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  • Writer's pictureGotta Go Orlando

Farewell Br'er Friends - Splash Mountain At Magic Kingdom Closes Forever Today

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Br'er Rabbit has packed his belongings and is being evicted from Magic Kingdom, so no more heading to The Laughing Place, farewell forever Br'er Rabbit and all his friends in the Br'er Patch!

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is losing one of its mountains, as the classic attraction Splash Mountain will permanently close this weekend after thrilling generations of guests from throughout the world for over 30 years with its giant splashdown into the Br'er Patch.

It was back in June 2020, that Disney announced that the U.S. versions of the ride at Walt Disney World and Disneyland would be receiving a new theme based on Disney's 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.

It was finally made official when Walt Disney World announced on Friday, December 2, 2022, that Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom was closing forever on January 23, 2023.

Now the time has finally come to say our goodbyes to Br'er Rabbit and all his friends in the Br'er Patch!

Splash Mountain's final day of operation is this Sunday, with park hours 9 am to 11pm.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure

The new ride, which will be replacing Splash Mountain is called Tiana's Bayou Adventure, and is scheduled to open at both Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and Disneyland in late 2024.

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

With the closure announcement, we’re getting closer to going down the bayou with Tiana and friends as progress continues on creating Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Since the attraction was announced in 2020, Imagineers have been hard at work designing an immersive experience inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “The Princess and the Frog” and the heart and culture of New Orleans.

Disney have shared additional details and some sneak peeks since then at events such as ESSENCE Fest and D23 Expo 2022, demonstrating how Disney's research brought them to New Orleans in an effort to remain authentic to the story’s setting.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Now Disney have given a a first look at a new scene and some of the brand-new characters we’re creating specifically for this attraction.

In Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, you’ll join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans. This new scene is the thrilling moment you first drop into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

As you can see here, fireflies will light up the night and invite you deeper into the bayou … almost like they’re waving you forward.

Beautiful zydeco music will fill the air. Zydeco is a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana, and when you hear it, you’ll feel like you’ve truly stepped into Tiana’s world.

Here you’ll find Louis, who explains where this amazing music is coming from. Tiana made some new friends out here – a band full of adorable critters, including an otter, a rabbit, a racoon, a beaver, a turtle and others. The band members sing and play instruments made of natural materials they found in the bayou. It feels like they may have a bigger role to play in this story … but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Like so many musical genres, zydeco brings together the sounds and styles of many cultures. that spirit reflected in this scene (and throughout the attraction) so that all our guests feel welcome to join in the celebration.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will take you on a journey inspired by the story and characters from the hit film, picking up where that story left off.

In preparation for this new experience and the many exciting updates ahead, Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort will be closed starting Jan. 23, 2023, so we can begin the next phase of this attraction’s development.

Additional information about Splash Mountain at Disneyland Resort will be shared at a later date.

Splash Mountain History

Splash Mountain was originally conceived in the summer of 1983 by Imagineer Tony Baxter while stuck in rush-hour traffic on his way to work.

He wanted to attract guests to the often-empty Bear Country land in Disneyland, with the only attraction as the Country Bear Jamboree (which later closed in 2001), plus a souvenir shop, and make use of the Audio-Animatronics figures from America Sings, which was also poorly attended.

Tony Baxter Splash Mountain

It was Dick Nunis (then-president of Walt Disney attractions) who insisted that the Imagineers create a log flume for Disneyland, but the Imagineers were initially unenthusiastic about it, feeling that log flumes were too ordinary a theme park attraction to include in a Disney park.

While trying to solve the problems of including a log flume, bringing people into Bear Country and reusing the America Sings characters, Baxter thought of Song of the South.

Baxter and his team developed the concept of Zip-a-Dee River Run, which would incorporate scenes from Song of the South.

The name was later changed to Splash Mountain after then-CEO Michael Eisner's suggestion that the attraction be used to help market Walt Disney Studios' 1984 film Splash.

Michael Eisner Splash Mountain

The character figures from America Sings were used in many scenes, though all of the Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear figures were specifically designed for Splash Mountain.

Dave Feiten was then brought in to animate and fix story and staging problems. Feiten moved nearly all of the animatronics to new locations, removing 10 animatronic figures from the ride completely, to improve the show.

Plans to build the ride were unveiled in January 1987. At the time of its unveiling, Disney officials stated they would not be expecting criticism for its Song of the South theming due to the ride only including the film's animated animal characters.

Construction began at Disneyland in April of that year. By that time, Splash Mountain, whose budget had risen greatly to $75 million, had become one of the most expensive projects created by Walt Disney Imagineering.

The entire park cost around $17 million to build in 1955, which translates to around $80 million in 1987.

According to Alice Davis (wife of the late Marc Davis), when America Sings closed in April 1988, production of Disneyland's Splash Mountain had gone far over budget.

The only way to recover was to close down America Sings and use the characters from that attraction.

Splash Mountain was originally planned to open in January 1989, but this was delayed to mid-February due to technical issues.

The ride's opening was delayed again, to mid-July, due to boat problems. Test riders made up of company executives were getting soaked rather than lightly sprayed, so the boats were re-designed to be lighter, hold up to seven passengers instead of eight, and have an underwater scoop to keep too much water from leaking in.

Splash Mountain opened in Disneyland on July 17, 1989.

Splash Mountain opened in Disneyland on July 17, 1989.

To celebrate the opening, a television special was made called Ernest Goes to Splash Mountain. Actor and comedian Jim Varney returned to play the title role of Ernest in the special.[11] Plans to install a camera that took photos of guests as they went down the final drop were unveiled in November 1990.

On January 14, 1990, Disney announced that Splash Mountain would be brought to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

In 1991, construction began for the attraction at the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland.

On July 17, 1992, soft openings began at the Magic Kingdom.

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

The two versions of Splash Mountain officially opened within a day of each other in October 1992: the Tokyo Disneyland attraction opened on October 1, and the Magic Kingdom attraction opened on October 2.

In January 2011, Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom received lap bars for its ride vehicles. Each row of two to three passengers shares one lap bar.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Disneyland received individual lap bars, which makes the height restriction 5 inches shorter than the other two versions.

A version of the attraction was planned for Disneyland Paris, but was scrapped due to budget reasons and the colder weather in Europe.

In June 2020, it was announced that the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom attractions would be re-themed based on the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.

Disney stated that the development of the project began in 2019, prior to the online petitions that were circulated during the George Floyd protests.

The New York Times reported that Disney executives had privately discussed removing the attraction's Song of the South theme for at least five years, before putting into development a theme based on The Princess and the Frog.

The project will be led by Walt Disney Imagineer Senior Creative Producer Charita Carter with Baxter returning as a creative advisor.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure new ride model

A spokeswoman said that there are no plans to redesign the attraction at Tokyo Disneyland, although The Oriental Land Company, which operates Tokyo Disney Resort, is currently engaged in discussions on whether or not to change the attraction.

In August 2021, Vice President of Magic Kingdom Melissa Valiquette stated that due to the slow process of redesigning the ride, it was "going to be a little bit of time to reimagine Splash Mountain."

During that month, new artwork and details for the retheme were revealed by Disney Parks.

In June 2022, Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, mentioned during an interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan that she has been involved with discussions with Disney on what they want the attraction to be like, and that it would open in 2024.

Disney, however, did not confirm or refute the opening date and added that the company planned to share more details during the Essence Festival of Culture, which ran from June 30 through July 3, 2022, in New Orleans.

The following month, the company announced that the new ride, Tiana's Bayou Adventure, will open at both parks in late 2024.

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

So for now it's farewell to our dear friend's in the Br'er Patch, thanks for the memories.

Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom


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