Disney has announced that they will be closing the iconic Splash Mountain ride over “racial stereotypes” in less than two months.
Splash Mountain will be closing for good on January 23, 2023.
The ride will get a full-on Princess and the Frog makeover — Disney’s first animated film featuring a black princess.
The new attraction will be called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Splash Mountain is currently based on Br’er Rabbit’s adventures in the 1946 movie, Song of the South.
The film has faced criticism and calls for censorship in recent years over the portrayal of life in the antebellum South.
“I’ve felt, as long as I’ve been CEO, that ‘Song of the South’ was – even with a disclaimer – was just not appropriate in today’s world,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said during a March 2020 shareholders meeting, according to a report from Fox Business.
In 2019, the outlet notes, a petition to rebrand the ride gained over 21,000 signatures. The petition claimed that the ride was offensive and that the park needed more “diversity.” A plan to replace it with a Princess and the Frog attraction was announced the next year, but no official timeline was given.
After Disney announced the planned change, another petition was created and called for the theme park to save the ride. This one received 93,000 signatures.
The petition stated, “Splash Mountain is an iconic ride at Magic Kingdom, loved by millions of fans all over the world for over 30 years. Re-theming such an iconic ride would erode the nostalgia that lives in Disney World and take away a little bit of the magic.”
“‘Song of the South’ was based on a book of short stories taken by Joel Chandler Harris and Robert Roosevelt (Teddy Roosevelt’s Uncle), who spent a lot of time in the slave quarters in the mid 1800s,” the petition continued. “He first heard the story of the Br’er Rabbit, along with many others, directly from the telling of African folklore. The controversy from these stories and Song of the South comes from the misunderstanding of the depiction of Uncle Remus(the characters name in the books) and his relationships with his employers on a Georgian plantation which takes place AFTER the Civil War, during the Reconstruction era.”
It continued, “Splash Mountain has never included depictions of slaves or any racist elements and is based solely on historical African folktales that families of all ethnicities have been enjoying for nearly a century.”
“It is absurd to pander to a small group of ‘Disney haters’ that dont understand the story, and re-theme such a nostalgic ride,” the petition’s description concluded. “The characters in Splash Mountain do not specifically generalize any race or group of people, they are nothing more than caricatures based on the turn-of-the-century America. Modifying Splash Mountain will not change history and will only encourage the “easily offended” to continue making desperate attempts at finding offence in additional attractions.To change them would be to remove a bit of our art history from the world and to be ashamed of it.”