Disney's Splash Mountain to lose 'Song of the South,' add Princess Tiana

  • In this March 21, 2007 file photo, the character Brer Rabbit, from the movie, "Song of the South," is depicted near the entrance to the Splash Mountain ride in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Splash Mountain ride at Disney parks in California and Florida is being recast. Disney officials said the ride would no longer be tied to the 1946 movie, "Song of the South," which many view as racist. Instead, the revamped ride will be inspired by the 2009 Disney film, "The Princess and the Frog," which has an African-American female lead.

    In this March 21, 2007 file photo, the character Brer Rabbit, from the movie, "Song of the South," is depicted near the entrance to the Splash Mountain ride in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Splash Mountain ride at Disney parks in California and Florida is being recast. Disney officials said the ride would no longer be tied to the 1946 movie, "Song of the South," which many view as racist. Instead, the revamped ride will be inspired by the 2009 Disney film, "The Princess and the Frog," which has an African-American female lead. Associated Press

  • Princess Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, right, is shown with frog Prince Naveen, voiced by Bruno Campos, in a scene from the 2009 animated film, "The Princess and the Frog."

    Princess Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, right, is shown with frog Prince Naveen, voiced by Bruno Campos, in a scene from the 2009 animated film, "The Princess and the Frog." Associated Press

  • Splash Mountain will keep its iconic steep drop, but will lose the theming based on "Song of the South."

    Splash Mountain will keep its iconic steep drop, but will lose the theming based on "Song of the South." Associated Press

 
By Mike Schneider
Associated Press
Updated 6/25/2020 2:37 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Amid calls to change the Splash Mountain theme park ride over its ties to "Song of the South," the 1946 movie many view as racist, Disney officials said Thursday it was retheming the ride with characters from "The Princess and the Frog," a 2009 animated film led by Disney's first Black princess.

Changes to the ride will be made both at Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida, the company said in a post on the Disney Parks Blog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Disney said the changes had been in the works since last year, but the announcement comes as companies across the U.S. are renaming decades-old brands amid worldwide protests for racial justice after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month.

"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," the Disney post said.

Splash Mountain first opened as a log-flume ride at Disneyland in the late 1980s.

The revamped ride will follow the contours of the animated movie, "The Princess and the Frog," in which actress Anika Noni Rose voices the role of Tiana, a 1920s aspiring chef in New Orleans who kisses a prince that has been turned into a frog and becomes one herself.

With racist stereotypes and Old South tropes, "Song of the South" is a mix of live action, cartoons and music featuring an old black plantation laborer named Uncle Remus who enchants a white city boy with fables of talking animals. The current incarnation of Splash Mountain includes animal characters like Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox, but not Uncle Remus.

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Groups including the NAACP protested the film's initial release. The film isn't available to the millions of subscribers of the company's new Disney Plus streaming service, and it hasn't been released in theaters in decades.

"Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be," said an online petition asking for the ride to be changed. "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."

But Splash Mountain had its supporters. Another online petition asked that the ride remain in its current incarnation.

"Many adults and children ride this attraction because it brings back childhood memories," the "Keep Splash Mountain" petition said. "Disney already took out the racist songs which was a good move on their part."

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