The Walt Disney Company will completely overhaul its popular Splash Mountain rides at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California following accusations that the theme park attraction features racist imagery from the 1946 Disney movie Song of the South.
Disney said Thursday that the revised Splash Mountain will be adapted from the 2009 Disney animated movie The Princess and the Frog, which features a black heroine.
We're thrilled to share Splash Mountain at @Disneyland & @WaltDisneyWorld will be completely reimagined with a new story inspired by an all-time favorite @DisneyAnimation film, “The Princess and the Frog.” Learn about what Imagineers have in development: https://t.co/HyKfdDSH3j pic.twitter.com/DV6476KAVX
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) June 25, 2020
In its announcement, Disney made no mention of the growing social media pressure against Splash Mountain.
The ride, which debuted in 1989, consists of a log flume journey through an animatronic world from Song of the South, culminating in a thrilling drop of more than 50 feet through rapid waters.
But since Black Lives Matter protests have swept through the country, there has been mounting pressure against Splash Mountain. An online petition that gathered 21,000 signatures called the attraction “problematic” due to its “racist tropes.”
“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 best next step to remove all traces of this racist movie would be to re-theme Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog themed ride.”
Disney appears to have taken the petition’s recommendation.
The company said conceptual design work is well underway and Disney Imagineers “will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.”
Disney said the ride will pick up where Princess and the Frog left off.
“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,” the company said in its announcement.
Disney has not made Song of the South available on its Disney+ streaming services.
There is also a Splash Mountain ride at Tokyo Disney Resort. The company didn’t say if that version of the ride will also be revised.