The official closure of the popular ride was the latest stage in a long-running controversy that has become a flashpoint in the culture war over the “woke” direction of the Walt Disney Co. — and the latest Disney attraction fans can categorize with nostalgia but not forgotten.
The Log Flume attraction, which opened in 1992 in Florida, is based on “Song of the South,” a 1946 film set in post-Civil War Georgia that has been criticized since its release. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in 2020 that the film would never appear on the company’s streaming platform, noting that he had long felt it “just wasn’t appropriate in the world today”.
Disney’s Splash Mountain ride is based on “Song of the South.” The petitioners want to change that.
Splash Mountain will become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, based on the animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” which starred the company’s first black princess. Disney announced the change in the summer of 2020 as the country faced greater racial reckoning.
The Disneyland version of Splash Mountain, which opened in California in 1989, isn’t closed yet, but it will undergo the same transformation. Both updated versions are scheduled to reopen in late 2024.
Some fans tried to mount a “Save Splash Mountain” campaign, even urging opponents of the change seek help from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). Others recognized they would miss a classic but looked forward to a new chapter for the ride. More besides argued that it was high time for the original to go away, given its source material.
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Although Splash Mountain’s closure was more controversial than most Disney changes, other closures and reimaginings have also caused consternation. Some rides have been demolished to make way for new attractions. Others have been revamped with new storylines, designs, and characters. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will still be a log ride, after preparations for a Mardi Gras celebration.
“When you’re in charge of Disney, you have to make decisions where you know no one is going to be totally happy,” said David Mumpower, who has written three books about Disney rides and attractions. “It’s an impossible challenge because you have to think about the past and show it respect. You [also] must think, ‘What would a person born today want to do?’
These seven retired rides and attractions still make many fans nostalgic – or passionate.
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When it opened in 1989 with Disney-MGM Studios – the park that is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios – this ride took visitors through famous movie scenes, from “Alien” to “Casablanca” to ” Singin’ in the Rain,” according to official Disney fan club D23. A live action twist featured a tour guide and the hijacking of the ride vehicle by a gangster or bandit character. It closed in 2017 and reopened in early 2020 as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which takes passengers through a cartoon world.
Quincy Stanford, project manager at Disney news and advice site AllEars.net, said the Great Movie Ride is one of the main attractions readers of the site miss.
“Great Movie Ride is one of those who created this cult following,” she said. “They loved riding it; it was a different driving experience each time because there was the live actor element.
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At Walt Disney World, Epcot’s World Showcase highlights countries around the world. Norway’s offering included this boat trip showcasing the country’s maritime history, with a particular focus on adventure. There were also trolls, an exciting back dive, and a quaint fishing village.
“There’s nothing else like it; there never was,” said Mumpower, who also wrote about Disney’s enclosed rides for the Disney guidebook MickeyBlog. “It was like a really weird ride that didn’t match anything else at Epcot, but was a perfect match for the Norway pavilion.”
After opening in 1988, the ride closed in 2014. Its replacement, Frozen Ever After, opened in 2016 using the same track.
“I always get salty about Maelstrom – and I think Frozen Ever After is amazing,” Mumpower said.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
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A stormy night, a rickety elevator and a “Twilight Zone” theme set up a thrilling 13-story drop in this fan-favorite.
The original ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, which opened in 1994, remains unchanged, but the version that opened in 2004 at Disney California Adventure closed in 2016. It reopened the following year as Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Breakout!
“It was one of those that caused massive uproar, major reluctance to be changed when it was announced,” Stanford said. But she said fan reaction since it reopened has been positive, especially as it fits into an Avengers campus lot that opened in 2021: “People have been riding it, and many people like it better.There is definitely a contingent of people who prefer the original Tower of Terror.
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This air transportation system connected Tomorrowland and Fantasyland to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland, the gondola system opened in 1956 and closed in 1994. The Magic Kingdom version opened in 1971 and closed in 1999.
“To the tiny little me, it felt like the greatest thing about Disney was that they had things in the sky that could take you from place to place,” Mumpower said. “Seriously, to this day, I sometimes look up at the sky and look for the gondolas.”
The first version of the ride, based on the 1949 film “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” opened at Disneyland in 1955 and remains in place. But at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the ride with two separate tracks opened with the park in 1971 and closed in 1998. It was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
An unusually dark experience, Mr. Toad included a train collision and a trip to hell. Yet, Stanford said, readers often say they miss it.
“For people who went to the Magic Kingdom in the ’80s and ’90s…this ride is their nostalgia,” she said. “Get Winnie the Pooh out of here. I want to go to hell.
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The Disneyland ride operated for nearly 30 years, from 1967 to 1995. It traveled inside several attractions in Tomorrowland, a part of the future-themed and space-themed park.
“Although the PeopleMover was Walt Disney’s answer to an outdated Tomorrowland, it came to be seen as too tame over time,” the Walt Disney Family Museum states on its website.
The PeopleMover was replaced by the high-speed Rocket Rods, which opened in 1998, but the replacement was closed in 2000 – a swap Mumpower describes as a “fiasco”.
“What they chose to do there makes it worse,” he said. “If you choose to replace something, the next thing better be awesome.”
This ride has gone through several iterations, but fans miss the version that opened in 1983 with a red-haired host called Dreamfinder with a purple dragon named Figment.
A new ride called Journey Into Your Imagination arrived in 1999, and the ride changed again to Journey Into Imagination With Figment in 2002.
But Stanford said the original is “a huge one that people are still talking about” when it comes to the rides that were changed.
“They’re just like, ‘Give us the original ride,'” she said. “‘Why did you change it in the first place?'”