Disney has had a whirlwind of a week, what with announcing their plans to delay reopening their California theme parks and their rush to figure out how they could, or when they could, safely reopen as Coronavirus cases surge in southern California. And now, the company has announced that the controversial Splash Mountain ride, which is based on the 1946 Disney film Song of the South, is getting a long-overdue makeover. Instead of glorifying one of Disney’s most notoriously racist films, the ride, which is a family favorite in both Florida and SoCal, will be refashioned to become a Princess and the Frog themed ride, with a bayou theme that fits the original Disney movie.
Many have not realized that the famous ride is based on the movie, which is based on Reconstruction era United States and follows an formerly enslaved man telling a young white boy about how good things were in slavery.
People likely didn’t even realize that the ride and the film were connected, given that the movie came out 50 years before the ride ever hit theme parks, in 1989, and because Disney, in order to avoid criticism for honoring the racist film, just took the black character (formerly enslaved person Uncle Remus) out of the ride altogether, only featuring the innocuous woodland creature. But, in the past few weeks, online petitions have circulated — even ones that specifically request that Disney refit the racist ride to fit within the Princess and the Frog universe.
Disney claims that they’ve been working on developing a new ride for the past year and finally released an artist concept of the reimagined ride, which will feature Disney’s only Black princess (unless you’re counting the live-action Cinderella film starring Brandy, AKA the best Cinderella movie.) In any case, the time for Disney to cut ties with the horrifically racist movie is long overdue, given that they’ve long held to the commitment that they would never re-release the film or put it on their streaming platform, Disney+.