Now, there is only one.
As of Jan. 23, the only Splash Mountain in North America will take residence most days at Fiserv Forum, the sound effect of water echoing through the arena whenever Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez knocks down a three-pointer.
Lopez knew change was coming to his favorite ride – the inanimate Splash Mountain – at Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California, but the closure following its last day on Jan. 22 has hit him hard.
“It’s tough. It is, because as a kid, you remember the rides, the attractions you went on as a kid and some of those aren’t here anymore,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “That’s one thing. And then to have a ride that is just iconic, timeless, my favorite ride … both the versions, LA and Orlando pretty much opened right around the time I was born. And so it’s been there pretty much as long as I have and it’s this big headline attraction and you don’t think it can close or anything like that, so to see it closing it’s very weird.
“It makes me, I guess, it definitely made me think about how old I am.”
The 34-year-old laughed at that.
“It is definitely tough for me. I’m disappointed.”
Brook Lopez and twin brother Robin once rode Splash Mountain ‘like 18 times’ over a two-hour period during a Disney event
Lopez loved the ride so much he used it as inspiration for a Bucks hat he designed for a fan giveaway on March 22 and estimated he and his twin brother, Robin, rode it “like 18 times” in a row from 2-4 am during a 24-hour “Days of Disneyland” event in Anaheim.
A reimagining of the attraction was announced by the company in 2020 and it will be called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new attraction inspired by the animated film, “The Princess and the Frog.”
The mountain structure will be turned into a salt dome in the Bayou Adventure.
The original theme of Splash Mountain had been met with protest as it is based upon the animated portions of the controversial 1946 film, “Song of the South.”
Lopez spoke about the thematic change to his favorite ride last year after bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Disney World following the Bucks’ championship. He took a photo with the trophy in front of the ride after he was told he couldn’t bring it on.
“They shut that down,” he said with a laugh, noting that he promised to hold the trophy tight. “They didn’t believe me! I don’t know why they didn’t believe I would hold onto it. It’s so precious to me that we fought for and earned. They didn’t trust me.”
Brook Lopez has thoughts on the reimagining of Splash Mountain
But he was more serious about his idea for what should have happened with Splash Mountain and its characters.
“Here’s my two cents on the whole thing,” Lopez began. “I think Splash Mountain is a classic attraction, I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically (wrong) with the creatures and everything like that. Obviously the film has some very dodgy aspects to it that aren’t PC. But I think the Uncle Remus stories themselves and the Br’er Rabbit stories themselves have a lot of value.
“I think it would have been a good opportunity to create Princess and the Frog, give Tiana the spotlight in her own attraction and then you kind of take these great characters and great stories that have good meaning, great morals and everything like and are steeped in history and kind of recontextualize them. Maybe give these characters Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox a TV series or something like that to kind of take these great stories, a great opportunity to kind of flip and use the good stuff and create a positive image out of that.
“Then you could still use those characters in that attraction. That’s obviously my reason. They went a different route, which is great, which is fine. It’s what they want to do. I think then these characters still have their spotlight, their platform in a new positive spin, positive light, still give Tiana her attraction which is also positive as well and everything she deserves.”
Lopez’s Splash Mountain nickname was created when he arrived in Milwaukee
Lopez was dubbed “Splash Mountain” by Bucks fans early in the 2018-19 season when the 7-footer began dropping in three-pointers at a career rate in his first season in Milwaukee.
In terms of the ride, Lopez can still visit the Splash Mountain at the Tokyo Disney Resort as that is not changing (it is a licensed property not operated by Disney). Lopez said Japan is one of his favorite places to go in the world, and he thought he might propose to his fiancé Hailee Strickland there (or in France). But he ran into tourist visa issues due to ongoing COVID restrictions on the island nation, so Lopez ended up proposing last summer where the couple met at Animal Kingdom in Orlando.
But now Tokyo is back on the destination list.
“It is! I’m going to have to, now!” he laughed. “Tokyo in the foreseeable future.”
As for what happens to some of the items from the original Splash Mountain theme, Lopez would more than welcome any opportunity to help preserve its history.
“If I heard about that or they reached out I’d definitely try to (get) some memento or something like that,” he said. “It would mean a lot. I’d love that. Because it’s a very special thing to me. It means a lot to me.”
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