It’s time to say ‘How Do You Do?’ to Princess Tiana

Splash Mountain’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’ retheme has been long overdue


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Splash Mountain at Disneyland Park in California and Magic Kingdom Park in Florida is scheduled for a retheme from the Song of the South to The Princess and the Frog.

Based on the Disney film, The Song of the South, Splash Mountain is currently a log-flume attraction located at the Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disney resorts. Released in 1946, the movie received backlash from audiences at the time it was released, citing that the movie romanticized the Reconstruction Era of American history and depicted African-Americans using racist stereotypes. The movie had its final screening in American theaters in 1986 and has not been released to the American public since then, despite it being released in other countries. 

During the summer of 2020, the Disney Parks Blog announced that the attraction at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Disneyland Park in California would be rethemed around the 2009 animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog, citing the concept will be “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 announcement was received with differing opinions. Some commended Disney for straying away from the problematic film once and for all, citing that if the decision to change the attraction would eliminate the prevalence of the movie in pop culture. Others responded with sharp criticism, arguing that the attraction should not be changed due to the nostalgic effect it has for some guests, arguing that the ride itself does not have any racist or offensive depictions of African-Americans as it is only based on the animated sequences of anthropomorphic animals.

From a business and marketing standpoint, the change to Splash Mountain is logical. The Princess and the Frog is undoubtedly more recognizable than The Song of the South to modern audiences. General audiences to the park and resorts are more likely to be acquainted with the stories of Princess Tiana and Dr. Facilier than the fables of Br’er Fox and Mr. Bluebird. The change in the attraction would appeal to a wider range of audiences of all ages, most notably younger generations and resonate well with them due to the familiarity of the characters to them. 

From a creative perspective, the change to Disneyland’s Splash Mountain “fits like Cinderella’s glass slipper.” At the original park, Splash Mountain is located in Critter Country, which directly neighbors New Orleans Square. Retheming the attraction to a Louisiana bayou would aid in providing a clear, natural transition from the streets of New Orleans to the land of the critters. However, critics argue that the new attraction will be out of place at Walt Disney World. Splash Mountain is located in Frontierland, directly south of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom as the park does not contain a Critter Country area. While the change may seem outlandish in its location, it opens up the opportunity to expand a new theme in the park. Expanding the Louisiana theme to the Florida park adds a refreshing unique touch to a park that only contains six themed lands, compared to Disneyland’s nine.

From a social point of view, the eradication of the Song of the South theme is necessary and long overdue. When the film was removed from American outlets, the purpose was to not perpetuate offensive stereotypes and leave the film in the past. By keeping the attraction operational at the parks in the United States, the problematic film is immortalized. Splash Mountain has been a reminder of the troublesome movie. It is hypocritical for Disney to hide the film from audiences and yet keep the ride open, because as long as it is kept open, the controversial movie will be in the spotlight. Removing the attraction represents a step in the right direction for Disney in terms of making their content offerings more inclusive and less problematic to all audiences. 

While Splash Mountain has become a fan-favorite over the last 31 years, the replacement for the ride could not be any more perfect. The empowering story of Princess Tiana will be told in a tangible manner in which audiences will have the opportunity to connect with the modern characters they know and love. Splash Mountain certainly became an icon throughout its run and brought joyous memories through its fantastic design and outstanding musical score. The new attraction, however, is bound to become just as iconic as its predecessor through time and new generations of guests will be able to connect to a story that is relevant to them.