Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain logs have been redesigned, with the addition of lap bars. The photo to the right has been widely circulated and shows rider test dummies in place to test the new restraint system. According to StitchKingdom.com, the new lap bars and seating enforces 2 guests per row, at the cost of increasing launch times by 8 seconds per boat, and reducing potential ride capacity.
To date, there have only been two reports of accidents involving WDW’s Splash Mountain that I know of, both occurring over 10 years ago. The first incident, on November 5, 2000, happened when a 37-year-old man was killed as he exited his boat in the middle of the ride and was then struck by another boat. The second incident, on December 20, 2000, involved an elderly woman who was injured due to exiting the log too early at the loading area. I would guess this kind of thing happens fairly frequently; we just don’t hear about it until there’s an injury.
It should be interesting to note that this is not the first time that Splash Mountain’s logs have been redesigned. In 1989 when Disneyland’s Splash Mountain opened, the logs sat up to 8 people on a shared padded “bench”, which required some straddling. This design was changed in 2001, reducing the number of seats to 5, with individual backrests installed. The back of the log is now wider to accommodate larger guests, or two smaller guests sitting side-by-side. It will be interesting to see if either of the other two Splash Mountain attractions (Toyko or Disneyland) will receive similar lap bar restraints in the future.
The ride at Walt Disney World is set to reopen on Tuesday, February 1st. Thanks to Keith for the news report!