Disney California Adventure

Grizzly River Run

February 2001

Like many of Disneyland Resort's best attractions, the Grizzly River Run has an extensive "backstory."

The Story

During California's gold rush, the Peaceful Pines River became swollen after an unusually large rainy season. The newly swollen river was not only faster and more treacherous than it had been before, but it also contained an enormous amount of gold ore from an undiscovered gold vein somewhere upstream. Miners swarmed to the area, often having violent disagreements over claims and bits of found gold. This lead to many nasty fights and mysterious night-time deaths.

These "grizzly" deaths, combined with the river's newfound ability to carry away gold panners who were insufficiently wary of its rapids, led the once-peaceful stream to be renamed Grizzly River.

A large company soon bought out all the prospectors and built a large gold processing mill across the river. The addition of all this machinery only increased the potential for fatal accidents, adding to the river's bloody reputation.

The years went by, the gold panned out, and the mine was closed. Since then, the river has been rediscovered by kayakers who enjoy its rapids and like maneuvering their small craft between the remains of once-deadly mining machines.

The Ride

The Grizzly River Run is as exciting a ride as its backstory implies. Guests board circular rafts for a floating, spinning, water-drenching trip down Grizzly River. The ride's course is realistically decorated like California wilderness, and Imaginers specifically put no animatronic animals in view -- not because they had been told not to spend a single cent more than was necessary (as is slanderously rumored), but because no artificial creature can compete with nature's grand, low-maintenance beauty.

The dark story behind the attraction is hinted at all through the ride. As they rush down the river, guests pass mining buildings and old machinery with suspicious stains near more dangerous workings. And even more exciting, but missed by most first-time riders, the corpses of miners who met with horrible accidents or untimely ends of more human origin can be seen in the water at five points throughout the ride. Each of these gruesome displays is completely under water, and you really have to lean out as close to the edge of the craft as possible to see them, but the horrible surprise is well worth the effort (and the additional soaking)! True Disney maniacs will notice that the half-decapitated miner who is stuck to the river bottom by a pick through his chest right at the edge of the river's final geyser is wearing a Mickey Mouse hat.

Trivia: This ride received a rating of "0" (on a scale from 1 to 10) from the American Association of Women Against Waterproof Makeup, and a "10" from Intercollegiate Frat Boys Appreciation Council for Wet T-Shirts.

Grizzly Peak Recreation Area
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