Disney has always championed their back catalogue of classics, but for the last few decades, they’ve done their best to keep quiet about one of them. That film is 1946’s Song of the South, a “problematic” text, to put it lightly, concerning a plantation of happy former slaves in the Reconstruction Era. It’s never been released on home video (at least in America), and it’s certainly not on Disney+. Thing is, the company can’t completely deep-six it. After all, it features one of their most enduring songs, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and it’s the inspiration for one of their most beloved theme park rides: Splash Mountain. But if they can’t remove the latter from their parks, they can, finally, dramatically rework it.
As per USA Today, Splash Mountain — a thrilling log flume ride that produced plenty of famous pictures of screaming riders — will shutter on January 23, after years of planning. But it won’t be going away entirely. In 2024, it will reopen as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, inspired by a very different Disney film, 2009’s The Princess and the Frog. That’s right: A ride based on a film widely criticized as racist will rebrand for the studio’s first animated film with a Black Disney princess.
How different will the ride be remains to be seen. Maybe all they have to do is remove references to Uncle Remus, the Tar Baby, et al. Otherwise, it’s a good ride! It’s not the first time Disney has altered one of their iconic theme park rides; they did the same with Jungle Cruise, which you might be surprised used to feature some racism, too.
Splash Mountain first opened at Disneyland in 1989, three years after the last time Disney reissued Song of the South in theaters. It made its Disney World debut three years later, where it’s attracted untold riders who probably have no idea about its dodgy origins.
(Via USA Today)