Disney fans hoping for one last plunge on Splash Mountain have less than two months to ride the iconic theme park attraction before it closes for an extensive makeover.
The attraction will close on January 23, 2023, as Disney moves to walk away from the wide criticism that the ride promotes "racial stereotypes."
Splash Mountain's current theme is based off Br'er Rabbit's adventures in the 1946 "Song of the South" film, which has been criticized for its portrayal of plantation life.
"I’ve felt, as long as I’ve been CEO, that 'Song of the South' was – even with a disclaimer – was just not appropriate in today’s world," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a March 2020 shareholders meeting.
In 2019, a petition with more than 21,000 online signatures called upon Disney to "re-theme Splash Mountain." Fans of the change cited a need for more diversity and representation in the parks.
"Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be." One person wrote. "Tiana could be one of the first princesses with a thrill ride, as well as giving her a much deserved place in the parks."
In June 2020, Disney announced that the Splash Mountain attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California was going to be re-themed around "The Princess and the Frog" — a beloved animated film that features Princess Tiana and her friends.
Since then, the entertainment giant has given updates on the upcoming overhaul of the attraction, which will be called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Following the announcement from Disney, another petition called to save the ride rose to 93,000 signatures after Disney's announcement.
"Splash Mountain is an iconic ride at Magic Kingdom, loved by millions of fans all over the world for over 30 years." the petition's description reads. "Re-theming such an iconic ride would erode the nostalgia that lives in Disney World and take away a little bit of the magic."
Despite the petitioners' request, Disney continued to plan Splash Mountain's makeover and create Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
According to Disney, guests will be taken on a journey inspired by the story and characters from the hit film, picking up where that story left off. Disney said that the ride, which is set in 1966 New Orleans, will pick up after the final kiss of the film.
Naveen and Louis will join Tiana on her latest adventure and host a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration. Original music inspired by the songs from the film will be used as riders encounter both old and new characters.
In a previous statement, Disney said, "With this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the re-theming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year."
Along with the updated ride, Tiana's story will also continue in a Disney+ series that follows her after the events of the 2009 movie. Disney has not released its premier date, but it is expected sometime in 2023.