Disney reveals plan to 'completely reimagine' Splash Mountain due to concerns
Splash Mountain is getting a major makeover.
Disney announced Thursday plans to "completely reimagine" the immersive theme park log ride in the wake of concerns over the original's Song of the South theme.
The ride will now have a story inspired by the 2009 Disney Animation film The Princess & The Frog, which told the story of Princess Tiana, Disney's first Black princess. The new story follows Tiana and her alligator friend, Louis, on a musical adventure and is set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou. The reboot is a savvy choice as it finds a way to retain the ride’s original Southern theme but ties it to a more modern (and non-problematic) title.
Here's a piece of concept art released by the company:
Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Princess Tiana in the film, reacted to the news on Instagram: "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!"
Splash Mountain opened in 1989 and took visitors on a dark ride journey through the Old South. The setting was based on the 1946 film Song of the South and took guests past several different scenes. The lead character in the tale was an elderly Black man named Uncle Remus (played by James Baskett in the film). The ride includes animatronic animals singing the film's song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" before plunging guests down a 50-foot drop.
Song of the South has long been accused of perpetuating racist stereotypes and there has been a Change.org petition urging Disney to alter the ride's theme. As pointed out by USA Today, the film has notably never been available on home video in the U.S., nor is it included in Disney Plus.
Here are a couple of images from inside the original Splash Mountain ride:
Disney parks have been on a rocky road to reopening recently as coronavirus cases have surged in June. Disney World is scheduled to reopen on July 11, but Disneyland recently postponed its plan to reopen July 17.