In what one executive described as “a love letter to New Orleans,” Disney is rebranding its Splash Mountain attraction as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
In announcement made on Friday at the Essence Fest in New Orleans, the switchover is set to occur in late 2024 at both Florida’s Disney World and California’s Disneyland as a cross-promotion with the animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”
“Disney had indicated in 2020 that it would overhaul the attraction in 2020, sharing the news as protests against racial injustice were roiling the country. Splash Mountain had been based on the Uncle Remus Br’er Rabbit story in the company’s controversial 1946 film Song of the South,” Deadline Hollywood reported.
Added People magazine, “Tiana’s story takes over the ride previously based on the controversial 1946 Disney film Song of the South, which has long been criticized for its problematic portrayal of the post-Civil War South and for employing racist stereotypes.”
In a blog post, Carmen Smith, Disney’s senior vice president for creative development and product /content & inclusive strategies, wrote, in part, that “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.”
Smith also noted that the corporation’s “imagineers,” i.e. ride creators, made numerous trips to Louisiana for field research so as to make sure that the new attraction “preserves the heart and soul of the city that inspired Princess Tiana’s story.” Princess Tiana is Disney’s first black princess.
Disney entertainment president, with transgender, pansexual children, wants half of future characters to be LGBTQIA or racial minorities https://t.co/oqpnDWyGYX
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) March 30, 2022
Charita Carter, executive producer of relevancy activations at Walt Disney Imagineering, said that “in many ways, ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ is a love letter to New Orleans. Like the musical city that inspired this attraction, Tiana’s second act is about a community working in harmony to achieve something extraordinary.”
In the meantime, New Orleans unfortunately is trending toward becoming the murder capital of the U.S., according to statistics cited by Fox 8 New Orleans.
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Comments posted under the Disney Parks blog post were not uniformly favorable toward the change. Here is a sample:
“The Br’er Rabbit tales are important to Black culture. Re-theming this ride is condoning the erasure of authentic Black culture. I understand the need for more diverse representation, but it is possible to achieve this goal without destroying an iconic attraction such as Splash Mountain. A brand new ride should be created from scratch for Tiana, no one argues that…”
“Princess and the Frog is just as problematic as Song of the South….”
“So sad…why does everything have to be taken away? Why can’t Splash Mountain stay and just add a new Tiana ride?…”
“Thank you for destroying yet another one of my favorite and most dear things about Disney World!…”
“It is a shame that Disney is replacing easily it’s most iconic ride, instead of building Tiana a brand new state-of-the-art attraction. I will definitely miss Splash Mountain and it’s wonderful music. Don’t fix what is not broken.”
“Or you could, y’know, educate people about Song of the South instead of burying it and pretending it doesn’t exist while you destroy a beloved theme park attraction in the process.”
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