Walt Disney Co. said on Thursday that it will completely reimagine its popular, but often criticized, Disneyland and Magic Kingdom ride Splash Mountain.
The attraction has been condemned for years because of its theme and storyline, which are tied to Disney’s disavowed 1946 film “Song of the South.”
“Today we are thrilled to share a first glimpse of a project Imagineers have been working on since last year. Splash Mountain – at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida – will soon be completely reimagined,” Disney said in a statement. “The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, ‘The Princess and the Frog.'”
Disney’s change comes has Hollywood, and society at large, are reckoning with America’s racist history and the monuments and symbols that remain as a reminder.
Earlier this week HBO Max brought “Gone With the Wind” back after initially pulling from the streaming platform because of its racial insensitivities. The film now opens with a video introduction that speaks to the film’s flawed, romantic view of the Antebellum South.
“Song of the South,” which had been the basis for Disney’s Splash Mountain, takes place in the American South during Reconstruction, the period of American history following the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. The story follows seven-year-old Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) who is visiting his grandmother’s plantation.
The film, and thus Splash Mountain, have been the subject of controversy for some time, with critics describing its portrayal of African Americans as racist and offensive.
“The Princess and the Frog” tells the story of Tiana, a waitress in New Orleans, desperate to fulfill her dreams as a restaurant owner. She is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after kissing him.
“The approach to retheming 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?’ It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about,” Disney said. “With this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming 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.”