A new, more immersive version of Splash Mountain has just reopened, and some Guests love it more than the original attraction because of its added “perks.”
and Walt Disney Imagineering remain on the cutting edge of immersive attractions and ride technology, serving as the gold standard in theme park attractions, rides, and experiences. Disney stays ahead of its competition by employing Imagineers with incomparable creative skills and continually maintaining and refurbishing attractions in Disney Parks around the globe. Occasionally, Imagineers are even tasked with reimagining an experience in the parks so that the offerings at the parks remain relevant and engaging.
But in recent years, Imagineers have been faced with tasks for different purposes–pacifying Guests and the general public who take issue with the inspiration and perceived subject matter behind or inside individual attractions. In 2018, Disney World unveiled a new take on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom that had been in place since the park opened in 1973. Instead of featuring a “redhead” as the prize in a wench auction during the ride, the attraction reopened with a redheaded female animatronic helping with the auction for various items.
“In July 2017, the Redhead in Disneyland Paris was changed from a captive wench into a fearsome pirate who assists the Auctioneer with the auction. The wenches were removed from the scene and were replaced by villagers who have to surrender their loot to the Auctioneer. In November 2017, it was announced that the scene would also be changed in Walt Disney World Resort. The Walt Disney World version of the scene debuted on March 19, 2018.”
But it didn’t stop there. The latest Disney Parks attraction to fall prey to a small public perception of the ride’s origin and inspiration is Disney’s Splash Mountain attraction. The ride, which features the characters Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox from Disney’s Song of the South (1946), was a log flume water ride with several small drops leading up to the attraction’s signature 50-foot, 45-degree drop that often drenched Guests on board, as well as Guests watching the ride vehicles drop from the bridge directly across from the attraction.
Splash Mountain was enormously popular with Disney Parks Guests, often posting wait times of more than one hour, and it quickly became a Disney Parks icon, being named one of the parks’ “mountains” alongside Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and later, Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
But public outcry, online petitions, and Disney’s mission to “right its past wrongs” with respect to stereotyping in its animated films ultimately led to the entertainment giant’s decision to scrap the more-than-30-year-old attraction altogether and install a new experience based on Disney’s Princess and the Frog (2009). Earlier this year, the attraction was closed at both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort in California, and in the days leading up to the attraction’s closure, wait times for the Splash Mountain ride were astronomical as thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Guests raced to experience it one final time–as if making a public statement that the ride wasn’t quite as offensive as it was portrayed to be.
But at Disney Parks outside the United States, the Splash Mountain attraction lives on. And at one Disney Parks Resort, Splash Mountain not only lives on, but the ride is seeing its best days ever.
On July 4, 2023, a new version of the Splash Mountain attraction at Tokyo Disney Resort opened to Guests. What was the change? It wasn’t the removal of references to Disney’s Song of the South, and none of the ride elements had changed. The new version of the Splash Mountain ride at Tokyo Disney includes a much wetter experience–one in which Guests may get absolutely drenched when they experience the attraction.
It’s part of a greater “drenching” of Guests at Tokyo Disney Resort in an effort to help them beat the heat during their visit to the Resort. Another “drenching” attraction at the Resort is Baymax’s Mission Cooldown. Guests at Tokyo Disney Resort must love the water, as these attractions are among some of the most popular as of the time of this publication.
News of the new “drenching” version of the Splash Mountain attraction at Tokyo Disney just leaves us with one question: With the hot summer temperatures and humidity in Central Florida, why isn’t Disney World doing something similar?