Top 10 Reasons Why Splash Mountain Shouldn't Be Re-Themed

On June 25 2020, Disney made an announcement that they would be retheming their iconic Splash Mountain attraction to the 2009 animated film, "The Princess and the Frog." Ever since the announcement, Disney fans have been incredibly divided on the issue, with some people excited about it and others devastated. Being a huge Splash Mountain fan, I am of course on the side that is devastated by it, and frankly, I'm disgusted by the way that fans have been treated during this whole ordeal by both retheme supporters and Disney itself. This is one of their best attractions that means so much to so many people, but Disney just doesn't seem to care about their true fans these days.

There are so many reasons why Splash Mountain being rethemed is a bad idea and that is what this list is all about. Whether it's for ethical reasons, like destroying nostalgia and trying to erase the past, or for more practical reasons, like ruining the feel of an entire land and trying to fix something that's not broken, there is just so much wrong with trying to retheme one of the most popular and beloved attractions in the world. Thankfully, there are a lot of people who understand why it's a bad idea and they need as much support as they can get. If you're reading this and you want to help preserve this fantastic attraction, sign the petition on, send emails to Disney expressing why Splash Mountain is important to keep, and join the Save Splash Mountain Facebook Group. Hopefully we can convince Disney to keep at least one US version of Splash Mountain the way people have enjoyed it for over 30 years now.

Link to the petition:
The Top Ten
1 The ride is considered one of Disney's best and is a favorite for many. It represents Imagineering at it's best. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

If we're being real, Splash Mountain shouldn't even be on the list of things that need to change at Disneyland/Walt Disney World. Even in an era with rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Avatar: Flight of Passage, Splash Mountain is still considered one of the best theme park rides ever made. I've had once-in-a-lifetimers say that Splash Mountain was the best ride there. You don't even have to be a huge theme park fan to appreciate the hard work that went into the attraction.

The ride is a perfect example of what a Disney ride should be, a family-friendly attraction that has amazing detail, a great soundtrack, lovable characters, and even some thrills. It's right at home with Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion in the family of classic attractions.

So the question is, why change what's clearly working? Why don't you tackle the stuff that isn't working like Journey into Imagination with Figment, which interestingly enough was also created by Tony Baxter. How long has that one been sitting there waiting to be brought back to its former glory? Disney, people love this ride. It's a fan favorite and has been featured on so many best ride lists. I'm not opposed to change at all, but this is not something that needs to change. Instead of trying to change an outstanding attraction, they should create a brand new outstanding attraction and look at Splash as an example of how it should be done.

2 It's one of the most popular rides in the park and constantly has long wait times.

This ride frequently has the highest wait times in the park. If it were really in need of a change, would the wait times be that long for it? Some people might argue that "people ride it because it's really hot in Florida/California, it's not because of the ride itself." However, that's like saying the wait times for Avatar: Flight of Passage are only long because it's at Animal Kingdom and people need that air conditioning.

It might be a factor in people wanting to ride it, but are you really going to tell me that people want to spend 2 hours in a hot line just to get a little wet? Some people actually avoid Splash Mountain because they don't want to get wet, and honestly, from my experience, you don't get that wet on it anyway, at least not compared to the water rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Splash Mountain has always been a hit with guests that just so happens to have a water element, but that's not the sole or even main reason people like it. I, for one, have never ridden it solely for the flume aspect and it's definitely not my favorite because of that. If it were really just about getting wet, Ripsaw Falls and Bilge-Rat Barges should have the longest waits at Islands of Adventure. People love the theming and atmosphere of this ride and it has proven itself to be a Disney staple. It's one of the greatest pieces of Imagineering and Walt Disney would probably have loved it if he lived to see it. It's earned its popularity and is well worth the long wait times it gets.

3 The whole feel of Frontierland would be completely ruined, as Splash Mountain sits right in the middle of it. (WDW)

This is a perfect example of how thematic consistency and place-making seem to have taken a backseat nowadays to IP incorporation. Splash Mountain doesn't exist in a bubble, and the radical changes to the theming and feel of the attraction will affect the surrounding area that it is in. You could make an argument that it might work at Disneyland, considering that version of Splash is located right beside New Orleans Square, although that then begs the question of what happens to the rest of Critter Country since Splash is its main attraction.

However, there is no way to fit a Princess and the Frog-themed attraction into the center of Frontierland without it feeling completely jarring and ruining the whole feel of a large section of the park. Some might argue that Splash in its current form never fit Frontierland anyway, but the Imagineers made specific adjustments when they were bringing Splash to Florida to make sure that it blended in with the rest of the land, particularly its next-door neighbor Big Thunder. The score of Florida's Splash is a country-western style with banjos and harmonicas, and as you're walking along Frontierland, you can often hear the instrumental of Zip-a-dee-doo-dah playing in the distance. A jazz score would feel completely out of place.

Then there's the ridiculous look of the reimagined Mountain itself. So far, there has only been one piece of concept art revealed (even though they want us convinced that they've been working on this for over a year) and honestly, it just looks like someone painted Chick-a-pin Hill grey and blue and stuck a boat and tree on top of it. And this is going to be seen from various places in the park. Plus, everyone's going to know what was there before. There's no way that if Splash Mountain never existed and they wanted to build a Princess and the Frog ride from scratch, that is what they'd go with.

What they should do is make a new section of New Fantasyland and put a state-of-the-art... more

4 The only problem with the ride is substandard maintenance, which in itself is not a good reason to retheme it.

People can call the ride "problematic" as much as they want just because of the movie it happens to be based off of. Even though the designers specifically made sure not to include anything from the movie that could be deemed offensive, to some, simply being based off the movie is enough. They even consulted African American groups about what should and should not be included in the ride. But the truth of the matter is that there is only one real problem with the ride as it stands today, and that is the often inadequate maintenance it receives.

People have to remember that Disney rides are incredibly complex and things often need to be fixed as a result of that. Not too long after the WDW parks reopened, a log sank and became full of water, and people were using that as an excuse to retheme the ride, not taking into account that the parks had been closed for several months and no maintenance was done. And Splash isn't the only ride that has been having problems since that time or even before the whole pandemic.

Splash when everything is working is easily a 10/10 attraction, but there have unfortunately been times when the ride was neglected in the maintenance department. Unless you just want the whole ride to be a bunch of screens, who's to say that the PatF ride wouldn't have technical issues from time to time? Bottom line, these rides are prone to technical difficulties due to their sheer complexity, and just because that one animatronic wasn't working on your last ride through does not mean that the ride needs to be rethemed. If they really needed to, they could make some new animatronics if the concern is their age, and even then, there are older attractions on both coasts. What are you going to say if the high-tech Tiana animatronic breaks down on the new version, are you going to want them to retheme it again?

5 The ride is one of Disney's most well-themed and detailed attractions, a new theme just wouldn't feel the same.

"It's the same ride with a different theme!," "The ride already takes place in a bayou. It's not going to be that different," and all these other arguments from retheme supporters all seem to miss the point on what makes attractions like Splash Mountain so special. There was concern about adding a log flume to Disneyland back in the day because every other amusement park had one, and there was nothing special about them. If they were to add a water ride like that, it would have to be one-of-a-kind and something that only Disney could pull off.

People who say "same ride, different theme" believe that people only like Splash Mountain because of the drop, when that is far from the truth. If people only liked Splash Mountain for the drop, how come your average log ride at Six Flags doesn't get raved about? People say they go to Disney parks for the atmosphere and theming, not because they want a bunch of thrill rides.

Splash Mountain is a great example of a ride that sets Disney apart from the rest. It is thoroughly detailed, has fun songs and characters, tells a story, and incorporates a bit of thrills into the mix. Yet somehow, the concept of the "Disney difference" and the Disney experience as a whole gets lost as people try to make excuses for why retheming Splash Mountain isn't a completely erroneous decision. It's just sugarcoating the fact that they're basically throwing away all this great theming and place-making for what is essentially just IPification.

After all, if people's favorite Disney movie characters aren't in there, people "can't connect to it", but apparently that only applies to Splash. Haunted Mansion features completely original characters, and you never hear someone say "they should throw Stitch in here or something so that I can relate to it more." No, that's stupid. Splash Mountain is not going to have the same feel with a new theme, no matter what people try to argue.

The ride stands on its own, apart from its... more

6 There needs to be a good mix of old and new at the park. Not everything needs to be modernized. That's part of what people like about the parks to begin with.

When I sent my first email out to Disney about the announcement, they emphasized how the parks are always changing and that they want to tell "inclusive and relevant stories" for a new generation. Look, I'm all for adding new stuff, but there needs to be a balance of the already iconic elements that we grew up with and associate with the parks with the new, modern, high-tech experiences. And I think that if you are going to replace something old, replace something that is not one of the most popular experiences at the resort.

If this Splash retheme ends up going through, it could very well start a trend of attractions being "updated" to be more high-tech and modern, which is not what people want. People love the old-school feel of rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. It's not that people are against modern technology or even modern IPs, but they need to make new attractions with that technology, not ruin timeless classics. People weren't fans of the CGI hitch-hiking ghosts update for example.

In some cases, rides are changed not to be more technologically advanced, but instead to be more politically correct, notably the change to the auction scene in Pirates a few years ago. I think people also forget that this is a theme park where people go to escape the real world and that not all stories have to reflect 21st-century ideals. The Magic Kingdom allows you to step into various places and time periods, such as the Old West or the land of tomorrow.

I'm not sure if anyone was looking at the auction scene and thought to themselves that Disney was encouraging the buying and selling of women. It was just part of the story and time period of that attraction. Ever since the Splash announcement, people have been pointing fingers at other attractions that they think ought to be changed to fit modern standards. And I also have to beg the question, when has Disney ever actively not been "inclusive"? Do you know what would actually... more

7 The ride features animated Disney characters that are less familiar and gives them a chance to shine despite originating from a controversial movie. Kicking them out of Splash will basically kill any relevance they have.

I think everyone is fully aware that "Song of the South" is the most controversial movie Disney has ever made. Whether the controversy is justified or not, when the attraction was being imagined, Tony Baxter thought of the movie along with the at-the-time abandoned Bear Country and an animatronic show called "America Sings" in Disneyland. He pointed out how rich the characters and songs from the film were and thought that he could make them shine in a brand new attraction that was to be called Splash Mountain.

The Br'er trio had been popular walk-around characters since the early days of Disneyland, and now they would finally star in their very own attraction. Using most of the animatronics from the "America Sings" show, the ride was an animatronic extravaganza and a major hit with guests.

It contained nothing that could be considered problematic in itself, though there are people who think that the "Song of the South" tie-in makes the ride a problem by default. Because apparently, having controversial origins means you can't ever move forward and detach yourself from it. It's kind of a redemption story, actually, because Splash Mountain and its characters have become beloved by fans all over the globe in spite of its controversial movie basis, and have become just as much a part of Disney culture as, say, "Snow White."

Walt loved the Br'er Rabbit folktales as a kid and always wanted to make a film with them. They are a part of Disney history, no matter how much they try to erase it. If they get kicked out of Splash Mountain, they lose pretty much all their relevancy as far as Disney goes. And that would be a shame because if you look past the controversy, they are some great, fun characters with lots of personality.

Even the characters original to the ride have their fans, and people would be devastated to see all those animatronics scrapped. People would know who Tiana is without a ride. I'm not so sure if I could say the same for the... more

8 Disney needs to create new rides and experiences, not try to recreate old ones.

Is it any wonder that rides like Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Splash are still considered favorites despite more technologically-advanced rides existing? They've endured for a reason and are timeless classics that don't need modern technology or a flavor of the month IP to be popular and beloved. But just because we appreciate the timeless, old-school value of these classic attractions doesn't mean we're opposed to technology and new storytelling methods.

In fact, it would be great if we could get a new high-tech dark ride that captures our hearts in the same way as rides like Mansion and Pirates do. In other words, we want new rides, not a "new Mansion" or "new Pirates." Walt Disney World in particular was granted the gift of space, and to this day, they could still flesh out the parks they have a lot more. There is no reason they can't build a new high-tech Princess and the Frog ride somewhere else on property.

Retheming a headliner such as Splash means that the ride would have to live up to the high standard that has been set, a task which I quite frankly think is impossible considering how amazing a ride Splash already is. People will always be comparing it to what was there before. They're essentially trying to go back to the drawing board on something that has already proven to be a big hit. Whereas if they built a PatF ride from scratch, it has the potential to be a new classic that stands on its own, not a new take on what was already a classic. We don't want new takes on our favorite attractions, we want new attractions.

9 Changing a popular ride instead of creating a new one doesn't add capacity.

Usually, when a park brings in a major addition to its lineup, it's for reasons such as attracting people to a certain corner of the park, spreading crowds, and making people interested in coming to the park. When you look at what's planned to happen with Splash Mountain, none of it really makes sense at all. First of all, the Magic Kingdom definitely doesn't need any help attracting guests as it's the most visited theme park in the world.

The other three parks could use some help with their low attraction counts and crowd-spreading abilities, but not the MK. Disneyland is a bit of a different situation as it has less room to expand, but even then, there are other areas they could deal with first if they really needed to make room. Splash Mountain on both coasts already draws plenty of attention as it is. If it started to become unpopular, then maybe I'd understand the need for a change, but no, it's just as popular as it's ever been and is one of the first attractions people flock to when they enter the park.

At the Magic Kingdom in particular, Frontierland needs no help drawing guests as it houses two of the three mountains. The three mountains, along with Seven Dwarf's Mine Train, have the largest wait times in the park. Instead of trying to retheme one of those attractions that is already doing a perfectly fine job of drawing guests, why don't you add a Princess and the Frog ride to Fantasyland that can actually help spread the crowds and take some pressure off of the Mine Train and other attractions? As far as making people interested in coming to the park, sure, people might initially want to check it out, but is there really going to be that much of a difference at the end of the day? You've got a ride that was already drawing crowds, you change it, it still draws crowds, so what changes? For me and many others, the way we feel about the Walt Disney Company.

10 Changing the theme doesn't erase the fact that Song of the South existed.

I think everyone understands how Disney feels about Song of the South, considering they've never officially released it in the US, although it has been available overseas. Many thought it would finally come out of the vault with Disney+, but that ended up not happening. Much of the controversy the film has is due to Disney's refusal to release it, making it seem worse than it actually is. They seem to think that refusing to talk about it or release it makes it go away.

Except there's the tiny little fact that they built an entire E-ticket themed to that movie. People know the movie exists and that Disney made it, and with the announcement, all it does is shine more light on the fact that the movie exists, given there are lots of people who didn't even know Splash Mountain was based off a movie. And changing the ride doesn't change the fact that they did it in the first place, as everyone is going to know what was there before based on memory and the fact that the Internet exists.

Now even the famous song "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" is being seen as a problem, despite being involved in countless Disney-related products. It's up there with "When You Wish Upon a Star" when it comes to famous Disney anthems, not to mention that it won an Academy Award. Some people don't even know that the song came from that movie. It's just been a part of Disney for so long and suddenly it's a problem. I have a feeling that certain events this year may have contributed to all these sudden, crazy actions from Disney, but I won't touch on that too much.

They want us convinced that they've been planning to retheme it for over a year now, but considering how Disney has gone full panic-mode trying to erase anything to do with it, like a game on an App, the song in the Disneyland Esplanade, and even a Hallmark Mickey ornament that plays Zip-a-dee-doo-dah that recently got canceled, yeah, there's no way they've been planning this for over a year. I don't think they fully... more

The Contenders
11 A log flume ride is inappropriate for "The Princess and the Frog"

"There are no mountains in Louisiana." "What about the Avery Island Salt Mine? That's close enough." "Brilliant!" That's the conversation the ones in charge had regarding re-theming Splash Mountain to a character they did nothing with for ten years.

Wouldn't a restaurant be more appropriate, given that it's all Tiana talks or thinks about?

12 Disney is giving Tiana credit she doesn't deserve

Not only was Kida the first Disney Princess (though she was never "officially" added to the line) to become queen (as "Anti-Freezers" were quick to point out regarding Elsa), but she was also the first black Disney Princess. Yet the same people who were quick to point out that first one just played along with Disney's "first black Princess" marketing.

Love how they're pretending there's nothing at all racist about how they're acting like Tiana's the only black character they've ever created and reinforcing the idea that black kids can't possibly relate to or even like characters that don't look like them.

13 There will still be a minimum height requirement
14 The new theme will always feel like the knee-jerk reaction to BLM it is

The theme feels rushed, like the plot is an excuse plot, and feels as accurate to New Orleans culture as a WWII propaganda short is to Japan. "Oh, what do New Orleans people like? The Mardi thing? Oh ok yeah..."

The recent details revealed at D23 only further prove this point.

15 Tiana and her movie really aren't that popular

Also, Tiana was neither the first animated black character from Disney nor their first black Princess. That would be Dr. Sweet and Kida respectively, both from "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". Tiana is merely the first black character/Princess Disney marketed well (for a given value of "well").

16 Disney needs to give the Princesses a rest
17 There's no guarantee that Disney won't find something "problematic" about the new ride and want to re-re-theme it in a decade or two

People, even those screeching for the retheme in the first place, are already upset over the fact that the new ride takes place in the Avery Island Salt Mine.

18 It erases good Southern representation in the mainstream
19 "Song of the South" seems dated, but was progressive for its time
20 A lot of the controversy around "Song of the South" stems from the fact that many people assume it's set during slavery, while it is set in the Reconstruction Era
21 It won't end racism

Why is that so hard for people to understand?

22 Most of the animatronics in the Disneyland version of the ride are reused from an old attraction called America Sings

And they're going to be replaced with screens, probably.

23 The Br'er characters are far older than both "Song of the South" and the novel it was based on
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