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  • Writer's pictureVariant Magazine

Why Disney’s Decision to Rebrand Splash Mountain is a Step Toward Social Justice

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

By Reagan Goldberg, Blogger

The Walt Disney Co. announced June 25 its plans to turn the classic theme park ride, Splash Mountain, into a new log ride inspired by “The Princess and the Frog.”

“The Princess and the Frog” offers a new take on the fairytale cliche of a frog transforming into a prince with true love’s kiss. In this Southern-inspired film, instead of the frog turning back into a prince, the girl who kisses the frog, a hard-working chef and waitress named Tiana, ends up turning into a frog as well. The movie follows their journey to become human again with catchy, New Orleans jazz-inspired songs.

Michael Ramirez, public relations director of Disneyland Resort, says the ride will take place after the final kiss between Tiana and Prince Naveen, and will follow Princess Tiana and Louis, the lovable, trumpet-playing crocodile, on a musical adventure as they prepare for their first Mardi Gras performance. The ride will also consist of the songs from the movie.

Ramirez adds that the rebranding of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today because the new concept is inclusive and speaks to the diversity of the millions of Disneyland and Walt Disney World visitors.

Photo from Disney via Google Images

This change came after worldwide Black Lives Matter protests were organized following the unjust death of George Floyd. The hyper focus on the BLM movement made many people aware of microaggressions and racist remarks within pop culture. Disney fans took action themselves and called for the Walt Disney Co. to remove Splash Mountain due to its ties to the movie “Song of the South,” a 1946 film with controversial themes.

The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” but it will not be featured on Disney+. Due to the racist controversy surrounding the movie, Disney re-released the film several times through the mid- and late-20th century, and the last time it was released was in 1986 for its 40th anniversary. The film has since been locked in the Disney vault.

Through this ride rebrand, not only is Walt Disney Co. taking a step to give “The Princess and the Frog”the recognition it deserves, but it is also taking a step toward social justice in support of the BLM movement.

Fans of the beloved ride Splash Mountain may be sad to see it go, but can be excited to see a new ride take its place, and experience what Tiana and her friends have been up to since the end of the movie. Plus, who doesn’t love a good Mardi Gras celebration?

Photo from Disney via Google Images

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