Disney to update controversial Splash Mountain into empowering Princess & Frog by 2024

Princess frog
'They are making a ride — it'll be out in 2024 ...'

You heard it first from the voice of Princess Tiana.

By 2024, Disney will finish revamping the Splash Mountain ride into a Princess and the Frog theme, according to actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced the princess in the 2009 animated Disney film.

“They are making a ride — it’ll be out in 2024,” Rose said Thursday on Live with Kelly and Ryan, which airs on the Disney-owned ABC network. “I’ve been involved in the beginning, just talking about how we want it to be, what we want it to do, but, if I were to tell you anything else, I would be sucked into the ground and you’d never see me again.”

Disney has remained quiet on the ride’s update since announcing in 2020 it planned to change the popular water ride to pay homage to Disney’s first Black princess. Disney fans are waiting to learn more about what the reimagined ride will look like and how the storyline fits around the film.

Disney didn’t confirm the ride opening date Thursday after Disney blogs and other media outlets reported the actress’ interview.

In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Disney said, “We have already shared how we are bringing Tiana’s story to life at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. While timing has not been determined, we look forward to sharing more details during Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans in July.”

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Florida Politics.

In 2020, Bob Weis, who was president of Walt Disney Imagineering, called Tiana “a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams while never losing sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.”

Splash Mountain has a long history of racial insensitivity.

The ride’s original storyline centers around Br’er Rabbit’s adventures from Disney’s 1946 film “Song of the South” which one college professor said spins a false myth of the Noble South and is full of racial stereotypes.

“White people have loved and laughed at caricaturing Black people for a very long time. Splash Mountain has been a part of that,” Susan Peppers-Bates, director of Stetson University’s Africana Studies Program, told the Orlando Sentinel in 2020. “Splash Mountain will feel very different if you are an African American or a White person who knows anything about history.”

But some Disney fans have also voiced their outrage that Disney is changing what they consider to be an iconic, beloved ride.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


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