February 4, 2023

Disney World closed Splash Mountain after allegations of racism. Not everyone’s happy.

Walt Disney World has closed its famous Splash Mountain water ride, the Magic Kingdom attraction that for years had been criticized for having racist roots. But not everyone was happy to see the ride go.

It closed Sunday, and by Tuesday, the TikTok hashtag #goodbyesplashmountain had attracted 1.6 million views. Somber tribute videos to the ride set to the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” — some of which claimed to show visitors’ last times riding its log boats over its waterfall with a 45-degree drop — had thousands of likes.

“I will miss you forever. Goodbye, Splash Mountain,” read the caption of one video that had more than 1,300 likes Tuesday afternoon.

Another video claims to show a two-plus-hour wait to board on the final day.

Other Disney devotees — some of whom are known as ‘Disney adults’ — looked to capitalize on the rides’ closing by listing more than 70 bottles, mason jars and plastic bags filled with what they claim to be “Splash Mountain water” on eBay. Some sellers said they swiped the liquid during the ride’s last days of operation.

The containers fetched dozens of bids, with some buyers offering to pay more than $50.

The closure of the 30-year-old ride — which Princess Diana visited in 1993 — follows a years-long call for change because it features several characters from Disney’s 1946 film “Song of the South,” which featured racist stereotypes.

Princess Diana riding Splash Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 1993.Martin Keene / PA Images via Getty Images file

The film, set on a plantation, features an elderly Black man known as Uncle Remus who tells traditional African-American folktales to white children cared for by Black servants.

The years of its release, Walter White, the former executive secretary of the NAACP, said the film “helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery.”

In March 2020, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger confirmed the film would not appear on the streaming service Disney+ and said it is “not appropriate in today’s world,” Deadline reported.

That June, Disney announced Splash Mountain would be “reimagined” as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, based on Disney’s first Black princess featured in the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog.”

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park, in Anaheim, California, in 2024. (It was not immediately clear when Splash Mountain at Disneyland Park closed.)

“The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year,” Disney said in 2020 when it announced the new feature.

The website for Tokyo Disneyland does not indicate if or when its Splash Mountain ride will close.

A representative for Walt Disney World did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday.

A Change.org petition created three years ago that decried Splash Mountain’s racist imagery and demanded it be replaced with a ride dedicated to “The Princess and the Frog” garnered more than 21,000 signatures.

“While the ride is considered a beloved classic it’s [sic] history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South,” that petition states.

A counter-petition “To Save Splash Mountain” has attracted more than 99,000 signatures.

“Splash Mountain has never included depictions of slaves or any racist elements and is based solely on historical African folktales that families of all ethnicities have been enjoying for nearly a century,” that petition states. “It is absurd to pander to a small group of “Disney haters” that dont [sic] understand the story, and re-theme such a nostalgic ride.”

Splash Mountain is no stranger to controversy: In 2018, it made headlines when Walt Disney World banned a man who rode it while holding up a “Trump 2020” sign.

Dion Cini holds a Trump 2020 banner at Walt Disney World. Image blurred by source.
Dion Cini holds a Trump 2020 banner at Walt Disney World. Image blurred by source.Courtesy Dion Cini

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