Why Disney World’s Splash Mountain Ride is Being Called Racist

The Black Lives Matter Movement is bringing attention to Disney World's questionable history with black representation in the park. Twitter users have discovered Splash Mountain's racist origins and are calling for change.

Twitter is exploding with fans asking Disney World to re-imagine the Splash Mountain ride so it highlights their only black princess.

Walt Disney has announced the parks are reopening in July, but many fans are asking that the opening come with a major change to one of their more problematic rides. Splash Mountain is one of Disney’s most popular rides, but few fans know that those animatronic characters are based off Walt’s most controversial film. Song of the South was released by Disney in 1946 and has been widely criticized for its depiction of African Americans and slavery. It is generally regarded as the company’s most offensive and racist film, and it was so hated that the film was never released to home video in the US. Disney+ showcases a lot of the brand’s outdated films with a content warning, but Song Of The South was deemed too racist to be included in the streaming service at all.

The only legacy of this problematic film is in their Splash Mountain ride, and fans are using the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement to demand change. One twitter user wrote “If Splash Moutain is based on a film that @disney won’t even re-release because of widely acknowledged racist stereotypes, maybe it doesn’t need it’s own ride anymore”. Twitter used @FreddyFromBatuu shared some images for how Splash Mountain could be re-imaged into a Princess and The Frog themed ride, as this could highlight Disney’s only black princess while also removing a controversial part of their history. People were loving the idea and even started a Change.org Petition to ask Disney for the switch. One user tweeted out the petition to Disney saying “Please consider this! What a great way to update an outdated ride and show your support for the black community. Song of the South shouldn’t have a place in the parks anymore”.

The idea is definitely gaining traction, especially with the current BLM movement demanding change from a lot of large companies. But this idea is also upsetting some die hard fans of the Disney parks who want politics to stay out of their favorite ride. One user said “I’m not happy with SJW Disney fans wanting to re-theme Splash Mountain … it just doesn’t seem right to me” and another saying “Splash Mountain is my absolute favorite ride. There is no need to re-theme it. It doesn’t mention anything from Song of the South. Most people have to look up to figure out where it comes from”.

Yes, a lot of people may not have known the history before this viral twitter discovery, but some are arguing that even unknown racism is still hurtful black representation in the parks. One user tweeted “Splash will always be my favorite Disney ride. I hate how it’s based off the movie, but I just try to enjoy the ride.” but another replied with “Don’t you think that’s incredibly selfish given the reality of what it is? Don’t you think you could have fun without the racist part?”. Another user said “If it’s based on a problematic movie that Disney refuses to acknowledge, why keep it?”.

A lot of people feel that just the presents of a racist history still being visible in the park is harmful to the overall culture of the company. In the current climate, we should be demanding changes toward racial equality that are both big and small

The splash mountain controversy has caused some Twitter users to deep dive into Disney’s past, and now some racist controversies are beginning to surface. One user tweeted “I’ll remind everyone that in the 90s, Disney World has a resort called ‘Dixie Landings’ that was themed around a slavery-era cotton plantation.” and another said “from 1955 to 1970 Aunt Jemima has her own restaurant and was a meet and greet character. Imagine that. A character that romanticized slavery roamed Disney.” One user reacted to these discoveries with a tweet saying “There’s some Disney history they don’t talk about … I honestly never knew”.

A lot of these discoveries had people questioning how much Disney has really changed and if this racism has gone away, or if it’s just become subtle and hidden within ride like Splash Mountain. With the BLM movement, people are demanding change from large companies and this is becoming one major change
However, not all activists think Disney should be the aim of the Black Lives Matter movement. One tweet about the issues says “How about we focus on getting to a point where Black people don’t have to worry about walking down the street and getting murdered by the police, before we start scrutinizing pop culture on this level”. Another user said “Let’s not abuse the BLM movement to divert the focus to something as non essential as this”.

What do you think? Should the BLM movement be targeting pop culture or should it stick to large issues like police brutality? Does Disney’s controversial history upset you, or do you love Splash Mountain as it is? We want to hear from you!