The song comes from the long-buried 1946 Disney film, Song of the South, which also provided the theme for Disney's Splash Mountain flume ride. Disney announced earlier this year that it would retheme Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog as it looks to further distance itself from Song of the South, which has long drawn criticism for its attachment to minstrelsy.
While Splash Mountain try to avoid the film's racist connotations by depicting only animated animal characters from the film, it prominently featured the movie's catchy theme song, which long has been one of the most beloved tunes in Disney's musical repertoire. But as I pointed out in my post, Can Theme Parks Get on the Right Side of History?, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"'s origins might be even more steeped in racism than the movie. As I wrote about the song's title and main lyric,
"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" derives from the chorus "O Zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day" in a "Turkey in the Straw" contrafactum called... wait for it... "Zip Coon."
In its attempt to distance itself from the perceived racism of Song of the South, Disney transferred to Splash Mountain what might have been the most racist thing about that film. Whoops.
Disney has provided no timeline for when it will transform Splash Mountain, which remains open at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The Disneyland version is closed along with the rest of the park, as Disney and other theme park companies awaits California's approval to reopen in the state. Disneyland's Downtown Disney shopping district is open, which is where fans noticed that the song has been removed from the music loop.
Charita Carter, the 22-year Walt Disney Imagineering veteran who recently helped lead the development of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studios, is overseeing The Princess and the Frog/Splash Mountain project.Tweet
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