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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Splash Mountain Animatronic Parts Installed Inside Country Bears at Magic Kingdom

While many fans herald the beginning of a new era with “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” others are still feeling the burn. When Walt Disney World’s latest attraction was revealed on the Disney Parks YouTube channel last week, viewers discovered none of the animatronics from Splash Mountain had been spared.

This was to be expected. In fact, we broke the news way back in 2021 that as part of the update most if not all of the existing animatronics would be removed. While some speculate this was done to remove connections to the previous attraction, this is not the case. In fact, “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” has retained many static components from the attraction’s “Splash Mountain” days. Inside of the reimagined attraction, you can even spot some newly-added tributes to the original log flume.

Pictured: An scenic backdrop in “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” with an homage to Chick-a-Pin Hill from “Splash Mountain.” (Source: YouTube.com via WDWMagic)

A detail which has gone virtually unreported in the “Splash Mountain” overhaul saga is a major financial motivation behind the change. The previous attraction featured hydraulically-actuated animatronics that qualified as antiques long before the reimagining. Prior to the demise of “Splash Mountain,” guests noticed how poorly many of these old animatronics functioned. Some were completely static by the time the attraction closed.

Pictured: Now-removed Audio-Animatronics® that appeared on “Splash Mountain.” (Photo Source: Matthew Cooper Photography)

“Splash Mountain” was a major maintenance expense for Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park Operations. This was largely due to the complex hydraulic Audio-Animatronics® which required constant maintenance.

A major motivation behind reimagining “Splash Mountain” involved removing these expensive-to-maintain hydraulic systems, replacing them with modern Audio-Animatronics® utilizing electric servo motors. In other instances, “Splash Mountain” animatronics have been replaced with screens or artificial foliage. Imagineering’s new A-1000 animatronics featured in “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” are projected to cost significantly less to maintain, hence the complete removal of the old animatronics and their antiquated components.

Pictured: Show engineers working on the A-1000 figure “Louis The Alligator” inside Walt Disney Imagineering. (©Disney)

Coinciding with the reimagining of “Splash Mountain” at the Magic Kingdom is another major overhaul at the nearby “Country Bear Jamboree” show. Later this summer, this Magic Kingdom staple will reopen as the “Country Bear Musical Jamboree.” The updated show will feature new music and new costumes. However, most critically, the similarly-antiquated hydraulic systems that power the Country Bears animatronics have received major updates. When the “Country Bear Musical Jamboree” debuts, the familiar bears will feature some new motors similar to those found in the animatronics on “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.”

Pictured: A look at the updated Country Bears animatronics recently shared by Walt Disney Imagineering. (©Disney)

A key distinction however is that the Audio-Animatronics® at the “Country Bear Musical Jamboree” have not been replaced entirely. While incorporating brand-new components, many of the the original actuators and motors have been retained inside the bears.

Today, we would like to break a yet-to-be disclosed key detail about the updated Country Bears animatronics.

In an internal meeting familiar to Mickey Views, Walt Disney Imagineering Site Portfolio Executive Michael Hundgen recently revealed the best-working components from the “Splash Mountain” animatronics have been repurposed and installed inside the Country Bears animatronics.

“The team was just telling me that we’ve been able to switch out some of the motors in the bears. We took the motors from [Splash Mountain] and we put them into the bears, so now they’re moving a lot more fluidly because they have new parts. It’s like hip surgery for the bears. The whole show is going to be a lot smoother.” -Michael Hundgen, WDI

While this news has not been publicly disclosed by Disney, it comes from official documentation made available to Mickey Views.

All this is to say, fans of the fromer “Splash Mountain” attraction can look forward to enjoying the updated Country Bears show, now sharing DNA with both the former log flume and possibly even the 1974 show “America Sings.”

You can hear more details on the Country Bears update as well as the latest happening at “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” in our latest episode of Mickey Views News on our YouTube channel.

Brayden produces quality Disney news commentary videos at Mickey Views. He is also working on feature-quality documentary films at "Address Unknown."


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