Disney is reviewing Splash Mountain to remove ties from Song of the South

Disney’s Splash Mountain Ride, the famous registration channel that is popular with both Disneyland and Disney World theme parks, is being renovated. And not just any other face lift, but an important one that will finally remove Splash Mountain from its ties to the infamous 1946 Walt Disney movie. Southern song.

Walt Disney’s Parks division announced Thursday that a project to “completely reinvent” Splash Mountain began last year, and that the new theme for the ride is inspired by the 2009 Disney animated film. The princess and the frog. The movie stars Disney’s first black princess, Tiana, who arrived 72 years after Snow White launched the Disney Princess canon. Disney did not disclose when Splash Mountain will be relaunched with its new theme, or how long the trip will remain closed during the restructuring process, and has not responded to Vox’s request for comment.

Replace the current look of Splash Mountain with the characters and settings The princess and the frog feels like a one-time response to long-standing complaints about Splash Mountain’s association with Southern song. Splash Mountain, which opened in 1989, features forest creatures and stars as the character Br’er Rabbit in his adventure to avoid the clutches of Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. Visitors sit in log boats that slowly move through these scenes, until their journey culminates with the boats gliding down a steep waterfall, landing in a “heath.”

Diptych Splash Mountain of current design and future design.

Left: The current interior design of Splash Mountain, with Southern song characters. Right: Disney concept art for the Splash Mountain “reinvention” based on The princess and the frog.
Disney parks

Although not obvious when looking at the ride, Splash Mountain borrows directly from Southern song. The story of Br’er Rabbit is told in the film by the character of Uncle Remus, a black man who works on a plantation in the southern American Reconstruction era. Uncle Remus was a storybook character created in 1881 who told Aesop’s fabled folk tales, with the intention of white author Joel Chandler Harris to convey the difficulties of black life in the Deep South. But Harris’s characterization of Remus as speaking in the stereotypical vernacular of Black Southern has not stood the test of time, and Uncle Remus is now seen as an unquestionable example of racist entertainment.

When Southern song Launched in 1946, Uncle Remus’ character had been largely forgotten. The film told an original story based on some of Harris ‘Uncle Remus’ stories, bringing the character to a wider public consciousness. Walt Disney made few changes to Uncle Remus himself, preserving the character’s deference to the white plantation owners he worked for and their families, as well as his use of the southern black vernacular stereotype.

Despite criticism from black writers hired to consult on the script’s racial sensitivity, setting benchmarks that the film largely failed to: Southern song It received positive reviews and performed well at the box office. She even won the 1948 Oscar for Best Original Song, for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. But Hollywood in the 1940s was still highly segregated, as was the rest of the civil rights era before the United States, and black anti-racist activists criticized the film after its release as an aid to “perpetuate an image dangerously glorified of slavery. “

Disowned disney Southern song Decades ago but has survived through Splash Mountain

Disney relaunched Southern song in theaters several times in the years after its release, as was the case with many of his popular films in the mid to late 20th century. Southern songThe last public theatrical screening was for its 40th anniversary in 1986, three years after production began on Splash Mountain, a journey inspired by the film. In 1983, Disneyland theme park ride designers (known as Imagineers) were asked to propose a ride on a log canal; Southern song came to mind, and the Imagineers focused the different animal characters from Uncle Remus’ tales into their design. (This story is discussed in the excellent podcast You must remember this, who devoted an entire episode to how Southern song influenced Splash Mountain.)

But after Southern songIn the 1986 theatrical run, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner said the company would push the film into its so-called vault due to its outdated racist stereotypes. But the Splash Mountain still in progress retained its Southern song elements, including his animal characters and the use of two songs from the film: “Everybody’s Got a Laughing Place” and the classic “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”.

Southern song It has never been released on home video, and when Splash Mountain opened in 1989, Disney had repudiated the film. But from the link between Splash Mountain and Southern song It remained, critics over the years have often called Splash Mountain for its connection to the film, even earlier this month: A petition began circulating online in mid-June demanding that Disney redesign the trip. As Black Lives Matter protests, campaigns and awareness increase across the country, many companies have been forced to deal with their stories of racism. For Disney parks, that includes the origins of Splash Mountain.

Disney said the same when announcing that the trip will be reworked, although in much more ambiguous terms.

“With [Disney Parks’] The longstanding history of rides updating and adding new magic, the retake of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today, “the announcement says.” The new concept is inclusive, one with which all of our guests They can connect and get inspired, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year. “

Neither Disneyland nor Disney World has reopened since the coronavirus pandemic forced both parks to close in March. Perhaps this is the perfect time for renovation work to begin correcting the Splash Mountain course.

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