Story at a glance
- Disney fans petitioned for an update to Splash Mountain, which is based on the 1946 movie 'Song of the South.'
- The theme park announced that it will reimagine the ride with "The Princess and the Frog" as its theme.
- Princess Tiana was the first Black Disney princess created for the film "The Princess and The Frog" in 2009.
A major Disney theme park attraction based on the 1946 movie "Song of the South," which has been criticized for its racist depictions of Black people, will now be transformed to honor the first Black Disney princess.
The announcement grants the demands of a Change.org petition with more than 21,000 signatures, although the release does not mention it directly. The goal is to create a more inclusive experience for a diverse audience.
On the website for the petition, organizer Alex O wrote, "I really didn’t think this would get any attention. I saw the discussion on Twitter about retheming the ride, was speaking with friends about how there should be a petition to have a count on how many people actually support that idea and decided to make one since I couldn't find one."
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Soon, their hypothetical discussion will be realized, with Splash Mountain rides in both Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom park in Florida redesigned in a "The Princess and the Frog" theme. The storyline picks up after the final kiss in the movie, with the characters, including Princess Tiana and Louis, preparing for Mardi Gras.
We're thrilled to share Splash Mountain at @Disneyland & @WaltDisneyWorld will be completely reimagined with a new story inspired by an all-time favorite @DisneyAnimation film, “The Princess and the Frog.” Learn about what Imagineers have in development: https://t.co/HyKfdDSH3j pic.twitter.com/DV6476KAVX— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) June 25, 2020
Actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Princess Tiana, said in a statement, “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 and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
Michael-Leon Wooley, who voiced the trumpet-playing alligator Louis, chimed in, saying, “I think this is great news, or as Louis would say - HALLELUJAH!”
While the Imagineers are still in the creative development process, Disney's creative department said they will soon begin conducting preliminary reviews and develop a timeline. The theme parks are currently shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Disneyland in California is planning a phased reopening beginning July 17. In Florida, part of Disney World is being used to house and play the postponed NBA season this summer.
Charita Carter, the senior creative producer leading the project at Walt Disney Imagineering said in a release, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
On Twitter, some fans were less excited, mourning the change, but others were more optimistic.
That’s it @DisneyParks give into the pressure. This is ridiculous. Are we just gonna change everything and just rewrite history completely?!?! Grow up people, stop whining and learn from the past to make the future better!— DisneyMomLife (@BlockHeadGemini) June 25, 2020
Splash mountain is my favorite attraction at Disney, I’m so excited for this re theming!! This has been a long time coming and it’s gonna be really beautiful. Also, Tiana is my sister’s favorite princess and maybe this will make show her this ride isn’t too scary for her pic.twitter.com/mXS558ABwi— dakota (@northdakota001) June 25, 2020
"Song of the South," is based on a collection of stories starring Uncle Remus, a caricature of an older black man created and written by Joel Chandler Harris, a white man who sought to imitate African American Vernacular English. The movie has been criticized for its racist tropes and the idealization of the plantation setting. Disney has not released the movie on any home video format in the United States.
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