Splash Mountain

Disney Parks Fans Petition for Splash Mountain to be Re-themed Into “Princess and the Frog” Attraction Due to Racial Stereotypes

If you recall the initial debut of the Disney+ streaming service back in November, viewers were shocked to see “content warnings” placed on several shows and movies, even including beloved Disney animated classics like Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, and The Aristocats. With the recent launch of HBO Max, a similar issue arose surrounding the 1939 classic, Gone with the Wind. HBO received backlash after adding the title to their library without so much as a content warning, or any historical context. (Why they couldn’t just borrow a page from TCM and offer some kind of written or spoken backstory from a knowledgeable host is beyond me.)

Before Disney+, there was the Walt Disney Treasures DVD Collection, which is how many of us first learned of the many issues behind outdated cultural depictions and racial stereotypes portrayed in some the earliest Mickey Mouse shorts. Before each of these segments was an introduction by film historian Leonard Maltin explaining the context behind these cartoons and why the decision was made to still show them.

Mickey’s Mellerdrammer is a 1933 American animated Pre-Code short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists. It presented Mickey in blackface.

Fast forward to 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining traction after the tragic murder of George Floyd, leading to larger discussions on diversity and representation across all forms of media, including Disney movies and its theme parks. Which leads us to a new Change.org petition asking Disney to re-theme Splash Mountain to an attraction based on The Princess and The Frog, the 2009 animated musical film based in 1920’s New Orleans. The film was supposed to be a resounding return to hand-drawn animation, yet despite its incredible visuals and talented cast (it was the last Disney animated film where all of the voice actors also did their own singing lines!), it didn’t do as well as Disney hoped at the box office. It certainly didn’t help that a.) The movie was marketed poorly as “just another princess movie” and b.) Avatar was released the following week. Still, the film boasts a huge following of fans, with any and all merchandise related to the film or Princess Tiana constantly flying off the shelves, with fans still clamoring for more.

The premise of the Splash Mountain re-theme is simple: The attraction is based off of Song of the South, a film that has been locked in the Disney vault since the 1980s due to its racist and idyllic portrayals of Southern plantation life in the late 1800s Reconstruction Era. That film inspired an E-ticket attraction that’s now featured at Disneyland Park, at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, and at Tokyo Disneyland, and is now a glaring reminder of problematic film––and theme park––history.

Image Credit: VHS Collector

Growing up in the early ’90s, my only exposure to Song of the South was through Disney Sing Along Songs home videos, which featured the film’s Academy Award-winning song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. However, I had no idea who Uncle Remus was, or what his ties were to Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, or Br’er Bear. That disconnect exists because Disney carefully picked out what to exclude from the attraction––Uncle Remus is nowhere to be seen, however the same dialect popularized by Song of the South author and folklorist Joel Chandler Harris is used throughout the attraction script.

The answer is no, Joel Chandler Harris was not black.

Which brings us to this idea by Disneyland Cast Member Frederick Chambers, also known as @FreddyFromBatuu on Twitter. In an interview with CNN, he took a stance on the true potential of a possible re-theme:

“The bones of the attraction are good, but I think it’s time for us to take a serious look at where our stories come from and how people of color are represented on screen and in the parks.”

Some Disney fans would argue against the idea not in principle, but in practice. That is, The Princess and The Frog deserves its own, new attraction, not a re-skinned version of an aging, problematic log flume ride. Princess Tiana will be getting her very own bayou-themed restaurant at the upcoming Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge in Walt Disney World, but it’s definitely worth digging a little deeper to enact even more ways to make theme parks and resorts a space where everyone’s favorites are properly represented.

When Disney retcons things (like, for example, its Disney Cats pin trading sets), the move is oftentimes a conscientious one, but it ultimately comes off as reactionary if they still do not openly and retroactively address cultural and social change.

What do you think about re-skinning Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog themed attraction? If you ask us, it sure beats a certain Toy Story marionette show re-theme elsewhere in the Magic Kingdom…

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Rodrigo Orta
Rodrigo Orta
29 days ago

Absolutely not. Splash Mountain is a classic attraction and is loved by so many people, including myself. Rethemeing it would be an absolute mistake and a horrendous idea.

Ian
Ian
29 days ago

I oppose this.

Ryan Serowinski
Ryan Serowinski
29 days ago

I’m sick of all the love PATF is getting at WDW, can we just talk about Tangled receiving at least a stage production for one of the WDW parks instead, Splash Mountain can keep Br’er Rabbit and the Brier Patch Gang

Doug
Doug
29 days ago

Splash Mountain should stay as is. Regardless of different peoples views of the original movie, the ride is fun with just animals in it and nothing negative. What I think would be a great place for a Princess and the Frog themed ride or area, would be Tom Sawyer’s Island. You could either re-design the island as a walk through of the swamp. Or re-design the island as a swamp and install a ride that goes over, around, and through the island. Part of it could go over the river and enter a show building built on the other side… Read more »

Get real
Get real
29 days ago
Reply to  Doug

Please, Bob’s. Ignore the parent comment to this thread. Tom Sawyer island needs to be UNTOUCHED. Stop turning everything into a movie marketing scheme. That’s why WDW and DL are awesome, they are original. If I wanted crappy movie themed areas and attractions, I’d go to Universal Studios.

That's not an attraction poster
That's not an attraction poster
28 days ago
Reply to  Doug

You’re right that they can’t afford to do anything financially right now. I personally would prefer that they demolish Tom Sawyer Island, modify the Rivers of America, and take advantage of a huge plot of land to build another attraction. Maybe that’s where the Princess and the Frog could go.

Karen A DiCicco
Karen A DiCicco
27 days ago

They just donated 5 million dollars to rioter and looters. They have the money. I hope they dont change it

Cufuf7f
Cufuf7f
29 days ago

Ya know, the vernacular isn’t offensive to those who still speak it in the south, of which millions still do.

April
April
29 days ago

I also didn’t know that splash mountain was even based on a movie until a few years ago. Nobody in two generations had even seen the movie. It’s my favorite ride and I’ve never liked the princess and the frog so this would be a serious blow if they changed it. But they probably will because it’s Disney and it’s the hip thing to do these days.

TangW
TangW
29 days ago

Brer Rabbit, trickster figure originating in African folklore and transmitted by African slaves to the New World, where it acquired attributes of similar native American tricksters (see trickster tale); Brer, or Brother, Rabbit was popularized in the United States in the stories of Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908). The character’s adventures embody an idea considered to be a universal creation among oppressed peoples—that a smaller but ingenious force can overcome a larger, stronger, but dull-witted power. Brer Rabbit continually outsmarts his bigger animal associates, Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, and Brer Bear……. People who want it changed literally have no idea what… Read more »

That's not an attraction poster
That's not an attraction poster
28 days ago
Reply to  TangW

Well said! And satisfatcual.

Danni anon
Danni anon
12 days ago
Reply to  TangW

Here here!

Rebekah
Rebekah
29 days ago

This is the dumbest piece of crap I’ve read today. Which is saying something. This is a beloved ride with no racial undertones in the ride itself. Most don’t know it’s history. What is next? Pocahontas? Dumbo? Peter Pan? I’m so done with this. And frankly why is it being promoted and circulated?

Jones
Jones
29 days ago
Reply to  Rebekah

Absolutely – bs like that must not be promoted in any way!

The Phantom
The Phantom
29 days ago

“(it was the last Disney animated film where all of the voice actors also did their own singing lines!)”
 
What voice actors who did songs didn’t sing in Frozen, Moana or Frozen 2?

Amy
Amy
28 days ago
Reply to  The Phantom

I think he means hand-drawn animation.

Will Smith
Will Smith
29 days ago

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s bad enough they changed Pirates (multiple times I might add) to where we don’t even have “we want the red head” anymore, this is ridiculous. And I’m certainly not alone based on the amount of complaints every time Disney decides to change something like that, like Pirates. Plus these stupid online petitions have lost any sense of importance to me at least because people just make one for any reason. I guarantee in the next day there will be a “petition” for the exact opposite of this. People are so self entitled… Read more »

Eric
Eric
29 days ago

Tony Baxter, one the greatest imagineers Disney has ever had, created Splash Mountain. This ride tells a story about How a rabbit outsmarted a Bear and Fox. While the concept came from “Song of the South” it was his way to remove the negativity and racism from these characters and the music as well as Taking something that tarnished Walt Disney’s legacy and making it something EVERYONE can respect and enjoy. Re-theming this attraction because people say its racist insults the creator of this attraction. This was never suppose to be “turning a movie into a ride”. This was a… Read more »

Everyone
Everyone
29 days ago

Hell No

Harry
Harry
29 days ago

i see no reason to change this ride seeing how it is based on the movie but is VERY different in terms of the actual movie seeing how there isn’t a mention of uncle remus and i thought we all liked splash mountain. idk that’s my opinion

jarred slozer
jarred slozer
29 days ago

a good choice to re theme but gonna be a weird addition for a frontierland/ critter country ride but i think its time to re theme.

maddie
maddie
29 days ago

absolutely stupid 😡

Bruce Marshall
Bruce Marshall
29 days ago

I am a 62 year old Disney fan from SoCal. I saw “Song of the South” as a child, I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. I think this concept for a re-theme makes perfect sense and is right on point.

Scott
Scott
29 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Marshall

I agree with you. I’m 41, and actually saw the movie in the theater the last time it was released (1986) and kinda felt uncomfortable about it then. If they did it right, this could be a really cool re-theming.

Justme
Justme
29 days ago

If they do that, they will kill everything we love about Splash Mountain. Removing the brer rabbit and friends theme would be ripping the heart out of the whole experience, leaving it a lifeless shell of what it was. Song of the south isnt even acknowledged. It’s just adorable animals that EVERYBODY LOVES. The grievance crowd hell bent on erasing everything they don’t like, even if that is a beloved Disneyland ride is seriously walking on thin ice, pushback is coming!

Robert
Robert
29 days ago

If we complain about this ride, we need to be predators to lose an attraction. If we feel this ride is unjust, sure it should be shut down. But it will be cheaper for Disney to keep this ride closed than to re-theme it. If they do spend money to update it, that is one less other new ride or update that will not happen. Why did the author claim that Princess and the Frog was a failure? I read that as the systematic racism that we are rallying against. I think most readers if this site knows about the… Read more »

holly
holly
29 days ago

i recently watched song of the south and enjoyed it, it also depicts the strong bond between a young white child and an older black man. they hold hands, they connect, they have a love for one another. this, in my opinion, is a very strong message….much stronger than the racism aspect of the movie. if we continue to “erase” our history of slavery and conflict by removing movies, statues, literature from school…..history WILL repeat itself because we are not teaching future generations and learning from it. unfortunately, it is part of our history and it is super important to… Read more »

Chloe
Chloe
29 days ago

So Splash Mountain has existed for 30 years, is beloved and been ridden by millions of people of all colours from around the world, and all of a sudden the mob declares it ‘problematic’? If Disney kowtows to this madness then I will never set foot in a Disney park ever again. This is absolute insanity.

Greg
Greg
28 days ago
Reply to  Chloe

Well then prepare to never step foot in a Disney park ever again then. Of course they will give in to the mob. It’s what they do. If they rehire a director they fired due to his disgusting jokes about pedophiles, due to pressure from those supporting him, then they will literally do anything the mob demands. Bank on it.

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