The Splash-Themed Disney Bar That Almost Was
At one time or another, most Disney fans have experienced the pain of having one of their favorite restaurants or attractions close (RIP, Maelstrom). Even Michael Eisner isn’t immune.
When Disney’s Pleasure Island entertainment district was in the planning phase in the 1980s, the creative executives behind the project reportedly knew they would have more luck getting Eisner’s buy-in if they paid homage to one of his favorite movies: Splash.
Madison’s Dive, named after Daryl Hannah’s character in the movie, was going to be a themed saloon built at the end of a pier. Imagineers planned to include extras that would wow patrons, like old seadogs that would sing shanties and tell tales about the one that got away, and elusive mermaids that would occasionally drift by the underwater windows.
Eisner loved it, of course, and Madison’s Dive got the stamp of approval. Disney was so far along in planning that they even announced Madison’s to the press, along with plans for another unrealized venue: a “dance hall surrounded by a roller rink” called Zephyr RockinRolladrome.
Of course, such a place is much more expensive to erect than your typical hole-in-the-wall drinking establishment, so when the Pleasure Island project went over budget, Madison’s Dive was one of the first places to get the axe. (Zephyr RockinRolladrome obviously wasn’t too far behind.)
Disney wasn’t totally devoid of references to Madison the mermaid, however. Since opening day in 1989, Hollywood Studios has used a real prop from the movie as park decor: the mermaid fountain Madison gave to Allen. Though it looked like it was a brass statue surrounded by stone, the whole thing was made of fiberglass. The fountain was still there as of earlier this year, but with the Toy Story Land expansion currently underway, it seems like Splash may be sunk.