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The killing of George Floyd last month in Minnesota sparked protests around the country and around the world. It's caused Americans of all colors to seriously consider the way that we all deal with race. That serious introspection has even stretched to the world of theme parks. Splash Mountain, the flume ride at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland, is one of the parks' most popular attractions, but it's also always been a somewhat controversial one due to the decision to theme the ride after Song of the South, a film that deals with racial relationships in the Reconstruction era in a very Disney way. Now, a petition has been created to ask Disney Parks to re-theme the attraction and to specifically re-theme it after The Princess and the Frog.
Song of the South is a movie that has aged so poorly that Disney hasn't released it in North America since the '80s and the film has never seen any sort of home video or DVD release. You also won't find it on DIsney+. While Splash Mountain largely excises the most controversial elements of the film, there is no direct mention of the character of Uncle Remus at all, and only the animated characters like Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear appear, one certainly can't divorce the ride from the movie entirely.
This led one Twitter user to suggest the retheming of Splash Mountain and that turned into a snowball which is still picking up momentum. Another user on Twitter, suggested the idea of using The Princess and the Frog as the new theme for the attraction. Then he took things a step further and basically did the redesign himself. It actually looks like a pretty awesome attraction.
Now this idea has built up enough steam that there is now a Change.org petition to ask Disney to replace the Song of the South theme on Splash Mountain with The Princess and the Frog.
I have to say, there's a lot of reason to love this idea. First off, The Princess and the Frog doesn't have a lot of representation in the Disney Parks, and that's something that should be remedied. It's a great movie with some fantastic music that could be put to good use inside an attraction. And Splash Mountain is the perfect attraction to use. Most of the movie takes place in the bayou, and so the idea of floating down a river fits perfectly with the film.
Also, at Disneyland, Splash Mountain is located in Critter Country, but Splash Mountain is right next to the edge of New Orleans Square. It's literally next door to the Haunted Mansion, so it would be the easiest thing in the world to shift the attraction to a New Orleans theme and simply make Splash Mountain part of that land instead, or at least make Splash Mountain the perfect transitional ride between the two areas.
It was always an odd choice to theme Splash Mountain after a movie that, even at the time, wasn't all that popular and that most guests to the Disney Parks had never even seen. The decision to do so had more to do with the need for the attraction to reuse animal animatronics from the America Sings show, than any particular desire to make a Song of the South attraction. At this point, it feels safe to say that the animatronics have been put to good use and Splash Mountain could use a significant refurbishment.
A complete rethemeing of Splash Mountain would certainly be one of the largest such projects we've seen in recent memory, but certainly we've seen other Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions get rethemed in similar ways. Epcot's Maelstrom became Frozen Ever After a number of years ago. The ride itself and the ride vehicles were unchanged. It was just the set dressing surrounding it that was replaced. This would essentially do the same thing, although on a much larger scale.
Unfortunately, the larger scale would likely be the biggest hurdle to a change like this actually happening. Retheming Splash Mountain, especially at three parks around the world, would be an expensive proposition, and Disney has been hemorrhaging money due to the closure of the parks. At this point, it's unclear if or when we'll see the updates to the parks that we've already been promised, so something of this size would almost certainly go down the to-do list, even if Disney were to seriously consider it.
Still, this is an idea that should be considered. It would take money and it would take time, but it would be time and money well spent.