Florida Legislator Suggests DeSantis’s Committee May Force Disney World to Reopen Splash Mountain

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Left: Splash Mountain on a clear, blue-sky day. Right: DeSantis holds up his finger while making a speech.

The Walt Disney Company found itself immersed in multiple national political battles over the past year. After former Disney CEO Bob Chapek responded to fan protest and condemned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, the Republican governor fired back by legally dissolving Walt Disney World Resort’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. A state-appointed committee took over the municipal district in February, leading to concern about the impact the conservative board could have on the Central Florida Disney Parks.

Another battle occurred in the media after Disney announced it would retheme Splash Mountain at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The Princess and the Frog (2009) theme will replace the controversial Song of the South (1946), which is widely banned for its racist and white-washed portrayal of life for Black Americans post-Civil War. Theme Park fans and politicians advocated for saving Splash Mountain; thousands continue to sign petitions supporting the water ride.

Splash Mountain statue of Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox outside the ride
Credit: Disney

One Florida legislator recently suggested that these two controversies may collide. Florida State Representative Rita Harris, a Democrat, recently expressed concern about the power DeSantis’s committee may hold over Walt Disney World Resort during a debate about Reedy Creek.

“Are we going to see board members vetoing projects that are considered to go against any governor?” Harris asked. “For instance, Walt Disney just changed Splash Mountain. They made it Tiana’s Bayou.”

A model of Tiana's Bayou Adventure.
Credit: Disney

“What if the governor didn’t like that?” she continued. “Would the board then be able to push a company into changing their business model just so that they don’t misalign [with] them?”

Walt Disney World Resort’s version of Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom closed in January. Disassembly of the ride began immediately after – but could DeSantis force Imagineers to stop in their tracks?

More on Splash Mountain

Interior of Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Construction is underway on the Princess Tiana retheme of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort, with a closing date expected imminently for the Disneyland Resort version. The Song of the South (1946) themed water ride will remain at Tokyo Disneyland, though the Disney Park recently removed the film’s anthem, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” from its music loop.

“Drop into a whimsical world filled with classic characters and songs on this thrilling log-flume adventure,” Disney once wrote of the defunct attraction. “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.”

Are you excited about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

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