(Orlando) A new attraction featuring Disney’s first black princess will open at the company’s U.S. theme parks, and some Disney fans see it as a fitting replacement for an old ride based on a movie containing stereotypes racists.

The park’s new attraction features Tiana’s story from the 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog and moves into the space previously occupied by Splash Mountain.

The theme of the water ride was Song of the South, a 1946 Disney film filled with racist tropes about African Americans and plantation life.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure retains Splash Mountain’s DNA, including a log ride, but is infused with music, scenery and animatronic characters inspired by The Princess and the Frog, set in New Orleans in the 1920s.

It will open to the public later this month at Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland in California later this year.

“For little black girls, Tiana means a lot. When a little kid can see someone who looks like them, it means a lot,” said Neal Lester, an English professor at Arizona State University who has written about Tiana.

Disney’s announcement to transform its long-running Splash Mountain attraction into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was made in June 2020 following social justice protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the time, Disney said the change was already underway. But it came as companies across the United States reconsidered or rebranded decades-old brands amid global protests.

The movie Song of the South is a mix of live action, cartoons and music starring an older black man who works on a plantation and tells fables about talking animals to a white boy in town. The film, which has been criticized for its racist stereotypes, has not been released theatrically in decades and is not available on the company’s online streaming platform, Disney.

Disney has been criticized for its racist stereotypes in films made in previous decades. The raven characters in the 1941 film “Dumbo” and the character King Louie from the 1967 Jungle Book were considered African-American caricatures. The portrayal of Aboriginal people in the 1953 film Peter Pan and the Siamese cats – often seen as Asian stereotypes – in the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp have also been criticized.

Not everyone is convinced that opening a ride based on Tiana’s story resolves Disney’s past problematic racial depictions.

By renovating Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure instead of completely dismantling the attraction, Disney linked Song of the South to The Princess and the Frog. Both stories are mostly silent on the racial realities of the segregated eras they depict, said Katie Kapurch, an English professor at Texas State University who has written extensively about Disney.

“We might also view the impulse to replace rather than dismantle or rebuild as a metaphor for structural racism,” she said. Again, this is not intentional on Disney’s part, but the observation gets to the heart of how Disney reflects America back to itself. »

Those who design Disney rides always try to look at attractions with fresh eyes and tell new stories “so that everyone feels included,” said Carmen Smith, senior vice president of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering.

“We never want to perpetuate stereotypes or misconceptions,” Smith said Monday. Our intention is to tell great stories. »

It’s also important for creators to tell a variety of stories to their global audience, added Charita Carter, executive creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering who oversaw the attraction’s development.

“Society changes and we develop different sensibilities,” she explained. We focus our stories differently based on the needs of our society. »

The transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is one of several recalibrations being made at the entertainment giant’s theme parks for rides whose storylines are considered outdated or offensive.

In 2021, Disney announced that it would revamp Jungle Cruise, one of the original Disney Parks rides, which had been criticized in the past for racial insensitivity due to its depiction of animatronic Native people.