Disneyland’s Splash Mountain to be closed this spring

If you plan to visit Southern Cailfornia this spring, a ride on Splash Mountain won’t be in the cards. Disneyland’s famous water ride is closed for refurbishment until just before Memorial Day.

The 4-month closure is part of a regular refurbishment program at Disneyland. Big rides get spruced up every 5 to 10 years, and it was Splash Mountain’s turn, reports the Orange County Register.

Splash Mountain opened at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 1989. It is a 9-minute long log flume ride that winds through scenes from Song of the South, the classic Disney film that tells the stories of Brer Rabbit. At the end, Splash Mountain riders find Brer Rabbit’s laughing place – at the bottom of a five-story drop.

The ride has become one of Disney’s iconic attractions, and versions of Splash Mountain have spread to two other Disney theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

No major changes to Disneyland’s Splash Mountain are expected during the refurbishment period.

[Image credit: Flickr user lrargerich]

Fire erupts at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure

A ride – a water ride, of all things – caught fire at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure on New Year’s Day, causing the evacuation of a section of the theme park.

The fire happened around 5:30 p.m., according to Central Florida News 13. No injuries have been reported.

Universal Orlando officials evacuted the ride, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, as well as the surrounding Toon Lagoon area.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. According to witnesses at the scene, the ride fire started on the roof.

“My source tells me a vendor truck next to the ride caught fire. A tree spread the fire to the top of the ride,” according to Brian J. Smith on Twitter.

Smith tweeted the photo used here and attributed it to his sister, a theme park employee.

Ripsaw Falls is one of Islands of Adventure‘s original rides. It opened with the theme park in 1999.

The ride remains closed, the rest of the theme park will be open during its previously announced operating hours.

Cedar Point delays opening of new water coaster Shoot the Rapids

Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, has delayed the opening of its big splash this year, a water ride called Shoot the Rapids.

Cedar Point opens for the season on Saturday.

The ride was scheduled to open for a media preview on Friday, but that event has been canceled, and Cedar Point now says Shoot the Rapids will open on May 29.

Engineering problems are behind the delay. The ride cars (in this case, boats) for the ride were too long and did not fit the ride. Crews are having to alter them on-site.

“The manufacturer made the flume, and he contracted out the boats. When the boats came together, the boats didn’t fit the flumes,” Cedar Fair president Dick Kinzel told the Sandusky (Ohio) Register.

Shoot the Rapids is the park’s third water ride and its biggest investment in one, with a price tag of $10.5 million. It uses a steel track and has two lift hills. The tallest is 85 feet.

New to Hong Kong Disneyland: Big Grizzly Mountain

The Wild West is going farther west. So far west that it’s the far east.

The newest roller coaster announced for Hong Kong Disneyland is Big Grizzly Mountain. Set to open in 2012, it will be the main attraction in Grizzly Trail — Hong Kong’s version of the original park’s Frontierland.

The ride follows a runaway mine train through the mining town of Grizzly Gulch, which comes decked out with a stagecoach, a jailhouse, and the world’s largest nugget of gold — plus the ubiquitous audio-animatronic bears, of course. Disney legend has it that Grizzly Gulch was founded by gold prospectors on August 8, 1888 — all of the eights make it the luckiest day, month, and year in Chinese culture.

Big Grizzly Mountain will be part roller coaster, part water ride — with geysers, leaking buildings, and a splashdown finale.

These are big days at the theme park. This ride is just part of a $500 million expansion that will add on three new theme lands — Grizzly Trail, Mystic Point, and Toy Story Land — to increase the size of the park by 23%.

[Thanks, LATimes.com]