*Disney announced last month the reimagining of the popular Splash Mountain ride with a story inspired by the animated movie “Princess and the Frog“.
As noted by PEOPLE, Splash Mountain is “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,” the outlet writes.
Disney intends to update the theme to instead feature its first Black princess, Tiana, who was voiced by Anika Noni Rose.
The move comes amid recent criticism from fans over the ride’s racist themes.
Now Rose is speaking out about what we can expect.
“It’s thrilling,” the Tony winner says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “People are amped and ready. I think it’s awesome, particularly now, to be reinvigorating her story.”
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Good morning, and some good, fun news! Lead by Imagineer, Charita Carter, Splash Mountain is going to be reimagined as a Princess and the Frog ride!! •?• “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 & The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!” ~Anika Noni Rose/ Princess Tiana??? •?• ??????????????????? #PrincessTiana #DisneyPrincess #SplashMountain #DisneyParks #DisneyAnimation #WaltDisney #DisneyWorld #DisneyLand
According to a press release about the upcoming park attraction, the “Princess and the Frog” theme is “a project Imagineers have been working on since last year.” The ride’s storyline will pick up “after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and [the film’s trumpet-playing alligator] 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 explained. “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.”
Anika previously shared her excitement about the project in an Instagram post (see above).
“It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!” the Tony Award-winning actress 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 & The Frog Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”
Jenifer Lewis, the voice of Mama Odie, also noted her joy over the update to Splash Mountain.
“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.”
Fans have also been calling for “the [Princess and the Frog] restaurant.”
“People keep asking me like I’m in charge of making the restaurant [at Disney],” Rose says . “I’m like, ‘One thing at a time!’ But people are excited. That makes me feel good because it’s been 11 years since the movie came out. For people to still have a great, excited, motivated love for Princess Tiana and for the movie is really wonderful.