Disney Park Sticks to Tradition: Splash Mountain Retains Classic Theme Despite Criticism

Tokyo Disney Resort Splash Mountain
Credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

One Disney theme park is doubling down on the original version of Splash Mountain.

As was first announced in June 2020, both Disneyland Resort and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom closed their versions of Splash Mountain in 2023 to make way for a new attraction inspired by The Princess and the Frog (2009).

Splash Mountain interior

Credit: Disney

Related: Grand Return Confirmed – Disney Ending Years-Long Closure, Reopening Classic Attraction

The decision wasn’t made because Splash Mountain is unpopular. Instead, it was the ride’s source material – Song of the South (1953) – that fuelled Disney’s decision to shutter the attraction due to the film’s use of racist stereotypes. As Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that same year, “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.”

While some Disney fans heavily protested the ride’s closure, even creating online petitions that garnered thousands of signatures and staging failed protests, both attractions are now long closed and in the process of being reworked into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This will see guests “join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis on their journey through a shimmering bayou as they prepare for a spirited celebration during Mardi Gras season.”

New Mickey Ears Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Credit: Disney

However, Splash Mountain isn’t totally dead and buried – at least, not yet.

Tokyo Disneyland has operated its own version of Splash Mountain in Critter Country since 1992. A near carbon copy of Walt Disney World’s version of the attraction (except it has just four drops instead of five), it is yet to close for a Tiana retheme.

In fact, a retheme hasn’t even been announced – and there’s a strong chance it never will. Tokyo Disneyland is owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company (OLC), which means Disney doesn’t dictate its closures, additions, or updates quite like the other parks.

A vibrant scene of a rocky landscape with lush greenery, featuring a misty waterfall cascading down rugged red rocks. a twisted, dead tree perches atop the cliff, enhancing the wild nature of the exterior of Splash Mountain.

Credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

Related: New Princess Tiana Ride Opens at Disney World

The latest update from Tokyo Disney Resort makes it clear that Splash Mountain isn’t going anywhere any time soon. As Magic Kingdom Park marks the opening of Splash Mountain’s replacement this summer, Tokyo Disneyland is launching a limited-time enhanced version of the attraction, “Splash Mountain Get Wet MAX!”

This temporary overlay will run from July 2 through September 18, 2024, and utilizes extra sprays of water to make the experience even wetter than usual (and help combat Tokyo’s hot and humid summers).

First introduced in 2021, this marks the third year in a row that Tokyo Disneyland has promoted an upgraded Splash Mountain to lure in more guests over the summer, which tells you a lot about the park’s commitment to the OG version of the attraction.

Interior of Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland

Credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

Related: Disney Park Is Officially Changing Another Tower of Terror

Notably, Tokyo Disneyland currently also boasts the only version of Pirates of the Caribbean with the traditional “we wants the redhead!” scene. Other parks have changed the scene so the redheaded woman is no longer being auctioned off as a bride and is instead a pirate who helps the auctioneer sell goods looted from the townspeople.

As well as soaking guests via Splash Mountain, Tokyo Disney Resort also plans to help guests stay cool this summer by bringing back Baymax’s Mission Cooldown – a cavalcade in which onlookers are (you guessed it) sprayed with water.

New Baymax cavalcade float at Tokyo Disneyland

Credit: Tokyo Disney Resort

Related: Tiana Debuts New Look, Also Replaces Mickey Mouse

Even if Japan is a little out of reach for your next theme park day, those hoping to experience the original Splash Mountain for themselves are in luck. Due to the current conversion rate between the Japanese Yen and the U.S. Dollar, Tokyo Disney Resort tickets are roughly $52 per person – nearly a quarter of the maximum price for a one-day ticket to Walt Disney World Resort.

If you’re sticking to Walt Disney World, however, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure promises an equally exciting experience come summer. Walt Disney Imagineering recently shared videos of the top-tier animatronics featured in the attraction (including Tiana, Mama Odie, and Louis armed with his trusty trumpet), as well as promising that it will act as “a celebration where everyone’s welcome.”

Do you plan on visiting Tokyo Disneyland any time soon? Let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Chloe James

Chloë is a theme park addict and self-proclaimed novelty hunter. She's obsessed with all things Star Wars, loves roller coasters (but hates Pixar Pal-A-Round), and lives for Disney's next Muppets project.

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