Activism has caused many people and companies to reassess over recent months, reflecting on whether past actions may have been considered racially insensitive and making moves to address them.
Disney is one of these companies, and they’ve announced plans to redesign their Splash Mountain ride in both Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida as a result.
The ride was originally based around the film Song of the South, a film that has been mired in controversy since its release in 1946.
Screenings of the movie were picketed and subject to marches, and Disney never released Song of the South on any video format for sale in the US.
Cultural historian Jason Sperb described the film as ‘one of Hollywood’s most resiliently offensive racist texts’, while Walter Francis White, the executive secretary of the NAACP said: ‘the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery.’
Prompted by Black Lives Matter protests around the world, Disney announced that the new inspiration for the Splash Mountain ride would be The Princess and the Frog, a movie that also featured Disney’s first black princess, Tiana.
Disney released a statement on their website last night that said: ‘The theme is inspired by an all-time favourite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.”
‘We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.’
The backdrop will be the Louisiana Bayou and New Orleans, and the original voice of Tiana – Anika Noni Rose – will be involved. It’s located right off New Orleans Square in the parks, which makes it a perfect fit for the theme.
Disney certainly have a long way to go in terms of diversity, but hopefully this ride can be a step towards better representation from the company.
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