Fans Demand New Retheme of Controversial Disney Attraction

in Walt Disney World

Guests on boat in Splash Mountain

Credit: Disney

The Disney parks are known for their magical offerings to thousands of guests each day. As Walt himself once said, “here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”

Unfortunately, the real world can still make its way into the Disney bubble from time to time which can ruin some of the magic otherwise experienced at the parks. One of the more recent controversies surrounding the Disney parks was the announcement that the iconic Splash Mountain water ride would be closing for good.

Located in Frontierland, Splash Mountain was a log flume water ride based on characters from the controversial 1946 live-action and animated Disney film, Song of the SouthThe film has faced backlash for decades due to its portrayal of racial stereotypes and is now impossible to find and watch. While the ride itself only featured the movie’s animated characters, it was enough for some people that it was based on such a controversial movie in the first place.

Song of the South Title
Credit: Disney

Splash Mountain was opened at Disneyland in 1989 and at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992. While none of its iterations have the claim of being an opening day attraction, its iconic status as a beloved attraction has only solidified over the years, leading to an almost cult-like support when its closure was announced.

Petitions were spread online to Save Splash Mountain and fans tried everything from tweeting Disney CEO Bob Iger and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro to collecting the water from the ride to be resold online to keep the “magic” alive. The Disney World attraction closed for good in January 2023 while Disneyland’s closed in May 2023. The ride will be rethemed after Princess and the Frog (2009) and will be renamed Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Concept Art | Credit: Disney
Credit: Disney

However, the debate about the ride’s retheme continues to rage, as a recent Reddit post has fans arguing that the new attraction should have been themed to another underutilized Disney movie. In a post from u/kemiscool, they ask

Is anyone else kind of disappointed they didn’t decide to change Splash Mountain to ‘Emperor’s New Groove?’ I’m sure the ‘Princess and the Frog’ theme will be great but I would have loved to hear “Pull the lever, Kronk!” before dropping. Plus I feel like ‘Emperor’s New Groove’ doesn’t get much love.

Pull the lever, Kronk!
byu/kemiscool inDisneyland

The comments were full of fans also calling for more representation of the 2000 animated Disney film. “Greatest movie that does not have any representation in any of the parks,” said u/Real_TomBrady.

However, many argued that although it does deserve more representation throughout the Disney parks, the Frontierland/Critter Country location of Splash Mountain wouldn’t work with an Emperor’s New Groove theme. At Disney World, an attraction would probably work best at EPCOT, which features the World Showcase and 11 pavilions themed after different countries around the world.

“The Emperor’s New Groove deserves a rollercoaster, honestly. It has a rollercoaster in the damn movie and Disney has done nothing with this information. The ideas write themselves, come on!” agreed u/RandomFunUsername.

Kronk and Yzma riding rollercoaster into evil lair, from Emperor's New Groove
Credit: Disney

While it may not have been the right fit to take over Splash Mountain, we can agree that the iconic movie deserves much more love than it currently gets in the parks. Unfortunately, many of Disney’s more recent focus in the parks seems to be on their IPs (intellectual property) within the last decade or two.

In fact, the upcoming inclusion of Princess and the Frog in such a major way is the first time the movie will have such a presence in the parks, and the film was released in 2009. With other recent announcements and rumors about what could be coming to the Disney parks, this is the oldest IP they seem to be looking at. Anything older could be hit or miss with the younger generation of kids and guests coming to the parks.

Splash Mountain sign at Magic Kingdom
Credit: tewphotography / Flickr

It does seem as though we’ve seen the end of an era with so many areas and attractions being rethemed to include IPs and familiar movie characters–the age of original concepts and attractions seems to be over. Walt himself once said that the parks will never be finished as long as there’s imagination to keep dreaming. Perhaps one day older Disney films like Emperor’s New Groove will make an appearance in the park, but for now, Disney seems to be looking to the future.

What would you have picked to replace Splash Mountain? Princess and the Frog? Emperor’s New Groove? Pocahontas? Something else entirely? Let us know in the comments below!

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