Disney has announced they will be retheming Splash Mountain to a 'Princess and the Frog' attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
D23 has also published an interview with Bob Weis on the reimagining of Spalsh Mountain.
"“The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” according to a statement posted to the Disney Parks Blog. “The new concept is inclusive — one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
No date has been set for the makeovers to begin, however it has been confirmed that both coasts will be receiving the retheming.
Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company, has been developing a “Princess and the Frog” backstory for Splash Mountain since last year and settled on many of the concepts for the reimagined attraction last summer.
Imagineering will soon begin preliminary reviews of the Splash Mountain attractions at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom and conduct digital scans of the individual ride layouts.
The Splash Mountain makeover will be led by Imagineering senior creative producer Charita Carter, who is also working on the new Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway dark ride set to debut at Disneyland in 2022.
“Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures,” Carter said in a statement. “I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
Childhood memories of watching “Song of the South” inspired Imagineer Tony Baxter’s initial idea for Splash Mountain that opened at Disneyland in 1989, according to Disney’s D23 fan club.
Three decades later, Baxter will serve as a creative adviser on the planning and design for the “Princess and the Frog” makeover of Splash Mountain.
“The attraction will be one to be proud of,” Baxter said in a statement. “I look forward to being a part of a new adventure in Disney magic and fun." Baxter told OC Register.
Imagineering creative development and inclusive strategies executive Carmen Smith said Disney continually evaluates opportunities to enhance and elevate theme park attractions.
“It is important that our guests be able to see themselves in the experiences we create,” Smith said in a statement. “Because we consider ourselves constant learners, we go to great lengths to research and engage cultural advisors and other experts to help guide us along the way. I am incredibly proud to see this work continue to move forward with great support from leadership across Disney.”
The reimagined Splash Mountain rides will tell an extension of the “Princess and the Frog” story that picks up after the final kiss between Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen. The new backstory for Splash Mountain will follow Tiana and Louis the trumpet-playing alligator as they prepare for their first Mardi Gras performance.
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized,” actress Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana in the film, said in a statement. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us the Princess and The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for and I’m here for it.”
The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
The approach to retheming or “plussing” attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.
Charita Carter, the senior creative producer leading the project at Walt Disney Imagineering shared, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”
For Imagineers, change is rooted in a tradition set by Walt Disney who encouraged new innovations, new ideas, new scenes and current storytelling. And the experiences they create can be enjoyed by guests who visit our parks from all over the world.
As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.