by Daniel L Rappaport
Please read to the bottom, as there is a surprise!
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney
"I am in such absolute and total awe with everything that it is in this article, and what it represents, that I am calling a silence, from all wizards, today.", said an inspired Lazul. For once in her notoriously wicked life, Morgana remained silent. ____________________________________________
Splash Mountain is one of my all time favorite Disney attractions. Why? It has everything. It's a dark ride, has audio animatronics, goes fast, slow and has the fun addition of water.
The one that I grew up with, the Disneyland version, actually opened up on Disneyland’s 34th birthday - July 17, 1989, with both Walt Disney World and Tokyo’s to follow many years later.
Likely, they felt the need to expand it, after the big hit that it had already become.
Personally, if you ask me, I think that the whole racist argument is completely ridiculous. It isn't as if, when Walt Disney made the film, he asked himself, "Gee.... Exactly how racist can we be, with this?". Not with making "its a small world". Not a chance.
Have you seen the film, "Song of the South"? It has a beautiful ending.
Yes. That time period in history did happen, and Disney isn't shying away from it. But, does that mean that we should sweep it under the rug, or learn from it?
Rather, I believe that the focus was on the Uncle Remus tales, and the lessons that are learned therein. The lead actor, James Baskett, even received an Academy Award for best actor.
When the attraction was made, Disney cut Uncle Remus character, and left in the animated characters. Now, whether or not that was due to racial reasons, one may never know, because Disney doesn't typically comment on race, directly.
Can we suppose that he was left out, due to these reasons, but, it was never officially announced.
Another way to look at it is that the Imagineering vision was to just focus on the animated sequences and leave out the live action. Dark rides don't typically revolve around live action films, to begin with.
I really don't think that anyone was ever really offended by the attraction. They are singing and dancing animated animals, with, mostly, southern American accents. Wow. So offensive.
It was groundbreaking for its time, because it did include so many different elements of fun, all in one place. The Jurassic Park River Adventure opened up well after Splash Mountain did, because, whatever Disney does, Universal follows.
And, so, for many many years, the attraction has continued to draw big crowds, with wait times often exceeding an hour, especially in the summer months.
It is so successful that it has wound up in three different Magic Kingdoms (or sometimes called "castle parks" by the Imagineers).
These would be Disneyland in California, Magic Kingdom in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland.
And, so, the continued success of Splash Mountain wore on, with little to no controversy.
Then, The Princess and the Frog opened in 2009, and was a runaway hit at the box office (as most Disney films tend to be).
The word on the street is that Imagineering had been thinking about an update, for Splash Mountain, for some time, and The Princess and the Frog provided just the right story for them (especially since it sits right next to New Orleans Square in Disneyland).
Then, in 2020, Disney finally made the official announcement that they are going to turn Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Now, for me, being that Splash Mountain is really all that both me, and anyone else whom has been on it, really knows, I am really, really sad to see it go.
I love the music, the characters, the story, the whole thing.
Apparently, they aren’t changing the Tokyo version, so, I guess I will need to go there, to see the original. Fine.
As uncertain as I am, I know that Imagineering will bring a good amount of innovation to the new attraction (as they always do), and that it will be just as beautiful and charming (if not more so), as the original.
There is the nearly glaring subject of it being a mountain, and how there are no mountains in New Orleans.
A part of the attraction is themed out as a salt mine, however, scale-wise, I am not too sure how many guests would buy that literally.
Likely, the Imagineers worked this major “plot hole” in magnificently.
And, even if they didn’t, so what? Suspend your disbelief.
After all…. Is it accurate for humans to turn into frogs, to begin with?
It will be fine. They’ve obviously had more than enough time to think about it.
But, of course, time will tell.
There will always be people who want the old ways, and who are resistant to change.
Walt always saw the parks as living, breathing entities, that would grow, change and become better as time went on.
So, the company edict is to see this through.
It works out economically as well. You, reader….
You can’t possibly tell me that you aren’t the least bit curious to see the new version, when it comes out, and likely, will pay for a ticket to see it?
Oh, sure. See online videos of other guests whom have shot the attraction (and often rather. badly).
Disney theme park attractions aren’t meant to be films. If that were the case, they would just shoot mock ups of them, put them online, and call it a day.
You can read more on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure here.
Now, how does all of this inspire Pazzaria Productions, and therefore, me?
Do I think that The Princess and the Frog deserves it’s own fresh, brand new attraction, built from the ground up?
Absolutely. 100%. Without a doubt. But, this isn’t quite what happened, obviously.
Tower of Terror was turned into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, in Disney’s California Adventure, and thank goodness it did.
They put a lot of money into it, and it shows.
So, from a business perspective, I can totally see it. Why build a brand new show building, if you don’t necessarily have to?
And, as I touched upon earlier, the attraction’s proximity to New Orleans Square, in Disneyland, makes it a perfect fit.
I am also inspired by the fact that this wonderful tale, about the first black Disney princess is getting more credit. This is a very Disney move, and I fully believe that Walt would be proud.
If anyone out there has any Splash Mountain merchandise, hold on to it! If you have duplicates, consider reselling them!
I would do this after Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens. The moment that happens, it all becomes, magically, rarer, somehow.
In closing, I am extremely excited to go on the new attraction.
What it ultimately means, for Pazzaria Productions is, again…
This merging of elements that aren’t commonly put together. The flume. The Audio Animatronics. The slowness. The speed. The musical. The story. Etc…
Who knows what my company might do with such magical brain fuel!
© and TM 2022 Pazzaria Productions © and TM 2022 The Walt Disney Company