Disney always has a few attractions in the works that Guests cannot wait to learn more about, but there is one project that was met with mixed responses — and Disney has been pretty silent about the progress being made.
Last summer, Disney Parks officially announced the the Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park attraction Splash Mountain, which is based on the Song of the South IP, would be rethemed as part of Disney’s efforts to bring more diverse representation to the theme parks and remove offensive themes. The announcement came over a year ago and was met with a variety of responses from Disney fans. Some were very excited and happy to see that The Princess and the Frog (2009), not only an excellent film, but a film that stars a Black princess, would replace the attraction. While others who found Splash Mountain as classic and iconic went as far as to petition to have the ride remain as-is.
But, as we mentioned, there have been very few updates regarding the ride for quite some time, and some Guests were left wondering if anything was actually going to happen anytime soon. Melissa Valiquette, Vice President of Magic Kingdom, sat down with the Theme Park Rangers podcast (ran by Orlando Sentinel) to discuss all things Magic Kingdom, from the 50th anniversary to attractions — and she gave us our first real update on the new Princess and the Frog attraction.
Melissa noted, “When we are reimagining a new attraction or area, this can be a lengthy process.” She said that this process can take months or even years until Guests can begin to see any changes because the sequence of events in a reimagining is full of meetings, closed-door creations, and decision-making.
“I’m in a lot of meeting right now regarding Splash Mountain, and of course, our Guests haven’t seen any changes yet, that’s going to take some time. The sequence of these things is that the decision can be made many many months even years before any of that will be seen on stage. So it’s going to be a little bit of time to reimagine Splash Mountain.”
But even though we cannot see what work is being done, there is a lot that has been completed so far! Select music has been chosen for parts of the ride, as well as animatronics. Melissa said that Guests were going to be stunned at the inspiring story that the ride will portray and noted that it was important that the ride was accurate to Louisiana as a location and Disney’s first Black princess, Tiana.
“But I can tell you behind the scenes terrific work has been done, including some selections around music, around animatronics, and it is really an inspiring story. Now, I happen to be from Louisiana, originally, and so the Princess and the Frog has always been a special movie for me. Not only because princess Tiana is our first Black princess, which I think is extraordinarily special, but also because it is kind of the story of my roots. It was really important to be as I have been meeting with the Imagineers that this story gets portrayed honestly.”
As mentioned, both the Disneyland version of the ride — located in Critter Country but adjacent to New Orleans Square — and the Magic Kingdom version of the ride — located in Frontierland — will be rethemed.
Melissa asks that we as Guests continue to trust the Imagineer team at work and to know that a lot is being done behind the scenes that will make the attraction fit into Walt Disney World’s Frontierland rather perfectly and will complement the ride vehicle and flume-ride style of this attraction perfectly.
It seems that the date of completion is still not yet on the table. As the Magic Kingdom Vice President said, this attraction reimagining will likely take years of work before Guests are even able to visually see the refurbishment process begin.
Are you excited to see Splash Mountain rethemed to The Princess and the Frog?