Disney World’s Rethemed Splash Mountain Now Operating

in Walt Disney World

The image shows what Tiana's Bayou Adventure will look like at Magic Kingdom after the Splash Mountain retheme is complete.

Credit: Disney

The Princess and the Frog (2009) retheme of Splash Mountain, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, is officially operational at Magic Kingdom Park. This comes as a surprise to many guests as Walt Disney World Resort recently announced that the ride would open this summer.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was first announced in June 2020 amid nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd. Though Walt Disney Imagineering stated that they started working on the concept in 2019, fans suspected they rushed the announcement because online petitions asked Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to shut down Splash Mountain.

The log flume ride was inspired by Song of the South (1946), a combination animation-live-action film that Walt Disney Studios hasn’t let out of the vault since the 1980s. They’ve never officially released it on home video and said it would never stream on Disney+.

Tiana, Louis, and animal animatronics greet guests in concept art for Tiana's Bayou Adventure.
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company hasn’t shied away from its controversial past, adding cultural sensitivity warnings before movies like Peter Pan (1953) and Pocahontas (1995). The family entertainment corporation brought on experts to evaluate its entire content library and highlight any offensive or inappropriate representations of minorities. As part of its “Stories Matter” campaign, Disney publicly admitted to the abhorrent depictions of different cultures in films, including Dumbo (1941), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), and The Aristocats (1970).

All of the films mentioned above still stream on Disney+. So, what’s different about The Song of the South? Well… a lot.

The NAACP protested the movie when it premiered in 1946, and many Black actors reportedly turned down the role of Uncle Remus. Even then, experts expressed concern about the “Uncle Tom” stereotype depicted in the film and encouraged Walt Disney to make it clear that it took place post-Civil War.

Br'er Rabbit Splash Mountain sign at Walt Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

Those concerns went largely unaddressed. The final version of Song of the South depicts characters in clothing that would’ve been more historically appropriate pre-Civil War. Uncle Remus and other Black characters sing about how happy they are to stay in the only place they’ve ever known (plantations). James Baskett, who ultimately took the controversial lead role, wasn’t allowed to attend its Atlanta premiere because of segregation laws.

This doesn’t begin to address the stereotypical dialects used in the film and the infamous history behind its Academy Award-winning theme song, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Experts believe it was inspired by “Zip Coon,” a racist 1830s anthem popular among white people.

Given that “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” was Splash Mountain’s theme song, too, the log flume ride was a ticking time bomb. When juxtaposed with the inaccurate image of a plantation worker who decides he’s happy to live in an oppressive society, the attraction’s cheerful tale of Br’er Rabbit returning home after running away feels much more sinister.

Malaika Favorite poses in front of her mural at Tiana's Bayou Adventure.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Walt Disney Imagineering has been working on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom Park since January 2023, when Splash Mountain closed. In the last few weeks, guests spotted water running through the track and a few logs descending the attraction’s main drop.

On Thursday, X (formerly Twitter) user @DrewDisneyDude reported that Walt Disney World Resort is ramping up testing of the ride. According to the guest, they repeatedly sent at least 12 logs down the track and operated the ride consistently throughout the night. He shared this video from Wednesday night:

Log testing is ramping up at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom Park! There’s around a dozen logs testing every night currently. Here’s footage from last night:

Walt Disney World Resort hasn’t announced the opening day for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure but confirmed that it will open this summer. Last week, they released a sneak peek at a stunning Princess Tiana animatronic from the ride.

Follow Inside the Magic for the latest updates about the Splash Mountain retheme!

What do you hope to see on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Share your ideas for the ride with Inside the Magic in the comments!

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on a personal Disney Parks guest experience. No two guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

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