Disney has been around for so long that some even venture to say that it’s been here since the dawn of time. In just three years, Disney as a company will have been around for a full century! We have entire generations who grew up on Disney’s cartoons, making all things Disney more than just a thing for kids at this point.
And as new IPs come out, others are being shut down because times change and, in retrospect, certain Disney products become inappropriate because they are a product of their time rather than a future-proof thing.
Which is why Disney has come out with an announcement that its beloved amusement park ride, Splash Mountain, a log flume ride based on Song of the South, will be re-skinned to The Princess and the Frog.
Disneyland has just announced that it’ll be retheming its Splash Mountain ride in California and Florida
Image credits: Disney
On June 25th, Disney released an announcement that it’s gathering all of its Imagineers with the aim of transforming the long-living Splash Mountain ride in Disneyland California and Disneyland Florida. Splash Mountain is based on Disney’s 1946 live-action and animated musical film, and is planned to undergo a full reimagining into another Disney IP, The Princess and the Frog from 2009, as a bayou-inspired tribute.
Though Disney’s official channels aren’t explicitly stating the reasons behind this change, everything seems to hint at the years of controversy surrounding the film that the ride is based on and the recent events tied to George Floyd’s death as well as the number of petitions and talks on social media urging Disney to reskin the ride.
It plans to reskin the ride under the theme of The Princess And The Frog, completely eliminating any references to Song of the South
Image credits: myfrozenlife
Though it’s not official, such a move is speculated to be caused by the racist themes in and controversy surrounding the 1946 film that the ride is based on
Image credits: J Etzel
You see, the 1946 film Song of the South has led to a significant amount of controversy regarding how it handled the theme of race. Critics said that the film perpetuates a glorified picture of slavery, having it set on a plantation after the Civil War and distorting facts with its impression of an idyllic master–slave relationship, making it an extremely offensive and racist film.
A number of petitions to retheme the ride have popped up recently, including this one by Alex O and this one by Katie Wallace. The petitions addressed how Disney has been distancing itself from the 1946 film in recent times by not including it in its streaming services and how it aims to be a diverse park and brand meant to be enjoyed by all.
“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,” explained Disney’s Public Relations Director
Image credits: Jennifer Lynn
Despite this, Disney has failed to do anything about the Splash Mountain ride for years. The petitions call for action to reimagine the ride using any one of their other IPs, with Alex O’s petition specifically suggesting The Princess and the Frog as a solution.
And, Disney listened. Michael Ramirez, Public Relations Director at Disneyland Resort, said this in the announcement: “The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, ‘The Princess and the Frog’. 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.”
Disneyland aficionado Frederick Chambers also proposed this theme weeks before Disney’s official announcement providing a rather appropriate vision for the end result
He continued: “It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the 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.”
Disney Park aficionado Frederick Chambers has actually been working on a retheme of Splash Mountain into The Princess and the Frog weeks before the official announcement, saying that it shouldn’t be too expensive. He gave a number of suggestions, including making Mama Odie’s place the location for the queue and the loading area, the first drop, all of the lift hills, and surrounding areas to be a bayou setting with fireflies at night and a foggy swamp during the day, and many more.
The Human Rights Network released a short video explaining the racist undertones of Song of the South
Image credits: Human Rights Network
If you’re not familiar with The Princess and the Frog, give its trailer a go
Image credits: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Even though there were some who opposed the idea of re-theming the ride, as seen in a counter petition here, many are happy to hear that Splash Mountain is getting a reskin. People on Twitter and Instagram have been rejoicing at the news, saying that it was long overdue with the ride standing there for around 30 years and taunting “racists whose log flume ride has been taken away from them”. These comments were alongside their extreme enthusiasm to ride the reimagined log flume ride.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Disney should have gone with another movie for their revamping of Splash Mountain? Let us know in the comments section below!