Splash Mountain, a beloved and iconic attraction at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, has been thrilling guests with its steep drops and charming story since it officially opened on October 2, 1992. However, the ride’s history, inspiration, and public reception extend beyond its operational dates.
Splash Mountain officially opened at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on October 2, 1992. It remained a popular attraction for over three decades until its closure on January 22, 2023, for transformation into a new ride.
The Birth of Splash Mountain
The concept of Splash Mountain was conceived in the summer of 1983 by Imagineer Tony Baxter while he was stuck in rush-hour traffic. Baxter sought to attract more visitors to the often-empty Bear Country land in Disneyland, which at the time only featured the Country Bear Jamboree. The initial idea was to create the Zip-a-Dee River Run, which would incorporate scenes from the movie “Song of the South”. The name was later changed to Splash Mountain at the suggestion of then-CEO Michael Eisner to help market Walt Disney Studios’ 1984 film “Splash”.
The Construction of Splash Mountain
The construction of Splash Mountain was a massive undertaking. Dick Nunis, chairman of Walt Disney Attractions, played a key role in its development by requesting Imagineers to create a log flume ride for Disneyland. The project went significantly over budget, costing $75 million, making it one of the most expensive projects that Walt Disney Imagineering had ever undertaken. Despite the financial hurdles, the ride was completed and opened in Disneyland on July 17, 1989, and later in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on October 2, 1992.
Unique Features of Splash Mountain at Disney World
Splash Mountain at Disney World had several unique features compared to other Disney parks. The seating arrangement allowed guests to sit side-by-side in rows of two, compared to Disneyland’s version where guests sat in a single-file line. The Disney World version also had a more coherent storyline and custom-made audio-animatronics. These unique features made the Disney World version of Splash Mountain particularly enjoyable for many guests.
Public Reception and Response
Over the years, Splash Mountain received a mixed public reception. While the ride was initially praised for its story, catchy tunes, and thrilling drops, it faced criticism for its association with the controversial 1946 film “Song of the South”. In response to growing complaints and a Change.org petition with over 21,000 signatures, Disney announced in June 2020 that it would redesign the ride. The decision to retheme Splash Mountain to feature “The Princess and the Frog” was met with both praise and disappointment. Yet, despite the controversy, Splash Mountain remained a popular attraction until its closure.
The End of an Era
Splash Mountain closed permanently on January 22, 2023, marking the end of an era. The ride underwent a complete transformation into “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure”, a Princess and the Frog-themed attraction set to open in late 2024. While the change marked the end of Splash Mountain as we know it, the spirit of adventure and storytelling continues to live on in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
In conclusion, Splash Mountain has been a part of Disney World for over three decades. Despite its controversial origins and eventual transformation, it remains a significant part of Disney’s history and has left an indelible mark on millions of guests who have experienced its thrilling drops and charming story.
Frequently Asked Questions
What inspired the name “Splash Mountain”?
The name “Splash Mountain” was inspired by the 1984 film “Splash” produced by Walt Disney Studios. Then-CEO Michael Eisner suggested the name to help market the film.
Why was there a need to change the theme of Splash Mountain?
The decision to change the theme of Splash Mountain was due to its association with the controversial 1946 film “Song of the South”. Over the years, the ride faced criticism for its connections to this film, which has been criticized for its portrayal of African Americans and the Antebellum South.
What is the new theme of the ride after its transformation?
The new theme of the ride after its transformation is based on the movie “The Princess and the Frog”. The ride is renamed as “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure”.
When did Splash Mountain officially open at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom?
Splash Mountain officially opened at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on October 2, 1992.
How much did the construction of Splash Mountain cost?
The construction of Splash Mountain went significantly over budget, costing $75 million. This made it one of the most expensive projects that Walt Disney Imagineering had ever undertaken.