Disney announced that its iconic ride, Splash Mountain, would close at Walt Disney World Resort on January 23, 2023, in preparation for a more “inclusive” experience featuring Princess Tiana.
According to a blog post published last week, visitors can officially join “Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans” at the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction beginning in 2024. Based on the animated movie “The Princess and the Frog,” which centers upon black culture in the Big Easy, the experience will feature zydeco music and other cultural distinctions of the Mississippi River Delta.
Disney announced the closure of Splash Mountain at Disney World in Florida after the death of George Floyd. During that time, many large corporations signaled assent to the Black Lives Matter movement and made gestures in accordance with social justice ideology.
“Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important,” another blog post from Disney explained two years ago. “And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
An announcement about the Splash Mountain attraction at the Disneyland resort in California will be “shared at a later date,” according to the company. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be added to both parks.
Petitions specifically calling for the replacement of Splash Mountain, which critics said originally featured “extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes” from the film “Song of the South,” with an attraction based upon the story of Princess Tiana had circulated ahead of the company’s announcement. Splash Mountain is the fifth most popular attraction at Disney World, according to a survey released last year by Upgraded Points.
More recently, however, Disney has faced backlash from consumers and lawmakers over the entertainment conglomerate’s involvement in political and cultural battles. The company positioned itself against legislation in Florida that prohibits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity for students between kindergarten and third grade, ultimately causing a breach of trust among some consumers. Disney also lost special regulatory and tax privileges granted by the state government of Florida through the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is the home of Disney World and other theme parks.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger recently replaced successor Bob Chapek in a surprise ouster and lamented that the company involved itself in the controversial debate. “I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea exactly what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself,” he told employees. “What I can say is that the state of Florida has been important to us for a long time, and we have been very important to the state of Florida.”
Disney nevertheless continues to push controversial content in the marketplace. “Strange World,” an animated film featuring a same-sex teenage romance, fizzled at the box office during a holiday weekend opening. “Lightyear,” the latest installment in the highly popular “Toy Story” franchise, featured a same-sex kiss and likewise struggled. Shares for Disney have fallen nearly 38% since the beginning of the year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Index has declined more than 6% over the same period.
Reporting from The Daily Wire.