Disneyland‘s daily Magic Happens parade features characters from its many franchises as they put smiles on the faces of children and adults. For years, lyrics from “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” the signature song from the 1946 movie Song of the South, were a part of the show. But, the tune has officially been scuttled from the daily programming.
Yesterday (March 6), The Los Angeles Times confirmed via Disneyland officials that it’s no longer a part of the Magic Happens celebration. The daily procession returned Feb. 24 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The setlist has quietly been altered to remove “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and instead includes a song from 1953’s Peter Pan.
Song of the South has come under fire in recent years for its racist imagery and glorification of plantation life. The movie inspired the music and iconography of Disney parks’ classic Splash Mountain ride. But, following the Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020, the media giant announced that it would be changed to remove any references to the outdated film. Instead, it will be centered around the beloved 2009 film The Princess and the Frog. Florida’s Walt Disney World resort shuttered the ride in January 2023.
The animated film is set in the southern United States during the Reconstruction era and follows a white boy who befriends an older Black man who works on a plantation. Uncle Remus, much like Uncle Ben, was a stereotype of a happily subservient Black man. Through his eyes, the plantation system was a friendly and consensual partnership between white enslavers and Black enslaved people.
Because of its numerous offensive tropes and themes, the film isn’t available to stream on Disney+. “Song of the South, even with a disclaimer, was just not appropriate in today’s world,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said of the decision, according to Yahoo. By contrast, HBO tacked on a warning at the beginning of Gone With the Wind about its similarly problematic portrayal of the antebellum South.
After its release in the 1940s, the NAACP commended the flick for its groundbreaking blend of animation and live action. But, the organization also boycotted the film, earning support from prominent Black figures like Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. “In an effort neither to offend audiences in the North or South, the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery,” the group said in a statement at the time. “Song of the South unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship, which is a distortion of the facts.”