- Disney has announced plans to turn its Splash Mountain log-flume rides at Disney World and Disneyland into “Princess and the Frog”-themed attractions.
- Though Disney has not yet announced when the new versions of the ride will open, the theme-park giant said it had been planning these renovations since last year.
- The change was announced shortly after an online petition was created with the goal of encouraging Disney to ditch the ride’s music and characters from “Song of the South.”
- The 1946 film has been widely criticised for its racist plot and imagery, and it has not been made available to stream on Disney Plus.
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Disney has announced plans to turn Splash Mountain into a “Princess and the Frog”-themed ride at its US theme parks.
The news was shared on Thursday through a post on the Disney Parks Blog. According to the website, Disney has been working on the new theme since last year and plans to soon implement the change at both Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
“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’s public-relations director, Michael Ramirez, wrote for the Disney Parks Blog.
“Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important,” Ramirez continued. “It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new ‘land’ added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of ‘The Princess and the Frog’ to our parks.”
New concept art from Disney shows what Splash Mountain is expected to look like after being turned into a ‘Princess and the Frog’-themed ride
An illustration of the ride’s new theme shows a classic Splash Mountain log flume coursing through the Louisiana bayou alongside Princess Tiana and the jazz-loving alligator Louis. In addition to these characters and music from the film, the concept art suggests the ride will replace Splash Mountain’s mountains and thorns with giant trees and sparkling lights.
“The approach to re-theming or ‘plussing’ attractions – as Walt Disney referred to it – begins with Imagineers asking the question, ‘How can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story?‘” Ramirez wrote for the Disney Parks Blog.
“It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about,” he continued, referring to Disney’s research-and-development staff. “And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the re-theming 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.”
In an interview with D23, the president of Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Weis, said “The Princess and the Frog” was chosen as a new theme for the ride, despite the movie being released 11 years ago, because “there’s no expiration date on great storytelling.” He also said Disney would be “missing a lot of opportunity” if the company limited itself to a specific time period.
“We have a long-standing history of enhancing attractions with ‘new magic,’ like Pirates of the Caribbean, and completely re-theming others, like Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout,” Weis said. “We completely understand that these decisions aren’t always popular, but I think our biggest fans know that we care as much as they do.”
Disney announced the ride’s refurbishment shortly after fans started a petition to overhaul Splash Mountain
Earlier in June, a Disney fan named Alex O. began a Change.org petition that called on Disney parks to replace Splash Mountain’s theme with an overlay inspired by “The Princess and the Frog.”
The petition, which quickly surpassed its goal of 10,000 signatures, argued that while the ride’s existing theme was loved by many fans, its “history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from ‘Song of the South.'” The 1946 film – which has not been made available to stream on Disney Plus – is set on a plantation and follows “a black former slave who lives happily on his former white master’s plantation,” as Insider’s Abby Monteil previously noted.
On Disney World’s website, Splash Mountain is described as a “hare-raising ride” that brings parkgoers through “a colourful Southern bayou.” Riders follow character Br’er Rabbit on his search for his “laughing place,” as he runs away from his enemies Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox.
Disney has not yet announced when Splash Mountain will be re-themed, but it has said on the Disney Parks Blog that its senior creative producer Charita Carter will lead the project. No changes have been announced for the Splash Mountain ride at Tokyo Disneyland.
Representatives for Tokyo Disneyland did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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