Disney’s Splash Mountain is about to get a big change, perhaps due in part to continued discussions around racist entertainment. Disney just announced the popular log flume ride will be rethemed.
The ride in its current and original format is based on characters and songs from Song of the South, a 1946 film the company has long since buried due to its racist depictions of Black people and slavery. It’ll now be changed to focus on the company’s Princess and the Frog film at both Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
In Disney’s blog post announcing the change, the company claims it’s “a project Imagineers have been working on since last year.” Imagineer Bob Weis talked more at length about the project saying, “It has been a year or more since we started talking about this particular concept. While we’ve explored many new themes in the past, that’s when we really began to hone in on Princess Tiana’s story. That said, Splash Mountain has been the subject of many conversations through the years.”
No mention is made of Song of the South in the announcement but it does say this: “The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. 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.”
It’s a change that’s long overdue for such a popular ride that was linked to such a problematic movie. Though the ride never makes mention of Song of the South explicitly, nor did it have any human characters in it, it uses the popular “Zippity Doo Dah” song from the film. The new ride will take place after the events of The Princess and the Frog film as guests follow “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.”
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized,” Anika Noni Rose, who provides the voice of Princess Tiana, said in the announcement. “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!”
So are we because it’s about damn time. Over the past few years, Disney has been pretty good with rethinking and changing some of its many dated and problematic attractions and characters in the theme parks. One of the most recent saw the Pirates of the Caribbean ride alter one of its story scenes from a sale of women to a more empowering speech by a woman.
No word on when the new themes will debut except that Weis said, “both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland parks will re-open with the existing Splash Mountain attraction.” The fact is though, no one really knows when parks are going to open at all. Whenever that happens though, Disney is definitely taking a long-overdue step in the right direction.
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