Everything We Know So Far About Splash Mountain’s Future

splash mountain

Splash Mountain is finally making an exit from its home in Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. The beloved log-flume ride has served millions upon millions of adoring Guests during its tenure. But after mounting controversy and break-downs, Disney has once again proven its willingness to touch an untouchable ride.

Here’s a quick recap of everything that has happened to one of Disney’s big three mountain attractions as we count down its final days in the Disney Parks.

What’s happening with Splash Mountain?

Under the leadership of former CEO Bob Chapek, Disney announced in 2020 that Splash Mountain would close after years of discussions and speculation. If you haven’t had the pleasure of riding, Splash Mountain features a lazy river ride into an iconic five-story drop, ending with a chorus of ‘Zip-a-dee-doo-dah’ sung by adorable audio-animatronics. It’s one of the most popular rides at the parks, with over hour-long waits. 

Splash Mountain

Credit: Disney

However, after over 30 years in Disneyland’s Critter Country and Disney World’s Frontierland, Splash Mountain is finding itself in disrepair. Guests had reported flooding in boats and times when the entire attraction was in the dark. Walt Disney Imagineers and Guests alike have wondered what should and would happen to the ride in the future. Ultimately, Imagineers have decided to permanently close and revitalize the mountain formerly known as Chick-a-pin Hill. There is no news yet on if The Walt Disney Railroad will still pass through. 

Related: Guests jump out of a sinking Splash Mountain

What’s the controversy around Splash Mountain?

The song and characters one encounters on Splash Mountain are all based on the 1946 Disney musical Song of the South, a film that has faced criticism since its release. When the ride opened in 1989, Imagineers attempted to skirt around the more uncomfortable elements of the film. They left out the film’s central characters, including Uncle Remus, a black sharecropper and narrator. Instead, they focused the attraction around the characters from Uncle Remus’ stories: Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear. 

Where to watch Song of the South

Credit: Disney

At the time of Splash Mountain’s opening, the attractions’ development was quite different from how they are today. While modern Imagineers base their work on popular franchises, Splash Mountain was constructed as a way to repurpose underperforming, expensive animatronics and draw visitors to a quiet area of the Park. In fact, in 1989, CEO Michael Eisner was already preventing ‘Song of the South’ from VHS release.

Further reading: History of Splash Mountain

The controversy-sparking aspects of Splash Mountain’s origins have been brought back to the forefront, and many at Walt Disney Imagineering began discussing what to do with the famous ride for years. So in 2020, following the Black Lives Matter protests, it came as no surprise to some that a petition was created and signed by thousands to “Re-theme Splash Mountain to Princess and The Frog.” But, it arguably also came as a surprise to see Disney Parks announce its plans to do exactly that. It was then that multiple petitions to “Save Splash Mountain” arose out of love and nostalgia for the ol’ log flume. Some gained traction, but CEO Bob Chapek marched ahead with the change.

In fact, since the change was announced, we have already seen elements of Splash Mountain disappear from around the park. The iconic song “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” is no longer a part of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, and in 2022, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear were noticeably missing from the Halloween Villain Parade.

Brer Fox, Brer Bear, Mickey's Boo to You Parade

Credit: ITM

When Disney rehired Bob Iger, fans of the ride hoped he would stop the change. This is not the case. In fact, Bob Iger has been publicly quoted stating his disapproval of Song of the South.

What is taking Splash Mountain’s place?

Concept art Tiana Attraction

Credit: Disney

Read more: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in 3D

Disney’s Splash Mountain will be replaced with “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” putting the popular Princess and The Frog franchise at the center of the reimagining of the log flume. Replacing the Laughing Place with a Louisiana bayou, Tiana (the film’s protagonist), Prince Naveen, and Louis will guide Guests on an incredible Mardi Gras experience, taking in the music and culture of New Orleans. In July, Disney announced that the new ride would be called “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” and presented its first African American princess with a whole new outfit and the promise of new characters on the way.

princess tiana tianas bayou adventure disney princess

What will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure be like?

The new ride is spearheaded by Walt Disney Imagineer Charita Carter. Very recently, Carter’s team revealed some of the new friends Tiana has made in the Bayou. While familiar faces like Louis the jazz-loving alligator will make an appearance, there will also be an otter, raccoon, beaver, turtle, and more. In their December 2nd post, the Disney Parks Blog also released concept art that featured a log boat with two seats across, suggesting an upgrade from the Disneyland Splash Mountain’s one person per row, but there has been no official address of this change.

Credit: Disney

Related: Is Disney World Setting Aside ‘Splash Mountain’ Animatronics for ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’?

Disney also plans to create new music for the ride, specifically in the style of Zydeco. This is a unique blend of rhythm and blues born right out of Louisiana that Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Carmen Smith, said: “brings together the sounds and styles of many cultures.” She goes on saying “we wanted that spirit reflected in this [musical] scene (and throughout the attraction) so that all our Guests feel welcome to join the celebration.” The ride will also feature original Cast Members from the movie, including Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana), Bruno Campos (Prince Naveen), Jenifer Lewis (Mama Odie), and Michael Leon Wooley (Louis).

The Princess and the Frog influence will expand beyond the ride, as Tiana’s restaurant and her mother Eudora’s boutique will be added to nearby New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park.

There are still a lot of details yet to be revealed over the next year, including the Imagineers’ plans for the ride’s “big drop.”

When will Splash Mountain close?

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain will close on January 23, 2023. And while there is no announced date for the Splash Mountain in California’s Disneyland, it will also close in 2023.

Splash Mountain Closing Date

Disney executives have confirmed that “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” will open at both American Theme Parks in late 2024. Only one Splash Mountain attraction will remain in operation, and it can be found at Tokyo Disneyland, which is owned and operated by The Oriental Land Company.

About Phoebe K.

Phoebe is a performer and writer based in NYC. She trained at the iconic Second City and in her childhood bedroom pretending to be The Little Mermaid.

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