A magical transformation is in the works at Disney’s iconic theme parks in Florida and California! Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, inspired by Disney’s first Black princess from the beloved film “The Princess and The Frog,” is replacing Splash Mountain this month at Walt Disney World, with Disneyland soon to follow. Fans and Disney enthusiasts see this as a long-overdue update since Splash Mountain was originally based on “Song of the South,” a 1946 film long criticized for its racist portrayals and viewed as problematic by many.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure retains Splash Mountain’s thrilling log-flume experience but now brims with the vibrant music, enchanting scenery, and whimsical animatronics inspired by 1920s New Orleans. “For little Black girls, Tiana has meant a lot. When a child can see somebody who looks like them, that matters,” said Neal Lester, an English professor at Arizona State University who has written about the character Tiana.

Disney’s decision to reimagine this ride came alongside a wave of social justice movements in 2020, notably following the tragic death of George Floyd. Disney reassured fans that this change had been in planning stages even before those events, aiming to reflect evolving societal values and sensitivities. “Our intention is to tell great stories,” mentioned Carmen Smith, senior VP at Walt Disney Imagineering.

This project is part of a broader effort by Disney to refresh its attractions and address past insensitivities. For instance, Disney has remodeled the Jungle Cruise to eliminate racially insensitive elements and revamped the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to remove scenes considered offensive. Charita Carter, an executive creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, emphasized the necessity to adapt tales for a global audience, noting, “Society does change, and we develop different sensibilities.”

Critics like Katie Kapurch, an English professor at Texas State University, argue that merely refurbishing the ride without addressing deeper issues may reflect ongoing challenges in tackling structural racism. Nonetheless, Disney aims to ensure “everybody feels included” through imaginative storytelling, as voiced by their creative team.

What do you think about this exciting makeover? Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation! Don’t forget to share this story with friends and fellow Disney fans to spread the magic and spark engaging discussions!