Disney World Ride Experiences Record Wait Times Ahead of Shut Down

On its final day of operation, Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World set new records for wait times and attendance. The attraction, which has been in operation since 1989, was named for the Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah comedy Splash and featured characters from Disney's 1946 live-action/animation hybrid Song of the South. The attraction is set to be replaced by Tiana's Bayou Adventure, set to be completed in late 2024 and based on characters from The Princess and the Frog, Disney's first movie to feature a Black princess. It's an especially notable changeover because Song of the South is criticized for its dated and racist portrayal of Uncle Remus, one of its main characters.

Yesterday, in its final day of operation in Florida, Splash Mountain saw a record wait time of 220 minutes, according to Thrill Data (via Deadline). That's a record -- ten minutes more than its previous record, which was posted in 2020, not long after the re-theming was announced.

In Song of the South, a 7-year-old boy named Johnny is visiting his grandmother's plantation in Georgia shortly after the abolition of slavery. He befriends an ex-slave named Uncle Remus, played by James Baskett, who shares stories of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear. The stories themselves, rooted in a tradition of oral storytelling by Africans and their descendants in the southern United States and the Caribbean, were among Walt Disney's favorites, and the studio head worked tirelessly to make a film adaptation happen.

The romanticized look at life on post-Civil War plantations has never sat right with many viewers, and as time has gone on, the movie has only become more controversial -- so much so that protests over the use of the Song of the South characters accompanied the ride's opening. Those criticisms persisted -- and Disney was well aware of them, having decided against releasing Song of the South on home video at that point. In 2020, Disney finally announced that Splash Mountain would be replaced at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, rebranding to The Princess and the Frog.

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According to the earliest details, the ride will pick up after the movie's final kiss, and fans will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure that features music from the film and the film's voice cast.