It’s a sunny, hot day in southern California. Luckily, you get to enjoy a summer vacation day at the Disneyland Resort. Plus, you have park hopper tickets! Which water ride at the Disneyland Resort should you ride to cool off? Should you hop on a log in Critter Country, or jump in a white water raft in Grizzly Peak? Which ride will get you most wet? Which will have a shorter line? That’s right. It’s the ultimate Disneyland Resort water ride showdown! Splash Mountain vs. Grizzly River Run: Which Is Better? We break it all down and decide once and for all.

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain is a log flume ride found in Critter Country in Disneyland Park. It is the most elaborate flume ride ever built. The ride starts with the animated woodland animal characters from Disney’s Song of the South.


In 1946, The Walt Disney Company released Song of the South. It was a live-action movie combined with some animation. The film was controversial when it was first released in theatres. It was so controversial, in fact, that Song of the South never received a home video release in the United States (despite reappearing in theatres a couple of times in the following decades). The film was banned because of its negative portrayal of African Americans who lived in the 1800s.

Disney Imagineers must have believed the animated portions of the film were acceptable enough, despite their problematic origins. In the 1980s, when it came time to build a new E-ticket attraction in Bear Country, a fantastical log flume with a big drop seemed like a good choice. It was just a matter of deciding on a theme. There was not a big budget for this attraction, though. Plus there was a need to repurpose the singing animal animatronics from the now-closed America Sings show in Tomorrowland. So, why not re-skin the animatronics from America Sings into the characters from Song of the South, and rename Bear Country to “Critter Country”? Boom! Problem solved, getting three birds with one stone, so to speak.

It’s no surprise that the genius behind the design and thrill of Splash Mountain was Disney Legend, Tony Baxter. The ride was originally supposed to be called “Zip-A-Dee River Run” but was later changed to “Splash Mountain” by Michael Eisner. Splash Mountain opened on July 17, 1989, which was Disneyland Park’s thirty-fourth birthday.

Queue and Pre-Show:

Depending on when guests choose to visit the parks, the Splash Mountain line will either be extremely long or extremely short. As the main water ride in Disneyland Park, the wait times soar during the warm summer months. If it is raining or cold outside though, guests will probably walk right on with little to no wait time. Guests who enter the line at the true entrance right next to Haunted Mansion (usually only in use during the summer months when the line is the longest), will get to walk through winding paths in a forest. They will also walk right next to the climatic drop and maybe catch a pre-ride splash. Whether guests enter over by Haunted Mansion or they enter the line later in the queue (right at the doorway to the inside portion of the queue), the backend of the queue is the most interesting.

Guests wander into a lumber mill filled with beautiful wooden carpentry pieces. There are a few wooden signs on the walls along the way that help introduce the story that guests are about to live through. They say things like, “It happened on one of them Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah Days…” and “Everybody’s got a laughin’ place–trouble is most folks won’t take the time to go look for it.”

Peppy, high-energy folk music plays throughout the building. Eventually, guests end up inside the mountain portion of Chickapin Hill (yes, the mountain of Splash Mountain has a real name). Faint sounds of singing animals can be heard throughout the queue. Finally, guests are seated in the log one by one.


Once the cast member gives you the go-ahead, you’re gliding through the river. Around the corner is a large hill. As the boat climbs to the top, a happy disembodied male voice is heard saying, “For your safety just stay seated with your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the log and be sure to watch your kids. Have a Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah ride!” There is also a Spanish version of this safety spiel but if you’re reading this now, you don’t need that spiel.

The boat comes down the smaller hill on the other side and it floats around the corner. It is perfectly timed so that you get a sneak peek at what’s to come as you pass the massive waterfall. Every couple of seconds, a boat full of screaming passengers falls down the 40-foot hill right next to your path. Then the boat climbs up and down another hill. This is where we get our first glimpse of the animatronic wildlife, as a small owl can be seen on the left-hand side. The owl is wearing a cute scarf around its neck. Around the next river bend are several houses with mailboxes labelled “Br’er Rabbit,” Br’er Fox,” and “Br’er Bear.”

Finally, the boat comes to the first waterfall, labelled “Slippin’ Falls.” If you haven’t been splashed yet, you’ll definitely be at least a little wet by the time your boat reaches the bottom of this hill. Then the boat enters the cave where animatronic animals are singing “How Do You Do?” We officially meet Br’er Bear, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Rabbit. Br’er Rabbit is on the run, looking to find his “laughin’ place.” Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear have a strong disdain for the rabbit though. They are trying to capture him to kill him.

After many failed attempts to kidnap Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear devise a plan. They follow Br’er Rabbit to the “laughin’ place,” where they trap him in a beehive. Now that they finally have Br’er Rabbit in their custody, Br’er Fox is trying to decide how best to punish Br’er Rabbit. Br’er Rabbit is super clever though. He pleads with his captures, begging them not to throw him in the Briar Patch. So, of course, they decide to do just that. What they don’t realize, though, is that Br’er Rabbit was born and raised in the Briar Patch. Basically, he outsmarts them by having them release him back into his home.

This is the moment of the big climactic drop. Riders on the logs get soaking wet when the wall of water splashes on them at the bottom of the hill. Then happy instrumental music, to the tune of “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” fills the cave. As your log turns the corner, the animals can be heard singing the words to this famous song–claiming they always knew Br’er Rabbit would get away, and now the gator is after Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. The final scene is that of Br’er Rabbit, having freed his arms from the ropes that bound him, singing with gratitude inside his home safe and sound.

Grizzly River Run

Grizzly River Run is a whitewater rapid rafting ride. Guests will find it in the Grizzly Peak area of Disney’s California Adventure Park. It is the easiest and quickest way to get soaking wet at this Disney theme park.


Grizzly River Run was an opening day attraction with Disney’s California Adventure–opening on February 8, 2001. It is known as the attraction that takes place inside the park’s icon–Grizzly Peak Mountain. Guests might know it better by its colloquial nickname, “Bear Mountain.” Since it was the attraction built inside the new mysterious icon of the park, guests were extremely excited to experience it.

The ride was built after Kali River Rapids in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, which opened in 1998. However, Grizzly River Run was much longer, with bigger drops, and fancier technology. In fact, Grizzly River Run is the fastest, tallest, and longest river rapids attraction like this in the entire world. There is also a completely different storyline. Plus, each boat is chipped. The boat is programmed to spin down every hill, ensuring that every passenger gets the opportunity to be splashed. If you find yourself at the top of one of these hills and you think you will avoid the wrath of the rapids, think again.

Queue and Pre-Show:

Guests wander through a representation of northern California’s beautiful forest. Then they come upon the entrance to this attraction, marked by a large statue of a bear. The bear is standing next to a white water raft of its massive size. The bear is also wearing rafting gear and carrying a giant oar. Guests enter the queue, which is scattered with rafting gear, oars, boats, and much more. During more busy parts of the year, guests can hear radio hosts talking on the speakers about water rapids and bears in the area.

According to the storyline, guests are embarking on a trip with the Grizzly River Rafting Company. They rent out these rafts to guests visiting the fictional Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. Grizzly Peak Recreation area was founded by a German immigrant Jakob Probst. He accidentally struck gold when he threw his hat in the river and picked it up to discover a massive gold nugget inside. Probst immediately staked his claim on the land before later selling it for millions of dollars to the Eureka Gold and Timber Company. Once the Eureka Gold and Timber Company got their money’s worth from the land, they sold it to the government to create the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. The Grizzly River Rafting Company takes guests on tours through the white water rapids inside these old mines.


Guests board their raft from the rotating platform of the loading area. Each boat is programmed to rotate with the door of the raft centred toward the loading area for guest convenience. No matter what time of day you board your raft, the seats are likely already soaked. If for some reason, you expected this ride to keep you dry then this would be your sign to turn back.

In any case, you are not getting off of this raft without getting even a little bit wet. However, you’re more than likely to get off soaked from head to toe in the summer months. During the warmer months of the year, there are more opportunities to get soaked. There are more geysers, bigger splashes, and more “leaky” pipes above the travelling rafts. This is somewhat unique to Grizzly River Run. However, some other water rides around the Disneyland resort (like Splash Mountain) also increase their water volume during the warmer months of the year.

After boarding the raft, guests ride through some calm waters while the safety spiel plays in the speakers above. Soon, the rafts are being pulled up a large hill. On the way up are leaking pipes squirting guests from above. After falling down the small hill on the other side, bear growls can be heard echoing from the nearby cave, right where the raft is headed. The rapids are picking up now, both thrilling and splashing guests along the way. Inside the cave are huge rapids that soak the riders. After several massive drops, splashes, and rapids later, guests return to the loading dock–where the boat is programmed to turn exactly the way it was when guests first arrived. It may feel like nothing has changed, but guests have the memories and soaked clothing to know otherwise.

BATTLE: Splash Mountain vs. Grizzly River Run


The “atmosphere” category encompasses the overall feeling of the attraction based on the music, decorations, etc., and how immersive they are.

When it comes to the overall atmosphere, both rides can feel pretty immersive. However, when it comes to the characters, animatronics, and music, Splash Mountain definitely takes the cake here. Grizzly River Run gets away with minimal theming because the story doesn’t need much, but compared to Splash Mountain, it is not as impressive. For that reason, Splash Mountain wins the atmosphere category.


The “story” category is pretty self-explanatory. How creative is the story? Is it interesting enough?

This category is pretty easy as well. To be honest, I have written about Disney rides for several years now but I had never heard the story behind Grizzly River Run until I started researching for this article. The story of Splash Mountain is told through the attraction itself and it is more interesting. So we are giving this category to Splash Mountain.


For the “experience” category, we look at how people react to the attraction and whether it is generally liked.

This category is a bit more complicated. Overall, the line for Splash Mountain is usually a bit longer than the line for Grizzly River Run. While that might make it a little more popular by definition, it is important to note the rate at which each attraction loads and unloads guests. Plus, it is important to remember that Splash Mountain is getting a massive overhaul because its source material is offensive to some people. Both attractions are more popular in the warmer months than in the colder months. However, Splash Mountain still has loyal fans, even when it's freezing cold. Grizzly River Run has less of a cult following. For the most part, fans of Splash Mountain are sad to see their beloved attraction go but understand the need for change. Despite all these complexities, we still think Splash Mountain (the attraction itself, not its source material) is more popular. For that reason, we give this category to Splash Mountain.


The “thrill” category is self-explanatory. Which was the most exciting?

Both of these attractions are E-ticket thrill ticket attractions. However, one is more of a dark ride with a couple of thrills, while the other is mostly a thrill ride with some story thrown in. The main reason people ride Grizzly River Run is for the splashes and the thrills, while those who ride Splash Mountain may do so for the story and the music as well. For that reason, we think Grizzly River Run wins this category.


The “technology” category covers how up-to-date and innovative the technical elements of the ride are: the projections, the ride system, etc.

Both Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run have innovative technology for their times. However, Grizzly River Run broke several technological records and it continues to stand out among rides of its kind all over the world. For that reason, Grizzly River Run takes this category.


“Show” is all about the literal show itself–including the queue, pre-show, and ride show.

This category is easy. As we have mentioned before, the animatronics, music, and story of Splash Mountain are all far superior to that of Grizzly River Run. So, Splash Mountain is the winner in this category.


For this category, we look at how well the attraction has or will age after several years.

Even though Splash Mountain has been open for decades, the source material is outdated and problematic. So much so that The Walt Disney Company has already announced their plans to overhaul it to a new Princess and the Frog theme instead. With that said, Grizzly River Run is the obvious winner here.

So, Which is Better?

Wow! We love both of these Disneyland Resort water rides so much but it was interesting to see how these results played out. When it comes to these categories, Splash Mountain barely won out. However, Grizzly River Run was a very good competitor. To be honest, I did not expect Grizzly River Run to win as many categories as it did so I was pleasantly surprised.