Yesterday brought the surprise but welcome news that The Walt Disney Company is completely revamping their water ride "Splash Mountain." Both versions of the ride that are present at the California Disneyland location and Florida's Magic Kingdom will be re-themed in the future to be based on the 2009 animated film The Princess and The Frog and its lead character, Princess Tiana (the first Black Disney princess). News of this change was met with near-universal praise from Disney fans after its announcement, and the star of the feature film has voiced her support for the change as well. Speaking in an interview actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in the film, called the change by Disney "a great moment to do better."
"It's a great moment to do better and to turn it into something that everybody can celebrates and be proud of and be happy for," Rose told Good Morning America. "For young Black children it is of course an amazing and wonderful way to show representation. For children that don't look like Tiana, it is a way to open their eyes. So it allows these children, all of them, to meet with their common denominator which is the love and the heroism that comes with Tiana."
The announcement of a change to Splash Mountain was welcomed by many Disney fans who have criticized the company for maintaining its theme which was based in part on the controversial film Song of the South. That 1946 movie from the studio has long been a point of contention for the company as it has been rightfully criticized in the past for racist depictions and a glamorization of slavery & plantation life in the antebellum south.
Disney has tried their best to distance themselves from the film in recent years, never releasing it on home media in any form and not making it available to stream on Disney+. For that reason it didn't make sense to many fans why they would then maintain the theme of Splash Mountain when they won't even talk about the origins of its characters. The company noted they've been planning the change since last year but have accelerated their time table on it. This likely came following the many Black Lives Matter protests that stemmed from the death of George Floyd.
Conceptual design work is underway now for the reworking of the right, and soon Disney Imagineers will be conducting preliminary reviews and a timeline for the change.