The protests across America sparked by the killing of George Floyd has reached just about every avenue possible. It has allowed Americans of all races, creed, and color to take a big step back to carefully consider how to move forward. The world of theme parks is one more avenue that is being asked to look at certain aspects of their business. More specifically, we are talking about Disney and its popular ride, Splash Mountain.
Disney has announced they’ll change Splash Mountain’s theme to remove all references to the movie Song of the South. They will instead re-theme the ride to be patterned after the company’s last ever released 2D animated movie, The Princess and the Frog.
Splash Mountain is a ride that resides at three of Disney’s properties: Disneyland in California, Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland. The ride itself is based on a specific segment from Disney’s 1946 movie Song of the South. Even though the movie won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” the movie has been, for the longest time, the subject of a lot of controversy.
Despite the controversy, Disney has long resisted changing the ride, perhaps reasoning that the specific section of the movie that it’s based on (Br’er Rabbit) isn’t racist at all. But amidst the Black Lives Matter protests, activists have campaigned heavily for Disney to change the ride and now they’ve decided to comply.
The story of Song of the South was based on the stories of Uncle Remus and takes place in the South during the Reconstruction era, a time after the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. The movie deals with a young boy who visits his grandmother’s plantation and befriends Uncle Remus, who is working on the plantation. Uncle Remus loves to tell the young boy stories of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear, who also happen to be part of the movie in animated form. They (Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear) also happen to be the focus of the Splash Mountain ride.
The movie itself has not been seen in America since the ‘80s and has never been released on home video or DVD. The ride, for what it’s worth, has pretty much removed all aspects of Uncle Remus and only focuses on the Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear characters backed by the Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah song. Still, if you know the history behind the ride, it may not sit well with some. For this reason, a petition was been started to remove those elements of Splash Mountain and replace it with The Princess and the Frog.
The retheming of the ride was first floated on Twitter and from there gained some ground. First, it was a simple notion Splash Mountain should be rethemed, then another Twitter user went a step further by suggesting The Princess and the Frog complete with his own designs. Take a look.
As mentioned, the idea grew quickly. In fact, change.org has a petition to re-theme Splash Mountain into The Princess and the Frog. You can read the petition here. It’s currently approaching 2000 signatures.
Is Financially, will this be a win for Disney? Not only will they have to re-theme one park, but three.
In Disneyland, it especially makes a lot of sense. Splash Mountain is located next to New Orleans Square and with the bulk of The Princess and the Frog taking place on the bayou, the river ride theme would seem to be a perfect fit.