Disney first announced plans to close one of its signature Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions, Splash Mountain, back in the summer of 2020. The plan all along has been to not so much replace it as update it — to maintain the basic layout and structure but to replace the characters and theming that had been from Disney’s controversial 1946 film Song of the South with ones from the popular 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.
There have been occasional updates since then; the announcement of the new ride’s name (Tiana’s Bayou Adventure) and a tentative opening date of 2024. But in order to open Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Splash Mountain needs to close, and until today Disney had given no indication when that might be.
Finally, Disney Parks Blog has given a concrete date: Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain will close on January 23, 2023. (A closing date for Disneyland’s version of the ride will be given “at a later date.”)
Splash Mountain first opened in 1989, some 40 years after the release of Song of the South, and well after its content had already become a source of controversy for Disney. (Following one last re-release in 1986, Disney essentially locked Song of the South away and has never made it commercially available on home video — for more on why read this article.) Despite its questionable content, the film also contains some of Disney’s most popular songs, including “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
Disney also unveiled some new details about the revised ride, including some concept art of a scene that comes as “you first drop into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar … you’ll join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans.”
Although The Princess and the Frog is far more beloved than Song of the South, Disney received a lot of pushback when they first announced this refurbishment from fans who love Splash Mountain regardless of what it is based on. Those folks have less than two months to ride Splash Mountain one last time, at least in Florida.