Disney replacing Splash Mountain with a Princess and the Frog ride

The popular but problematic ride is getting a new theme.
June 26, 2020 12:52 p.m. EST
July 1, 2020 12:00 a.m. EST
People everywhere continue to reevaluate their vacation plans in the wake of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, but anyone travelling to Disney in the near future will see a pretty notable change in one of the most popular but problematic rides—Splash Mountain. The mouse company announced that it is completely re-imagining the ride following public outcry over the dangerous stereotypes it conveys.To give some context, the 31-year-old log flume ride (which cost a reported $75 million to build) is located at the California, Florida and Tokyo theme parks, and is based on the 1946 movie Song of the South. The film’s best-known song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” along with the film itself have a long history of criticism for the way they perpetuated stereotypes and offensive portrayals of the Black community while also romanticizing the pre -American Civil War era in the South. As a result, the movie has been tucked away in the Disney vault for years, and is not available on the new streaming service. Disney confirmed on June 25 that Splash Mountain will be overhauled following a Change.org petition to switch the ride’s theme from Song of the South to Princess and the Frog earned 20,000 signatures. signed the petition. Fans argued that Princess and the Frog, which features the company’s first Black princess, would be an easy but meaningful transition.[video_embed id='1984151']RELATED: ‘Scrubs’ removes three episodes featuring Blackface[/video_embed]“There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need,” reads the petition. “Princess and the Frog is a beloved princess movie but has very little representation in the parks. Tiana could be one of the first princesses with a thrill ride, as well as giving her a much deserved place in the parks. The framing of the ride is such that it could be easily changed to tell the story of Tiana while not compromising too much of the ride/costing a fortune in remodeling for Disney. This change could kill two birds with one stone, remove the offensive stereotypical theming the ride currently has and bring a much needed diversity to the parks.”According to the release, Disney has been working on the new ride since last year, and is hoping to make it more “inclusive” so that “all guests can connect with and be inspired by it… It speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year,” the company said in a statement. "Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what's really important," it added. "It's a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou."Following the announcement, both fans and stars from the 2009 film took to social media to share their excitement about the new ride. “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 voiced Tiana, wrote on Instagram. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon.”
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Good morning, and some good, fun news! Lead by Imagineer, Charita Carter, Splash Mountain is going to be reimagined as a Princess and the Frog ride!! •?• "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 & The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we've been waiting for, and I'm here for it!" ~Anika Noni Rose/ Princess Tiana??? •?• ??????????????????? #PrincessTiana #DisneyPrincess #SplashMountain #DisneyParks #DisneyAnimation #WaltDisney #DisneyWorld #DisneyLand

A post shared by Anika Noni Rose (@anikaaroundtheworld) on

“I am thrilled that The Princess and The Frog is being honoured for the joy it has brought to millions of Disney fans,” said Jenifer Lewis, who voiced Mama Odie. “As Louis the Alligator would say…HALLELUJAH!!!” added the voice of Louis, aka Michael-Leon Wooley.Disney hasn’t revealed when the new ride will debut, as it's still in the conceptualization stages, and both the California and Florida parks remain closed due to the pandemic. However the plan is to trace the princess’s story after the final kiss in the movie, and will follow Tiana and her alligator Louis on a “musical adventure” as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance. “As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway,” Disney said. “Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape. Stay tuned for more!”[video_embed id='1983386']BEFORE YOU GO:  More than 300 Black artists have signed a petition calling for change in Hollywood[/video_embed]

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