Lyrics from “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” have been quietly removed from the set list of Disneyland’s Magic Happens parade. The melody originates from the 1946 feature “Song of the South,” which has been criticized for featuring racist imagery and themes.
Disneyland officials confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that a lyric from the song was removed from the soundtrack of the Magic Happens parade, which is held twice daily at the Anaheim resort. The Magic Happens parade returned to the park on Feb. 24, ending a three-year hiatus prompted by the COVID pandemic.
According to the report, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” has been replaced by a song from the 1953 feature “Peter Pan.”
Set in the southern United States during the Reconstruction era, “Song of the South” follows a white boy who befriends an older Black man who works on a plantation. During its release in the ’40s and across subsequent re-releases, the film drew criticism for its use of racist stereotypes and its ahistorical conception of the plantation system as a harmonious, consensual partnership between white owners and Black slaves.
The change in the parade follows plans to close the park’s classic ride Splash Mountain, which was designed with references to “Song of the South.” Plans to rework Splash Mountain were first announced in June 2020, a time when Black Lives Matter protests gathered across the country to protest the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and more Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
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.