In the fall of 1993 Disney began to transform Epcot in an attempt to breath some new life into the rapidly aging theme park. Some of those changes would go on to be long lasting and remembered elements of Epcot. Others… not so much. Splashtacular at Epcot would ultimately fall into the latter category, and if you’ve never heard of it, that’s OK, because it wasn’t around for long.
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Splashtacular Advertisement (Nov 18 1993)
📰The Orlando Sentinel
“Disney Reinvents the Future” (Nov 29 1993)
“Epcot” (Dec 26 1993)
“Renovations at Epcot send 7-month-old Splashtacular down the drain” (Jun 30 1994)
“Disney plans theme park additions” (Nov 20 1993)
“Disney doings” (Jan 16 1994)
Announced in the fall of ‘93, Splashtacular would be a twenty-minute show that would take place on a stage just behind the Fountain of Nations in Future World. The basic premise of the show was that Mickey and his friends, along with fifty dancers, are peacefully dancing and celebrating their favorite colors, when along comes this evil alien lady who, for some reason, isn’t a fan of these colors. So she uses her powers to steal the colors from Mickey and his pals, and then goes on to summon a four and a half story dinosaur robot hybrid called TerrasaurX. All the while the over 200 jets in the Fountain of Nations create a dancing tapestry of water for a backdrop. Mickey fights the monster. Mickey wins. All the color returns. Everybody’s happy.
Now if this all sounds really bizarre for Epcot, that’s because it is, and it’s also because the show wasn’t originally written for Epcot. Splashtacular was, in-fact, an adaptation of a show created for Tokyo Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary called “It’s Magical”. It was virtually the same, with the major changes being that instead of an evil alien lady and a robot dinosaur, Mickey faced off with Maleficent in human and dragon form.
Splashtacular held a preview show that November 21st at #WaltDisneyWorld in honor of Kid’s Day, and that Thanksgiving weekend it officially opened. It was gone just seven months later.
Officially, a Disney spokesperson cited the mismatched theme with the direction of Future World as a reason for axing the show. They argued that the story of Splashtacular wasn’t appropriate for the more World’s Fair/Convention vibe that they were trying to create with the upcoming Innoventions, which would open just a few months later. However according to insiders who spoke to the Orlando Sentinel, the real reason was that the show simply wasn’t as popular as Disney had hoped it would be. While that first reason wasn’t wrong, I’d personally imagine the second reason to be the real one that doomed the show. After all, it’s not as if Disney didn’t know Innoventions was coming or that they didn’t know what the plot of Splashtacular was. None of it was a surprise. If the theme was really the problem, they would have avoided the issue to begin with.
In any case, Splashtacular wasn’t a total loss. Rather than cutting the show entirely, Disney kept the Fountain of Nation water show concept and called it “The Innoventions Water Ballet”, which ran automatically every fifteen minutes. It was just as quickly renamed to the “Fountain of Nations Water Ballet”, and to this day the fountain still puts on shows throughout the day set to music. It has become somewhat of an iconic element of Future World, and yet it was born from this weird forced show that lasted just half a year. It just goes to show you that sometimes you don’t know what good ideas will come out of bad ones.