Disney hasn't shown or broadcast Song of the South for decades, but a log flume ride based on the film has still been in operation at the company's parks. That will change, Disney said Thursday in announcing that the once-popular Splash Mountain will be transformed into something else at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. An online petition asking that the ride be changed to a Princess and the Frog theme, based on the 2009 animated film that stars Disney's first black princess, has collected more than 20,000 signatures. The company has agreed, saying the decision actually was made last year, the Los Angeles Times reports. The reworked attraction will be inclusive, Disney said—"one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by."
Criticism of Song of the South is not new. The 1946 film—which includes the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"—is packed with racial stereotypes and a rose-colored portrayal of antebellum South. It's not even included on Disney+, the company's new streaming service, per CNN Business. The ride, known for its 52½-foot drop, has remained more popular than the movie. "While the ride is considered a beloved classic," the Change.org petition says, "its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes." Disney didn't say when the remodeled attraction will debut at the California and Florida parks. "Conceptual design work is well underway," the company said. When it opened in 1989, Splash Mountain was called Zip-a-Dee River Run. (Read more Disney stories.)