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Tales of the Okefenokee was a dark ride at Six Flags Over Georgia, located in the park's Confederacy section (now Peachtree Square). It was based on the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris and told the story of the animals of the Okefenokee Swamp. The ride opened with the park in 1967 and operated for 13 years before closing after the 1980 season.[1]

The ride had two very distinct incarnations in its history. The 1967 opening season version was what was described as the more "primitive" version of the ride, designed by Gene Patrick, who designed the beloved Spee-Lunker's Cave dark ride at Six Flags Over Texas.

This perceived lack in quality by park management at the time is seen as a reason for why the entire ride was redesigned by famous puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft between the 1967 and 1968 seasons.

The successor to Tales of the Okefenokee, Monster Mansion, also takes place in and around an 1800s Georgian plantation home. The new ride, designed by Gary Goddard, opened in 1981.

History

Design

Early artist rendering depicted the queue of Tales of the Okefenokee showing guests entering a recreation of a Southern plantation and Uncle Remus' cabin.[1]

Opening and redesign

Halfway through Six Flags Over Georgia's first season, the park decided to completely redesign the ride, bringing on puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft.[1]

Closure

Because of the fire as well as the age of the ride itself, Tales of the Okefenokee was completely scrapped in the off-season. Six Flags hired a team to develop a new dark ride to replace Tales of the Okefenokee, and that project is what became Monster Plantation.[1]

Experience

After taking a seat inside of a fiberglass boat themed after an Indian craft made of animal skins, the boat moves on. Ahead, the entrance to the ride has rabbits holding signs that read "Keep hands inside the boat" and "Do not feed the bunnies".

Quartet of Crows

The quartet of crows singing above their perch.

Going into the entrance, guests are surrounded by a large colorful environment of various artificial plants, including bushes and large trees with branches with Spanish moss hanging from them. Rounding the first bend, guests see their first sign of activity, with owls blinking and hooting in the branches above them, and a quartet of crows sing a song in perfect harmony, welcoming their new "neighbor".

Okee03 fishing

Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear fish in the swamp's fishing hole.

After receiving their welcome, guests float past the Okefenokee Swamp's fishing hole, located in the ruins of an old slavery-era plantation home. Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Bear are all fishing with hooks and worms, while a bullfrog is working on his suntan and a raccoon fumbles with his picnic basket. In one corner of the scene, a turtle rocks himself to sleep on the back of his shell while snoring.

Okee04 band

The Okefenokee critters play in a "gadget band".

The boat then enters a cave, and guests are unable to see what lies ahead except for a giant green snake peering down at them. The boat rounds another bend, and suddenly the vista opens up. The critters of the Okefenokee have formed a "gadget band" led by Mr. Rabbit. A pink female rabbit is behind him, clanging pot lids together as if they are cymbals, while a chubby brown boy rabbit wearing a beanie plays a washboard. Also, a raccoon beats an inverted pot, and the third rabbit behind him somehow manages to play a toilet plunger like a trumpet, followed by a turtle tooting on a jug and a fourth rabbit drumming on his shell.

Across the river from the band, a patch of living carrots with the faces of women sing out over and over again, telling guests to "Save the rabbit!". As the boat heads further down in front of Mr. Bear's shack, guests see that Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear have captured Mr. Rabbit and have put him inside of a burlap sack. A chicken can be seen continually sticking his head out of the window, screaming for help.

Okee08 ghost

Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear run away from the "ghost".

The boat floats on down past more of Mr. Bear's crops, and soon the boat arrives at another grotto in the swamp. Mr. Rabbit has been saved by some owls, who are circling overhead, carrying a white sheet. Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear think that the sheet is a ghost, and are terrified.

More trees foliage interrupt the guests' view, and the boat approaches another clearing, revealing two rabbit boys playing with marionettes (possibly a reference Sid and Mart Krofft made to themselves) that are unflattering caricatures of Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear, while the rest of the bunny family is helping their father milk a cow in the corner.

Okee12 arsenal

Mr. Bear shoots at guests with his rifle.

Up ahead the crow quartet returns, but instead of a warm welcome, they are given a dire warning of the creatures ahead as a dark, forbidding cave approaches Guests stumble across the secret arsenal of Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear inside of a blacklight-lit cave, including an extensive array of cannons, cannonballs, gunpowder, and TNT which they intend to use to blow up the entire Okefenokee Swamp. After guests learn their dark secrets, the evil duo attempt to kill the witnesses by firing at the boat with their rifles.

Okee13 beware

Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear warn guests on top of the archway.

After barely escaping with their lives and emerging from the cave, guests see that everything has become pitch black except for a red glow in the distance coming from around the bend. After going around said bend, guests are confronted by a tree that has fallen over the river, forming a natural archway. On top of the tree, Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear have gotten ahead of the boat and are holding red railroad-style lanterns, both chanting "BEWARE! BEWARE! GO BACK! GO BACK!". The boat heads up another incline, getting closer and closer to the both of them. It then goes down a small drop, causing a splash.

The entire Okefenokee Swamp has been engulfed in a thunderstorm, and everything has gotten scary. A huge tree with an evil face suddenly lurches forward. Owls with lighted eyes glare at the boat from every which way, and rattlesnakes hang down from tree branches. Guests feel gusts of air and lightning flashes while backlit bats fly overhead and alligators on the ground snap their jaws.

The boat then approaches the briar patch, the home of Mr. Rabbit and his family. Once inside, guests learn that it is Christmas time, and the rabbit family is seen preparing their holiday feast. Mr. Rabbit is carving a giant carrot like a roast turkey, and the children are impatiently banging their utensils on the table. Next to the fireplace, a Christmas tree is decorated with carrots instead of ornaments, and the children sing a Christmas carol.

Outside of the rabbits' home, the night sky is clear and everything is moonlit. Mr. Bear and Mr. Fox sit soggily in the millpond and are covered with frogs. In the next scene, Mr. Rabbit uses a stick to shake a hornet's nest, and the angry swarm of hornets chases the two criminals into the distance. On the other side of the river, the critters of the Okefenokee are celebrating the newfound peace, singing their "national anthem". One of the rabbits is floating in the air by a bunch of colorful balloons, a rabbit and a turtle are playing on a seesaw, a raccoon balances small rabbits on his shoulders, and a magician and juggler entertain. The quartet of crows also returns for a third time, singing with everyone else. Watermelon trees growing watermelons with faces can also be seen, also singing.

Overhead, a jolly sun laughs with glee at the sight of the fun below. The last person seen is Mizz Rabbit, who says "Bye now... you'll hurry back, ya hear?". The boat then enters a final cave which is studded with multicolored diamonds, and then the ride comes to an end.[1]

1980 fire

Main article: Incidents at Six Flags parks

During the ride's last season, the interior mechanism in one of the Carrot Sisters figures became stuck, heating up its coil and causing a fire to break out. Since the Carrot Sisters were modeled out of polyurethane foam, the fire spread quickly, destroying the Carrots and the background behind them, and even spreading over to the nearby scene with Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear holding Mr. Rabbit in a bag, though it was extinguished before there could be any further damage. As a quick fix, the watermelons from the finale were brought to where the carrots had formerly been.[1]

Trivia

  • Some theme park historians have pointed to Tales of the Okefenokee as a possible influence on the Splash Mountain rides at Disney parks, the first of which opened nearly 20 years after the ride. Tales of the Okefenokee and Splash Mountain are connected in the way that they are both adaptations of the Uncle Remus stories by Joe Chandler Harris, the latter of which is specifically based on the 1946 Disney film Song of the South. Tony Baxter, the creator of Splash Mountain, had ridden Tales of the Okefenokee many times prior to its closure in 1980.
  • In Monster Mansion, a framed painting with Mr. Rabbit and Mizz Rabbit can be seen in the first scene with Mizzy Scarlett.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hollis, Tim. The Rise and Demise of Tales of the Okefenokee. DAFE.

See also

External links

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