The average Disney Parks attendee may not realize it, but Splash Mountain, one of the more popular attractions at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, is based on Song of the South. Disney tries to pretend the 1946 live-action/animated musical film never happened due to its “outdated cultural depictions” of slavery, which is why it’s not available on Disney+ and why Splash Mountain is ditching Br’er Rabbit for a frog.
On Thursday, Disney announced that Splash Mountain will be re-themed around the 2009 Oscar-nominated hit The Princess and the Frog, which notably features the first African-American Disney Princess. “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,” according to a press release. “Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.” There’s already a New Orleans Square in Disneyland, so “it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of The Princess and the Frog to our park.”
There is no mention of Song of the South in the press release. The closest the ever-cautious Disney gets to mentioning the controversy is noting how the re-theming of Splash Mountain, which debuted in 1989, is “of particular importance today. 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.”
“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” is an undeniably catchy song, and it’ll be weird not hearing it after the flume drop, but it was long past time for Disney to ditch the Song of the South concept. “Friends on the Other Side” is a better song, anyway.