So far, Disney has begun work on Jungle Cruise in Disney World and Disneyland, but there has been NO word on when the Splash Mountain refurbishment might begin. Instead, the ride has continued to operate as normal, with no changes to the scenes or signs of work being done just yet. So, we’re pulling together everything that we know for ya, to see just when the Splash Mountain retheming might begin!
What Exactly is the Splash Mountain Re-Theme?
Before we get into all the details, let’s do a quick refresh on the Splash Mountain re-theme, shall we? Disney will be transforming the attraction from a journey through the brier patch to an adventure with characters from Disney’s Princess and the Frog.
And, when describing their approach to the changes planned for the projects Disney has said that it “begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about.”
Well, a fresh new story is exactly what will be unfolding at Splash Mountain! The adventure will pick up just after Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen’s final kiss in the movie and follow Tiana and Louis as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.
The transformation is being led by Imagineer Charita Carter (who oversaw Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway) and the goal is to have a “new concept [that] is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
What Disney Has Said
Now, when it comes to the timeline for this attraction, Disney hasn’t shared any specific dates and details on when exactly they plan to have this project complete, but they have shared some glimmers of information. For example, when the project was originally announced back in June 2020, Disney shared that, “As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.”
So, “soon” hasn’t come as quickly as we may have thought, but there is still evidence that the Splash Mountain refurbishment will begin sooner than later. In fact, a few months after the retheme was announced, Josh D’Amaro (the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products) said that guest-facing projects (specifically naming the Splash Mountain refurb) would be “expedited.”
Now, the words “soon” and “expedited” leave some wiggle room for Disney when it comes to timeline. Jungle Cruise’s soon was VERY soon. Weeks after the initial announcement, major changes began taking place on the ride. Yet here we are — a year later — and Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear are still trying to catch Br’er Rabbit each and every day on the Splash Mountain. Basically, there’s no definitive answer to when construction will start at Splash Mountain from Disney just yet.
Early Signs That the Refurb is Coming
Right after Disney announced the Splash Mountain retheme last year, there were a few signs that construction would begin quickly. The Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah-Day game that could be played at the attraction in the Play Disney Parks app was removed in Aug. 2020 only 4 months after they first launched the game.
Plus, one other minor change that has already been made is on Disney’s website — all references to the movie that the ride is currently themed after, Song of the South, have been removed from the description of the attraction. Instead, it now reads, “Drop into a whimsical world filled with classic characters and songs on this thrilling log-flume adventure.”
And, over in Disneyland, the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah song was removed from the Downtown Disney background music loop, though the song does still play in the attraction during the final scene.
What Work Has Disney Done on the Ride So Far?
When it comes to the work that Disney HAS done on the attraction since the announcement last summer, well…there isn’t much. We have only seen two permits filed for work on Splash Mountain and the maintenance may or may not actually be related to the retheming.
The building permit was specifically for work by Disney’s internal construction company (Buena Vista Construction Company) to “Provide labor, material, and/or electrical for construction.” The thing to keep in mind with this permit though is that a very similar permit was filed for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, so this may have just been routine maintenance and had nothing to do with the refurbishment.
The other permit for “Electrical Work” was filed by the Walt Disney World Resort for work with Maddox Electric (a company that does regularly scheduled maintenance throughout Disney World often). Normally, we would be on the lookout for permits filed by Disney Imagineering if it is related to an Imagineering project (which the Splash Mountain retheme is), so this permit also likely doesn’t have a direct relation to the refurbishment.
So, When Will the Refurb Begin?
So, when will we see some changes start at Splash Mountain in Disney World? Well, the simple answer is that Disney hasn’t shared any updates on it so it’s all TBD. According to Disney’s refurbishment calendar, Splash Mountain is not scheduled to close for refurbishment at least through early-August, 2021, though they could also choose to keep the ride open while they begin work on the ride (similar to what they’ve done at Jungle Cruise). Since the ride track likely won’t be altered at all, this is a possibility.
But, even though we don’t know much about when the actual retheme will begin, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
Disney World is historically very crowded in the summer with guests traveling when kids are out of school and retreating to the “most magical place on earth.” As Disney continues to increase park capacity, we’ve already seen the crowds and wait times increasing in the parks — and, with FastPass+ currently suspended, Disney may be hoping to keep the attraction open throughout the peak time of the year to help disperse crowds.
Splash Mountain is also a pretty popular ride in Disney World, with lines typically hiking above 45 minutes daily, especially in the summer. So, with the warmest season to be in Florida here (AKA the blistering summer), Disney might want to keep this highly desirable WATER ride open a little longer to give guests a nice break from the heat.
Another aspect that could be impacting the timeline for this ride’s refurbishment is the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebrations. A LOT of work is underway in the parks to get them looking swanky for the celebrations that kick off on October 1st this year, so Disney may be focusing on adding things to the party rather than taking them away.
Plus, we’re now less than five months away from the anniversary date, which likely isn’t enough time for Disney to completely refurbish the ride in time. They may instead wait for the end of the celebrations to begin work. Though, this would mean that they wouldn’t begin until 2023. At that point, calling the retheming work “fast-tracked” would be kind of silly!
And, Disney could just be waiting until the Jungle Cruise refurbishment is done. Both rides are in Magic Kingdom, so Disney may simply want to ensure that they don’t have too much work going on in the park that is guest-facing so that it doesn’t impact their experience.
Now, Disney has recently stated that the changes to Jungle Cruise will be completed “this summer,” so if they are waiting for one project to finish before beginning the other, then we could be close to the Splash Mountain refurbishment starting.
All in all, it’s VERY in the dark just exactly what — if anything — is still planned for Splash Mountain’s retheme until Disney shares an official update. Disney has announced and then subsequently scrapped announced plans before, so that’s not out of the realm of possibility. At this time though there’s no reason to believe the retheme won’t happen. It’s just really tough pinning down when it could begin! So, we’ll just have to put on our patience hat and keep busy with all our speculation instead!
The Splash Mountain refurbishment may not be complete (umm…or even started!) when you visit Disney World in 2021, but there are still a lot of exciting things to explore and experience in all four theme parks. Check out our video below with ALL the tips you’ll need for your vacation this year!
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Check out our latest video and then comment below: What Disney World refurbishment are you most looking forward to seeing completed?