As a Disney superfan and a former Disneyland cast member, I can tell you that theme park attractions undergo, minor and major changes all the time. Usually, it’s just Disney diehards who get upset about it. And it’s generally connected to their personal memories or nostalgia for said ride or show. However, a recent big refurbishment has caused a lot of talk on social media and we need to break it down.
On Sunday, Splash Mountain officially closed its doors at both Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, making way for the water ride to be re-themed into a celebration of the film The Princess and the Frog. It’s currently centered around characters from the 1946 film Song of the South, a deeply problematic film that follows a 7-year-old boy who becomes friends with a former slave when he visits his grandmother’s plantation. Yeah, this is the one Mickey pretends doesn’t exist. The fact that Disney chose this as the focus of the ride when it opened in 1989 is bad enough, but for the company to take this long to realize it has no place in its flagship theme parks is wild.
For years, Disney fans have called for the ride to be updated to a more appropriate story, but the company didn’t seem to understand how offensive it really was until 2020. In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in response to the officer-related murder of George Floyd, the entertainment giant announced that it would re-theme its popular ride Splash Mountain. Per Disney Parks, in the new attraction, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, “you’ll join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans.” Well that sounds like a perfectly reasonable story for a log ride. It’s also worth noting that the mechanics and track of the ride will stay the same, it’s only the creative theme that’s being changed. Meaning, the big drop at the end will still be there when the new ride opens in late 2024. Though it hasn’t been announced or confirmed, I assume the parks will also take this opportunity to update some of the ride’s technology.
If you’re thinking that none of this seems especially controversial, you’d be right. But as we all know, Black people aren’t allowed to have nice things. So as actual Disney fans posted about nostalgia and memories, the far-right’s fake outrage brigade showed up in droves on social media to cry about “wokeness” and “tradition.” I’m telling you right now, none of these people have an emotional connection to Splash Mountain or Song of the South. I don’t recall any of this anger when Pirates of the Caribbean added in characters from the successful film franchise, or when Space Mountain gets a Star Wars theme whenever a new movie is set to be released, or when Haunted Mansion adds its The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay every year. This proves that they’re just big mad that Disney’s one Black princess is getting her own ride. Guys, calm down, there’s still plenty of attractions and shows with white princesses.
And despite their online crying, we all know they’re going to get on the ride when it opens, but they need to get to the back of the line, because you don’t get to act crazy today, then jump to the front on opening day. As a matter of fact, I feel like we should all make it a big family celebration and show up ready to support our princess during Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’s opening run.