Disney Re-imagining Splash Mountain (Insert Sad Face)

I guess it was only a matter of time before I wrote this one. We are seeing a societal shift among businesses as I alluded to in my column about drawing the line on what is offensive.

One of the latest companies who is adhering to the shift is none other than Disney. The company announced they will be dropping the Song of the South themed Splash Mountain and updating it to 2009’s Princess and the Frog.

The ride was first opened in 1989 at Disneyland in California. It made it’s way over to Disney World in 1992. Since then, it has been a staple of Magic Kingdom. It is one of the three pillar “mountains” in the park. That of course being Splash, Big Thunder and Space.

The re-brand of Splash has been in the works for several years now. They finally pulled the trigger because of the controversy behind Song of the South. The 1946 film has been locked away in the vault since 1986 due to it’s controversy of being racist.

The film features James Baskett who portrays the character of Uncle Remus. I’d like to note Baskett won awards for his role.

For all intents and purposes of the setting, it is safe to assume that Uncle Remus is a slave. The name alone gives away the idea given the history of the terms Aunt and Uncle and their usage in that era.

Although I have never seen the film in it’s entirety, I have seen clips. Uncle Remus tells the stories of some of the characters you find on Splash Mountain like Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox. He tells them to the plantation owner’s grandson, who is visiting.

The character of Uncle Remus is lovable as can be.

However, the big controversy, aside from the fact he is likely a slave, is the fact he makes mention of how complacent he is to be there. Meaning, he is essentially ok with being owned and worked. There is some romanticism associated with slavery for the character. I understand why the controversy is there. It’s warranted.

The ride itself makes no mention of Uncle Remus at all. It takes you through the journey of Br’er Rabbit leaving home and avoiding being caught by Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. I believe it falls on the side of overreaching in terms of offensive as I alluded to in my earlier column.

Even though the re-brand has been in the works, I still know why Disney chose now to do it. That being said, it doesn’t make me any less upset to see it go.

My wife and I are total cucks for Disney. We have been together since we were 15. We were only dating three months when we went for the first time together. Since I have known her, Splash has always been her favorite ride…always. While it may not be my favorite, I love riding it with her.

When we went for our babymoon, I rode it without her for the first and only time. It was weird honestly. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same.

I would pass certain points in the ride where I could hear her voice singing next to me as if she were right there. When we ride it, we sing along and recite the different lines said throughout.

For us, it will be weird riding it and not hearing Br’er Rabbit singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. It will be weird not hearing Br’er Rabbit say…

P-P-P-Please don’t put me in the briar patch. 

Right before the big drop.

I enjoy riding Splash together singing, reciting and being quirky as we ride it. It’s something we were hoping to share with our own children. Each time we get to the laughing place, we both are just genuinely happy to hear…

“Everybody’s got a laughing to go ho-ho. Take your frown turn it upside down and you’ll find yours I know ho-ho.”

We were talking about it recently. Our next trip is planned for December. While there is no timeline on when the imagineers get started, we are hoping it will be open when we go. The toughest part about finding out regarding change with Disney attractions is not appreciating your last ride a little more.

Three months after one of our trips, it was announced that our favorite firework show, Wishes, was being replaced with Happily Ever After. We talked about that and how we wish we would have appreciated the last one we saw just a little more. We didn’t know it would be our last time seeing it.

If there is one thing I have learned about Disney over the years, they will knock it out of the park with the re-imagined version portraying Princess and the Frog. We will still miss all those little things that made Splash Mountain special to us, much like we still miss the little things about Wishes.

For example, I always tear up when Walt comes on the castle and drops my favorite quote…

“I only hope we never lose sight of one thing…that it was all started by a mouse.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Happily Ever After any less, just as I am sure I won’t enjoy Splash Mountain any less.

If there is any company I trust with re-branding, it is Disney. They do such an amazing job with Disney World, which is why it is such a huge moneymaker for them. That place is special to so many people like me and my family. They cultivate an environment of believing in the impossible and to follow your dreams. It’s hard for me not to love it.

From the time I was 15 to now, Disney World is and likely always will be a huge part of my life.

Just in that 13 year time-span, we have seen plenty of closures and new ideas come to life, excluding the transition from Wishes to Happily Ever After.

The Great Movie Ride was one of my absolute favorites. From the gangster hi-jacking the vehicle with the over-the-top mobster accent to the montage of some of my favorite movies at the end, it was magical to me.

It has since been replaced with Mickey’s Runaway Railway. Although, I have not ridden the latter yet. I am sure I will love it. It pays homage to the small idea that created it all.

Soarin’ to tower, get ready for takeoff. We saw one of the main Epcot attractions go from a journey across the US to a journey across the world. I love both.

We saw Catastrophe Canyon get demolished as Backlot Tours along with Lights Motors Action closed. Both were attractions I loved. Now, Hollywood Studios is home to Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. Huge win there.

Test Track went from a more real life feel to a more futuristic feel, including the design of your own vehicle, when Disney switched from GM to Chevrolet.

Even in operations, Disney went from paper fast passes to the app and Fast Pass+ with pre-booking.

So again, Disney is not afraid of change. In fact, embracing change is one of the cornerstones of the foundation that has made it such a successful brand.

While I am sure I will love the re-imagined Splash Mountain featuring Princess Tiana (one of my favorite princesses to meet by the way), I am going to miss singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and following Br-er Rabbit down the briar patch.

 

 

 

 

 

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