Disney visitors who have enjoyed singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” as they made their way down the “Song of the South”-themed Splash Mountain ride might need to come up with a new song now that Disney had said big changes are coming.
Disney announced Thursday that the “Song of the South” theme on the log flume ride is being scrapped in place of imagery from the 2009 animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”
That film featured Tiana, Disney’s first black princess, according to CNN.
“While the ride is considered a beloved classic it’s history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South,” the petition said.
The film is considered by many to be so controversial that Disney did not even make it available in its Disney+ streaming service.
“We’re thrilled to share Splash Mountain at @Disneyland & @WaltDisneyWorld will be completely reimagined with a new story inspired by an all-time favorite Disney Animation film, ‘The Princess & The Frog,'” Disney Animation tweeted.
We’re thrilled to share Splash Mountain at @Disneyland & @WaltDisneyWorld will be completely reimagined with a new story inspired by an all-time favorite Disney Animation film, “The Princess & The Frog.” Learn about what Imagineers have in development: https://t.co/ZDa3TiFlZr pic.twitter.com/sK4NOpR8FE
— Disney Animation (@DisneyAnimation) June 25, 2020
Details regarding the change were announced by Michael Ramirez, Disneyland Resort’s public relations director, in a post on Disney’s website.
Ramirez noted that Disneyland park in California and Disney World in Florida will each have the ride overhauled.
“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,” Ramirez said.
The post never mentions “Song of the South” by name, though it does obliquely refer to America’s current racially charged climate.
“[T]he retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. 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,” he wrote.
Likewise, race is never mentioned in describing Tiana, who Ramriez casts as a “modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important.”
Ramirez did not give any hints of when the new rides will take the place of the current ones, which right now are behind locked gates until Disney reopens its parks.
“As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape,” Ramirez wrote.
One Splash Mountain ride in its current guise will survive.
According to The New York Times, the company that operates Tokyo Disneyland has no plans to give the ride a “Princess and the Frog” theme.
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