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The Closing and Retheming of Disney’s Iconic Ride “Splash Mountain”

The Closing and Retheming of Disney’s Iconic Ride Splash Mountain

Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain has been a fan favorite since its original opening in 1992. The thrilling, steep hill; along with animatronics, and the popular Disney song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” all create a fun ride loved by many. However, controversial aspects of the movie Splash Mountain is based on, Song of the South, have raised many red flags and ultimately lead to Disney’s decision to erase the movie from their platform, including changing the theme of the beloved Splash Mountain.

Released in 1946, Song of the South follows stories collected by Uncle Remus, an African American man who shares stories containing life lessons with Johnny, a young boy from Atlanta. These stories all take place in the world of Br’er Rabbit, around stories of animated animals. While this may seem harmless, the movie is very flawed on the basis of race. Furthermore, the film never specifies that it takes place in the Reconstruction period in the United States, after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. This may lead individuals to believe the movie takes place during slavery, and that the Black characters are happy as slaves, according to ScreenCrush.

The joyful attitude of the African American characters regarding their social standing, paired with life lessons that encourage individuals not to run away from their problems, make for a very questionable and controversial film. 

 

As a result of these controversies—and a petition to change the theme of the ride— Disney announced in June 2020 that Splash Mountain would close in January 2023, and reopen in 2024 completely re-themed, now called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The new version of the water ride will be based on Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess, from The Princess and the Frog. 

Following Disney’s announcement, fans have had very mixed opinions about the plan to change the ride. On one hand, many fans are upset and disappointed that Splash Mountain will no longer follow the same theme. Some fans have expressed that the ride itself has no issues since the ride only features singing animals.

Some older individuals are also upset because the nostalgia brought by the ride will be gone. However, many fans completely support the decision and are excited for Tiana to finally have her own ride at Disney.

Students at Lakota West voice their opinions on the ride. “It’s about time they change the ride because of the complicated history and racial stereotypes associated with the movie. The fact it was ever made the main focus of a ride is questionable, so it’s great that they’re changing it to a Tiana theme as a way to make amends with the troubled past,” says Sophie Subit, student of Lakota West. “The new concept looks amazing and I can’t wait for it to open.”

 

As of January 23rd, Splash Mountain at Disney World is now closed and under renovations to transition to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which will open in both Disney parks in 2024.

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