A petition started two weeks ago on Change.org accuses the popular log flume ride Splash Mountain of being racist and in need of a more inclusive theme.
The ride, which features characters from the 1946 Walt Disney film Song of the South, is “steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes,” the petition argues.
The film, based on a collection of Uncle Remus folk tales, has been in the Disney vault for decades and was one of the few Disney films that did not arrive on Disney+, the company’s streaming service, when it launched in November. Song of the South has been criticized for years over its portrayal of Black people and, according to former Disney CEO Bob Iger, the film “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today.”
Even so, Splash Mountain’s initial opening in Disneyland wasn’t until 1989, three years after Disney placed Song of the South in the vault. According to Cinema Blend, Disney’s Imagineers (the creative geniuses behind the Disney attractions) made efforts to distance the ride from the source material. They did such a good job, some argue, that many visitors are not aware of the connection between the movie that brought us “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and the attraction that sings it to visitors after the final drop.
The petition asks Disney to re-theme the ride into a showcase for The Princess and the Frog, a 2009 animated film that features the company’s first Black princess, Tiana. Others have suggested a Muppets or Zootopia theme.
Splash Mountain can be found at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland.
As of this writing, Disney has not publicly responded to the petition.