“Tiana’s Bayou Blunder” Checks Woke Boxes But Lacks “Dramatical Tension and Stakes”

(p. A18) In the summer of 2020, as a reckoning on racial justice swept the country, Disney said it would rip out Splash Mountain, a wildly popular flume ride with a racist back story.

Some people cheered, saying the move was long overdue: After 31 years at Disneyland in California and 28 at Walt Disney World in Florida, the attraction — with its animal minstrels from “Song of the South,” the radioactive 1946 movie — had to go.

But Disney also faced blowback. Last year, when Splash Mountain finally closed, someone started a makeshift memorial near its entrance — the kind that pops up at scenes of horrific crimes. Distraught fans spirited away jars of the water. More than 100,000 fans signed a petition calling on Disney to reverse its “absurd” decision.

. . .

This month, Disney posted a nine-minute video tour of the new Tiana attraction on the internet. As of Wednesday [June 12, 2024], it had been viewed 663,000 times, with 10,000 people giving it a thumbs up and 41,000 a thumbs down. The ride “seems to lack dramatical tension and stakes,” Jim Shull, a retired Disney parks designer, wrote on X, based on the video. A smattering of Splash Mountain die-hards nicknamed the new ride Tiana’s Bayou Blunder.

For the full story see:

Brooks Barnes and Todd Anderson. “Splash Mountain’s Bayou Overhaul.” The New York Times (Friday, June 14, 2024): A18.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated June 13, 2024, and has the title “Black Disney Princess Ride Replaces Splash Mountain and Its Racist History.” In the last quoted paragraph, I quote the numbers from the print version. The online version, as of the time I checked, had numbers from June 10, 2024.)

For a refutation of The New York Times claim that Splash Mountain had “a racist back story”, see:

Diamond, Arthur. “Remember Brer Rabbit.” Inside Sources (Weds., July 8, 2020).

(Note: a version of Diamond’s commentary was published in: Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. “Disney Should Rethink Removing Brer Rabbit from Splash Mountain.” The Orlando Sentinel (Tues., July 7, 2020): 9A.)

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