Disney Parks announced today that its iconic log-flume ride, Splash Mountain, is getting a whole new look. The beloved water ride is based off the controversial film Song of the South from the 1940s, but today the company shared that the both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom locations are completely reimagining the 1989 ride with a more contemporary—and inclusive—film, The Princess and the Frog.
Imagineers began planning the revamp last year, according to the parks’ announcement, and will set the new ride in New Orleans, following characters from the 2009 film such as Princess Tiana, Louis and Mama Odie through their preparations for a Mardi Gras performance. Fans have been calling for the re-theming for years, even creating an online petition to ditch Splash Mountain’s problematic origins.
There’s no estimation on the ride’s completion, nor any word on whether the original Splash Mountain will still be available to visit whenever Disneyland reopens. But we do have an artist’s concept, which places Princess Tiana—Disney’s first Black princess—in a bayou surrounded by twinkling fireflies. At the top of the drop? Gone is the dry and hollowed-out tree trunk; the new ride imagines a verdant landscape topped with Mama Odie’s tree.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!” says actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Princess Tiana in the movie. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us The Princess and the Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
While Song of the South gave us perennial Disney hit “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” much of its content is controversial and considered racist. Set on a plantation in the deep South during the Reconstruction era, the combination live-action and animation movie centers on the fictional, formerly enslaved Uncle Remus and his storytelling, which involve characters such as, say, the caricature-like Tar-Baby. The Tar-Baby and Uncle Remus never featured in the parks’ water ride, and in fact Song of the South has never been pushed to DVD or home streaming in the decades since its 1946 release. The ride and the Academy Award-winning song are the only remnants of the film in Disney parks.
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