Well this didn’t take long. Disney has just announced that the classic attraction Splash Mountain is being totally rethemed to a Princess and the Frog theme in both Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park.
Today Disney announced plans for a total re-theming of Splash Mountain that they have been working hard on since last year which is based on the classic Disney animated film: “The Princess and the Frog.”
Guests on the new attraction will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure and pick up in the story after the final kiss. Music has been an important feature in Splash Mountain and it will continue to be in this Princess and the Frog attraction.
The most popular songs from the film will be in the ride, including when our characters prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.
This is the first Disney attraction featuring Princess Tiana and any of the characters from the Princess and the Frog, something that has been long desired for by fans of the franchise. Princess Tiana is definitely one of the most popular characters in the parks so her getting a ride is something we imagine Disney has been working on for a long time.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.
The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared:
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
In Disneyland, the Princess and the Frog attraction will be located in New Orleans Square, which seems to imply the current land could be expanding. This could be a good fit and a natural link to “The Princess and the Frog” film. In the Magic Kingdom it will be located in Frontierland (more on that later).
In “plussing” Splash Mountain into this new ride, Disney is focusing on the concept of inclusion and a character and storyline guests can get behind and be inspired by. They also are targeting to appeal to the diversity of the guests who visit each year.
Charita Carter from Walt Dinsey Imagineering will be the senior creative producer leading the Princess and the Frog project and had big success recently with the newest ride in Hollywood Studios, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Carter said: “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
The big news in my mind is that Disney Legend Tony Baxter is being brought in to have a creative role on the Princess and the Frog attraction. Baxter was the one who created the original Splash Mountain ride and is the perfect person to watch over this re-theming.
Baxter said about the project: “Following conversations with Imagineering’s leaders about the new attraction’s scope and resources, I had a great sense of reassurance — the attraction will be one to be proud of, bringing to life places, characters and music from the animated classic The Princess and the Frog…I look forward to being a part of a new adventure in Disney magic and fun!”
Disney is also bringing in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Lead Imagineer Scott Trowbridge for the project, which is a good sign Disney won’t be mailing this one in.
Disney Imagineers are used to change and it’s something that Walt Disney himself them and us as the guests for. The Disney parks are built on innovation, new ideas, creativity and change, and that is what has kept guests coming back for generations.
When is the Project Starting? When is it Opening?
Right now Disney has not given any dates when the project is starting or when we can expect to ride the new Princess and the Frog attraction.
The timing of the whole thing is interesting. Disney says that the Splash Mountain re-theming has been in the works now for one year, but no doubt this project shot up towards the top of the board due to current social issues.
President of Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Weiss, said that conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.
While Disney is working hard on the design for the ride, Splash Mountain will not close right away and fans will still get another chance to ride it. For now, Splash Mountain is still going to be one of the attractions that reopen with the Magic Kingdom on July 11 and in Disneyland (whenever that park reopens). We don’t know how long it will be there for so I wouldn’t delay if you want to get one last ride in.
Disney is carefully evaluating all the current construction projects going on in Walt Disney World and in Disneyland and so they will have to figure out where to fit in the Princess and the Frog ride according to budget and when Disney Imagineers have enough to get started with construction.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said that some projects have been cut or postponed for the time being, and so Disney has to figure out where to fit in this ride.
Our guess is since Disney has already cut $900 million in the construction budget for 2020, we don’t expect to see anything happen to Splash Mountain until 2021. It might even be wise to wait until the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster is finished seeing as the Magic Kingdom already has a shortage of E-Ticket attractions and shutting down Splash Mountain with nothing else to take its place would be tough to do.
On the other hand, if park attendance tanks for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, shutting down Splash Mountain might not be as big of a deal with much lower crowds. It will be interesting to see how Disney handles it.
While we recognize the reason behind Disney’s decision to replace Splash Mountain with a Princess and the Frog ride, still, it will be extremely sad to say goodbye to one of our favorite all-time Disney attractions ever built.
We understand this is an extremely sensitive subject for many people and this decision will be debated for months to come. We do not feel personally qualified to comment on how Splash Mountain might be viewed by others, many people have made it clear it is offensive and we respect Disney’s decision to move forward and re-theme an aging attraction in a way that makes more people comfortable riding it.
I think it’s ok to understand Disney’s point of view and at the same time be sad over the nostalgia of Splash Mountain, especially if you’ve grown up with it and remember when it first opened back in 1992. You can be happy about a Princess and the Frog attraction coming to the Magic Kingdom and be sad one of your favorites is leaving. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Now that Disney is re-theming Splash Mountain to Princess and the Frog, we do have a few concerns with the way the plans are so far.
The two biggest problems I have with the news are the locations of the new ride and how it is being done.
Let’s start out in Disneyland. While it’s true that the Princess and the Frog fit in perfectly in New Orleans Square, technically Splash Mountain isn’t located in New Orleans Square, it’s in Critter Country. I realize that they border each other, but the theming is still quite different between the two.
What is Disney going to do to keep the theming accurate for the ride. To make it right they will have to essentially eliminate Critter Country and merge it together with New Orleans Square. That can be done, but as part of that land re-theming, the Hungry Bear restaurant will also need to be re-themed.
Might we get a Tiana-themed restaurant there in its place like Tiana’s Palace at the end of the film? Re-doing that and the whole area would be the only thing that makes.
Disneyland to me is the easier fix, it’s the Magic Kingdom I have the most problem with. Splash Mountain is located in Frontierland and a ride set in New Orleans is not even close to that. I realize that the Song of the South is not technically set in the Old West either, but the styling of the ride fits in much better there than New Orleans does.
Disney has continued to blur the lines between actual theme park theming, and this change is just the latest in a long line of all theme parks losing their uniqueness and standing out from each other.
Does anyone else have a problem with the fact this is a “mountain” ride, yet there are no mountains in New Orleans??
What makes me perhaps even more disappointed however it the fact that Princess Tiana deserves her own ride in the theme parks, and not a refurbishment of an old ride. The characters from the film deserve something built from the ground-up and not something shoe-horned in to any place they have an opening.
I know Disney struck gold with re-theming the Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT!, but can Imagineers hit that high note once again? In my opinion, it’s extremely hard to do when you don’t have the liberty to build the ride system from scratch and some of the ride’s potential will, therefore, be limited.
The only thing we are confident in is that Disney Legend Tony Baxter will be working on this personally, and if anyone can make the project work, it’s him.
It’s pretty clear from the artwork that the look and feel of the ride will be similar to the Na’vi River Journey over in Pandora. The dark tone of the scene, the fireflies lighting up the flume all give off that same vibe. The question is whether they will use a lot of screen technology for the effects or if it will be more set-based.
I would imagine they will find a way to recycle the animatronics for the new ride, the same way they came over from America Sings. Brer Bear is destined to become Louis as they are a perfect size match.
Let’s hope that Disney gives this attraction the budget it deserves. If the recent park closings don’t affect the project too much, it has very high potential to be one of the best attractions in the Magic Kingdom. It definitely is on our radar of the best new rides coming to Disney World in the near future.
After this news it looks like the only Splash Mountain attraction left in the world is going to be in Tokyo Disneyland. The announcement didn’t mention this version of the ride and so if you are feeling nostalgic you might get the opportunity to still experience Splash Mountain there once the domestic versions go away.
If Disney Imagineering is given the proper time and budget, this ride has a ton of potential. We’re anxious to see how things develop and to see more of the plans Disney Imagineering has in store for this new Princess and the Frog attraction.
This is a developing story and we’ll have more for you soon…stay tuned.
I want to know what you think about the Splash Mountain re-theming to Princess and the Frog…
- Are you looking forward to this change?
- Did Disney make the right decision?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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