Look out Br’er Rabbit, Louis is comin’ to claim his spot! Disney Parks announced on Thursday June 25th that its most popular/problematic ride is getting “completely reimagined.” The 31-year-old Splash Mountain will now house Disney’s first Black princess and her crew!
Amid all the things happening right now in the country, with the Black Lives Matter movement spearheading the removal of any racist content out there including statues, movies and even canceling businesses that don’t support the movement, Disney found itself in the crossfire. A petition on Change.org received over 20,000 signatures asking Disney to replace the theme song to the infamous Splash Mountain ride.
How did Disney respond? With a COMPLETE REIMAGINATION of the ride!
The concept will be inclusive and “one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by,” says Disney. The classic log flume ride will stay basically the same, but will now take place in the Bayou and pick up where the story left off after “the final kiss” in the movie, Princess and the Frog.
Leading the project is Imagineer Charita Carter. Carter has been an Imagineer at Disney for 22 years and was also behind the creation of the recently released ride, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway” in Hollywood Studios. The Disney blog says this was a concept that has been 5 years in the making, and they are proud that it is finally coming to life.
A statement from Disney: “Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. 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.”
If you’re confused and don’t know the history of Splash Mountain, here’s a little back story…
Splash Mountain is based off of the movie Song of the South, in which Disney themselves haven’t made available, in any form, for over 33 years because of the racist imagery in the film. The film has been criticized for its controversial and offensive portrayals of Black people. While the ride doesn’t overly reference the film, it is built around the Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox characters, who are said to represent white slave owners in the film.
The ride also features the popular Oscar winning song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” A song in which Uncle Remus (a character in the film) explains why he likes the “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Days.” “Dat’s the kinda day when you can’t open yo mouf without a song jumpin’ right out of it,” as he says in the film.
Read that again…
He’s basically alluding to slaves singing in the cottonfields, making it seem like they couldn’t have been that miserable because they were singing. While the words “slave” or “slavery” are never uttered in the film, it is well known that Uncle Remus was once the property of the plantation he calls home. There are many examples of pernicious racism in the film, which is the reason so many people called for a change of Splash Mountain.
Carmen Smith, VP of Creative Development and Inclusion Strategies at Walt Disney Imagineering said, “It is important that our guests be able to see themselves in the experiences we create.” I think many little girls and boys will be very happy to see this change and be able to relate to Disney in a new way.
So far, there is no date set for the opening of this new ride, but be sure that LATV will have an update for you when we find out!