11 August 2017

Briar and Burrow

After you have been thoroughly drenched taking a plunge down the side of Chickapin Hill into the briar patch, otherwise known as the main attraction of Splash Mountain, the giggle fits that ensue once you’re able to take a gander at your ride photo are priceless. That alcove for Splashdown Photos features the MagicBand touchpoints in order for you to access the photos. Have you ever stopped to examine the details of these touchpoints or, should I say, washpoints?

Each touchpoint is attached to a washboard, but not any old washboard, each of these has a distinctive tie. One of which belongs to our good friend Brother Ted from the Country Bear Jamboree, just down the street in Frontierland. The rest of the washboards, however, are directly linked to Splash Mountain and its source material, Song of the South. Some of these washboards are easy to recognize and include Briar and Burrow (For stubborn prickers, thickets, and thorns), Bluebird (A shoulder above the rest), Zipper D.A. (Wonderful feeling, wonderful day), Plenty O’ Sunshine (My-oh my! Yessir!). Still, there are others that require a bit more legwork to get the full picture.

Remus Washboard Co. may be Actual and Satisfactual, but in reality it is the heart of Song of the South. Uncle Remus is the character who tells Johnny and Ginny the tales of Br’er Rabbit. Remus was the creation of Joel Chandler Harris who adapted many African-American folktales to produce seven Uncle Remus books. Harris utilized the character as the device through which the stories are told, having written them down in spoken dialect. While not seen as racist at the time of their creation, the stories and the style in which they are told have not aged well. In fact, while Remus is referenced here, his role is fulfilled by Br’er Frog inside of Splash Mountain.

This brings us to another character featured in both book and film form, Aunt Tempy. Her washboard is suited For Fine Delicates, while Tempy herself is tough as nails, but with a big heart. She is the housekeeper and cook in Song of the South, who loves Uncle Remus’ tales as much as the children listening to them.

Both Remus and Tempy’s washboards lead us to our third washboard of note, the award winning board of Baskett McDaniels. This time we are given two cities rather than a witty slogan, Indianapolis, Indiana and Wichita, Kansas. This washboard refers to the actors who portrayed Uncle Remus and Aunt Tempy in Song of the South. It should come as no surprise then that actor James Baskett, Uncle Remus, was born in Indianapolis, while Hattie McDaniels, Aunt Tempy, was born in Wichita. It should be noted that the Award Winning label given to this board is not self-aggrandizing, as both have received Academy Awards. Hattie McDaniels was the first African-American to be nominated and win an Oscar when she received the award of Best Actress in a Supporting Role for 1939’s Gone with the Wind. Meanwhile, James Baskett would win an honorary award specifically for 1948’s Song of the South.

Song of the South has long been restricted from view in the public eye, but not the public consciousness, which is particularly difficult when you erect a mountainous thrill attraction dedicated to its characters. While the film itself may have inspired Splash Mountain, very little links the attraction to the film’s human characters. These washboard touchpoints are easily overlooked, but they have a lot of stories to tell!

1 comment:

Shane Lindsay said...

I freakin' love this. Excellent detective work, my friend. Those touchpoints have been there for months now (years?), and I never bothered to look at them. There's some deep second-level stuff going with the Indianapolis/Wichita references, and whoever in Imagineering thought to include Ted's washboard deserves some kind of medal. It might be crazy, but this is my favorite Disney news of the week.

-Shane from Parkeology