Disney's Splash Mountain to get makeover amid Black Lives Matter push

The ride will no longer feature characters from Song of the South and will instead go with a theme based on the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
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Splash Mountain Princess and the Frog

Splash Mountain will be reworked around the movie The Princess and the Frog.

Disney Parks

Disney is reinventing its Splash Mountain ride after activists criticized the attraction for being based on the racially problematic movie Song of the South. California's Disneyland and Florida's Walt Disney World will give the ride a new theme drawn from the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog, the Disney Parks blog said Thursday. 

"The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today," the blog item says. "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."

The move follows Splash Mountain becoming the target of several petitions on Change.org amid the Black Lives Matter movement. Splash Mountain, which was opened in 1989 at Disneyland, took music, characters and scenery from 1946 movie Song of the South, a live-action film combined with an animated musical. The movie is set on a southern plantation after the Civil War and has been criticized for glorifying plantation slavery and promoting Black stereotypes.

Read: Black Lives Matter: What you can do to help now and all year long

Disney said its Imagineers have been working on the project to retheme Splash Mountain since last year.

The ride will be set after the events of The Princess and the Frog, and will join Princess Tiana and her alligator pal Louis "on a musical adventure" while they prepare for a Mardi Gras performance in New Orleans.

"Tiana is a modern, courageous and empowered woman who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what's really important," the Disney Parks blog said. The movie's setting in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou will be tied into the nearby New Orleans Square area of Disneyland.

Disney says conceptual design work is underway, with Imagineers able to determine a timeline for the refurbishment of the popular ride soon.

The concept art shows the famous tree stump atop Splash Mountain transformed into Mama Odie's tree in the bayou, with the ship she lives in perched on top. The interior of the ride will change its scenes featuring Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear to instead feature Tiana, Louis and, likely, Prince Naveen, Charlotte La Bouff and Mama Odie. The music will shift to songs from The Princess and the Frog, which include Dig A Little Deeper and Almost There.

"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 voice of Tiana. "The Imagineers are giving us 'The Princess and the Frog' Mardi Gras celebration we've been waiting for, and I'm here for it!"

Splash Mountain's original designer, Tony Baxter, will work on the new overly as a creative adviser. "The attraction will be one to be proud of," Baxter said. The project will be led by Charita Carter, senior creative producer at Disney Imagineering.

No word yet on whether the ride will be rethemed at Tokyo Disneyland.

Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.