Amid continued uprisings against systematic racism, Disney is the latest mega company grappling with how to address a racist history.
One move they’re taking is recreating their popular theme park ride Splash Mountain. According to a Thursday announcement, the attraction will be “completely reimagined” in light of its ties to a movie filled with racist tropes.
According to CNN, the log flume ride was based on the 1946 movie “Song of the South,” which was notorious for racial stereotypes of Black people and romanticized portrayals of the antebellum South.
The movie is so controversial that Disney has kept it away from most public platforms for decades. They even keep it out of their extensive library for their new streaming service, Disney+.
Because Splash Mountain was connected to such a film, a Change.org petition surfaced online calling on Disney to change the ride’s theme from “Song of the South” to “The Princess and the Frog,” the movie featuring Disney’s first Black princess. The petition was signed by over 20,000 people.
“The classic log flume ride Splash Mountain is featured in Disneyland, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland,” the petition read. “While the ride is considered a beloved classic it’s history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”
Splash Mountain has been a premiere ride at Disney parks since it was first created in 1989. Disney has taken heed to the demands of the petition and will implement the theme of “Th Princess and the Frog” at Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida.
Disney said that the new ride, which the company has been developing since last year, will pick up from the “final kiss” scene from “Princess and the Frog” where Princess Tiana and her trumpet-playing alligator Louis take “a musical adventure.” The ride will feature “some of the powerful music from the film as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”
Recent protests against police violence and racial injustice across the country has spread to Hollywood in various ways. Movies like “Gone With The Wind” have been reevaluated or pulled because of their racial context. T.V. episodes that include blackface have been removed from streaming sites. Even a Hollywood 4 Black Lives campaign has ignited, calling for more anti-racist content and equity in the entertainment industry.
As far as the changes to Splash Mountain, Disney explained on Thursday, “It speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.” An opening date for the ride hasn’t been set yet but Disney said, “Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the attraction transformation can begin.”
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