Sometime in the next few years, the historic Splash Mountain attraction at both Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Central Florida, and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Southern California will undergo a major retheme set in the world of Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ The Princess and the Frog (2009).
The Walt Disney Company’s latest statements on the upcoming renovation have once again ignited backlash among diehard fans of the Disney Park ride with #SaveSplashMountain dominating social media.
Based in Disneyland Park’s Critter Country and Walt Disney World’s Frontierland in Magic Kingdom Park, Splash Mountain is one of Disney Parks’ most beloved and treasured attractions. Drenched in nostalgia, the water log flume ride is based on the 1946 Disney film, Song of the South, with characters like Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox, included in the story. It is among the group of classic Disney theme park rides occupied by attractions like Space Mountain, and Jungle Cruise. A version of the ride can also be found at Tokyo Disneyland.
In 2020, following petitions spawned out of the George Floyd protests, The Walt Disney Company formerly announced that the attraction would be rethemed to The Princess and the Frog; removing the elements and theme of Song of the South — a movie not circulated on home video or on streaming services due to its controversial and racist tones. Despite this, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, won the Best Original Song Oscar at the 1948 Academy Awards, with Disney Parks utilizing the anthem and the characters from the movie’s animated sequences as inspiration for Splash Mountain.
So far, fans have seen concept art of the forthcoming Princess Tiana takeover, with voice actress, Anika Noni Rose accidentally revealing that the opening date of the revised Splash Mountain attraction will be sometime in 2024 — although, Disney has yet to corroborate or confirm a launch date. They did state however that the company would reveal more information during the New Orleans Essence of the Arts Festival which takes place between June 30 and July 3, 2022.
Disney Parks Blog previously shared the following on the Princess and the Frog 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!
Now, Executive Producer of Relevancy Activations at Walt Disney Imagineering, Charita Carter, has spoken to Essence about her work on Splash Mountain retheme, discussing the responsibility and weight of such a large and scrutinized project:
“I am extremely honored to have this responsibility […] It’s hard work. And yes, I am nervous because I feel every day the weight of what it is that we are doing. But we have put together an amazing team of people. We are working with so many consultants and just really encouraging everybody who is touching this attraction to be curious, and to be humble and be open to learning, expanding on ways that we can tell this story.”
“We are building upon what was done with the animated film. We’re telling a next chapter story. We have this beautiful opportunity to give the character of Tiana depth and a dimensional space. I’m honored and excited. And I just feel like, ‘Yes, I’m ready. Let’s do this.’”
She goes on to add:
“When I think about what this project means to my parents, there’s that aspect. And then when I think about the young people, there’s just the full gamut, multi-generational impact. We are taking our responsibility very seriously,” Carter says. “I feel privileged and honored to be in a driving seat where I can help influence the choices that we make because like I said, we have a big responsibility and we plan to deliver.”
Following Disney Parks announcement of the Carter interview, many Disney World and Disneyland fans took to social media, reigniting the #SaveSplashMountain trend with vigor. Some commented on the continued popularity of Splash Mountain, which currently sees long wait times at both US Parks, and questioned its retheme, while others discussed whether funds should be allocated to other opportunities like the continued remodel of the former Future World at Disney World’s EPCOT Park. Naturally, other fans accused Disney of “virtue-signaling” and demanded Disney build Princess Tiana her own attraction.
The debate continues.
Are you looking forward to The Princess and the Frog retheme of Splash Mountain? Let us know in the comments down below!