Disney Parks announced this week that they are giving the popular Splash Mountain ride at Magic Kingdom a new theme based on “The Princess and the Frog” animated movie.
The original Splash mountain theming is based on the characters, stories, and songs from the 1946 Disney film Song of the South. A mirror on the time it was created, some critics have since described the film’s portrayal of African Americans as racist and offensive, maintaining that the black vernacular and other qualities are stereotypes. Disney has never released the film on any home format in the U.S., and says it won’t add the film to its online DisneyPlus streaming format.
Splash Mountain does not overtly reference the film, but the ride is built around the Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox stories from the film.
In recent weeks, online petitions began to circulate about Splash Mountain. More than 21,300 people signed one asking Disney to remove the ride’s “offensive stereotypical theming.” About 26,300 people have signed a dueling Change.org petition demanding that Disney keep the “iconic classic ride” as it is.
But the truth is the retheming of the ride has nothing to do with the petitions.
Disney and its Imagineers have been planning the theme change for several years, with Bob Weis, the president of Walt Disney Imagineering, commissioning concept art a year ago. You can read the D23.com interview with Weis for more on that.
Disney has said it sped up the public unveiling of the project because of the current cultural conversation about race, feeling this was the right time to announce the project.
The ride will also have a new name when finished. New Adventures With Princess Tiana is the working title of the coming attraction, which will be set in the Louisiana bayou after the film’s final kiss.
Guests will 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.
But if you still value the old theming, you can always go to Tokyo Disneyland. Disney doesn’t own that park…the company licenses its characters and products to the Oriental Land Company, and so far, they have no plans to give that Splash Mountain a “Princess and the Frog” makeover.
I, however, am looking forward to this new version of the ride. I have ridden the original so many times that I look forward to the new theming to give the ride new excitement and fun. Plus I’m a huge fan of “The Princess and the Frog” and its music. I look forward to enjoying Princess Tiana and her friends in her new area of the park.
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