Here’s How Disney Has Been Quietly Removing Your Favorite Ride

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Splash Mountain

Credit: Disney

In the coming months, Guests can anticipate several new experiences in the Parks, most notable being the new Guardians of the Galaxy as well as the complete transformation of EPCOT. In the Magic Kingdom, Guests are also eagerly awaiting the release of the new TRON roller coaster in Tomorrowland. However, there are things that Disney fans would rather have the Walt Disney Company not change or even touch.

Classic rides like the Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan’s Flight come to mind went thinking about iconic attractions that Disney fans do not want to be changed at all. One classic Disneyland attraction will be changed significantly, however, and it involves lots of water.

splash mountain tokyo disneyland
Credit: Disney

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Splash Mountain, the beloved log-flume ride at nearly all the Disney Parks has been a fan-favorite for decades now. Disney announced the planned retheme back in 2020, just after a grassroots campaign sprung up online asking that Disney not only change Splash Mountain but that the company actually replace it with The Princess and the Frog film from 2009. While things like online petitions rarely translate into actual action, that’s exactly what happened here. Only a couple of weeks later, Disney announced that it was planning to make exactly such a change to the ride. Now, Disney stated that the decision to retheme and rework the attraction had nothing to do with the fan petition, but we are sure the voiced approval of such an idea helped with the initial announcement at least.

While there have been many changes and alterations to Disney rides in the past, perhaps the most infamous example of this can be attributed to Disney’s plans for Splash Mountain. In the summer of 2020, Disney Parks officially announced that Splash Mountain would be getting a complete retheme at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The decision came after a long debate about the Song of the South IP, on which the film the attraction was based on. The project was proposed as part of Disney’s efforts to bring more diverse representation to the theme parks and remove offensive themes such as the ones talked about above. See more on the official announcement below:

Disney World Splash Mountain
Credit: Disney

Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks.

The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

The approach to retheming or “plussing” attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.

splash mountain tiana
Credit: Disney

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While the project remained years away at that point, Disney was quick to start the removal process of various elements, songs, characters, and references to the ride throughout the Parks. To many Guests’ dismay, at the Disneyland Resort, it became apparent that the iconic “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” song from the ride as well as the film the attraction was based on was ripped from background music loops at the Downtown Disney District.

Credit: Disney

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As the announcement came during the COVID-19 pandemic, both Disney Parks were closed at one point or another, meaning Disney had a great opportunity to change things inside the Parks. Walt Disney World reopened before Disneyland did, meaning Guests noticed some of these initial changes here first. Just like in Disneyland, Guests noticed the famous song missing from background music loops.

Splash Mountain

As reported by Cinema Blend the “Let the Magic Begin” rope drop show which had taken place at Magic Kingdom prior to the closure was redone and opened in a modified format when the Park finally returned to full operation. While there was obviously a lot that changed, Guests were quick to notice the outro music no longer included the song. When the full, original version of the show returned as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration last year, the music was still missing.

While there is so much that can be considered “iconic” when talking about Splash Mountain and its legacy, few things are as recognizable from the attraction as the characters. Br’er Rabbit acts as the main character of the ride as Guests follow along encountering all kinds of thrills and chills along the way. Of course, the removal of Splash Mountain means the removal of this iconic character along with others like Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. But Splash Mountain wasn’t the only place Br’er Rabbit could be found. Up until September of 2021, a small statue could be seen of Br’er Rabbit but now the statue is completely missing.

Now, The ultimate reason for seeing the statue’s removal probably wasn’t directly connected to Splash Mountain. Br’er Rabbit disappeared just as a series of 50 different character statues were being placed all over Walt Disney World for their ongoing 50th anniversary. Br’er Rabbit was likely just in the way. Having said that, it’s highly unlikely the statue will return when the current celebration is over.

festival of fantasy
Credit: Disney

A big point of contention and controversy was the removal of the iconic “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da” being removed from a beloved Disney World parade. While there were a lot of changes made to the parade after its long hiatus during the pandemic, one of the biggest changes was again, the removal of the song. As many fans and Guests probably are aware, Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade finally returned a few weeks ago to the Magic Kingdom. The return of the Festival of Fantasy has been long-awaited by many, as Walt Disney World has been one of the last to bring back parades. Disneyland Paris was the most recent to re-debut their Disney Stars on Parade parade, however, they were running their h0liday parade during the day as well for months.

Festival of Fantasy can be described as:

Magic Marches Down the Street
The unbridled enchantment and vivid pageantry of Fantasyland—and its many inhabitants—winds its way through the park in a thrilling parade spectacular. The dazzling mix of floats, motion and original music will keep you humming along for days to come.

See Disney Characters and Much More
Be a part of this grand gala, with spectacular, state-of-the-art floats starring some of your favorite Disney Characters, colorfully costumed performers on stilts, pendulums and swings—and even a fire-breathing dragon. It’s a festival of fun for everyone!

festival of fantasy crowds
Credit: Ashley Carter

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It has nearly been two years since the announcement and was met with a variety of responses from Disney fans. Some were very excited and happy to see that The Princess and the Frog (2009), not only an excellent film but a film that stars a Black princess, would replace the attraction. While others who found Splash Mountain as classic and iconic went as far as to petition to have the ride remain as-is. Recently, information regarding the retheming was removed from the attraction’s official website, leading some to believe Disney may have scrapped its plans to convert the iconic water-based ride.

Breaking outside of the Parks, Disney+ users have noticed several changes on the streaming service as well regarding racially-insensitive images of depictions. Users will notice warnings pop up before watching Peter Pan, The Aristocrats, The Jungle Book, day and the Tramp, Dumbo and Swiss Family Robinson. The message warns that the movies contain racial stereotypes that “were wrong then and are wrong now,” and that the content perpetuates “negative depictions” of people and cultures. These changes were a part of Disney’s “Stories Matter” initiative, which is meant to improve how the company’s stories represent all people and communities.

Splash Mountain can be found at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.

Splash Mountain
Credit: Disney

More on Splash Mountain

A Hare-Raising Ride

Gently drift through a colorful Southern bayou along with happy-go-lucky Br’er Rabbit as he looks for his “laughing place.” But be warned: Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox are in hot pursuit of this wayward hare. 

Glide by over 100 adorable Audio-Animatronics geese, frogs, raccoons, possums, bees, alligators and other down-home critters as they sing classic Disney ditties, including “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Ev’rybody’s Got a Laughing Place.”

Then hang on to your hats—this delightful musical cruise ends in an exciting 5-story splashdown into a thorny Briar Patch!

You Will Get Wet

This attraction includes 950,000 gallons of water, 3 dips and a 5-story drop. Where you’re seated will determine how wet you’ll get. Riders in the back may experience a sudden splash or spray; those who opt for the front can expect to get soaked. 

For Guests looking to ensure their personal items remain dry, lockers are available to rent near the Main Entrance.

An Alternative for Little Critters

Located near the Splash Mountain exit, the Laughin’ Place is a cheery play area designed for children under 40 inches tall who are too small to ride the attraction. Children must be supervised during their visit to the Laughin’ Place.

Will you miss Splash Mountain at the Disney Parks? Let us know in the comments below. 

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District. Or what about Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!

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