When Disneyland finally opens, Star Wars land might not be the only new attraction you’ll get to experience on your first trip back into the park. In a post published on the Disneyland Parks blog, the theme park announced that it will transform the current Splash Mountain attraction at their Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom theme parks in Southern California and Florida to align with the 2009 animated feature The Princess and the Frog. The original attraction was themed around Disney’s 1946 feature Song of the South, a film inspired by the Uncle Remus stories, a collection of folktales from the Southern Plantation Era published in the 1880s.
If you weren’t aware that Splash Mountain was themed after a movie rather than just some weird drug trip of a ride full of glowing plants and menacing critters, we don’t blame you, Disney has been pretty ashamed of the movie for some time now. It’s been shelved by the company since the 80s, and does not appear on the Disney+ streaming site. There’s been public support for a retheme for years, but the issue received renewed attention amid the social justice protests that have broken out across the country after the killing of George Floyd by the police.
“The retheme of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” begins the statement issued by Disney. “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 Princess and the Frog, set in New Orleans, Louisiana, famously features Disney’s first animated depiction of an African American princess, Princess Tiana of Maldonia, and the new attraction’s story will take off after the movie’s final kiss and will follow Tiana and her trumpet-playing Aligator companion Louis “on a musical adventure as they prepare for their first-ever mardi gras performance.”
In a statement by Anika Noni Rose, the actress who voices Princess Tiana, expressed her support for the theme:
“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. The Imagineers are giving us the Princess and the Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it.”
Let me introduce you to the Imagineer heading the creation of the Princess & The Frog ride and bringing Princess Tiana’s presence into the parks: Ms. Charita Carter pic.twitter.com/ucJj6fP0lb
— Anika Noni Rose (@AnikaNoniRose) June 25, 2020
The new attraction will be designed by Disney Imagineer Charita Carter, and fans of the original Splash Mountain will be glad to know that the new attraction’s creative design will also be overseen by Disneyland Imagineer Tony Baxter, who crafted the original Splash Mountain experience in 1989 after being inspired by his childhood memories of watching Song of the South.
According to Disney’s blog, a launch date for the new Splash Mountain has yet to be announced, though Disneyland Park’s Imagineers have been working on a Splash Mountain refresh since last year when they developed a backstory for the attraction and settled on a concept sometime this past summer. Meaning: It might come sooner than later.
With #JungleCruise currently trending on Twitter, too, it seems this might begin an even deeper exploration of the tropes seen in Disney rides.