Disney's black princess replaces Song Of The South in ride over racial stereotypes

The Disney rides will be rethemed with elements from the 2009 animated musical The Princess And The Frog. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - Walt Disney Co is dropping all references to Song Of The South, the controversial 1946 film, from its two Splash Mountain rides in California and Florida.

The rides will be rethemed with elements from The Princess And The Frog, the 2009 animated musical that was Disney's first to feature an African-American heroine.

The new version will feature the character Princess Tiana, whom the company describes as a "modern, courageous, and empowered woman", as she prepares for a Mardi Gras performance in Louisiana.

Song Of The South, which features the Black character Uncle Remus cheerfully singing songs like Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah around a post-Civil War plantation, has been called out for its racial stereotypes. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger has said the company will not put the film on its Disney+ streaming service, even with a disclaimer.

Splash Mountain is a classic log-flume ride that takes guests through several forest scenes featuring singing rabbits, bears and birds. The humans from the film are not portrayed. The California ride opened in 1989.

There's a third Splash Mountain, at Tokyo Disneyland. The company didn't announce plans to change that, although Oriental Land Co, the owner of that park, is reviewing options, a Disney spokesman said.

Online petitions had been circulating both for and against rebranding the US rides. One started on June 9 on Change.org and calling for a new theme has more than 21,000 signatures, but one started three days later aiming to retain the Song Of The South elements has more than 31,000.

Disney said it began work on the new theme last year.

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