You might be surprised to learn that Disneyland’s classic attraction Splash Mountain has a controversial origin story. If you’ve ever gone on the log flume adventure and wondered about the theme, it’s based on the 1946 Disney film Song of the South (via Disney), which has long been highly criticized for its racist themes and representation of a post-Civil War southern plantation. The movie isn’t even on Disney Plus, and former CEO of Disney Bob Iger says it never will be, calling it “just not appropriate in today’s world” (via The Washington Post). So, if the movie is so widely critiqued and acknowledged by Disney to be inappropriate, why is it still being represented in the Florida, California, and Tokyo resorts?
That’s the question being asked by a new Change.org petition (one of many calls for change in the midst of recent Black Lives Matter rallies and protests). More specifically, the petition asks: Why not make a few adjustments and change the theme to The Princess and the Frog? Alex O. (the creator of the petition) argues that the parks lack diversity and that Tiana (Disney’s first black princess) has very little representation in them. According to Alex, updating Splash Mountain could help change that.
The Splash Mountain change is a request Disney is aware of
Despite some objections (and even the creation of a second Change.org petition to keep the ride as it is, the idea has found traction beyond fans. In fact, it’s the opinion of one Disneyland employee, Frederick Chambers, that even if the entire theme of the ride were to change, the bones of the attraction could stay largely the same (via USA Today). He mocked up the changes that would be necessary (including updating the scenery and switching out the music) and posted them on Twitter, gaining over 12 thousand likes and thousands of retweets (via Twitter). According to Chambers, Disney is aware of the idea and he wasn’t the first to propose it. Whether they will decide to take it on board is still yet to be seen.
None of the Disney Twitter accounts have commented on the petition at the time of this writing, although the Walt Disney Company Twitter recently pledged $5 million to “support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP” (via Twitter), which implies they understand the importance of recent protests and calls for social change. So far the Change.org petition has about 17,000 signatures of their 25,000 signature goal, and shows no signs of slowing down.
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