For Guests hoping to have one last experience with a log flume and a 50-foot near-vertical drop at Disney World’s Splash Mountain attraction, time is running short, as Magic Kingdom bids farewell forever to the 30-year-old water ride on Sunday evening.
Disney’s initial announcement in June 2020 about the planned reimagining of Splash Mountain spiked sales of Splash Mountain-themed merchandise. At that time, Guests reportedly believed it might be their only chance to purchase the themed items. They were wrong, however, as more than 2 1/2 years later, the attraction, as well as the adjoining merchandise shop, remain open.
But the sands of time are winding down on Splash Mountain’s operation, as Sunday evening, January 22, will mark the last opportunity for Splash Mountain fanatics and Disney Parks nostalgia and history fans to experience the ride on which Guests are warned they “may get wet.”
Truth be told, that sign really should read, “You will get wet!”
Since it opened at Disney World in October 1992, Splash Mountain‘s claim to fame has been its drop–the drop–the final one in a series of several. The drop is about as close to a vertical drop as Imagineers could get it–and it’s approximately 50 feet high. It has surely been the reason the ride is among Guests’ favorite attractions at Magic Kingdom.
Some Guests love Splash Mountain because the sounds of characters inside the attraction singing along to “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” is all it takes to bring them back to a favorite memory from childhood. But apparently, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” has been part of the problem with the Splash Mountain attraction.
Disney Parks announced the reimagining of Splash Mountain to some very surprised and disappointed fans in June 2020. And even before fans heard an explanation, they knew there had to be a serious reason behind Disney’s decision to do away with not only a Guest-favorite attraction, but an attraction that has an almost cult following and contributes to that “classic Disney” feel at Magic Kingdom.
Splash Mountain is getting the axe because of its association–because of the film from which the ride drew its inspiration.
Disney’s Song of the South (1946) is based on the Uncle Remus stories and follows the adventures of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox. It also tells the story of a young boy named Johnny who goes to live in the American South following the separation of his parents. It is there that he meets Uncle Remus, who shares stories with Johnny about Br’er Rabbit in an effort to help Johnny learn to deal with his problems.
But opponents of the film and the Splash Mountain attraction say that the film perseverates potentially harmful racial stereotypes, and ultimately, the opposition was enough to sway Disney to do away with the ride altogether and reimagine it into a completely new experience.
Tens of thousands of Disney fans signed a petition at Change.org to beg Disney not to reimagine Splash Mountain, but to no avail. Disney has opted to take on a massive project–an overhaul that won’t be cheap–and especially since the ride only features the animated characters from the film, there’s really no need for such an undertaking . . . especially when an attraction in the same park features a further-reaching, far more harmful element as part of the experience, making it the very first attraction that Disney should be addressing.
Regardless, the final flume of Guests will fall over the five-story drop at Splash Mountain on Sunday evening, ending–once and for all–a beloved Magic Kingdom experience that has been enjoyed by millions of fans since 1992.
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my, oh, my, what a wonderful day! Plenty of sunshine heading my way, zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay.
Farewell, Br’er Rabbit. And thanks for the memories. May Mr. Bluebird be ever on your shoulder, and here’s hoping plenty of sunshine is always heading your way.