Rumours have been circulating for some time that the refurbishment of one of the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions, Splash Mountain, is to be given an extra safety feature, lap bars. Well, the website Screamscape have obtained a photo proving that these rumours are actually true.
The photo above shows the attraction in testing with onboard water dummies replacing guests. The ride itself is not expected to re-open again until 1st February.
The question is: Why, after all these years of operation, do Disney management suddenly have the urge to add lap bars? Apparently, it is down to the stupidity of some theme park guests. According to the Screamscape article it is a combination of those people who think it is ok to stand up in the logs during the attraction and those that think they are supposed to get out of the logs the first time they stop. The latter sends Cast Members in to the attraction to retrieve them before the attraction can be restarted.
In the long run, it does solve these problems but it also causes a few issues with guest capacity per log and the possibility of longer queues. Previous seating configurations could hold up to 12 people per log as Cast Members allowed up to 2 adults and 1 child per row. The new lap bars will reduce log capacity to 8 and will also introduce the uncomfortable decision of which person in a family of 3 will have to sit on their own.
Not only have Disney decreased the ride capacity but have also increased the time between a log’s departure from the station from around 12 seconds to 20 – 25 seconds.This may have a knock on impact on the number of FastPasses Disney will issue each hour as well as the overall wait time for the attraction. Will this change your touring plans for the day?
Obviously, we won’t know the exact impact until it re-opens. Here’s hoping it is all for the better.
You can find the original Screamscape article here
UPDATE 3rd February
Today, our very own Nick LoCicero took a trip out to the Magic Kingdom to try out the new lap bars.
As you can see from the photo, the lap bars are now in place. Although the restraint doesn’t prevent three people from sitting in the vehicle, the mold of the bar does look like it is designed for only 2 people. The thicker part of the restraint on on the outer sides and the middle has less padding. This could still mean that they have reduced the vehicle capacity to only 2 per row from the original 3. Listen to tonight’s Destination Disney Radio Show to find out more.