Disney Shares Surprising Update on Splash Mountain Retheme

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

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Credit: Disney

Disney has made some drastic changes at the former location of its iconic Splash Mountain attraction.

Guests in front of Cosmic Rewind
Credit: Disney

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Over the years, The Walt Disney Company has made some major decisions within its theme park division. From new and exciting rides to closures of iconic and legendary attractions, you never truly know what you’ll find when visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World, especially if it’s been a while since your last visit. It’s crucial for Disney to keep things fresh and new, giving the millions of guests that visit each and every year a reason to continue coming back, even if they’ve been dozens of times.

The newest additions at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, are some of the most exciting experiences you can find at “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” At Magic Kingdom, guests can now experience TRON Lightcycle/Run, a thrilling roller coaster that allows guests to step into “The Grid” and race through an exhilarating track on an actual lightcycle.

The fun doesn’t stop there, with EPCOT now being home to its first-ever roller coaster, called Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. This first-of-its-kind coaster launches guests backward, taking guests on a journey through space with everyone’s favorite crew of Marvel misfits. The ride randomly selects one of six different songs as well, making each ride a different experience. However, no discussion about ride closures, changes, and updates would be complete without mentioning Disney’s bold decision to forever change its iconic Splash Mountain attractions.

splash mountain at walt disney world
Credit: Disney

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Splash Mountain has become a fan-favorite over the last several decades, and for a good reason: it’s long, it’s got great music, and it offers guests some actual thrills. The ride itself featured dozens of animatronics, a luxury that not many modern-day attractions have. Splash Mountain stood tall at both Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park in Disneyland for decades but closed forever in 2023 to make way for something newer and more exciting.

DIsney first revealed its plans to close and retheme Splash Mountain several years ago, an announcement that would forever shake the Disney Parks community. This new ride, called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, would be heavily inspired by and continue the story of Disney’s 2009 animated classic The Princess and the Frog. 

Guests will now travel onboard with Princess Tiana on an all-new journey through the bayou as they encounter new characters, show scenes, effects, and music. Like we said earlier, the reception to this announcement was mixed, to say the least, with some loving the idea and others hating it. A large portion of guests became very vocal about the change, claiming that The Walt Disney Company was “soft” for making the decision. Others basted Disney for going “woke,” a term that seems to not mean anything anymore. Some passionate fans even went as far as to start a petition to “Save Splash Mountain.” This effort was obviously futile but did reach a surprising amount of signatures.

Tiana guiding riders past a band of river animals and Louis the Alligator Princess and the Frog
Credit: Disney

Disney has silently moved along with the project, showing no signs of surrender or slowing down. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to open in 2024 at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and we could not be more excited to experience it when it finally does have its grand opening.

In a surprising move, Disney has recently shared another update regarding this attraction. As seen on the official Walt Disney World website, new artwork and murals can be seen on the outskirts of the attraction.

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Credit: Disney

Hailing from the vibrant state of Louisiana, where creativity flows as freely as the Mississippi River, artist Malaika Favorite has managed to channel the state’s lively spirit and transform it into a masterpiece that will decorate the walls as part of the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” states Disney.

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Credit: Disney

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As you can see, this new artwork is stunning and truly brightens up the space, drawing in the attention of the thousands of guests who will be walking past it in the coming months

“Continuing the storyline from “The Princess and the Frog,” Malaika’s mural for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure features a collage of breathtaking scenes displayed on two of the building’s exterior walls as you enter the indoor queue. These scenes highlight Tiana’s professional journey and the creation of Tiana’s Foods.” This little addition to Splash Mountain’s footprint is gorgeous but quite surprising. We keep expecting to get a glimpse at the actual inside of the attraction, only for Disney to once again reveal some news about the ride’s exterior portions. This new artwork also makes us wonder how effectively it would line up with artwork of the time period in which the film is actually set. The Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans in the 1920s, meaning this artwork may appear a little too modern and current for the time the ride should be taking place. Regardless, the artwork is stunning and has once again stirred up our excitement for this new experience.

The decision to first change Splash Mountain stems from decades of backlash and controversy surrounding the ride and the film the attraction was based on originally. In 1946, The Walt Disney Company released Song of the South,  a film that mixed live-action and animation, much like Mary Poppins (1964) would years later. Song of the South has been heavily criticized for its portrayal of African Americans during the reconstruction-era South and has been effectively erased from history. Fans will not be able to purchase legitimate copies of this film, nor will they find it on streaming services like Disney+. The Walt Disney Company has made great efforts to cover up this film, and with the eventual completion of Splash Mountain’s retheme, the film will fade even further into obscurity.

Calls for Disney to do something about this problematic film and the characters inspired by it have only grown more vocal over the decades, with the closure of Splash Mountain being the end result. Even though we agree that Splash Mountain is an absolutely iconic part of Disney theme park history and is a fantastic attraction, we can appreciate Disney’s efforts to step away from the ride’s controversial past.

A close-up of the outside model for Tiana's Bayou Adventure
Credit: Disney

As we stated earlier, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to open sometime in 2024 in both Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida, and we could not be more excited. The third and final version of Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland will remain open and unchanged for the foreseeable future.

Splash Mountain will forever go down in hirstoy as one of Disney’s greatest rides, but we hope that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be an even better addition to the Disney parks.

Are you excited about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Will you miss Splash Mountain?

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