Disney has confirmed that it’s iconic Splash Mountain ride in both the Disneyland Park in California and Magic Kingdom Park in Florida will soon be completely reimagined.
This is everything you need to know about why Disney is changing one of its most famous rides.
How will Splash Mountain be changed?
In a blog post on the official Disney Parks website, it was announced that Splash Mountain will be getting a complete makeover.
The announcement said, “The theme is inspired by an all time favourite animated Disney film, The Princess and the Frog. 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.”
The post goes on to explain that there is a longstanding history of updating attractions, and that the “retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today”.
It explains, “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.”
The announcement said that “conceptual work is well underway” and a timeline for when the transformation will take place will soon be available.
Why is Splash Mountain changing?
Splash Mountain is based on a 1946 Disney film called Song of the South, which has long been criticised for its stereotypical and offensive portrayals of African American characters, as well as romanticising the antebellum South.
The film, best known for the song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, is not available on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, due to its racist content, and it has never been fully released on DVD or Blu Ray.
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum around the world, there has been a bigger focus than ever on racial inequality - a focus which Disney has not been exempt from.
Fans have long urged Disney to change the Splash Mountain ride’s theme from South of the South to Princess and the Frog - and a recent online petition gained over 20,000 signatures.
The petition, now marked as a “victory” on the website, states that “Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be” and that while the log flume ride is a beloved fixture, “its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist ropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”
It continues, “There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need. Princes and the Frog is a beloved princess movie but it has very little representation in the parks.”
The reactions to the news has been overwhelmingly positive, with Disney fans welcoming the move in the comments under the blog post.
One fan wrote, “I think this is a really cool idea! I’m looking forward to hearing more about it. I am always open to new experiences. I feel it is very important for Disneyland to get a breath of fresh air every once in a while.”
Another wrote, “Very excited for this. It’s ok to love the music and love Splash Mountain and still want something that will make people happy without negative racial attachments. I can’t wait to see what the Imagineers come up with for this! And I can’t wait to see the faces of little black girls who get to see themselves depicted in a ride!”
“This is going to be awesome!! I love Splash Mountain and the music. I’m super stoked to see it transform to Princes and the Frog! So excited!!” Wrote another.
“BRAVO. This is the right thing to do. Disney is doing the next right thing. We will miss Splash Mountain, but it’s about time we right the wrongs of celebrating a problematic movie in an iconic ride. I trust Disney will keep the nostalgia. I am excited to celebrate this incredible princess on the new ride!!!” Exclaimed another fan.
How have the Princess and the Frog cast reacted?
Stars from the Princess and the Frog film have expressed their excitement at the news that the 2009 film is taking over as inspiration for Splash Mountain.
Anika Noni Rose, Tony award winning actress and the voice of Princess Tiana, said, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realised!
“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 Princes and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
Michael-Leon Wooley, the voice of Louis, said, “I think this is great news, or as Louis would say - HALLELUJAH!”
Voice of Mama Odie, Jenifer Lewis, said, “Voicing Mama Odia was a joyful creative experience. Recording Mama Odie’s song, “Dig a Little Deeper,” by Randy Newman, must have taken a hundred takes, because I wanted it to be perfect.
“The image of Mama Odie, in the fairy godmother role, truly reflected the New Orleans Black bayou tradition of the revered wise woman. I am thrilled that the Princess and the Frog is being honoured for the joy it has brought to millions of Disney fans.”