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Disney Giving Splash Mountain A Redesign For A Good Reason

Song of the South theme will finally retire and make room for a Princess and the Frog ride

Long-criticized Disney park log ride Splash Mountain is finally due for a makeover. The company announced today that the park's Imagineers--which is Disneyland for "engineers"--are redesigning the ride at both Disneyland and Disney World with a new theme inspired by Disney's only Black princess, Tiana from their 2009 animated musical The Princess and the Frog.

Over the years, Splash Mountain repeatedly drew side-eye for being built around and incorporating cartoon characters from Disney's 1946 live-action animated musical Song of the South, which portrays the happy and fanciful lives of people on a Southern plantation. Song of the South is so reviled that it's never actually seen a home release in the US, and was intentionally left out of the Disney+ streaming catalog.

In early June, a petition went up, requesting that the ride be reframed. "It could be easily changed to tell the story of Tiana while not compromising too much of the ride/costing a fortune in remodeling for Disney," the petition argued. But Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering, said in an interview with D23, the official Disney fan club, that the Imagineers have been working on a Splash Mountain redesign for a year or more. "While we've explored many new themes in the past, [...] we really began to hone in on Princess Tiana's story," he said.

"It's a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou." Weis continued. "[Tiana] and Louis are bringing friends together for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance, alongside many of our other favorite characters from this instant classic."

No start date is as yet set for construction on these rides, which are extremely popular during the hot summer season. Disney Fan Club notes that "both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland parks will re-open with the existing Splash Mountain attraction." It's also worth noting that there was no mention of what will happen with the ride's incarnation at Tokyo Disneyland.

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