Thank You, Splash Mountain

Edited: June 29, 2020, 9:23 AM

I’ve spent most of my day reminiscing on old pictures featuring what my friends have dubbed “The Point,” our signature pose we would attempt to hold as long as possible as our log began its descent down Chickapin Hill. Why is a 24-year-old man such as myself wallowing in his emotions and drowning in nostalgia? Because Splash Mountain encapsulated the very essence of the joy I feel when at the Disney parks. Aside from the ride being the unanimous favorite of my friend group, Splash Mountain always represented something more – it became synonymous with good times, laughter, adventure, and the care-free days of our youth. It taught us the importance of finding our “Laughin’ Place,” and it served as an optimistic reminder that the best of times are often right on the other side of life’s hardest falls.

Splash Mountain is a perfect ride built upon a deeply imperfect premise. Ultimately, this premise ended up being its demise – and for good reason. Recent times have brought race relations and the importance of diversity, representation, and inclusion to the forefront of the world stage. I absolutely applaud Disney for standing up and doing the right thing, regardless of the criticism and backlash they have already begun, and almost certainly will continue, to receive. Princess and the Frog deserves a marquee attraction in the parks. Princess Tiana is more than worthy of the spotlight, and her ascent to the throne atop Splash Mountain will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of inspiration to young African-American girls for generations to come.

The thing about the Disney parks is that they aren’t made for me, nor are they museums fixed on a specific moment in time. They are for the youth, and they will continue to create millions of magical, awe-inspiring moments for this demographic until long after I’m gone. Because of this, it is only right that they fulfill Walt’s promise when he said (and I paraphrase) that they will never be finished or complete; they will continue to evolve to be more in line with the times, with what hope and fantasy mean to the youth of today and tomorrow. With this in mind, I will step aside, continue to cherish and celebrate the memories I was lucky enough to make on Splash Mountain, and look forward to bringing the magic that is Disney to my own children someday.

Rest easy, Br’er Rabbit. Glad you found your Laughin’ Place. Thanks for showing me mine.

Replies (7)

June 26, 2020, 7:50 PM

SplashMtnEnthusiast - I was 100% with you until the part about the parks not being for you. I humbly disagree. The parks are for families, and at the least, all of us who love and crave the experience are part of a bigger family. Hey, I’m nearly 70, old enough to have seen SotS in the theater, and I still anticipate like crazy every trip to DLR. Splash Mt will always hold a dear place in my heart. My grown kids taught me to pose for the photo op there. It’s changing for the better. The PatF will fit perfectly. I can’t wait to get in that queue.

June 27, 2020, 4:30 PM

Thank you for this. Wonderful, reasoned, delightful talk on the ride and what it meant while recognizing the inevitable change. Frankly, I'm amazed it's gone this long as 30 years is an eternity for a Disney ride to be exactly the same.

I get the key parts of the ride of the drops, etc will be the same but will miss the old one. Just as I miss Horizons, Imagination, Great Movie Ride, Norway and scores of other classic attractions. I know they can be found via online videos but not the same and miss how younger generation never knows the thrill we do.

But for all we know, in a few years, kids gushing over this version of Splash just as they gush over current version of Pirates, etc and show that change is inevitable while being stuck in the past too much isn't "classic" but merely old and outdated.

Again, good piece.

June 29, 2020, 9:12 AM

Thanks, MikeW! This piece was definitely therapeutic for me. My initial reaction was admittedly one of sadness, but after some reflection and getting my thoughts down in writing, I feel a thousand times more excited and hopeful for the future of this attraction. Splash Mountain will surely be missed, just like Horizons, Journey into Imagination, and the other classics you named. I appreciate your feedback.

And Bon Smith, I most certainly agree with your view on the parks being for families and all who love and crave the experience. My comments were not meant to exclude adults, who are the ones choosing to take their kids on Disney vacations and consuming content on sites like Theme Park Insider, after all. I do, however, still recognize the specific influence that the parks have on impressionable young minds, and I feel that Disney accepting the responsibility to ensure that their portrayal of hope and fantasy (especially at a park like Magic Kingdom) reflects the latest interpretation of these concepts is nothing short of incredible, especially when it comes to inclusion and minority representation.

Edited: June 29, 2020, 1:53 PM

That was nice.

June 29, 2020, 3:34 PM

It was my first "grown-up" ride, as my family calls it (kind of funny haha). It has always been one of our favorites and it will be dearly missed.

I look forward to seeing what the new version will be.

June 30, 2020, 6:25 AM

Great write up !

June 30, 2020, 10:34 PM

Nicely done! I’m sure many people feel the same way!

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