June 26, 2020 / 3:48 AM / 14 days ago

Disney to revamp Splash Mountain to feature company's first Black princess

FILE PHOTO: Crowds walk along Main Street toward Cinderella Castle and Tomorrowland at Disney's Magic Kingdom on the final day before closing in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in an aerial view in Orlando, Florida, U.S. March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Gregg Newton

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co said on Thursday it will renovate its Splash Mountain theme park ride to feature Tiana, the entertainment company’s first Black princess and the star of 2009 animated film “The Princess and the Frog.”

The announcement follows criticism of the current theme for Splash Mountain, which is based on 1946 film “Song of the South.” A recent online petition argued that the film promoted racist stereotypes.

Splash Mountain, “will soon be completely reimagined” with a story that features Princess Tiana preparing to attend a Mardi Gras performance, Disney said in a blog post.

“Tiana is a modern, courageous and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou,” the company said.

Hollywood companies including Disney are revisiting works from the past in light of renewed calls for racial justice following the death of African American George Floyd in U.S. police custody.

The petition on Change.org said Splash Mountain was a “beloved classic” at California’s Disneyland, Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland. But “its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South.”

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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