Some Disney fans have felt inspired by recent events and calls for racial sensitivity to ask The Walt Disney Company to re-theme the popular Splash Mountain rides in Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland after the 2009 animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”
The log flume attraction that is more than 30 years old is currently themed after Disney’s 1946 movie “Song of the South,” which has been criticized for decades over its antebellum setting and perpetuating racial stereotypes of African Americans. However, Disney fans believe re-theming the ride after Disney’s first and only African American princess – Tiana – would be a step in the right direction for the company.
Twitter user Tia went as far as to kick off a re-theming Splash Mountain challenge on Monday evening, and some creative social users have answered the call with their own ideas and designs.
“I truly don't understand why Splash Mountain is still modeled after this movie," Hsoka wrote to FOX Business. "Disney is always willing to re-theme original attractions in order to include more of their intellectual property in the parks (such as Pixar Pier, Mission Breakout) but are less proactive about removing theming that is rooted in racism. I really just feel that the change is long overdue and hopefully with everything going on Disney can see that as well!”
The tweet motivated Tia’s colleague Fredrick Chambers – a Disneyland employee whose views are solely his own – to reimagine Splash Mountain as “The Princess and the Frog.” He tweeted his eight-part plan, which includes a redesigned waiting room, animatronics and other entertainment elements based on the New Orleans bayou setting of the film of the same name.
“I had the basics for the attraction laid out in my head for years. I had always kept the idea in my back pocket for when my friends and I would pitch our changes for the parks,” Chambers told FOX Business. “I went online and found location-based art from 'Princess and the Frog' and simply went through, with the attractions ride path in mind, imaging how each scene would play out.”
While Splash Mountain has been a hit despite occasional criticism from Disney attendees and has even been modified to remove hints of the ride’s connection to the racially insensitive past, Chambers said he was able to find out that “many people see the same issues with the attraction” as he does after he shared his twitter thread.
“This re-theme is very plausible," Chambers said. "Disney already has experiences in changing attractions to better please audiences and create better experiences for its guests. Just look at Tower of Terror in DCA and how it became Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. The bones of the attraction are good but I think it is time for us to take a serious look at where our stories come from and how people of color are represented.”
FOX Business reached out to The Walt Disney Company for comment but did not immediately hear back at the time of publication. Disney executives Bob Iger, Bob Chapek and Latondra Newton denounced racism and the death of George Floyd in late May in a message sent out to employees.
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Chambers affirmed that Disney “works hard to promote equal opportunity and prevent racism in the workplace” and went on to say that it is a safe space for people of all colors, genders, orientations, religions and creeds.
“That doesn’t make Disney perfect, but it does mean it is doing more to help those who are hurting, giving people the reassurance that things are going to be alright,” he shared. “Disney can always do more, but they are actively trying to live up to the ideals set forth at the parks' founding.”
Other fans have shared their desire to see Splash Mountain re-themed into a "Princess and the Frog" attraction. A current Change.org petition has asked as much along while other online communities, such as the Disney Parks Fanon Wiki and Defunctland, have had members share re-theming ideas as well.
“The Princess and the Frog” has been represented with costumed characters and merchandise in Disney parks and properties, including Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Tiana’s Place on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.
A new themed restaurant featuring these characters is reportedly being set up in the Reflections — A Lakeside Disney Lodge resort, according to theme park blog Inside The Magic. The resort is scheduled to open in 2022.