A Black princess is getting her own attraction at Disney theme parks — and it’s about time.
The Splash Mountain attraction at Disneyland Resort in Southern California and the Magic Kingdom park in Florida will be transformed to align with The Princess and the Frog film, Disney officials announced Thursday.
The revamping comes after racist monuments and symbols across the United States are being taken down due to protests and outrage over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbaury, Breonna Taylor and thousands of other Black people being brutalized in America. A Change.org petition called for Disney to drop Splash Mountain, built in the 1980s for $70 million, because the inspiration was based on the racist film, Song of the South, which Disney has reportedly kept out of circulation for decades. The 1946 film was controversial for many reasons and many critics, including the NAACP, said its depiction of slavery felt glossed-over.
Instead, the revamped ride will now center around Disney’s first Black princess, Princess Tiana, from the film, The Princess and The Frog. The story will pick up after the final kiss in the 2009 film and follows Tiana and Louis and they prepare for their first Mardi Gras performance.
And just like the rest of us, the film’s stars couldn’t be more thrilled. Anika Noni Rose, who played Princess Tiana, shared her excitement about the decision in an Instagram post.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!” she wrote. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon.”
The mother of Black Hollywood Jenifer Lewis, who is also the voice of Mama Odie, was equally thrilled.
“Voicing Mama Odie was a joyful creative experience. Recording Mama Odie’s song, ‘Dig a Little Deeper’ by Randy Newman, must have taken a hundred takes, because I wanted it to be perfect,” she said in a statement. “The image of Mama Odie, in the fairy godmother role, truly reflected the New Orleans Black bayou tradition of the revered wise woman. I am thrilled that The Princess and The Frog is being honored for the joy it has brought to millions of Disney fans.”
Both the California and Florida theme parks remain closed due to the COVID-19 and there’s been no finalized timeline on when the Princess Tiana attraction will open. But we’ll be excitedly waiting!