakers along the waterway.
After a short drop down "Slippin' Falls", guests enter the indoor ride, where they find a colony of geese and frogs. The geese and frogs sing the "How Do You Do?" (the same one as the instrumental done before Slippin' Falls). Riders turn the corner to find Brer Bear with Brer Fox standing on his shoulders. They're watching Brer Rabbit and Mr. Bluebird sing about how B'rer Rabbit's leaving his briar patch, which is his home and going to the Laughing Place. The next scene riders come across is B'rer Porcupine and Brer Raccoon. They sing about how Brer Rabbit is headed for trouble. Two little bunnies add on to this by saying how Brer Fox and Brer Bear have been chasing Brer Rabbit often. Riders then find Brer Bear hanging from a rope trap while Brer Fox yells at him. Brer Rabbit then hops up from behind a bush and tells them about his 'Laughing Place'. Riders sail downstream for a while until they find Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Brer Bear's butt is seen and Brer Fox is yelling in pain as he is stung by bees. Brer Bear then says "This ain't no laughin' place! There's just BEES in here!"
Riders then dip-drop into the "Laughin' Place". They find Brer Bear flat on his back being attacked by the bees from the beehive on his nose. Brer Rabbit is also seen laughing at Brer Bear, and Brer Fox sneaks up behind Brer Rabbit with a beehive. Then, frogs, turtles and weasels sing "Everybody's got a Laughin' Place". Then riders find Brer Rabbit trapped in a beehive by Brer Fox. Two vultures taunt guests as they begin to climb the final hill. At the top you see Brer Rabbit on a stick with Brer Fox taunting him.
Finally, riders dive underneath the bridge, mimicking Brer Rabbit's escape. The collective weight of everyone on the ride affect who is going to get the most wet. As the riders make a few turns you finally enter the scene where it states "Welcome Home Brer Rabbit!" and the Zip-A-Dee Lady and many other animatronics sing the beloved song Zip a Dee Doo Dah. At the end, Brer Fox and Brer Bear are trying to not get eaten by a crocodile. In the final scene, riders see Brer Rabbit and the Blue Bird are singing how the Briar Patch is Brer Rabbit's home. Before the riders exit there are signs stating "Its the Truth" "It's actual" "Everything is satisfactual" and, "Have a Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah Day!"
Guests exit the same place they enter to go through the Briar Store to see their on the final drop, and exit back to Frontierland.
Tokyo Disneyland version
Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to the Florida version of the ride, with a few exceptions. The ride's layout is a mirror-image of Florida's, owing to the attraction's location on the opposite side of the river. The secondary characters are altogether different and the show scenes are in a different order. The Tokyo version also lacks a mill or barn-like structure on the second lift (although it is used as the main entrance to the ride queue). Instead, the logs venture into a cave-like opening to begin the second climb.
The ride features many variations on the now-classic soundtrack of the film.
The soundtrack for Disneyland is rather orchestra-like and somewhat more formal and rather playful (sounding like the soundtrack for Song of the South).
Florida's and Japan's soundtracks feature a country-western flavor (carried principally by banjos, fiddles, guitars and harmonicas). Dialog is in Japanese for "How Do You Do?" and "Zip a-dee doo dah", but not for "Laughin' Place" at Tokyo Disneyland. Burrow's Lament is heard, but not sung at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland (since the scene where it is sung is absent of audio-animatronics in both rides), but is sung at Disneyland by a mother possum and mother rabbit.
The Official Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World (1991 CD): Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place & Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Disneyland/Walt Disney World: The Official Album (1997 CD): Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah & Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place
Walt Disney World Resort: The Official Album (1999 CD): Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place
Walt Disney World Resort: Official Album (2000 CD): 8 minute version of the Magic Kingdom soundtrack
Official Album: Walt Disney World Resort Celebrating 100 Years of Magic (2001 CD): 8 minute version of the Magic Kingdom soundtrack
Disneyland Park: The Official Album (2001 CD): 8 minute version of the Disneyland soundtrack
A Musical History of Disneyland (2005): 12 minute version of the Disneyland soundtrack
Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth (2005): 8 minute version of the Disneyland soundtrack
Splash Mountain is an important location in the first book of the series, Disney After Dark. Here, Finn and Philby visit the attraction to look for a cloud referring Clouds, following the clues left by Walt Disney in the Stonecutter's Quill. hey start going with the current, until halfway in the attraction, the ride mysteriously turns on. The Keepers then try to go quickly in order to escape the incoming vehicles. When they get to the big drop, thanks to their current holographic state, they are able to jump into a log before the fall. Then, during the Zip-A-De-Doo-Dah scene, they are able to see three letters painted on some clouds, using 3-D glasses.
Over 100 talking, singing, storytelling Audio-Animatronics critters call Splash Mountain home. In addition to Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, a multitude of characters, including geese, frogs, raccoons, possums, bees and alligators, offer up their own slice of southern hospitality during the adventure.
This attraction includes 950,000 gallons of water, 3 dips and a massive 5-storey waterfall. Where you’re seated will determine how wet you’ll likely get. Riders in the back may just experience a sudden splash or spray; those who opt for the front can expect to get soaked.
The Disneyland version features the largest number of audio-animatronics because many of them came from the now closed attraction America Sings.
Like a number of Disney attractions, much of Splash Mountain takes place outside of park boundaries. Guests are kept oblivious to the transition between the visible Chickapin Hill and the warehouse-like show building that houses most of the experience, and clever landscaping within the park prevents guests from glimpsing the behind-the-scenes structures.
On warm days, the water cannon next to the Briar Patch shoots higher and further as to wet the flumes on the right hand side.
In the Walt Disney World version, there is an obvious "Hidden Mickey" during the show boat scene toward the end of the ride. Mickey can be seen lying on his back in the clouds. Also there is a Hidden Mickey in the room with jumping water, the hole in which Chickapin Hill flows is a side profile of Mickey's head, and there is a bird house with an icon cut out of it in the garden scene. Furthermore there is one near Brer Frog when he is fishing on the alligator, visible as you pass him, and one composed of three barrels half-way up the second crankhill. There is also a hidden Dumbo hidden in the first part of the cave.
On October 29, 1989, Ernest Goes to Camp aired during The Magical World of Disney. Prior to the movie a special called "Ernest at Splash Mountain" aired in it Ernest was seen training for, and finally riding, the newly opened Splash Mountain. The end result had him bewildered and collapsing to the ground, leaving guests to step on him while boarding the attraction.
There are several security cameras in this ride. If someone steps out of their seat, the alarm will go off, and the ride will be stopped.
At Walt Disney World, cast members who operate the Splash Mountain attraction are affectionately known as "Splash Trash." 
Originally, the "Sticky Situation" scene, which portrays Brer Rabbit stuck in honey, was originally going to use the Tar Baby, like in Song of the South. The scene was changed to avoid the same notorious racial controversies that have plagued the film.
The Animatronic figures were animated by Dave Feiten.
When the ride was first put together, nearly all the animatronics were wired and put in place, Mr. Feiten was brought in to animate and fix story and staging problems. Mr. Feiten then moved nearly all of the animatronics to new locations and then took out 10 animatronic figures and removed them from the ride completely to improve the show. 
Hoping to make illicit use of the in-ride photographs that Disney later sells to ride patrons, some riders briefly expose themselves (e.g., a woman's breasts) during a particular descent. Collected on the website "Flash Mountain" in the mid to late 1990s, the shots continue to circulate online.
In the Walt Disney World version, during the Laughing Place scene, the final gopher, who is supposed to be sneezing, says F-S-U. The Imagineer who did the voice went to Florida State University. This is also heard in the version found at Tokyo Disneyland, as well.
At the time it was built, Splash Mountain was one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering ($75 million).
The Splash Mountain project was not originally approved, due to the cost ($75 million per installation). The Imagineers on the team mounted an internal publicity campaign, taking turns carrying large (4' x 6') artistic drawings of the project around the Imagineering offices and pitching the project (and its technical details) to anyone who would listen. This grass roots campaign succeeded in educating all of Imagineering, and most of the Disney executives, on the project.
According to an Imagineer familiar with the project, the original design for the logs included a scooped front nose intended to move the water in front of the log, and to assist in slowing the log down during the final drop. During final testing of the ride, Disney president and CEO Michael Eisner convinced the Imagineers to let him and his son on the ride (over the Imagineers' collective objections). The scoop design had the side effect of throwing large amounts of water up in the air and onto the riders, and Eisner and his son came off the ride soaked. Michael commented to the Imagineers, "Great ride, but you have to do something about the water." The log design was changed shortly afterwards.
On November 5, 2000, a 37-year-old man from St. Petersburg, Florida was critically injured while trying to exit the ride when it was still moving. He told fellow guests that he was feeling ill and attempted to the ride's marked emergency exits. He died in a local hospital when he got struck by the following vehicle.