Left! No, right! Oh, we’re not talking about those types of directions. We’re talking about the different directions Disney could go around rethemeing Splash Mountain. Over the last few weeks, the question within the Disney community about rethemeing Splash Mountain has gained a lot of traction. A valid question to say the least. We’re not here to make that decision, we’ll leave that to the mouse. Instead, we’re looking at the potential Intellectual Property (IP) options Disney could leverage if they move forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain. Time to dive deep into the Disney movie vault!
You know us, we always need a little background. Anytime the rethemeing of an attraction comes up we like to put some context around the feasibility of the project as we did with Indiana Jones or Primeval Whirl. Keeping with our tradition, we’re doing the same with rethemeing Splash Mountain.
In the United States, Splash Mountain an attraction in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Almost identical attractions outside the ride vehicle design and that extra 5 feet of track in Orlando. The main difference between the two variations is where they are located within their respective parks. In Disneyland, you’ll find Splash Mountain in Critter Country, whereas the attraction is located with Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom.
The flume based attraction is themed around the movie, Song of the South. With the attraction being water-based Disney decided to build the attraction out of concrete to ensure its structure for years to come. The changing of track or scenes may take a jackhammer or two, to say the least.
It should also be noted that Disney rightfully no longer sells or promotes the movie Song of the South due to its racial discrimination. Additionally, within Splash Mountain Disney never used the Uncle Remus character as the ride’s narrator and instead opted to create a character known as Baer Frog.
The Obvious Option
You know the one. It’s the one everyone is talking about, The Princess and the Frog. Some may say it’s a cult classic within the Disney community. Released in 2009, The Princess and the Frog is a wonderful story of Tiana and her journey to opening her own restaurant in Louisana. (#nospoilers here). The movie jumps to the forefront for a couple of reasons, the first is where the movie is set, New Orleans. Secondly is the inherent nature of the water-based attraction. The majority of the movie takes place on a Louisana Bayou.
Looking at the map of Disneyland it’s easy to see how rethemeing Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog would make sense. Currently, the attraction sits on the border of New Orleans Square and Critter Country within the park. If Disney were to make the switch to The Princess and the Frog it raises another question. What would Disney do with the rest of Critter Country? Directly across from the entrance to Splash Mountain is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, along with the Hungry Bear quick-service restaurant.
For Disney to move forward with The Princess and the Frog concept we would expect a whole rethemeing to Critter Country. Could we see a Princess and the Frog land? Disney could easily change over Hungry Bear to be Tiana’s Place. From there Disney could retheme Splash Mountain as the headliner attraction then potential switch Winnie the Pooh back to a show style attraction (previous home to Country Bears). What show? How about a show filled with New Orleans jazz music featuring everyone’s favorite trumpet-playing alligator Louis! Maybe they could even use some of the advanced audio-animatronics we discussed in the Star Wars resort article.
The only hick-up we could see with this option is Walt Disney World. With Splash Mountain located in Frontierland, the New Orleans backdrop of The Princess and the Frog would not work well.
Revisiting An Idea
Wait. Has Disney thought about rethemeing Splash Mountain before? It’s a firm kind of. When Disney was looking at ideas for attractions for Disneyland Paris, Splash Mountain was under consideration. At the time, Disney’s main concern was how the European market would relate to the southern-inspired theme. Similar to how Disney has used different concepts for the Haunted Mansion around the global they considered the same with Splash Mountain for Disneyland Paris. What IP did they consider? We’re glad you asked!
Say hello to, Pocahontas! That’s right, Disney considered going around the riverbend and rethemeing Splash Mountain to this 1995 movie. Taking a step back, the idea makes a lot of sense, even today. We can easily picture the scene where Pocahontas is canoeing down the river being the main concept for the ride. The drop would be where she and Meko head over the waterfall. Disney could have Grandma Willow as the narrator and Just around the Riverbend as the attractions song.
Beyond the attraction itself, Pocahontas would fit perfectly into both Critter Country and Frontierland without much additional work to the rest of the respective areas. Could this be the perfect fit? If we look beyond just the IP, Pocahontas is a top 10 grossing film for Disney within the hand-drawn animation category.
The Long Shot
Let’s think way out of the box! How far? Pretty far. We may even have to go across the northern border. If Disney wants to get off the beaten path with rethemeing Splash Mountain look no further than Brother Bear. From a box office perspective, the movie is not a great fit. Recent history shows us that Disney prefers to use the $500 million mark to decide if a movie should get an attraction or not. Needless to say Brother Bear is just little behind that number.
However, from a theme perspective, it could work well for both parks. With the majority of the movie taking place in the frontier (Canadian frontier, but frontier none the less) the IP would not detract from either of lands. Additionally, it’s an IP that Disney could center around a flume attraction. The big concern comes with guest relatability, as the movie is not as big of a hit as either The Princess and the Frog or Pocahontas. However, neither was Song of the South when Disney originally decided to use it for Splash Mountain. Well, we’ll give it a solid, maybe?
There are options. If decides to move forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain, they’ll have couple IPs to choose from. Knowing Disney they may even use an IP no one is expecting. In the DVC Duo house, we leaning towards the Pocahontas concept for a couple of reasons. First is we believe The Princess and the Frog concept deserves its own attraction, not a rethemed attraction. Second, is how Pocahontas could work for both parks. Who knows, maybe we’ll get Pocahontas in Walt Disney World and a Princess and the Frog land in Disney land. For now, there is only one question left to answer, which movie should we watch from the Disney vault?
UPDATE: On June 25, 2020, Disney announced they’re moving forward with rethemeing Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog. For more details on the announcement check out the following Disney Parks Blog article. In the DVC Duo house, we’re thrilled to see Tiana have her own attraction at both US parks. Additionally, rumors have already started that we could see Tokyo Disneyland retheme their version of Splash Mountain as well.
For a nostalgic Disney fans perspective of the rethemeing of Splash Mountain check out Season 2 Episode 50 from our friends over at Dillo’s Diz.