Amid controversies and widely circulating rumours, Disney bid farewell to its beloved ride, Splash Mountain. However, the decision to close the ride did not come abruptly and before Splash Mountain took its final ride, Disney was already coming up with a new attraction to replace it.
Closure of Splash Mountain
Disney Closes Splash Mountain, Plans for a New Attraction are Underway
Amidst tears, cheers, and dejection, after 33 years Disney and its fans bid goodbye to their beloved ride Splash Mountain. The decision to close the ride arose after a petition in 2020, drafted to change the beloved water ride’s theme, went viral. Disney’s Splash Mountain story is tied to its 1946 film “Song of the South” which is criticized for idealizing plantation life. At a shareholders meeting in March 2020, Bob Iger stated that:
“I’ve felt, as long as I’ve been CEO, that ‘Song of the South’ was – even with a disclaimer – was just not appropriate in today’s world,”
Tony Baxter, famed Disney Imagineer who is known for spearheading Big Thunder Mountain as well as for helping bring the works of George Lucas into the Disney Theme parks has stated that in the early to mid-80s Disney was often forced to look to the company’s deep past of inspiration as the films of that time struggled to resonate with the mindset of the audiences. In a 2020 new release, Tony Baxter stated:
“When Splash Mountain came to life over 30 years ago, the wave of Disney Animation that started with ‘The Little Mermaid’ had not yet begun,”
“New stories would give us characters, music, and wonderful places that now reside in the hearts of audiences everywhere.”
The Replacing of Splash Mountain – Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
The controversial Splash Mountain is to be replaced by Tiana’s Bayou Adventure inspired by the animated Disney film The Princess and the Frog, where for the first time in history, Disney cast a black princess. The ride is said to be a magical endeavor and will take guests on a musical journey alongside Princess Tiana and Louis. Talking about the film in a news release on 25th June 2020, Disney Resort said:
“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.”
Disney announced that award-winning artist Terence Blanchard, as well as PJ Morton, are collaborating and working hand in hand with Disney on music that the guests will hear while taking the ride. As of yet, work is underway in the nearby New Orleans square to welcome the new Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ride. The French Market Café in New Orleans Square was remade into Tiana’s Palace which opened its doors to the public on 7th September 2023.
The new ride will kick off after Tiana has her final Kiss with Prince Naveen and finally realizes her dream, as she swings open the doors to her very own restaurant that she names Tiana’s Palace.
The ride will take guests on an epic journey alongside Tiana, who will be in full swing, preparing for Mardi Gras bash. However, soon she will notice that she is short of a special ingredient, crucial for the event, and takes a detour to the bayou with the jazz-loving alligator Louis.
All New Animatronics and Old Beloved Characters
The animatronics of Splash Mountain were charming. However, Disney Audio Animatronics have gone from charming to mind-blowing since then. According to Disney, the new ride will welcome a whole chorus line of brand-new audio animatronics with one of them, modeled after the voodoo priestess from The Princess and the Frog, Mama Odie. Moreover, in Tiana’s Bayou Adventures, fans of the film will be reunited with beloved characters like Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis, Charlotte, Eudora, Big Daddy, Prince Ralphie, and the regal King and Queen of Maldonia.
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