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Disney expert explains why Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise changes are needed

Carmen Smith, who works for Walt Disney Imagineering, suggests changes to Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise are vastly important

Guests take a plunge down a 5-story waterfall on Splash Mountain in Critter Country at Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif. The rollicking log flume ride is based on the animated characters and sequences from the classic Disney film, “Song of the South.”(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)
Guests take a plunge down a five-story waterfall on Splash Mountain in Critter Country at Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif. Carmen Smith, who works for Walt Disney Imagineering, suggests changes to Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise are vastly important.
Paul Hiffmeyer, Disneyland Resort

Carmen Smith, executive creative over development and inclusion strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering, recently shared more details about the upcoming theme changes to Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise.

Context:

Disney has been looking into making changes to its rides. The company announced in January plans to update the legendary Jungle Cruise ride to address “negative depictions” of cultures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

And back in June 2020, Disney announced that Splash Mountain — which is based on the 1946 Disney film “Song of the South” — would be reworked to focus on characters from the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

What’s new?

Smith said in a new post on the Disney Parks blog that the revamp is meant to enhance the experience of Disneyland.

“We create experiences that make people feel welcomed, seen and heard, and let them know that their stories are important,” she told Disney Parks.

In a separate video, Smith explained how she feels about the new retheme:

  • “My work is really about collaboration and teamwork. You create experiences that will make people feel welcome, seen and heard and to let them know that their stories are just as important. And so my responsibility is to look at what do we have now and does it resonate with our guests in making them more reflective of the world we live in.
  • “When we looked at Splash Mountain, it gives our company an opportunity to showcase our first African American princess. We need to be able to tell stories that are inspiring and enlightening but also that speak to a community that has not been well-represented in our parks and resorts.”

Improving the Disneyland experience

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said Disney wants to maximize the experience of Disneyland when it reopens after the pandemic, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • “So with a lens toward maximizing the guest experience, we are now able to essentially reset many pieces of our business,” he said, according to Inside the Magic and Yahoo! News. “Both on the cost and revenue side of the business in order to say, if we had a blank piece of paper, how would we set up our parks business and be a little bit more aggressive than we typically might be able to be without the impetus of, unfortunately, a yearlong closure. So we’ve had a lot of time to think, particularly at Disneyland, about what could be.”