Thank Goodness For Changes; The Making Of A Princess And The Frog Attraction
The Walt Disney Company has announced that it will rebrand the the popular Splash Mountain attraction at the US Parks (word is still out about Tokyo) to a Princess and the Frog theme. And, I couldn't be happier.
I felt that 2009's "Tiana's Showboat Jubilee" which brought New Orleans Square to life at Disneyland was one of the best shows Disney has ever put on and have waited for it to return. For Disney to turn Princess and the Frog into an attraction is even better!
Currently, Splash Mountain is based on the 1946 Disney movie Song of the South that has boasted one of Disney's most popular songs in "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and based on the Uncle Remus tales, which were plantation based fables which Joel Chandler Harris appropriated from stories he heard as a child. Regardless of how you might feel about Song of the South, the film has a dubious past with a reputation that has made it one of the most controversial in Disney history. For honorable mention, I would like to throw in Peter Pan for its representation of Native Americans; Dumbo for the crows; and The Aristocats for Shun Gon the slant-eyed, chopstick piano playing cat (the first two still have attractions based on them and all of which are on Disney+).
The move comes during a time when we are reaching a second Civil Rights Movements in Black Lives Matter and the social justice protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Keeping Song of the South as the theme seems both insensitive and tone deaf.
By bringing in the Princess and the Frog theme, children of all ages will be able to see a story of a young smart black woman who was able to make her dream come true through hard work. It's the perfect antidote in these troubling times. This will be the first time a Disney attraction will revolve around a person of color.
"It is important that our guests be able to see themselves in the experiences we create," Imagineering creative development and inclusive strategies executive Carmen Smith said in a statement. "Because we consider ourselves constant learners, we go to great lengths to research and engage cultural advisors and other experts to help guide us along the way. I am incredibly proud to see this work continue to move forward with great support from leadership across Disney."
According to the Disney Parks Blog, the story takes place after the events of Princess and the Frog and will feature a musical adventure with Princess Tiana and Louis as they prepare for Mardi Gras.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized,” actress Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana, said in a statement. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us the Princess and The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for and I’m here for it.”
“Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures,” Imagineering senior creative producer Charita Carter said in a statement. “I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
The fact that so many people are excited about the move and, for the most part, the move has garnered support on the Interwebs. I commend Disney for making the change and look forward to further updates.