Disney’s “Splash Mountain” to get new theme amid criticism of racist history

Amid criticism for having “racist” roots, Disney’s “Splash Mountain” is getting a total makeover.

Anika Noni Rose, who voiced “The Princess and the Frog” wrote on Instagram:

Good morning, and some good, fun news! Lead by Imagineer, Charita Carter, Splash Mountain is going to be reimagined as a Princess and the Frog ride!!
•👑•

“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 & The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

~Anika Noni Rose/ Princess Tiana

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Good morning, and some good, fun news! Lead by Imagineer, Charita Carter, Splash Mountain is going to be reimagined as a Princess and the Frog ride!! •👑• “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 & The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!” ~Anika Noni Rose/ Princess Tiana👸🏽💚 •👑• 👸🏽💚🎢👸🏽💚🎢👸🏽💚🎢👸🏽💚🎢👸🏽💚 #PrincessTiana #DisneyPrincess #SplashMountain #DisneyParks #DisneyAnimation #WaltDisney #DisneyWorld #DisneyLand

A post shared by Anika Noni Rose (@anikaaroundtheworld) on

USAToday reports amid a national push to rethink racist stereotypes in popular culture, Disney is giving its Splash Mountain attraction a new theme based on its 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog” and centered on Disney’s first Black princess.

The move follows a Change.org petition calling for Disney to drop the original inspiration for Splash Mountain, the 1946 film “Song of the South.” According to Disney, the company has been working on the change since last year.

The film was controversial from the beginning for what its critics, including the NAACP, considered a glossed-over portrayal of slavery.

Its live-action narrator, an elderly Black man named Uncle Remus, was played by James Baskett, who was the second African American to win an Oscar. Baskett did not attend the film’s premiere at an Atlanta theater where Blacks had to sit separately in the balcony.

The film has never been available on home video in the U.S., nor is it included in Disney Plus.

The online petition had pushed for Disney to center Splash Mountain on the story of Princess Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess.

“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!” said Anika Noni Rose, the Tony-winning actress who provided Tiana’s voice in the film.

“The Princess and the Frog” will become the new theme at Splash Mountain in both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.

Disney World is scheduled to reopen on July 11 after being closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Disneyland was scheduled to reopen on July 17, but the company said Wednesday that the date would have to be postponed due to a delay in California’s coronavirus reopening protocols.

The new Splash Mountain, according to Disney, will follow Tiana and her alligator friend, Louis, on a musical adventure against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou and timed for Mardi Gras.

Per Yahoo, as for when this will happen, Disney is “still evaluating project timelines” due to COVID-19. For now, the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland “will re-open with the existing Splash Mountain attraction,” with the date for the makeover to be announced soon.

The project will be spearheaded by Carmen Smith (creative development and inclusive strategies executive at Walt Disney Imagineering) and led by Charita Carter (senior creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering).

“We continually evaluate opportunities to enhance and elevate experiences for our guests,” Smith said. “It’s important that our guests be able to see themselves in the experiences we create. Because we consider ourselves constant learners, we go to great lengths to research and engage cultural advisors and other experts to help guide us along the way. I am incredibly proud to see this work continue to move forward with great support from leadership across Disney.”