Disney To Re-theme Splash Mountain With THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG After Facing Backlash Over Racist Tropes
Disney's iconic attraction, Splash Mountain, is leaving Adventureland and heading down the Louisiana bayou where it will be re-themed based on The Princess and the Frog and star Princess Tiana and Louis.
Based on the 1946 live-action/animated musical film The Song of the South, Disney's iconic attraction, Splash Mountain, has long been the subect of criticism for its ties to racial discrimination and offensive tropes. Facing immense backlash, especially in light of the growing Black Lives Matter movement across America, The Walt Disney Company has finally made the decision to re-theme the attraction.
Splash Mountain at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida will both be completely reimagined with a theme fittingly inspired by The Princess and the Frog, the 2009 animated musical that introduced Disney's first African American princess, Tiana. Set in 1926 New Orleans, the animated film tells the story of Tiana, a hardworking waitress with dreams of opening her own restaurant. When she kisses a prince (Naveen) who was turned into a frog by an evil voodoo sorcerer, Tiana finds herself transformed into a frog and must find a way to turn back into a human. The two ultimately fall in love and are restored into their human form after they kiss.
The new Disney attraction will pick up after that final kiss as park goers join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure as the two prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance. Disneyland Resort Public Relations Director Michael Ramirez offered the following comment on the attraction's new theme:
Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!" added Anika Noni Rose, the Tony Award-winning actress who voiced Princess Tiana. "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!”
The Princess and the Frog boasts an imrpessive 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and hauled in a respectable $267 million worldwide. It was the fifth-highest-grossing animated film of 2009 and a box office success although it didn't quite live up to other animated movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios' 1990s heyday.
Given the film's New Orleans setting, much of its score features African-American-influenced styles including jazz, zydeco, blues and gospel. The songs "Almost There" and "Down in New Orleans" were both nominated in the Best Original Song category at the 82nd Academy Awards. It will be hard to replace the catchy jingle of Splash Mountain's "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" but The Princess and the Frog has quite a few underrated gems.
Conceptual design work is currently underway but the re-theme is still very early in the production process. Disney Imagineers will soon conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation will begin.