Song of the South Reference Remains at Walt Disney World

    As Disney World prepares to open Tiana’s Bayou Adventure this summer, I can’t help but think of an article I published two years ago titled ‘I’ is for Inconsistent, Not Inclusion. The fact that a reference to Song of the South still remains in place at Walt Disney World underscores that point.

    The March 2022 article was birthed from the idea that Disney was not, at the time, being proactive when it came to a diversity and inclusion initiative. Instead, Disney was caught reacting (and sometimes reacting poorly) to seemingly self-inflicted wounds like an initially apathetic response from then-CEO Bob Chapek to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and being caught off guard by a racist performance on Main Street USA by a high school marching band.

    Why then, more than 3.5 years after adding Inclusion as a fifth key to their legendary “Four Keys” teachings, does a reference to Song of the South still exist at Walt Disney World today? Perhaps the most high-profile change at the theme parks as a result of the Diversity & Inclusion program was the reimagining of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

    On June 25, 2020, as the theme parks remained closed due to COVID-19 and as tensions around social justice rose throughout the country, Disney announced that Splash Mountain would be completely reimagined into a Princess and the Frog attraction. Disney specifically said that “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.”

    Gone for Good?

    Disney was clear: Song of the South, and the Splash Mountain attraction that was inspired by the film, had no place in its theme parks. That said, a reference still remains in Walt Disney Presents at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

    If you’ve never been, Walt Disney Presents is split into three or four distinct parts. At the start of the self-guided experience, we get to see the history of Walt Disney and the studio he created. In the second part, a look at the theme parks. A third area is a meet and greet with the live-action version of Ariel. And the final piece of the experience is a flexible display area that usually contains props from Disney’s latest movie or TV series, as well as a preview in the Walt Disney Theater or the One Man’s Dream film. We’ll focus on the first part of the exhibit.

    Different images on the wall represent years or eras in Walt Disney’s life. As you can see below, the area in question deals with 1943 and The Art of Animation.

    A Very Animated Goodwill Tour

    World War II had slowed studio production to a crawl, but Walt, intrigued by South America, took a group of his best animators, and a 16mm film camera, on a grand tour of Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and other Good Neighbor nations. These high-spirited visits resulted in two feature films, Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, which combined live-action travelogue with eye-popping animation.

    Imaginary from the era include Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Saludos Amigos (1942), and Song of the South (1946).

    On the one hand, it’s somewhat surprising that this reference remains in place in 2024, just months before the Splash Mountain replacement attraction prepares for opening. On the other hand, I’m not surprised by the inconsistency from Disney. After all, the Laughin’ Place song is still part of the main entrance background music loop at Magic Kingdom – even after Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah was removed. Offerings like Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe continue to exist despite the fact that the Melody Time short where we meet Pecos Bill contains some very problematic scenes. Disney even included a reference to Song of the South in its upcoming Storyliving by Disney offering before removing it.

    This article is not designed to call on Disney to place a board over the Song of the South scene above or take it off the wall – they’ve already decided that it’s perfectly fine or it wouldn’t be there years later. Instead, we’re asking for some consistency from the Company. We’ll close by saying what we said two years ago: The Walt Disney Company can be a powerful entity for change, and they are uniquely positioned to create a more inclusive and diverse future, but only if everyone is on the same page.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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    1. It is art of the history of Disney. Just because someone may not like something from the past, doesn’t mean you erase it. In my opinion, Splash Mountain should never have changed. It’s a classic and includes one of Disney’s best musical scores, Zip-a-de-do-da. There was nothing racist in the attraction. Build a whole new attraction to honor Tiana. She deserves that.
      The movie Song of the South was actually a great movie which bestowed honor on the main character Uncle Remus. Yes, it did portray slavery which was a fact at the time, but never once did the movie portray the persons in negative light.

      • Excellent comment! It’s part of the history, like everything else in the world. Stop complaining about the past and learn your history. I have the movie and it’s a very good movie.

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