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Disney says Splash Mountain to be 'completely reimagined' after backlash

The attraction will now honor another movie, 2009's "The Princess and the Frog."
/ Source: TODAY

Disney has announced that its popular ride Splash Mountain will be “completely reimagined.”

The attraction, based on the 1946 film “Song of the South,” has been criticized over the years by people who believe the movie is one of Disney’s most racist pictures. The ride will now be based on the studio’s 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” which featured Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana.

The news comes two weeks after an online petition was launched calling for a change, saying, "There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need."

“Splash Mountain — at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida — will soon be completely reimagined,” Disney said in a release. "The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, 'The Princess and the Frog.'

"We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure — featuring some of the powerful music from the film — as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, Princess Tiana (left, voice: Anika Noni Rose), 2009. (C)Walt Disney Co./cou
Princess Tiana is Disney's first Black princess.(C)Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year,” the company continued.

Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering, told the Disney fan site D23 that the change has been in the works for a year.

“Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams while never losing sight of what’s really important,” he said when explaining why they chose “The Princess and the Frog.”

“So it’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou," he said. "In 1966, Walt (Disney) himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new ‘land’ added to Disneyland, so it feels natural to link the story of ‘The Princess and the Frog’ to the park.”

“We completely understand that these decisions aren’t always popular, but I think our biggest fans know that we care as much as they do,” Weis added.

Splash Mountain joins a long list of well-known brands that are changing in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place following George Floyd's death.

Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Eskimo Pie are some of the brands that will be altered, while HBO Max pulled “Gone with the Wind” from its library due to its depiction of slavery before reinstating it with an introduction by Jacqueline Stewart, the host of “Silent Sunday Nights” on Turner Classic Movies and professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.