Change happens after thousands sign petition to change the ride's theme
It’s transformation central in Disney Parks in the U.S. as Disney officially announced that it has big plans for Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
The popular water ride will soon be re-themed to Disney’s 2009 film about a frog prince wanting to be human again. If you guessed “Princess and the Frog” you’re correct.
“We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance,” Disney said.
According to the Disney Parks Blog, the idea for re-theming the 1989 thrill ride started over a year ago but the change also comes at a time when racial tensions are at a high.
“The new concept 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,” Disney officials said.
The attraction is based on the 1946 Disney film “Song of the South,” which has been criticized for its stereotypes of Black people.
If you haven’t heard of the film, you’re not alone. The film isn’t available to the millions of subscribers of the company’s new Disney Plus streaming service, and it hasn’t been released in theaters in decades.
The film features Disney’s iconic tune “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Groups including the NAACP protested the film’s initial release.
If you’re unfamiliar with the attraction, here’s a little background.
Splash Mountain follows happy-go-lucky Br’er Rabbit as he looks for his “laughing place.” All the while, Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox are in hot pursuit Br’er Rabbit. The cruise ends with a 5-story splashdown into a thorny Briar Patch.
Numerous petitions had recently popped up calling for Disney to remove all mentions of the movie from the attraction.
“Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be,” said an online petition asking for the ride to be changed. “While the ride is considered a beloved classic, it’s history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”
But Splash Mountain also has its supporters. One online petition asked that the ride remain the way it is.
“Many adults and children ride this attraction because it brings back childhood memories,” the “Keep Splash Mountain” petition said. “Disney already took out the racist songs which was a good move on their part.”
The voice of Princess Tiana, Anika Noni Rose chimed in with her thoughts on Disney’s new ambition.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no date has been announced for construction.