Splash Mountain is the most popular theme park ride in the world. How do we know that? Magic Kingdom Park is the most popular theme park in the world. And Splash Mountain was (until recently) the most popular attraction at said theme park.
Song of the South
So when the decision was made to retheme it to something other than the adventures of Brer Rabbit inspired by Song of the South (1946), the plan was already in motion to focus on The Princess and the Frog (2009). Although the Splash Mountain ride and The Princess and the Frog (2009) movie are fantastic examples of creativity and storytelling, they don’t mesh well – especially at Magic Kingdom Park.
It’s worth adding a disclaimer that I will be referring to Magic Kingdom’s Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort, not Disneyland Park’s Splash Mountain throughout this article. Disneyland already has a New Orleans area that is much better suited for the ride’s re-imagining, but a salt mine themed to New Orleans in the middle of Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland is out of place. The Princess and the Frog (2009) characters and story would be more appropriate in the theme park’s Fantasyland or even Liberty Square near the Riverboat.
If the consensus is that the ride and theme must go due to its connection to the controversial Song of the South (1946), I would suggest a retheme to the Disney movie…Moana (2016).
The peaks of a Pacific island volcano would make for a beautiful retheme of the ride while maintaining the theme of mountains as coasters (although this has gone by the wayside slightly). In addition, the story of Moana (2016) is a hero’s journey plot, not unlike the adventures of Brer Rabbit. What is his story throughout the ride? He runs away from problems at home and gets into mischief involving Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Then, in the end, he returns home to great fanfare.
What does Moana do in her movie? She leaves home, has a series of adventures, and returns home as a heroine. It would also be very simple for Walt Disney Imagineering to adapt the Moana story and maintain Splash Mountain’s pacing. Instead of “How Do You Do?” being sung, we could be greeted with a Lin Manuel Miranda song like “Where You Are” as riders are introduced to the village of Motunui and its inhabitants (including Hei Hei and Pua). Then as we journey up the mountain, the threats of Brer Fox and Brer Bear could be reimagined to Moana and the demigod Maui’s battle with the Kakamora and Tamatoa (also transforming the Laughing Place to the Realm of Monsters).
And as part of the ride’s grand finale, we would experience Moana making her way to the top of the Mother Island to restore the Heart of Te fiti. The subsequent “drop” could be Ta Ka striking us down. And as the grand finale…instead of being greeted with “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” we could be treated to a scene of Moana restoring the heart to “Know Who You Are.” And I’m sure they could easily get Dwayne Johnson or Aulii Cravalho to reprise their roles for any audio-animatronics.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Is Not The Princess and the Frog
I say this as a big fan of The Princess and the Frog (2009), but Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is, to my understanding, an adventure that takes place AFTER the movie. Which logically means we likely won’t see Ray the Firefly, Princess Tiana or Prince Naveen as frogs, nor Dr. Facilier.
Of course, we will have to wait and see what Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will look like upon completion. But it seems disjointed from many other rides like Disney that are set up as retellings of the films (or sequels) instead of “new” stories with new characters. And finally, Moana (2016) and the film’s characters deserve more than a fountain attraction at EPCOT and a lawn at a Disney hotel.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect Disney Dining.