Splash Mountain, the beloved Walt Disney World log flume ride that has made headlines recently for its planned re-theming, had one of its boats sink and fully submerge in the shallow water over the weekend. Parkgoers, who abandoned the sinking boat, tweeted that a park employee had told them to get back in, but that by the time they had fully exited the ride, the boat had already sunk. One of the riders, a Twitter user Skyelar Ingersoll -- apparently visiting Walt Disney World for the first time -- shared a short video of the aftermath, which you can see embedded below.
Ingersoll, a Los Angeles native, wasn't happy with the park employee who she claims lectured her party about exiting the boat without permission. That may be why she took video and, rather than being a bemused anecdote like so many other park snafus over the years, she has been pretty fiery about it on social media, and in press interviews.
"We were almost at the end of the ride," Ingersoll told Orlando Hols. "We started to notice the the boat taking on water after the final drop. Towards the end the log stopped and it got stuck. We waited for a while but the log started sinking and filling with water, it was then we jumped out. As soon as we stepped out the whole log was pretty much submerged underwater."
so we got out of our boat because it was sinking while we were stuck there and the disney world employee decided to tell us that we should’ve stayed in the boat but it went under as soon as we all stepped out... nice #DisneyWorld #splashmountain #MagicKingdom #disney not okay???? pic.twitter.com/15zMnP1wgX— sky💫 (@skyelaringrsoll) August 3, 2020
The ride had to be shut down and drained after a technical problem on July 26, so it seems likely (though not guaranteed) that this is connected to the same issue.
The decision to re-theme Splash Mountain came earlier this year. After years of being lobbied by a small but dedicated number of fans to remove the ride's Song of the South characters and theming -- the film contains numerous racist caricatures of Black people and has been all but disavowed by Disney, with no official release in decades -- the company finally made the move after the death of George Floyd sparked a nationwide conversation about how pervasive racism is in everyday American life. It will be changed over to a Princess and the Frog-themed ride next year.
There's something of an irony built into the challenge of re-theming the popular Splash Mountain attraction; before the ride was opened in 1989, then-CEO Michael Eisner, who had already started distancing the company from Song of the South, didn't like the original, planned name (the Zip-A-Dee River Run) and wanted to tie the ride to Splash, the hugely successful 1984 film in which Tom Hanks falls in love with a mermaid played by Daryl Hannah. Eisner's note was mostly ignored, except for the name change, but it seems likely that the Zip-A-Dee name and the more explicit ties to Song of the South might have hastened changes to the ride. On the other hand, if they had more fully embraced Splash, it likely would have been changed much sooner, since while the film remains loved by many, it's hardly thought of in the same way that Disney's animated classics are.