Disney pulls plug on Splash Mountain


By Maria Mercurio, Staff Writer

One of Disney’s most popular rides, Splash Mountain, was closed on January 23rd this year after allegations of racism regarding the ride’s origin. Splash Mountain was successfully running in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for thirty-one years up until recent changes were made. The ride was based off of  “Song of the South,” a film created in 1946.

The film was removed from circulation in the United States in 2001, because of its portrayal of African Americans and outdated cultural representation. However, Splash Mountain was still operating. It is said that many Disney guests were not aware of the correlation between the ride and the film. While Splash Mountain is seen as a classic and is cherished by many, its base and storyline is unacceptable today.

Many in Disney’s fanbase are devastated to see one of the park’s largest attractions leave and are forced to say goodbye to their favorite ride.  Fans are saving water from Splash Mountain and selling it on eBay, waiting in line for up to four hours to get on the ride just one last time, and even starting petitions with high hopes of  saving the ride. The Orlando Sentinel claimed that visitors were standing shoulder to shoulder as far as the eye could see before the closing date.

In 2020, Disney announced their plans to remodel Splash Mountain during the height of  a nationwide movement that was sparked by the murder of George Floyd. USA Today quoted Bob Iger, the chief executive at Disney, at a shareholder meeting in March of 2020.

“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.” Iger also claimed that “Song of the South” will not be shown on their streaming platform.

Alan  Stevenson, a student at McHenry County College, recalled his most recent experience at Magic Kingdom:

“The last time I was at Disney, it was right before COVID shut everything down in 2020. At the time people still visited Splash Mountain as if there was absolutely nothing wrong with it including me. I was pretty surprised when I found out that it was getting remodeled. I personally don’t mind the changes, because I was actually wondering if any of these classic rides would get updated possibly because of safety concerns. While ‘Song Of the South’ was a racist movie, some of the stories were entertaining enough to make the characters memorable.”

It is clear to see that Splash Mountain was loved by many, but the hidden backstory of the ride was too inappropriate to keep it in business.

In light, this is not a dead end for an adventure packed, music-filled, thrilling log ride at Disney World. At the end of next year, Disney will debut a new ride in place of Splash Mountain, with a bright and inclusive theme that fans will love. This new ride is going to be based off of Disney’s 2009 movie, “The Princess and the Frog,” and it is going to be called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure —  this movie has Disney’s first black princess in it.

A Disney spokesperson was quoted in a New York Times article about the renovation, “It speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.” In a way killing two birds with one stone by removing unprofessional racial stereotypes, and also bringing in more representation to their parks.