Disney’s iconic Splash Mountain set to close January for more ‘inclusive’ retheming

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The exterior of the Splash Mountain attraction is seen at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Disney’s iconic Splash Mountain set to close January for more ‘inclusive’ retheming

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Both Splash Mountain rides in California’s Disneyland and Florida’s Walt Disney World will be closed for renovations on Jan. 23.

The rides will reopen in 2024 under a new theme based on The Princess and the Frog film’s characters and music. This theme has been anticipated since 2020, when the company announced it would make changes to the log flume ride. Other rides have been given slight renovations, such as the Tower of Terror becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! ride, but this latest renovation has cited a need to update the outdated theme that includes inspiration from The Song of the South throughout.

“The approach to retheming or ‘plussing’ attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” a statement from Disney read. “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.”



Author Joel Chandler Harris wrote The Song of the South by creating a black narrator named Uncle Remus, who told his own version of Aesop’s fables in an attempt to depict black life in the late 1800s. Splash Mountain’s characters, Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear, are all characters from the book, which received criticism for Harris’s depiction of Uncle Remus as speaking in a stereotypical Southern black vernacular.


Now, the rides will instead include a musical genre known as zydeco, which Disney describes as “a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana.” The characters will be replaced with Princess Tiana, Disney’s first black princess in film, who is voiced by Anika Noni Rose, and her alligator friend Louis, who is voiced by Michael-Leon Wooley.

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