‘Princess and the Frog’ Takes Over Splash Mountain

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

splash mountain

In summer 2020, Disney announced Imagineers will be working on a complete retheme of Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog ride.

So why is Splash Mountain changing? Why did Disney choose The Princess and the Frog? Is this retheme still happening? Let’s break everything down.

Splash Mountain at the Disney Parks

splash mountain zip a dee doo dah riverboat
Credit: Disney

Splash Mountain is currently located at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. The attraction is based off of the film, Song of the Southwhich is extremely controversial as many deem it racist.

In fact, the movie considered by many as the most controversial and notorious film in Disney’s history. Because of this, it was never made available on home video in the U.S. and is currently missing from Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.

Song of the South is a mix of live-action and animation and features an older African-American plantation laborer named Uncle Remus who tells stories to a young white boy. Groups including the NAACP protested the film’s initial release.

Related: Disney to Release Closer Look at Inspiration For Splash Mountain Retheme

Song of the South
Credit: Disney

Within Splash Mountain, you can spot many of the characters from Song of the South, including Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear.

Splash Mountain is based off of the controversial film, Song of the South. The official Disney World description reads:

A Hare-Raising Ride

Gently drift through a colorful Southern bayou along with happy-go-lucky Br’er Rabbit as he looks for his “laughing place.” But be warned: Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox are in hot pursuit of this wayward hare.

Glide by over 100 adorable Audio-Animatronics geese, frogs, raccoons, possums, bees, alligators and other down-home critters as they sing classic Disney ditties, including “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Ev’rybody’s Got a Laughing Place.”

Then hang on to your hats—this delightful musical cruise ends in an exciting 5-story splashdown into a thorny Briar Patch!

You Will Get Wet

This attraction includes 950,000 gallons of water, 3 dips and a 5-story drop. Where you’re seated will determine how wet you’ll get. Riders in the back may experience a sudden splash or spray; those who opt for the front can expect to get soaked.

For Guests looking to ensure their personal items remain dry, lockers are available to rent near the Main Entrance.

splash mountain tokyo disneyland
Credit: Disney

The official Disneyland description reads:

A Hare-Raising Adventure

Hop inside a hollow log and float through a colorful bayou as you follow happy-go-lucky Br’er Rabbit to his “laughing place.” But be warned: Br’er Bear and Br’er Fox are in hot pursuit of this wayward hare.

Glide past over 100 talking, singing, storytelling Audio-Animatronics critters who inhabit Splash Mountain and offer up their own slice of down-home culture. Sing along to classic Disney ditties, including “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

Then, brace yourself for the big finale—this musical cruise ends in a thrilling 5-story splashdown!

You Will Get Wet!

This attraction includes 950,000 gallons of water, 3 dips and a 5-story drop. Where you’re seated will determine how wet you’ll get. Riders in the back may experience a sudden splash or spray; those who opt for the front can expect to get soaked.

The Reimagining of Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain
Credit: Disney

Related: Splash Mountain Reopens At Disney Amid Retheme Anticipation

After a petition coincidentally made its rounds on the internet, Disney Parks announced last summer that the classic theme park attraction Splash Mountain — which opened in the late ’80s and early ’90s at the California and Florida theme parks — would be rethemed to the 2009 Disney Princess animated movie The Princess and the Frog.

Again, this retheme will be taking place at both Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park in Disneyland Resort.

Why Is Splash Mountain Changing?

As mentioned before, Song of the South, the film which Splash Mountain is based off of, is considered by many as the most controversial and notorious film in Disney’s history and was never made available on home video in the United States and is currently missing from Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.

The half live action and half animated movie has been called many things by many people, including many who say it is “a racist movie” and as Disney continues to strive for more inclusion and diversity, the Parks announced it would be retheming Splash Mountain into a The Princess and the Frog attraction.

princess and the frog splash mountain
Original art by “The Princess and the Frog” director John Musker, courtesy of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

The Walt Disney Company as a whole has been pushing inclusion for quite some time now. From reimagining Splash Mountain into a The Princess and the Frog theme to having a gender neutral dress code at the Parks, the company has made multiple efforts in depicting more accurate representation.

We have also seen the Disney Parks transition the welcome announcements Guests hear in various lands and attractions to be more accommodating to all Guests when walking into the theme parks. Instead of greeting Guests by saying, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” the theme parks now say, “Hello everyone,” moving toward a more inclusive statement that applies to people of all genders. You can read more about this here.

What Can Guests Expect When They Head Into the Bayou?

Splash Mountain Concept Art
Credit: Disney

Related: Splash Mountain Retheme: What Will Be Included in Princess Tiana’s Ride?

According to Disney, the story’s attraction will pick up after the final kiss in the movie as Guests join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure “featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”

Disney commissioned New Orleans-based artist Sharika Mahdi to create a series of paintings as inspiration for Disney Imagineers for the Splash Mountain retheme into The Princess and the Frog. And in August 2021, Disney released the first painting by Mahdi and the latest rendering of the attraction (seen below).

splash mountain tiana
Credit: Disney

Per Disney Parks Blog:

Tiana is an ambitious and resilient woman, who proves that success comes through a connection to her family and community and has learned to never lose sight of what’s really important – giving back to others through great food and inspiring them to achieve their full potential.

As seen in this latest rendering of the attraction, the story will take place after the final kiss as Naveen and Louis join Tiana on her latest adventure, hosting a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration where everyone is welcome – during which some original music inspired by songs from the film will bring guests into the story. Tiana is leading the way and fans will be able to encounter old friends and make new ones along the way as well!

We recently gathered at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans — founder Leah Chase was one of the inspirations for Princess Tiana — to talk about Tiana’s impact over the past decade and the creative process behind the upcoming attraction, including the next-level technology Imagineers are employing to bring it to life. Generations of the Chase family welcomed us while Chef Dook cooked up some of their famous gumbo. We sat down with Leah’s daughter, Stella Chase Reese who shared that “The two coming together, music and food, brings joy and happiness to all” and isn’t that the truth?

Disney Parks Blog also shared a video of the roundtable, along with the following information:

Watch Kenneth Moton, National Correspondent for ABC News as he joins Stella Chase Reese, Owner of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and daughter of Leah Chase; Carmen Smith, Creative Executive, Vice President, Inclusive Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering; Charita Carter, Senior Producer for Walt Disney Imagineering; and Marlon West, VFX Supervisor for Walt Disney Animation Studios to hear more:

Disney Imagineers had to do in-depth research to help find inspiration for this project, which is something they often do any time a new Disney project is announced. When talking about the inspiration for the upcoming The Princess and the Frog retheme, Disney Parks Blog shared:

Imagineers often do in-depth research to help inspire their work. In this case, that involved digging deep into the culture of New Orleans to tell a story that’s as authentic to the region as it is to the characters’ stories. From the food, music, art and architecture to the diversity of its people and their traditions, there is much from which to draw inspiration. The team has done virtual research trips through Zoom and this was their first of many in-person research trips to come and get the story right.

Tying to Leah Chase’s love of art, one of the early sources of inspiration has come from Sharika Mahdi — a visual artist, art educator, and alumna of the renowned YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists) Arts Center located in New Orleans — who was commissioned to create a series of four original paintings to inspire Imagineers, one of which was revealed today.

To celebrate all of these developments, our love and appreciation for New Orleans, and our commitment to arts education, Disney announced a $50,000 donation to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts, classical instrumental music, jazz instrumental music, classical vocal music, drama, musical theatre, theatre design, visual arts and creative writing.

Where is the Splash Mountain Retheme Happening?

Splash Mountain
Credit: ITM

Related: Will Princess Tiana Be Human or Frog in Splash Mountain?

Splash Mountain at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland will be rethemed into a The Princess and the Frog attraction.

Timeline of Splash Mountain Retheme

splash mountain drop
Credit: Disney

Related: Why Do Some Guests Refer to Splash Mountain as Trash Mountain?

At this time, we do not have a date as to when Disney will be fully rolling out these changes to Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Disney World, but Melissa Valiquette, Vice President of Magic Kingdom, recently stated “When we are reimagining a new attraction or area, this can be a lengthy process”, indicating it could be some time before we see Tiana take over Splash Mountain.

More on The Princess and the Frog

princess tiana
Credit: Disney

The Princess and the Frog was released in 2009 and starred Anika Noni Rose (Tiana), Jennifer Cody (Charlotte “Lottie” La Bouff), Jim Cummings (Ray), John Goodman (“Big Daddy” La Bouff), Keith David (Dr. Facilier), Bruno Campos (Prince Naveen), Michael Leon Wooley (Louis), Jenifer Lewis (Mama Odie), Terrence Howard (James), Oprah Winfrey (Eudora).

Disney Movies describes the film as:

With a modern twist on a classic tale, this animated comedy is set in the great city of New Orleans. Featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana, a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.

waitress tiana holding plates in the princess and the frog
Credit: Disney

How do you feel about the Splash Mountain retheme? Are you excited to see The Princess and the Frog take over? Let us know in the comments below.

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