Jars and bags of what sellers claim is water from the popular Florida attraction are being offered for sale online. The odd farewell comes as Disney takes steps to erase the ride’s racist back story.
Splash Mountain has been one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World for 30 years. So when the log flume ride closed for good on Sunday, instead of saying goodbye, some Disney fans found themselves wrestling with a deeply consequential question: How much would someone pay for a baggie of Splash Mountain water?
After many fans lined up for hours over the weekend in the park near Orlando, Fla., for one last five-story plunge down the mountain, eBay sellers began listing what they claimed to be small amounts of the ride’s 950,000 gallons of water.
The prices ranged from $8.50 to $25 for a plastic bag with “Splash Mountain water” written on it in thick, black marker, and hand-drawn water droplets added for emphasis.
One listing showed a reusable bottle that purportedly contained 10 ounces from the ride’s last day for $7.99. Another seller advertised four ounces of water in a Mason jar for $149.95.
The outpouring by fans comes as Disney takes steps to erase the ride’s racist back story, drawn from the 1946 musical film “Song of the South,” which the company has not made available in any form for more than 35 years.
When the ride reopens next year, Br’er Rabbit and other animatronic characters from that film will be gone, replaced by characters and themes from the 2009 Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog.” It will be renamed Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. A similar plan is in place for the Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., although it remains open for now.
Adrian Vasquez, 28, who has ridden Splash Mountain more than 200 times, said he was not the least bit surprised when he saw the eBay listings.
More on the Walt Disney Company
- Splash Mountain’s Closure: As Disney takes steps to erase the racist back story of the Walt Disney World ride, some are claiming to be selling water from the attraction online.
- Return to Office: Starting on March 1, the Walt Disney Company will require employees to report to the office four days a week, a relatively strict policy among large companies.
- Pricing Policies: After complaints by visitors about the costs at its domestic theme parks, Disney revised policies related to ticketing, hotel parking, ride photos and annual passes.
- A Looming Board Fight: The activist investor Nelson Peltz is jockeying for a director position at Disney as he pushes for a series of changes. The company is pushing back.
“The Disney community can be very weird sometimes,” said Mr. Vasquez, 28, who noted that he did not take any mementos after his final ride on Sunday night. “I honestly don’t know how else to put it.”
Disney announced the planned changes in 2020 during the national reckoning on racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
“Song of the South,” which was set on a Georgia plantation after the Civil War, mixed live-action filmmaking and animation in a way that was groundbreaking for the time, and it won an Oscar for the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
But critics have long objected that the film, based on the books of Joel Chandler Harris, a white folklorist who collected traditional African American tales and attributed them to the fictional Uncle Remus, romanticized slavery and promoted racist stereotypes.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said in 2020 that the movie would never appear on Disney+, the company’s streaming platform, because it “was just not appropriate in today’s world.”
When the rides reopen in the parks next year, visitors will encounter Princess Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess, and Louis the alligator as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance. “The new concept is inclusive,” Disney said in 2020. “It speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
In the meantime, it’s buyer beware time for fans of the original ride.
Phillip Halfacre, 42, of Fayetteville, Ark., saw social media posts about the eBay listings for Splash Mountain water and wanted in.
A self-described “huge Disney fan” and collector, Mr. Halfacre took a plastic bag with the Splash Mountain logo from one of his visits to Disney World a few years back (the bags are handed out to keep valuables dry), filled it with tap water and listed it on the auction site for $25,000.
Nearly 10,000 people viewed his listing before eBay took it down, Mr. Halfacre said.
“It was not meant as a rude gesture or even a rude gesture to Disney, I love Disney,” he said, having ridden Splash Mountain 20 times. “It was something to make everybody’s Monday brighter.”
Despite the transparent nature of his prank, Mr. Halfacre said he still received two or three serious offers asking him to verify that the water had come from Splash Mountain.
“Disney is magical to each of us in its own way,” he said. “That water may mean something to someone more than somebody else, even if in reality it’s the same water they’re going to get out of the water fountain.”
A native of Central Florida who now lives in Tampa, Mr. Vasquez said that he grew up going to to the park and that Splash Mountain was his first “big-kids ride.” He even worked there in 2015 while he was in college.
“Even my trainers said the source material was racist,” he said. “It’s fitting that an attraction that is based on a film that negatively depicts people of color be replaced by Disney’s first African American princess. This move will go a long way for many Disney fans of color who have been looking for more representation in the parks.”
He said he expected the new ride will offer the same thrills, but he wanted to say goodbye to the original on closing day.
And so on Sunday morning, Mr. Vasquez arrived 45 minutes before the 9 a.m. “rope drop,” when the park opens to the public, and then joined what he described as the “Splash Mountain 5K” — a throng of people running to line up for a final ride.
Some visitors spent five hours in line, standing shoulder to shoulder as far as the eye could see, according to The Orlando Sentinel. A cheering section of fans chanted “Splash! Splash! Splash!” when the logs made their signature drop. Disney staff members took the closing ride and were met with applause from adoring fans.
“There was some sadness but there was just a sense of celebration in the air,” Mr. Vasquez said. He said he took three rides on Sunday, including one with his mother.
“It was a little sad but just a lot of fun,” he said.