Disney has announced a “completely reimagined” overhaul to Splash Mountain, the popular theme park log flume ride, that was based on Walt Disney’s 1946 film, Song Of The South. Let’s make one thing clear: This was going to happen eventually. Changing Splash Mountain has been talked about for years and has only gained even more steam recently.
Song Of The South was re-released in 1986 to build interest in Splash Mountain, which opened in 1989, and regularly aired an edited version on the Disney Channel for decades and as recently as 2001. Also, Michael Eisner explicitly prevented home video release of the film in the US but allowed it in Europe and Asia (I.E. the Tokyo park might keep the current Splash Mountain theme.) Disney is a corporation that banks on children’s connection to its character intellectual property. How many kids do you know that connect with Bre’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby? Disney never could make money off Song of the South. And make no mistake, It’s literally based on a movie where a former slave tells stories about how it was better in the old days. Not a good look.
Outside of three songs and the characters from the animated segments, Disney has spent decades pretending Song of the South never existed. It has been locked in the vault since forever. Better to replace it with an IP they actually do want to promote.
So they went with Princess and Frog over Zootopia. Good choice. It’s a great and under-viewed film. It also makes a lot of sense since most of the movie is a hero’s journey on the water. Thematically Tiana’s Bayou Blasters is a much better fit with the nearby New Orleans Square. Of course, that means that Critter Country is now down to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Hungry Bear food court. Oh well. This could end up being Mr Toads Wild Ride with a big splash at the end.
I do fear Disney will go cheap on the refurb. Splash Mountain comes from a time when Disney invested a huge amount of money and detail to new rides. Disney re-uses their animatronics. Most of the Disneyland animatronics are from a defunct ride called America Sings. America Sings was housed in the Carousel of Progress building, which has a rotating outer portion and a fixed center area. The old carousel theater in California used to have a static wall and moving wall that would pass, back in the day an employee thought they were in the correct spot but they weren’t so they got crushed. Afterwards they put in a breakaway wall to prevent that from happening again. However, that’s for another Wizeguy.
One question that I have is … I wonder what they are going to do with the iconic “Zippity Do Dah”? Splash Mountain while based on Song of the South has pretty much been its own thing in people’s minds for forever now. Most people don’t know it’s even connected and that tune has its own interesting past. Maybe they could repurpose it and put it Frozen 3. Problem solved.