June 29, 2020

Disney is overhauling Splash Mountain to remove the ride’s ties to a racist film

By Allegra Frank

Disney’s Splash Mountain ride, the famous log flume that’s popular at both the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks, is getting a facelift. And not just any ol’ facelift, but a major one that will finally scrub Splash Mountain of its ties to Walt Disney’s infamously insensitive 1946 film Song of the South.

The Walt Disney Parks division announced Thursday that a project to “completely reimagine” Splash Mountain began last year, and that the ride’s new theme is inspired by Disney’s 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog. The film notably stars Disney’s first black princess, Tiana, who arrived 72 years after Snow White kicked off the Disney Princess canon. Disney did not reveal when Splash Mountain will relaunch with its new theme, or how long the ride will be closed during the retooling process, and has not responded to Vox’s request for comment.

Replacing Splash Mountain’s current look with the characters and setting of The Princess and the Frog feels like a pointed response to long-standing complaints over Splash Mountain’s association with Song of the South. Splash Mountain, which opened in 1989, features woodland creatures and stars the character Br’er Rabbit on his adventure to avoid the clutches of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. Visitors sit in log boats that move slowly through these scenes, until their journey culminates with the boats sliding down a steep waterfall, landing in a “briarpatch.”