Why Disney Picked The Princess and the Frog for Splash Mountain Retheme

From Br’er Rabbit to the Bayou of New Orleans, president of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weis [...]

From Br'er Rabbit to the Bayou of New Orleans, president of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weis explains the ways Disney will bring "new magic" to the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort by re-imagining classic attraction Splash Mountain with updated theming inspired by Walt Disney Animation Studios' The Princess and the Frog. Disney's latest rethemed attraction, unveiled Thursday, will no longer include animated characters borrowed from Walt Disney's 1946 film Song of the South. Instead, the remade Splash Mountain will now feature music and characters from the Academy Award-nominated animated Princess and the Frog, including Princess Tiana and trumpet-playing alligator Louis, who take guests on a splashy ride down the bayou.

"It has been a year or more since we started talking about this particular concept. While we've explored many new themes in the past, that's when we really began to hone in on Princess Tiana's story," Weis told Disney's D23. "That said, Splash Mountain has been the subject of many conversations through the years. Its brilliant ride platform and landscape create the potential for great storytelling."

Asked why Imagineers selected The Princess and the Frog, Weis said the film — set in mid-1920s New Orleans — was a natural evolution for the major attraction, located in the Critter Country section neighboring New Orleans Square in Disneyland Park.

"Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams while never losing sight of what's really important. So it's a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou," Weis said. "In 1966, Walt 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."

"And as you know, music is a big part of the story and our attractions," Weis continued, "and the incredible songs and score from The Princess and the Frog are often among fan favorites."

On realizing the beloved film as a theme park attraction more than a decade after its release in 2009, Weis said, "There's no expiration date on great storytelling, and Imagineers consider it a great privilege to be able to bring these stories to life in our parks, resorts, and on board our cruise ships. Disney's extraordinary collection of stories is incredibly vast."

In recent years, Disney made several modern updates to classic attraction Pirates of the Caribbean and re-imagined the popular Tower of Terror attraction — originally inspired by The Twilight Zone — as Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!, re-imagined with the characters of Marvel Studios' blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

"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 said, later confirming both resorts will re-open with the existing Splash Mountain attraction.