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.
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