After decades of wet, wild times that have now aged rather poorly, Disneyland’s Splash Mountain is taking a dive, as the Mouse House announced on Friday that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to arrive in late 2024 at Disneyland Park in California, as well as Magic Kingdom Park in Florida, replacing the name and theme of the lately-controversial ride.
Just Announced: Strike up the band because Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is coming to Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Disneyland Park in California in late 2024! 🎺✨Learn the details of this attraction’s transformation shared at @ESSENCEFest: https://t.co/2Da8SOtFno #DisneyxEssence pic.twitter.com/YZiP5593zV
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) July 1, 2022
Details about the attraction, based on 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, which stars Disney’s first Black princess, were announced at ESSENCE fest in New Orleans today.
Disney first dropped news of the changing theme back in 2020, citing that Splash Mountain, which first hit Disneyland in 1989 and now seems like a relic from a somewhat different culture, would “soon be completely re-imagined.”
While the ride itself will still have the same twists and turns as before, different animatronics, music, and a revamped design will usher in the transformation. In a Disney Parks blog post, Carmen Smith, Disney’s Senior Vice President of Creative Development- Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies, described the new ride, noting the inclusion of characters Princess Tiana, Naveen and the alligator, Louis. Set in the bayou, the amusement will feature original music inspired by the film and a Mardi Gras celebration.
Smith also referenced the research Disney did to capture Louisiana culture, with Charita Carter, Executive Producer of Relevancy Activations for Walt Disney Imagineering, calling it a “love letter to New Orleans.”
Smith continued, “To be able to join New Orleans in the celebration of Black joy as we bring Tiana’s story to its roots is a full-circle moment I’m so proud to realize.” Her uplifting note contrasts the controversial film Song of the South that sets the scene for Splash Mountain. The film foregrounds the post-Civil War South and has long been criticized for perpetuating racist stereotypes.
Along with the decision not to stream the film on Disney+, Disney’s former CEO Bob Iger said in March 2020 at a shareholder meeting, “I’ve felt as long as I’ve been CEO that ‘Song of the South’—even with a disclaimer—was just not appropriate in today’s world.” Replacing “Splash Mountain” is Disney’s next step in expunging themselves of the disgraced film.
For petitioners two years ago, it seems their wish is Disney’s command. Back in 2020, 21,333 people signed a petition calling for Disney to re-theme Splash Mountain to a Princess and the Frog-inspired attraction. The petition condemned “extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film ‘Song of the South.’” It suggested the “beloved princess movie” could fill “a huge need for diversity in the parks.”
The voice behind Princess Tiana, Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose, is equally thrilled for the new theme. She said in a Disney blog post, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon.”
Many on Twitter rejoiced in the demise of a problematic theme in favor of centering a favorite princess movie.
Don’t get me wrong, Splash Mountain is fun, but it’s played out.
Yes, the characters look cute, but who the fuck cares who they are when there are so many other characters that deserve the spotlight. And Tiana is that Princess!
Song of the South can Zip-A-Dee Do Da-FUCK OFF https://t.co/PgRKibFNkn
— Useless Casey (@Useless_Casey) July 1, 2022
Tiana always has been and always will be my favorite Disney Princess. I could not care less about Splash Mountain closing and it should’ve closed forever ago. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a ride I’ve wanted for years but never thought I’d see, and I couldn’t be happier pic.twitter.com/IQzWV9uZCk
— Mateo (@_justmateo_) July 1, 2022
Still, other Disney fans were sad to see “Splash Mountain” go and are not handling the name change well.
Really missed the mark in the creative department… please don’t ruin this iconic attraction with your cheap overlay. Make a new ride separate from Splash Mountain, do it justice and make everyone happy
— SaveSplash (@save_splash) July 1, 2022
You can’t pretend Splash Mountain never existed. Why they didn’t keep the words “Splash” or “Mountain” baffles me. People will refer to it as Splash Mountain one way or another. It’s already engrained into pop culture.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Ehhhh… https://t.co/mncaEqiAR3
— Matthew! (@MattDotDisney) July 1, 2022
With “Splash Mountain” trending on Twitter, a number of users were just along for the ride, poking fun at the outrage.
splash mountain is trending because grown adults are legitimately furious that a ride at a kid’s park is being rethemed to princess and the frog
— ems obi-wan’s defense attorney (@atotalposer) July 1, 2022
“You see it still should be called Splash Mountain . Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is… pic.twitter.com/HsZxgfRNKp
— Hi, I’m Jay! (@AestheticPuppet) July 1, 2022
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