Splash Mountain


Rebekah Snyder and Brianna Chavez

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its doors to the people of Anaheim, California as Walt Disney’s first theme park. It sparked massive success and earned its title as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Being one of the oldest and largest theme parks in the world, Disneyland is home to many iconic rides, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and of course, Splash Mountain.

Splash Mountain is an iconic water ride that opened July 17, 1989 in Disneyland, California, and is known for its extremely fast 50-foot drop towards the end of the ride, completely soaking those who ride it. The log flume ride consists of an incredible amount of animatronics and multiple songs from the Disney film, Song of the South, which was released November 12, 1946. 

Any avid Disney park fan will agree that Splash Mountain is one of the best and most nostalgic rides in the parks. However, some Disney fans had sparked the conversation of the controversy surrounding it. In 2020, a petition was created on Change.org to spread awareness on Splash Mountain’s racist themes. 

“While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South,” reads the petition. “Disney has removed Song of the South from its library, refusing to share it on DVD or their streaming services. The best next step to remove all traces of this racist movie would be to re-theme Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog themed ride.” 

Princess and the Frog is a Disney princess film released on December 11, 2009. The film stars Tiana, a persevering Black woman in New Orleans working hard to open up her own restaurant. Princess Tiana was Disney’s first ever Black princess and has remained a role model for children all over the world, spreading the message to never give up on your dreams. The petition brought up the idea to change the theme of Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog themed-ride in hopes to erase a dark part of Disney’s history and replace it with a movie that was a massive stepping stone for Black representation in cinema.

We’ve interviewed a few people here at BPHS on their personal views towards the subject. Here’s their input!

Although Tiana has made appearances at the park, many Disney fans state that she’s not well represented and wish to see more of her. As Disney’s first Black princess, fans agree that she should get more recognition for the major impact her character made. Vania Bartlett, a junior at Buena Park High School, says that  “it’s not the way children feel when they see Cinderella or when they see Ariel. It’s just not the same,” in comparison to Black children seeing a princess who looks like them.

Many fans of the original Splash Mountain ride are upset with this new theme-change. Many claim that the original is “a part of their childhood” and “a part of Disney’s history.” In response, Vania says there were racial depictions in the ride which should not be a part of your childhood and if so, then “it’s not okay.” She wishes to see less racial stereotypes with “no more brown hardships. To see a movie where it’s just brown people being happy.” Vania wishes to see more characters like her and to have more of an impact on cultures all around.

A common theme shown throughout these interviews is agreeing on the decision of replacing Splash Mountain with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Judith, a 12th grader here at BPHS, claims she felt like “it’d be better culturally and the basic visual experience would be nice.” Not only would it be beneficial as a theme-change, but the overall aesthetic would be much improved. Judith believes that, “they need to add at least something black to add flavor to the park in general.” People believed that diversity was much needed around the park and so did all interviewees. 

Many students had ways to deal with diversity and the ride. Vania states, “it would bring them higher revenue and get rid of the ‘Not-So-Disney’ fans. It would be good for them all the way around.” She says, “it’s not an opinion anymore, it’s a fact.” A senior at BPHS, Dominick Macedonio, says, “it’s nice to always be represented and especially for children in a park to see someone who looks like them. It really enhances that magic feeling and gives them the feeling that anything is possible.”

In regards to the Disney fan nostalgia of the ride, “It’s something that you have to acknowledge and be like, ‘Okay, we need to be more culturally sensitive about this. This is wrong and we’re putting in something that anyone can enjoy that looks good.’ It’s not tearing down and destroying the whole ride, it’s just getting a revamp,” Dominick says. “If racism is a part of your nostalgia and you can’t let it go, what does that say about you?”

Overall, Disneyland is known for being popular with younger age groups and creating rides for families to enjoy. Seeing Tiana grow and have a bigger impact in the park will hopefully bring better attention and her appearance be well recognized throughout. Disney fans and others hope this new ride will bring better diversity to the park all around.