Few if any attractions are "safe" at Disneyland or Walt Disney World when it comes to the possibility they could be closed or significantly redesigned. This fact was made very clear when Disney Parks announced recently that one of the most iconic attractions at both resorts, Splash Mountain, would see a redesign that would change the attraction's theme from one focused on Song of the South to The Princess and the Frog. While few details are known about exactly what this redesign will entail, President of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weiss has recently spoken on how and why the decision was made.
In a recent interview with Disney fan club publication D23, Bob Weiss reiterated a previous statement from Disney Parks that the decision to retheme Splash Mountain pre-dates calls from fans to do exactly that. However, it seems that the thought process that led Walt Disney Imagineering to settle on The Princess and the Frog for the new story was very similar to that which led the fans to suggest that same idea. Bob Weiss says Tiana is a strong character to focus the attraction on, and the connection between the film's New Orleans setting, and the fact that Splash Mountain borders New Orleans Square at Disneyland, was also a factor. According to Weiss...
Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams while never losing sight of what’s really important. So it’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland, so it feels natural to link the story of The Princess and the Frog to the park.
Bob Weiss also points out that The Princess and the Frog has some of the most popular music among Disney fans, and since music is always important on attractions, it's another reason the movie fits perfectly.
It was back in early June when a petition went up on Change.org asking Disney to retheme Splash Mountain due to the fact that the current attraction was focused on Song of the South a Disney movie with some questionable perspectives on Reconstruction-era race relations. While the ride itself did not deal with any of the difficult live-action aspects of the film, it was still somewhat guilty by association. Somewhat surprisingly, Disney's response was to announce that exactly the change fans were asking for would happen, however, the parks were clear that that this was not in response to the petition, but simply a coincidental situation.
While no change in a Disney park is universally embraced, this one seems to have a lot of people excited. People are even hoping to see more changes in the park as part of this redesign, including a new Tiana's Palace restaurant inside the parks to complement the ride. While this change to Splash Mountain is confirmed to be happening, we don't know when. Due to the closure of the parks, a lot of the future plans for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are in flux, so the current Splash Mountain isn't going anywhere anytime soon.