Earlier, Disney officially announced that they are changing the theme of Splash Mountain from Song of the South to a Princess and The Frog makeover. As usual, all Disney fans are welcoming the changes with open arms. It’s great to see how no matter where everyone is from or where they stand on certain issues: they all can agree that changes at Disney are for the best.
I’m kidding. It’s a total shit show. Splash Mountain has been around for over 30 years. It’s a part of people’s childhoods and even their kid’s childhood. Once an attraction goes away or is rethemed, it’s not coming back. It’s a decision not taken lightly by anyone within the attractions business.
Remember: Disney took away the Great Movie Ride, Maelstrom and even the Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure. They’re ruthless killers and no doubt, they will strike again. Has your favorite childhood attraction been rethemed or bulldozed? Don’t worry, your time is coming. Meanwhile, it seems that the public has ended up liking the rides that replaced these classics with open arms. You can see it in guest feedback, online reactions, and even how long the wait times are while you’re in the park.
If change isn’t your cup of tea and you’re a theme park fan: get a new hobby. This may not be your thing and you’ll just be in for a lifetime of disappointment. Regarding this particular change of removing Song of the South from Splash Mountain, was it Disney caving into an online petition and some articles floating around out there saying it was time to remove references to the movie? We may never truly know that answer. For the moment, we can answer that with a definitive: maybe.
At this point, the petitions and articles don’t really matter. For a moment, let’s pretend that Splash Mountain never existed. Just go with me on this. Here we are in 2020. Disney now has a massive list of intellectual properties from their own vault, plus Pixar, Lucas and Marvel. We’ve said it before and we will continue to crow it: Disney and Universal will never open a new attraction without an IP attached to it from here on out.
Indeed, Song of the South is an IP, so that box is checked. However, in what universe would Disney green light an attraction based on a movie that will never see the light of day again? (Private copies floating around don’t count.)
Disney loves synergy. The movie inspires the attraction, which gives fuel to merchandise sales, which also can lead to food and beverage sales. It’s a beautiful circle that makes sure they are maximizing the value out of all their brands to the fullest potential. What child would make a trip to a Disney Park with Song of the South as a main driver? It’s fair to say next to zero.
Now, how many kids (and adults for that matter) would want to book a trip to Walt Disney World to ride a Princess and the Frog attraction? Substantially more is the easiest answer. Plus, they are much more likely to buy the merchandise. Even if you haven’t seen Princess and the Frog, might you be more likely to go home and watch it after you went on the attraction and liked it?
Currently, if a child likes Splash Mountain and wants to see the inspiration behind it, they can’t. If they’re old enough to Google it, they find out that Disney is pretty much hiding the film. Audiences are sophisticated now, especially kids. If you’re Disney, which option makes more sense for the long term? A ride based on a film they’ve kept under wraps for decades? Or one they are quite proud of and can help their circle of synergy? If you were running the company: which would you decide?
More importantly, it does provide for more diversity and inclusion within the parks. Which isn’t a bad thing from a business standpoint either. If anything, it’s a bonus to all the points mentioned above. Your thoughts?
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