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Magic Kingdom erased 'Song of the South' elements from Splash Mountain. The remake may be another Disney flop.
Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Magic Kingdom erased 'Song of the South' elements from Splash Mountain. The remake may be another Disney flop.

It appears as though Splash Mountain's replacement is unlikely to win over fans — assuming it'll actually work by the time of its grand opening.

Radicals hostile to America and the West committed to a campaign of deracination and iconoclasm in the summer of 2020, digging up graves, toppling statues, renaming animals, melting down busts, knocking out church windows, and killing off iconic brands. Disney made sure to get in on the action.

Amidst the deadly BLM riots, Disney announced that it would overhaul one of its featured theme park rides: Splash Mountain. Apparently, the ride prickled race obsessives with its depiction of characters and songs from "Song of the South" — Disney's Oscar-winning 1946 musical wherein a former slave shares folk tales during the Reconstruction era.

Despite blowing an estimated $150 million on the overhaul and engaging in a concerted hype campaign, it appears Disney has yet another flop on its hands.

'The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by.'

Splash Mountain first opened in Disneyland in 1989. Disney World in Orlando got its own version a few years later. On both coasts, the ride featured the tale of Br'er Rabbit and his daring escape from a fox and bear. The ride's flume 52.5-foot drop plopped generations of guests down the river and into the moist safety of a mock briar batch.

Anthropomorphic animals and a coherent narrative in a Southern setting were evidently too much to bear.

On June 25, 2020, Disney revealed that Splash Mountain — at both Disneyland park in California and the Magic Kingdom park in Florida — will soon be completely reimagined. The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, "The Princess and the Frog.'"

"The approach to retheming or 'plussing' attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story?" said the statement. "And with this long-standing history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year."

Despite over 100,000 fans petitioning Disney to spare Splash Mountain, Disney closed the ride in both parks in early 2023.

'It had kind of run its course.'

While the new ride based on a box office underperformer uses the same tracks as Splash Mountain and riders still travel in railed rafts fashioned to look like hollowed-out logs, the New York Times reported that Disney spent an estimated $150 million to alternatively tell the story of lead character Tiana's efforts to cobble together a band for a Mardi Gras party using all-new decorations, audio, and animatronics.

Ted Robledo, the ride's executive creative director, stressed to the Times the various signs of "diversity" at play, by which he meant a black protagonist, three types of music, and signage in Spanish and French.

“We're always looking at ways to cast a wider net," said Robledo. "With the old property, for a variety of reasons, it wasn't that relevant any more. It had kind of run its course."

The Times alluded to some signals that potential park guests aren't interested.

A nine-minute point-of-view video tour of the ride uploaded to YouTube had 10,000 thumbs up and over 38,000 thumbs down as of Monday. That Park Place estimated the ratio of positive to negative comments on the video to be roughly 1:200.

Numerous annual pass holders permitted to preview the ride in person ahead of its grand opening later this month have also effectively given "Tiana's Bayou Adventure" thumbs down.

According to Inside the Magic, the ride has been beset by malfunctions and breakdowns. Apparently the ride's hardware has trouble sustaining and communicating with the new animatronics.

Various videos shared online show new characters frozen in place while dialogue and music eerily play on. Last week, on at least one occasion, guests reportedly had to be evacuated following a ride malfunction.

It's unclear whether the new ride will survive as long as its predecessor, given the initial backlash as well as its apparent failure to win over race obsessives.

Katie Kapurch, an English professor at Texas State University, told the Associated Press that the new ride is silent on the "racial realities of the segregated eras they depict."

"We might see the impulse to replace rather than dismantle or build anew as a metaphor for structural racism, too," Kapurch said. "Again, this is unintentional on Disney's part, but the observation gets to the heart of how Disney reflects America back to itself."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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