Julia Pecora ’25
Disneyland’s Splash Mountain is set to close for a major renovation. The ride has been a staple of the California park since it opened in 1989, but it has faced criticism in recent years due to its association with the controversial film Song of the South. Disney announced that the attraction, which takes riders on a log flume through scenes from the 1946 film, will be completely overhauled. It will be re-imagined with a new theme based on the 2009 movie The Princess and the Frog, which features Disney’s first Black princess.
According to a statement released by Disney, the reimagined ride will pick up where the movie left off and follow 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.” The company has recently faced condemnation for perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes in some of its classic films and attractions, including Song of the South and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride; thus, as a subject of debate receiving increasing amounts of criticism in recent years, this decision to renovate Splash Mountain is a part of Disney’s ongoing efforts to address issues of racial representation and inclusivity in its parks and products. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement, “It’s important that our guests see themselves in the experiences we create. We believe that this new concept is inclusive and respectful of all communities, and we are excited to bring it to life.”
The decision to revamp Splash Mountain was made after a public petition calling for a restructuring of its theme went viral last year. The petition, which gained over 20,000 signatures, cited the ride’s association with Song of the South’s racist themes as reason for Disney to act and restructure the ride.
The ride closed on January 31, 2023, and the renovation is expected to begin in several months. No official reopening date has been announced, but Disney has stated that the new version of the ride will debut sometime in 2024.
Many Disney fans have expressed mixed reactions to the news, with some lamenting the loss of a beloved attraction and others applauding the company’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Despite the closure of Splash Mountain, Disneyland guests will still be able to enjoy a variety of water-based attractions, including the recently opened Avengers Campus and the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which has yet to undergo restructuring or renovation despite the ride also recently becoming a point of contention among Disney-goers and fans.
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