Bre’r Rabbit has been representing centuries-old African folklore in Splash Mountain since 1992, but he’s about to be tossed into that ol’ briar patch for the last time. Well… unless you’re visiting Tokyo Disneyland, where the Oriental Land Company that runs the park has told Disney they have no plans of getting rid of their Splash critters.
“You can’t run from trouble. Ain’t no place that far.”
The Story Matters Group, which we have previously identified as not being in any way a sensible or ideologically neutral initiative, has determined that the Bre’r Rabbit characters have to go. The Walt Disney Company moneymakers have likewise determined that Princess Tiana will push plenty of princess merchandise in the souvenir shop. So it is that the iconic melodies of Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and Laughin’ Place have been determined to be “non-inclusive” so as to sweep them out the door.
Clearly, Disney’s been rather quiet since announcing they were cancelling the cute little critters of Splash Mountain in every park they have control over. Since mid-2020, mum’s been the word about when the changes might happen. That in no small part is due to the overwhelmingly negative response Disney has received towards changing the attraction… perhaps one of the five most beloved attractions in any of their parks.
Needless to say, drastically changing Splash Mountain is a risky venture. It’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and could easily result in a ride that is less appealing. Disney is aware they could unintentionally create a Journey Into Imagination situation in their magic kingdoms. While a Princess and the Frog change-over might work out well, it’s not like Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and Laughing Place songs are easily replaced earworms. If they were, every attraction would be just as appealing as current Splash Mountain — but they’re not.
We now, however, have some idea of when the changes are planned. According to sources we have, Josh D’Amaro (Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products) may have timelined the changes to coincide with the launch of the new Tiana-based Princess and the Frog Disney+ series debuting in 2023. The source also states that the same is true of the new water-based exhibit/attraction debuting at Epcot called Journey of Water, inspired by Moana. Both the Moana Disney+ series and Tiana Disney+ series are launching in 2023, and Disney may be keen to launch the two attractions in conjunction for cross-promotional purposes.
One thing that will be very interesting to watch is how Disney will handle the closing of the modern Splash Mountain iterations in Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. In Disneyland, the switch is likely less politically controversial. In Florida, the folklore literally originates hours away… the Deep South (typically recognized as starting around Atlanta and going to the Florida state boundary) is where the ancient Angolan folklore of Bre’r Rabbit took off among African slaves. Changing Disney World’s version of Splash Mountain is a much “thornier” issue.
Given the changes are likely to debut in 2023, we suspect that those wishing to visit the Laughin’ Place will need to do so before mid-2022. No final date has been announced, but we’ll certainly report on it once it becomes public. And lest you think we’re totally negative about the changes, there’s certainly a possibility that the changes are massive upgrades to the overall attraction. We’re crossing our fingers that Disney can pull that off. It’s a heck of a job in front of them.
Let us know your thoughts on Splash Mountain the comments below.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.