As announced by the official Disney Parks account on Twitter, the Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida is going to be “completely reimagined” with a new The Princess And The Frog-themed story and aesthetic. The Disney Parks blog goes into this change a bit more, saying it will follow Princess Tiana and Louis on a “musical adventure” after the events of the movie as they prepare for a Mardi Gras performance. In a statement, Anika Noni Rose (who played Tiana in the movie) said that it’s “really exciting” to know that her character’s “presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized,” referring to the fact that—until now—The Princess And The Frog hasn’t been as omnipresent as some of Disney’s other canonical princess movies at the parks.
What the blog post doesn’t really touch on, somewhat unsurprisingly, is why this is happening. It doesn’t take a Disney scholar to know the answer, though: Splash Mountain’s characters and song, if not its specific story, are pulled from Song Of The South, a movie that is so racist in its depiction of slavery that Disney was willing to leave it as the lone exception (forever) to Disney+’s collection of the “entire” Disney vault. The general public’s tolerance for racist media—no matter how iconic or historically important—is finally being reexamined, with HBO Max temporarily pulling Gone With The Wind recently so it could add some additional context, and it has been clear for years that Disney needed to take another look at just how crucial the Song Of The South branding was to Splash Mountain.
None of that is mentioned in the Disney Parks blog, but it does make a point to remind everyone that consistently changing and updating rides is something that Walt Disney himself recognized as an important way to keep the parks relevant. He apparently called it “plussing.” The blog also says that changing Splash Mountain is “of particular importance” today and that the new theme will be “inclusive” in way that “speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.” So the specific reason for this is at least implied, if not explicitly stated.