AMERICA — The Splash Mountain ride at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida will be re-themed after The Princess and the Frog, Disney announced on June 25.
The ride was previously based off of the 1946 movie, Song of the South, which takes place during the Reconstruction era in American history, after slavery has been abolished. The movie, known for the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” was controversial as some critics believed the portrayal of African Americans was racist.
More than 21,000 people signed a change.org petition to re-theme Splash Mountain. The petition states, “While the ride is considered a beloved classic its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”
The updated ride will be based off of the storyline and characters from Disney’s 2009 animated movie The Princess and the Frog, which stars Disney’s first black princess. The movie follows the story of turning a frog prince back into a human being. The new ride will feature music from the original film and follow the stories of Princess Tiana and Louis.
“Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou,” stated Disneyland Resort Public Relations Director Michael Ramirez. “In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new ‘land’ added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of ‘The Princess and the Frog’ to our parks.”
Disney added that “with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, 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.”
Disney did not give a date for when the re-themed ride would open, but specified that “conceptual design work is well underway.”