Disney is reimagining Splash Mountain's racist 'Song of the South' theme. Princess and the Frog will take its place

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/25/splash-mountain-ride-is-reimag.html


@Carla_Sinclair Headline probably means to say Splash Mountain, not Space Mountain


If Space Mountain was supposed to be based on Song of the South then it definitely went over my head.


I did Disney a couple of years ago with the kids and was surprised to discover that it was still Song of the South themed, even after Disney pulled the movie from their catalog years ago. I was thinking at the time that the ride needed to be updated. My kids had no idea what any of it was about.


The petition may or may not have played a role (and current events no doubt affected the timing of the announcement) but it should be noted that Disney says they’ve been working on this concept for over a year. They’ve got concept art and the original voice talent onboard, as well as (for better or worse) the consultation of Tony Baxter, the head Imagineering guy for the original Splash Mountain. Given that the petition was started less than a month ago I do tend to believe that this was at least partially in the works prior to the petition.

(Edit to add: not to get all conspiracy-theory, but I wonder if any furloughed Imagineers who were working on the concept might have been motivated to anonymously create the petition themselves, in order to help nudge the executives to make a public announcement and help ensure funding for their project. Just sayin’…)

But great news either way! I always thought that The Princess and the Frog never really got it’s due as a great Disney film.


Song of the South African Emerald Mines.


That movie was already mostly a fading memory most kids would have been unfamiliar with by the time the ride debuted in 1989. A weird pick for a theme park ride for sure.


I’m pretty sure I saw Song of the South on broadcast TV when I was a kid. That would have been in the 80s, so not too far out of people’s memory.

Edit: From what I’ve been able to find online it was released up until 1986 in the US, but never on VHS and of course not on DVD. So any copies still floating around were likely taped off of TV broadcasts.


A pick almost entirely based on “what existing properties do we have that have catchy music where we can utilize all these animatronic animals from America Sings??”


And now history repeats itself with “do we have any other properties based on singing animals in the deep south so we don’t have to do too much work for the redesign?”


I’m happy they’re retooling the ride, but this news has dashed my hopes that they might finally use the ride to make animatronic versions of Darryl Hannah, Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy, and John Candy. There’s a reason it’s called Splash Mountain, and the ride should live up to its name!


Eeeeeh, not sure how much better this change is. The movie is kind of lousy, but even ignoring that i dislike that Voudou is depicted as a tool of evil that the antagonist wields, when in reality it is a system of beliefs that enslaved African people from various cultures held onto and coalesced into what we now think of as “voodoo magic”. Vilifying something that isn’t inherently evil bothers me.

I am glad they’re finally getting rid of the references to Song of the South, and i don’t have a problem that Disney is featuring something from their one “Black Princess movie” but i honestly think they can and should do better.


But will we still have Flash Mountain? Asking for a friend.


They laid off the boob-flash photo screeners years ago after new technologies enabled exhibitionists to find other outlets for their craft.


To be fair, it can’t be trivial or cheap to change a ride like that, so it makes sense to find a similar themed film to base it on, because it’s probably cheaper/easier to make changes.

I have not seen The Frog and the Princess, so I don’t know if it’s objectionable on some level, but it can’t be as obviously offensive as Song of the South, which is just straight up lost cause propaganda.


I haven’t seen it since it originally came out so just going off what little i recall, but i remember it being a bit of a frustrating movie to watch. Most of it is relatively uninspired and generic, the bad guy has no real motivation. Just does evil things because… that’s what the script/plot wants him to do? The one highlight of the movie is the main character’s best friend and her dad but that was the only real enjoyment i had gotten from it.


It’s a great flume ride (rode it last in February, got the front seat), but the “Song of the South” theme (which most people can’t recognise) combined with the reason for its name (Michael Eisner wanted a distant tie-in with the completely unrelated movie “Splash”, which came out around the same time) leaves it a narrative mess that’s unusual for Disney rides.

Today must be my day for referencing the “You Must Remember This” podcast, where I learned all this (the entire series on “Song of the South” is a great listen).


I disagree. In addition to the “I want power and control over the city” motivation (which is pretty much standard for almost all animated Disney villains) I thought Dr. Facilier’s motivation of being deeply indebted to his “friends on the other side” who were getting increasingly impatient for him to pay them back was as compelling as just about any villain motivation I’ve seen in a family film. It gave his actions a sense of desperation and urgency, especially towards the end of the film.


Perhaps, as i said it’s been quite some time since i’ve seen it so my thoughts on it are based on what i can recollect. As such i recall not being very impressed with the motivation of the villain, however as you say often Disney villains don’t have a lot of believable motivation and they’re just comically evil because that’s what needs to happen.

As someone who grew up in the '80s… the weird thing for me was that “Song of the South” was pretty much out of circulation by the time I was growing up, I probably only saw it once, and I can’t remember it at all.

But the Zip a dee Do dah song? That seemed like it was Disney’s jam for the better part of a decade or two. That musical refrain was everywhere Disney was. I remember it from a lot of cartoons, Micky whistling it, used as the music for ads and TV show intros. And it honestly surprised me when I found out that it was from The Song of the South.

The first time I went to Disney world in the early 2000s, I was surprised when I rode Splash Mountain and realized what it was based on, considering that it had already been in the vault for over a decade at that point…

(ETA: It is a very catchy song, but it is past time for it to go.)