Splash Mountain is officially getting a “Princess and the Frog”-themed makeover.
Disney unveiled plans to completely rework Splash Mountain with a new theme dedicated to the 2009 Disney film “The Princess and the Frog” in a post shared on the Disney Parks Blog Thursday. According to the blog post, this reimagined ride — which Imagineers have been working on since last year — will continue the movie’s story after the final kiss, featuring 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.”
This news comes just weeks after an online petition asking Disney to change the theme of Splash Mountain to “The Princess and the Frog,” a beloved movie featuring Disney’s first Black princess, went viral, gathering over 20,000 signatures. The petition states, “Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be… While the ride is considered a beloved classic its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film “Song of the South.”
The “Song of the South” has been the center of controversy since it was released in 1946, criticized for its use of offensive stereotypes and idealization of life in the American South during the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War.
In the blog post, Disney acknowledges that this re-theming is especially important right now, saying, “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.”
Disney often reworks existing attractions to fit new movies, characters, and themes. Recently, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway replaced The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but before that, we saw the redesign of Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After at Epcot, and the list goes on. These transformative projects present Imagineers with the opportunity to incorporate new stories and innovative technologies within an existing attraction. And if the artwork shared by Disney is any indication of what’s to come, we can all look forward to a beautifully themed attraction featuring songs we all love on the thrilling log flume ride that has entertained guests for years.
Leading this new project is Charita Carter, a senior creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering. In the blog post, she shared her excitement, saying, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, also said, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! 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!”
This new version of the ride will replace Splash Mountain at Disneyland Park in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida, but there’s no mention of the Tokyo Disneyland iteration of this ride in the blog post. There’s no date set for this ride transformation yet.
Disney theme parks around the world closed this winter amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they are beginning to reopen with new health and safety restrictions in place. Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland are now open, and Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Walt Disney World’s theme parks are set to reopen this July. Disneyland was set to reopen in time for its 65th anniversary, but now its reopening date has been postponed until further notice.