“I am thrilled that The Princess and The Frog is being honored for the joy it has brought to millions of Disney fans,” said Jenifer Lewis, who voiced Mama Odie

By Ally Mauch
June 25, 2020 03:58 PM
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The stars of Disney’s Princess and the Frog are expressing their excitement over the company’s decision to reimagine the Splash Mountain ride with a story inspired by the animated movie

Splash Mountain, a fan-favorite attraction at both Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, is currently based on the 1946 Disney film Song of the South, which has long been criticized for its problematic portrayal of the post-Civil War South and for employing racist stereotypes.

On Thursday, Disney revealed that they will update the theme of the log-flume ride to instead highlight 2009’s Princess and the Frog, which features its first Black princess, Tiana.

The announcement comes weeks after several petitions began garnering attention on the site Change.org urging Disney to rethink the theme (with one even suggesting Princess and the Frog). Imagineers were clearly on the same page. According to a statement from the company, they have been secretly working on the project since last year.

Jenifer Lewis and Anika Noni Rose
Alexandra Wyman/WireImage

Anika Noni Rose, the Tony Award-winning actress who voices Princess Tiana, shared her excitement about the decision in an Instagram post.

“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana's presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!” she wrote. “As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon.”

She added, “The Imagineers are giving us the Princess and The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we've been waiting for, and I'm here for it!”

Jenifer Lewis, the voice of Mama Odie, was equally thrilled: "Voicing Mama Odie was a joyful creative experience. Recording Mama Odie’s song, “Dig a Little Deeper,” by Randy Newman, must have taken a hundred takes, because I wanted it to be perfect," she said. "The image of Mama Odie, in the fairy godmother role, truly reflected the New Orleans Black bayou tradition of the revered wise woman. I am thrilled that The Princess and The Frog is being honored for the joy it has brought to millions of Disney fans."

Rendering of the reimagined ride
Disney

According to a press release shared with PEOPLE, The ride’s storyline will pick up “after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”

“The retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today,” the release explains. “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.”

While both the California and Florida theme parks remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and no timeline for the update has been shared, the press release indicates that “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.”