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Splash Mountain to Be Rethemed to The Princess and the Frog

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According to the OC Register, Disney will officially be retheming Splash Mountain in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom to an attraction based on the animated classic, The Princess and the Frog. The new attraction will pick up after the final kiss, and we join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the incredible music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.

“The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” according to a statement posted to the Disney Parks Blog. “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.”

According to the article, this change over has actually been in the works for a while. In fact, it’s actually been on the table since last year. While it may have been on the table for a while, the move seems to be pushed forward by Disney following a flurry of social media buzz to update Splash Mountain’s controversial backstory amid social justice protests. The Splash Mountain makeover will be led by Imagineering senior creative producer Charita Carter. The article also states that Imagineer Tony Baxter, who had a hand in creating Splash Mountain, will serve as a creative advisor for this makeover.

Splash Mountain is based off the controversial 1940s Disney film, Song of the South. The film itself features characters and songs based on the “Uncle Remus” stories, which is a collection of folktales from the Southern plantation era compiled by Joel Chandler Harris and published in the 1880s, which have been criticized for perpetuating racist stereotypes. Disney shelved the controversial live-action/animated musical film back in the 1980s and the company’s former CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger said the movie would not appear on Disney+.

As of right now, we don’t have a closing date for updating the attraction. It does however appear that when the parks reopen from their coronavirus closure, it will reopen in its current form at both resorts.

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Rikki Niblett

I am a co-host of the Be Our Guest Podcast and do lots of other fun Disney stuff all around the interwebs! You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @RikkiNibs or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rikkinibs

24 thoughts on “Splash Mountain to Be Rethemed to The Princess and the Frog

  • The timeline in WDW works for me because clearly, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad takes place hundreds of years in our future on a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by goats. The last of the great late 1970s edu-tainment rides.

    I love Splash, but it’s time to go. Let’s make a great ride more fun for more people.

  • If you are looking for racism, you will find it everywhere – even where it doesn’t exist. Don’t panic people!

  • First anyone who believes this was in the pipeline before all the protests I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell. Second it’s shameless pandering. Third it seems like a terrible way to give Tiana an attraction. Isn’t she entitled to her own NEW attraction and not leftovers. There must be a better way to incorporate her. And last as I’ve seen pointed out many times already. New Orleans is far from the frontier. Wasn’t one of the reasons for utilidors to keep spaceman from cowboys and jarring the senses. Well the Deep South in the frontier is equally jarring.

  • Devastating to see this bow to political pressure. Context is everything and this is our families favourite ride. We visit Disney from Canada every year. Not sure about the future. It’s awful.

  • Splash Mountain is my favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom. As a black man, I am saddened by this news. The original IP was racist no doubt about it. But I never took offense at all for Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox while riding Splash Mountain. The ride had no reference back to Song Of The South, either. While I do understand the change, I highly disagree with it. My family and I are very disappointed and saddened by this decision.

    • I am not sure what you mean by IP, but if you mean ‘Song of the South’ or the Harris stories, I am curious why you view them as racist. It is true that they depict Blacks as poor and whites as well to do, but that is not an in accurate depiction of the time. It has been a ling time since I have seen the film, but one thing that I am certain about is that the film was not hateful. Uncle Remus was depicted as a kind, understanding and very intelligent individual. I am 80 and saw it as a very young boy. I think it was the first film I ever saw. Actually I saw it before I recall ever seeing a Black person. I think it can be criticized for glossing over the racial issues, but the same can be said of virtually every film made before the 1960s. In fact, to my knowledge it was one of first films made that depicted a Black man in a positive role. Which was an important step for a movie studio — and Disney led the way. At any rate I would like to know what you see as racist about it.

  • If they can fit Gardians of the Galaxy in to EPCOT and the Laugh Factory into Tomorrowland, they can fit any attraction anywhere. And they have. At least a bayou involves water so its less of a stretch than the other aforementioned attractions.

  • I’m surprised nobody has commented on the fact that Splash Mountain…….. is in FRONTIERLAND. How in the world are they going to integrate The Princess And The Frog into it? Keeping in mind that a good portion of the ride is outside and in plain view (although that could change, I suppose). It seems to completely not fit the land it’s sitting in, and would be more appropriate for Fantasyland.

  • My personal belief is that this was NOT in the pipeline, but hey it makes a great sound bite. Let’s be honest, Disney is only doing it to satisfy the moment. Will it ever actually be done….that’s to be seen considering the current economic situation the company is in. I would miss it though, I have never seen SOTS and really don’t care to. Again please take all this with a grain of salt.

  • Exactly!

  • Absolutely ridiculous! There is nothing offensive in that ride. When is this insanity going to end? When they’ve completely rewritten history? Disgusting.

  • NO. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is one of Disney’s best songs! Enough with this madness.

  • Easy Len. They can have the Agents of Shield use a Time Traveling device (like they’re using this season) placed between both rides in order to shift decades.

  • Splash in WDW is my favorite Disney ride, and I’m excited for the change. Disneyland’s update should fit in directly.

    I’m unsure as to how they’re going to put 1926 New Orleans in between Pecos Bill’s, which is set in Texas in 1878, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is set in Arizona at some time between 1870 and 1899.

  • “You Must Remember This” podcast has a 6 part series on the cultural context of “Song Of The South”. The more you know, the more you’ll understand Disney’s moves, 74 years ago and now.

    Although there are components of the Splash Mountain ride I will miss, my nostalgia is not the point. SOTS and SM are based in a low point in the United States history that should be acknowledged but not romanticized. The fact that the story’s racism isn’t front and center on the ride doesn’t erase it lurking just behind the scenes.

    Good work, Disney!

    • Reconstruction was hardly a “low point” in American history. I may have failed in its lofty objectives, but it was the first time in the history not only of the United, but for all of African people that a major effort was made to do right by African people. And you are also talking about the era that millions of Europeans found sanctuary and opportunity in America. Calling that a low point in American history is only something the 1619n cultist would say.

      There is something else that should be considered. Slavery is just one form of forced labor, The most egregious, but only one. And since the Neolithic/Agricultural Revolution, forced labor has been the condition of the vast majority of mankind. This included the Middle East, China, India, Europe, and Amer-Indian people. The American Revolution was with few exceptions was the first time that the average Joe, the person who worked the land could own his own land. Not is is absolutely true that Africans were terribly abused, but the 1619 Project just ignores the historical record. And it also ignores the history of slavery in America. Slavery was not enshrined in the Constitution. And northern cities and states were among the first polities in history to abolish–an institution widely practiced in Africa throughput history.

  • It’s a good change if not for the IP that the ride represents, but for bringing it more up-to-date with Disney’s current catalog of films. I do remember seeing this film in the 70s or early 80s on TV, but today’s kids (and many of their parents) have no relation of the film to the ride.

    For anyone worried about changing a classic, Disney has hit homeruns with its retheming of Tower of Terror to Mission: Breakout in Disneyland and Maelstrom to Frozen Ever After in Disneyworld.

  • To those that think that Disney will not make this change, I am sure that it will happen. Even Tony Baxter, who created Splash Mountain, is being consulted on the change. Not only is it culturally appropriate, it creates a new experience. The ride and splashdown won’t be changed, and Tiana is a very popular character. In fact, this gives Disney a chance to sell more merchandise since Tiana is certainly more popular than any of the Brer characters. This is an all around win for Disney. Just hope that Splash is ready by August 2021 for our next trip.

  • @Andy, there are many, many reasons why they cancelled the new hotel and I will be greatly surprised if it stays cancelled forever. It’s also new construction rather than a remodel.

    Same goes for the theater. From what I see this is a case of choosing new construction project X over new construction project Y. Again, hardly the same thing.

    None of these things have any sort of the cultural impact that this project has. When it comes to social awareness Disney in general likes to be perceived as one of the good guys so announcing this project and then bailing really doesn’t fit that profile, don’t you think?

  • @James: “As to the possibility of Disney reversing course later, well that’s never really been Disney’s style. Certainly not in the modern era.”

    Off the top of my head, recent projects/additions that Disney has formally announced, then cancelled: the new luxury hotel at Disneyland; the Main Street theater in Orlando; seasonal overlays of Toy Story Mania; table-service dining in SW:GE; a much larger version of Slinky Dog Dash.

    And that was BEFORE all the cancellations that will come in the wake of COVID. We know the Spaceship Earth reimagining has been axed, and rumors swirl about other stuff (Epcot’s new festival center, Reflections Lodge, etc).

    It would be very easy for Disney to never actually break ground on this, never mention it again, and when the OC Register finally asks them for an update, give them some terse “our plans are always evolving/due to economic conditions” press statement. I’m not saying I would EXPECT that to happen, just that it wouldn’t be surprising if it did happen.

  • Not to mention, I don’t know about Disney World but Splash Mountain at Disneyland is getting pretty long in the tooth. One way or another it’s been in dire need of upgrades for a long time.

  • I think this is a a great idea. When they decided to redo the Tower of Terror at Disneyland I was pretty hacked off. I loved that ride. I actually got to ride it the day they opened by complete happenstance. I was also one of the first people to get stuck on that ride when they had their first mechanical malfunction! 😀 But I have to say the new Mission Breakout was an excellent replacement.

    So while I do love the current Splash Mountain ride I am looking forward to this new version a great deal. I think it will be awesome in it’s own right.

    As to the possibility of Disney reversing course later, well that’s never really been Disney’s style. Certainly not in the modern era.

  • I’m saddened by this move. Splash Mountain is a great and fun ride especially on a hot day. It’s crazy to perceive anything bad from a trip thru the Brer Patch and the Laughing Place.
    Do I think Tiana should have her own ride? Yes! But not at the expense of Brer Rabbit! SMH.

  • Fascinating! Song of the South is certainly flawed and controversial (that’s why Disney has never EVER released it on home video in the US), but a ride on Splash Mountain doesn’t expose you to any of the flawed/controversial aspects of the movie. You have to bring-your-own-baggage regarding the source material. I had assumed that Disney was going to hunker down and let the moment pass, but here we are.

    Two thoughts:

    1. Since this idea appears to have already been in the pipeline, it’s actually a VERY savvy move for Disney to announce it now. Now they get credit for being woke and responsive to cultural changes in a historic moment. If they had announced this 2 months ago, we all would have trashed it as yet another cheap attempt at plastering a franchise onto an existing attraction to appease the synergy gods (see the initial reactions to Guardians Mission Breakout, Stitch’s Escape, Frozen Ever After, etc).

    2. It also wouldn’t be *entirely* surprising if this project never actually breaks ground, and is then quietly cancelled next year once the cultural moment has passed.

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