Though it’s one of Disney’s catchiest melodies, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” originates from one of the entertainment company’s most shameful films, “Song of the South.”

Following a national reckoning prompted by the killing of George Floyd in 2020, Disneyland announced plans to re-imagine Splash Mountain, a popular ride that features imagery and themes from the racist 1946 film, ensuring the song’s days in the Disney oeuvre were numbered.

Now, the twice-daily Magic Happens parade, which reopened Feb. 24 after a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic, has quietly been altered to remove the “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” tune and instead includes a song from “Peter Pan.”

Disneyland officials confirmed that a lyric from the song was removed from the parade’s soundtrack but declined to comment further.

“Song of the South,” which Disney chairman Bob Iger told shareholders in 2020 was “just not appropriate in today’s world,” employed racist tropes and painted a rosy picture of race relations in the antebellum South.

The movie was based on a series of short stories by Joel Chandler Harris centered on Uncle Remus, a Black man in the Reconstruction era who spoke of “a long time ago” when “everything was mighty satisfactual.”

Presumably speaking of the days before the Civil War — and the freeing of slaves — Remus says, “if you’ll excuse me for saying so, ‘twas better all around.”

This is not the first instance in which the park has redesigned an attraction to be more inclusive. Until 2018, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride featured an auction block with women for sale under the sign: “Auction, take a wench for a bride.”

The sign was changed to read “Auction, surrender yer loot,” which is not how an auction works. And one female character in the ride, previously shown as the prize of the auction, is now depicted as a member of the band of pirates leading the auction.

The park also overhauled the Jungle Cruise attraction in 2021 to remove racist depictions of Indigenous people.

Though Splash Mountain remains operational at Disneyland, it closed at Disney World in January. Both rides are scheduled to be overhauled to include images, characters and themes from “The Princess and the Frog,” a 2009 film that featured Disney’s first Black princess.

Terry Castleman

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