Disney abandoned Princess Tiana — until it needed what she represents

Disney’s New Direction with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Disney’s latest attraction, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, has now replaced the controversial Splash Mountain. However, Disney is discouraging any comparisons between the old and new rides. The company has distanced itself from Song of the South, the movie that originally inspired Splash Mountain, by not acknowledging its existence. With Splash Mountain now gone, the focus shifts to the significance of having a Princess and the Frog attraction in 2024.

The Long-Standing Splash Mountain Controversy

The exterior of Tiana’s bayou adventure, showcasing an artificial swamp

Photo: Olga Thompson/Disney

Pushback against Song of the South has been ongoing since its release in the 1940s. Despite this, Disney proceeded with the creation of Splash Mountain, a ride inspired by the movie, in 1987. The decision to name it Splash Mountain was an attempt to distance the ride from the controversial film. However, public sentiment eventually led to the retheme of the attraction in 2020, with Disney hinting at its past but not explicitly denouncing it.

The Evolution from Princess and the Frog to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Tiana and Naveen share a kiss on their wedding day, decked out in green regalia

Image: Disney

When The Princess and the Frog was released in 2009, it aimed to revive traditional animation at Disney. Despite positive reviews, the film did not meet box office expectations, leading to a shift towards CG animation at the studio. The lack of commercial success relegated The Princess and the Frog to the background while newer Disney films flourished. Only recently, in the wake of the 2020 movement for racial equality, has the studio begun recognizing the importance of diverse storytelling through characters like Tiana.

The Significance of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Tiana wearing a gorgeous green dress in the final scene of the new Disney attraction

Photo: Olga Thompson/Disney

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure finally puts Tiana at the forefront, giving her the spotlight she deserves. The attraction showcases Tiana in various forms, staying true to the character’s original depiction. While the new ride is groundbreaking and well-executed, it’s essential to remember the context behind Disney’s decision to elevate Tiana and acknowledge the past missteps that led to this moment.

As Disney continues to move forward with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, it’s vital to recognize the significance of this step towards diversity and inclusion, even as the company attempts to steer attention away from its past controversies.