Corrections & clarifications: A previous version of this story misidentified the person who spoke about Tiana's full-circle moment.
Fans have known since 2020 that Splash Mountain was getting a new "Princess and the Frog" theme, but the timing and name were officially revealed Friday at ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, weeks after Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose, who voices Tiana, let the year slip during an interview on "Live with Kelly and Ryan."
“To be able to join New Orleans in the celebration of Black joy as we bring Tiana’s story to its roots is a full-circle moment I’m so proud to realize," Carmen Smith, Disney senior vice president of creative development - product/content and inclusive strategies, said in a statement. Disney's first Black princess was inspired by a real New Orleans icon, the late James Beard-award winning Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase's Restaurant.
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Is Splash Mountain changing to "The Princess and the Frog"?
While Tiana's Bayou Adventure stems from "The Princess and the Frog," it's not the same story – more like the next chapter.
"Picking up where the film left off, guests will join Princess Tiana, Naveen and jazz-loving alligator Louis on an adventure through the bayou as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration where everyone is welcome," Smith said.
Why is Splash Mountain being changed?
Splash Mountain's current Br'er Rabbit story is tied to the controversial Disney film "Song of the South," which has long been criticized for its idyllic portrayal of plantation life.
"While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film," read a June 2020 Change.org petition, which called for Splash Mountain's makeover and garnered more than 21,000 signatures. Disney announced the new theme after the petition drew national attention but noted the change had been in the works since 2019.
“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," Bob Iger, Disney's then-executive chairman, chairman of the board and former CEO, said at a March 2020 shareholders meeting when asked if the film would be added to the Disney+ catalog.
Unlike other older films like "Dumbo" and "Peter Pan," which have had warnings added acknowledging their "outdated cultural depictions" and "harmful impact," "Song of the South" is not available on the streaming service.
Disney told USA TODAY:
"We continue to review our offerings for negative depictions of people and cultures, and we invest in new offerings and experiences to better reflect the diversity of stories in our world. The Splash Mountain attraction was originally based on 'Song of the South,' and we are eager to create an entirely new experiences that is more inclusive and inspirational for all guests."
Is Disney World's Splash Mountain still open?
Yes, Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear and more than 100 animatronics tied to the film are still there for now. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” still plays. And guests still get splashed by the popular log flume ride's 5-story drop.
Is Splash Mountain still at Disneyland?
Yes, and it's still open, too. Both Disneyland and Disney World post updated attraction hours on their respective websites and apps, so guests can check availability daily.
Disney has not announced when either Splash Mountain will close. But when they do, they'll be closed for a while. Even with similar backdrops – both Splash Mountain and Tiana's Bayou Adventure are set on the bayou – construction will be extensive.
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Is Tokyo Disneyland changing Splash Mountain?
There are no current plans to update Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disney Resort. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea aren't owned by Disney. Oriental Land Company owns the parks and licenses from Disney.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney's 'Princess and the Frog' Splash Mountain makeover coming 2024