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Splash Mountain Getting A Princess And The Frog Makeover

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Disneyland’s Splash Mountain ride has been entertaining and saturating tourists for over 30 years. The weird thing about its existence, though, is it’s based around a movie Disney won’t let you watch due to racist undertones — 1946’s Song of the South.

The half-animated, half-live-action movie was last released theatrically in 1986, and there was some heated discussion among critics at that time over whether it was appropriate anymore — or ever was. Splash Mountain made its shiny new debut in 1989. It was the same year that CEO Michael Eisner publicly confirmed Song of the South would never be let out of the vault again. So how’d the ride happen anyway?

Thing is, the 1980s were kind of a weird “twliight” era for Song of the South, where the movie’s influence was in the process of getting removed but was not brought to a halt immediately. I myself had a “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby” tape and book set, available widely from any Toys R Us. Splash Mountain would be the last acknowledgement of SotS’s characters on a massive scale, though there were a couple individual releases of the “Zip-A-De-Doo-Dah” song on VHS in the early 90s.

By this point, they were fully aware of how problematic the Uncle Remus character was and figured if they just removed HIM, the ride would pass. So an unnamed frog character, who doesn’t appear in the film, narrates the story in Splash Mountain.

It shouldn’t surprise you that with today’s serious discussions on systemic racism, there’s been a call to change Splash Mountain. Disney revealed today that just such a plan has already been in the works for at least a year. The ride will be reskinned with a Princess and the Frog theme, really the best option….the movie is also set in the South and the ride should have the same feel, only without icky connections to racism.

“The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” Disney said in a public statement released today. “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.”

There is no set completion date for the remodel, likely because the pandemic has complicated construction, along with everything else about theme parks.