Could ‘Flash Mountain’ return, in light of Disneyland job cuts?

Call it an unexpected consequence of the bad economy: A recent round of staff reductions at Disneyland could result in the return of embarrassing episodes of public nudity at the Happiest Place on Earth. [via latimes]

Way back in 1997, a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times chronicled a scintillating Internet phenomenon involving the Anaheim theme park’s Splash Mountain log ride: Photos of women flashing their breasts at an automatic camera that snapped souvenir photographs during the final 50-foot drop were “unzip-a-dee-doo-dahing” their way around cyberspace, earning the ride the dubious nickname “Flash Mountain.”

At the time, Disneyland officials blamed a rogue employee for leaking the obscene pictures of topless women onto the Web and instituted tighter photo editing procedures to prevent further breaches. (NSFW websites dedicated to Flash Mountain still exist — we’ll let you do your own Google search.)

Over the ensuing decade, objectionable pictures of breast-baring women were “washed away” by Splash Mountain photo editors before they were projected on preview screens at the end of the ride, according to David Koenig, author of “More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland.”

Now, flash forward to 2009. Starting in May, the Splash Mountain photo editor positions will be eliminated as part of cost-cutting measures at Disneyland, according to MiceAge columnist Al Lutz.

“Admittedly the numbers of young ladies (term used loosely in this case) who lift their tops for the cameras for their shot at Flash Mountain infamy has lessened over the years,” wrote Lutz, who reports that the photo editing positions were eliminated months ago at the Splash Mountain ride in Florida.

Of course, a lot has changed since 1997. The advent of Internet-enabled camera phones means theme park visitors who snap photos of the souvenir pictures on the preview screens can now spread the lewd and obscene images instantly across the Web at the speed of Twitter.

“Once word gets around that naughty photos are once again popping up on the projection screens, more guests will want to see what they can get away with,” Koenig said.

Disneyland officials confirmed that Splash Mountain photo screeners would be redeployed to other positions as of May 3.

“In evaluating the ride photo moderation role and process, we have determined that actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare,” Disneyland spokesperson Betsy Sanchez said in a written statement. “Ride photos will continue to be monitored by cast members at the point of sale. In addition, the current screening system will remain intact to provide the option for management to initiate image monitoring if necessary.”

As always, Disneyland reserves the right to remove any visitor from the park who exhibits offensive or inappropriate behavior, Sanchez said.

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