Splash Mountain is currently closed at Walt Disney World and now also at Disneyland as it receives its transformation into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. We have new details on the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction coming soon.
This entirely brand new reimagining of the attraction is themed after The Princess and the Frog characters and film. Imagineers along with experts in New Orleans culture have been working hard to create this new space to celebrate Tiana.
Keep reading for all the information we have so far on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure including queue details, exciting new animatronics, and concept art of this beautiful new attraction,
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Opening Date
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will officially open at Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida in 2024. In the original promotional materials released, like the artwork above, Disney stated the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was going to open in late 2024. We discuss here the likely Splash Mountain reopening date to be turned into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
UPDATE: In the recent calendar of events released by Disneyland for the 2024 year on December 4th 2023, Disneyland has resumed describing an opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure taking place in “late 2024” so it appears that this timeline of the latter half of 2024 is the most realistic opening date we can plan for at Disneyland. We still believe that the Walt Disney World opening for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be earlier in the year as we discuss below…
Late 2024 vs. 2024 Opening Date- Back and Forth by Disney
Earlier in the year, we saw Disney alter this wording to drop the “late” from in front of “2024”. During the press trip that I went on to New Orleans with Walt Disney Imagineering – read about all the details revealed on that trip below – they also did not really use the “late” moniker. They just said next year or 2024. The most recent official Disney Parks Blog post about the attraction and the last three published by the executive that leads the project have dropped “late” 2024 from the description of the opening timeline.
We don’t have any solid information on this change other than to point out that Splash Mountain, now Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, is a water ride and getting it open earlier in the year closer to the summer season will be far better than letting it slip later into the year as the months do get colder. Though that didn’t stop them from opening Journey of Water: Inspired By Moana in October. There are no other opening dates slated for Disneyland or Walt Disney World so I would bet that there is big pressure on the constructions teams on both coasts to keep the work up and sprint towards an opening date. You can read our full analysis of when Splash Mountain will reopen as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure here.
Since Walt Disney World’s attraction closed first we will almost absolutely see Tiana’s Bayou Adventure open first there before Disneyland. As we share below, that likely means that Disneyland will NOT see the attraction open by the spring season even if it opens earlier than “late 2024”. With that in mind, we are still waiting for news about what we can expect to see this Spring at Disneyland. After a big 2023 that was kicked off with the opening of the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction and the Disney100 celebration, we hope that Disney comes in with new entertainment to once again energize the resort in the spring months with a fresh new offering. We have heard good things about plans for the spring and that announcements are right around the corner – hopefully we get new info on Fantasmic! returning. What we know pretty much for sure is that the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival and Lunar New Year will return.
Depending on when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disneyland, there will be the spring promotional slot to fill and likely also the summer spot to fill. Right now without a big opening or event slotted in for either the beginning of the spring or summer it will be interesting to see how all of the openings and events shake out.
Back to Splash Mountain. I would guess that an extremely optimistic timeline for the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World would be late spring / early summer and a fall opening of the attraction at Disneyland. We could absolutely see the openings push much further into the year, but we know that both parks need big drawing attractions to promote for the year. This would be extremely fast construction for Disney and something that would need to begin taking shape very quickly if so. Not that I am expert in ride construction besides my repeat viewing of The Imagineering Story on Disney Plus, but I would think that it’s a good sign of progress completed on the interiror if we are getting updates on work being completed on painting the exterior.
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Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain attraction closed to begin this retheme at the end of January 2023 while Disneyland’s closed on May 30th, 2023. You can see more details on the closing for the Splash Mountain retheme.
New Mural Revealed For Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Now that we have discussed the opening date for the new attraction, let’s get into the new details that were shared today. Disney provided a look at the new colorful murals that are currently being painted on the exterior of the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction barn at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
A general note on all of these updates. Remember that Splash Mountain is remaining the same physical ride system so we know that it will be fun, thrilling, water ride for the entire family. All of these additions are meant to bring an additional layer of storytelling to the attraction that are meant to ensure that the New Orleans-inspired Princess and the Frog story is told from a place of authenticity.
The blog post shares that Louisiana artist Malaika Favorite has created a mural that will decorate the attraction queue with a vibrant look. Disney shared that as they thought about the artwork for the queue they worked on “maintaining the authenticity of Princess Tiana’s experience as a young Black woman striving to achieve her dream in the soulful backdrop of New Orleans”.
Malaika’s art currently is shown at the Baton Rouge Gallery. Her artistic talents have been obvious since she was very young. She brings great artwork to the project that is just one of the many authentic pieces being added to the queue and attraction.
From Disney: Malaika’s mural for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure features a collage of breathtaking scenes displayed on two of the building’s exterior walls as you enter the indoor queue. These scenes highlight Tiana’s professional journey and the creation of Tiana’s Foods. When Tiana was young, her father made her promise to “never, ever lose sight of what is really important,” and the mural will reflect those elements: family, friends, food, music, art, and bringing folks together.
The mural is a nice addition for the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction which has the mural painted on the newly yellow barn entrance building for the queue. The barn is largely set off from the rest of Frontierland behind the train station so it shouldn’t class too much and instead be a way to bring guests waiting in line further into the story.
For Disneyland, I am having trouble picturing where a mural like this could fit on the exterior of what is currently a very dark brown barn. Perhaps the artwork will be repurposed in some other way within the interior queue.
The vibrancy of the colors of the paintings on the barn line up with what I saw during my modern day trip to New Orleans with Disney. I am curious to see how these authentic murals fits in with the rest of the attractions in the area and the styles of Critter Country and Frontierland. Generally a pop of color in the parks is additive. Seeing anything hand-painted is a welcome addition.
New Adventure Look for Princess Tiana Revealed
During ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, Disney revealed a look at Princess Tiana in her new bayou adventure outfit. As you’ll see in the concept artwork below, this is the style of the outfit that Tiana will appear in during the attraction for at least part of the new ride.
Disney stated that guests can still find Princess Tiana in her royal gown greeting guests in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It is not clear if guests will ever be able to meet Tiana in these adventure clothes.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Water Tower Installed at Magic Kingdom
The new water tower that features the Tiana’s Foods (details on backstory below) logo has now been installed at the Magic Kingdom version of the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction in Walt Disney World.
The same water tower will come to Disneyland at some point in the next year before the opening of the attraction. Disney has not commented on the progress of construction at Disneyland. The attraction at Disneyland closed in May while the attraction in Walt Disney World in January so the East Coast has a head start on construction.
One eagle-eyed observer pointed out that the two stars on the top of the tiara are likely meant to represent Ray and Evangeline. Ray, the firey firefly, ends the movie as a star glimmering next to his Evangeline, the name he gives to the wishing star he falls in love with.
NEW Details Shared for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
We have NEW details to share about the upcoming retheme of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Some of these details further expand on what we already know and other information is brand new.
Recently we had the opportunity to join Disney Imagineers in New Orleans, Louisiana to learn more about the new attraction and the great lengths that they are going to deliver an authentic story grounded in the real-life magic of the city of New Orleans. You can read about our entire trip to New Orleans to learn about the city’s inspiration on the attraction here. Below you’ll also see some photos from our trip down to New Orleans to illustrate some of the news items.
Totally New Audio-Animatronic Figures
We know now that 17 new characters will be a part of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure including Otter, Ms. Beaver, Rabbit, Possum, Turtle, and Racoon. We got a chance to see the Louis audio-animatronic and he looks great! A full-sized figure that will live in one of the indoor show scenes. These are all brand-new Audio-Animatronic figures and are not repurposed figures used on Splash Mountain.
We will also see familiar faces from the film including Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Mama Odie, Louis, Eudora, Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the King and Queen of Maldonia, and Prince Ralphie.
We do not have confirmation if any of the Splash Mountain Audio-Animatronics are sticking around but some of these older Audio-Animatronics may be past their prime as many were also reused from previous Disney attractions to begin with! Disney has confirmed that these are all “brand new” audio-animatronics created for this attraction with unique new characters with their own personalities and stories.
Multiple Looks for Tiana
Tiana will have multiple looks on the attraction beyond just the adventure wear we have seen previewed for the attraction. Ted Robledo, the Executive Creative Director on the project, shared “We are going to see other outfits inside the attraction” in addition to Tiana’s adventure wear.
We are assuming this means there will be a princess dress reveal in the finale scene on the existing Splash Mountain riverboat in the middle of a Mardi Gras celebration. During our visit to New Orleans, Disney welcomed Princess Tiana wearing both her princess dress and flapper dress. I think this is another good clue that this look will definitely continue to be seen in the parks and likely also in the attraction.
We will also see multiple versions of Black women’s hair. Costuming specialists that usually handle the upkeep of the Audio-Animatronics at Walt Disney World had already created a presentation on black hair that made it onto the desk of the Imagineers working on the project. The Imagineers working on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure were very impressed and brought those Cast Members in to consult on the project.
New Animation from Disney Animation Studios
Part of this new transformation includes NEW animation from Disney Animation Studios that will include some character animation and magical scenic enhancement animation. This may be along the same lines of how we see the scene technology blend nicely with the physical sets in the popular attraction Alice in Wonderland or the recently completed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish attraction.
Terrence Blanchard Creating Score for the Queue
Terrence Blanchard, who previously played all the trumpet parts for Louis the Alligator in The Princess and the Frog, is arranging a brand new score for the queue. Terence, a seven-time Grammy award winner and two-time Academy Award nominee, is working with Disney Imagineering to select and arrange songs from The Princess and the Frog film and classic New Orleans songs for inclusion in the ride queue. The songs will be played in a radio program in the style of the 1920s.
He is also a notable collaborator with Spike Lee and worked on one of my favorite films, Inside Man. Blanchard is also the first African American to have a work premiered at the Met in its 138-year history.
PJ Morton Creating New Original Song
Grammy Award-winning musician and New Orleans native, PJ Morton, is writing and producing an all-original song for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Morton is a Disney fan with early memories of enjoying the music of Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid with his siblings. He shared how much it means to be working on the attraction.
Morton has an incredible set of achievements that should have us all thrilled about the new song. He’s earned nineteen career GRAMMY Award nominations and four consecutive years of wins – Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2019, Best R&B Song in 2020, Best Gospel Album in 2021 and Album Of The Year in 2022 (for his contributions to Jon Batiste’s We Are).
The music in the attraction will incorporate various music styles and instrumentation connected to New Orleans. This just further adds to the details Disney previously shared about Zydeco music being a part of this new attraction. Zydeco music is a blend of rhythm and blues that originated in Louisiana.
Sadly we didn’t get to hear any of the new song when Morton spoke about the collaboration, but we are quite excited for them to release some of the song.
Fireflies Lead Guests
Disney is using a unique integration of lighting techniques that will bring flattering fireflies to life as they light the path for guests in the attraction.
Later this summer, Disney will install the Tiara on the new water tower added to the Splash Mountain facade at Walt Disney World.
No Dr. Facilier
We do have confirmation that we will NOT see the original movie villain, Dr. Facilier, in the attraction. This is the only thing that is even slightly disappointing to me about this list of new details shared as I really enjoyed the song from the movie.
Otherwise, this attraction is shaping up to be an out-of-this-world transformation! Keep reading to see everything we know so far about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
On Splash Mountain vs Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
One quote of note for those concerned about the transition from Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Ted Robledo, the Executive Creative Director at Imagineering on the project shared “We’re not trying to burn it all down and say that was bad. We want to add to it.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure NEW Animatronics
Some of the most exciting news coming out about this retheme of the attraction is that Disney has announced more than dozens of new audio-animatronics are being added to the attraction.
This is a much-needed upgrade from Splash Mountain which had many animatronics in need of upgrades/repair due to the general age of the attraction. I am hoping we might see some of those animatronics updated and kept for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!
What Princess and the Frog characters will be in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure?
Disney has already confirmed the characters of Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Mama Odie, Louis, Eudora, Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the King and Queen of Maldonia and Prince Ralphie for the new attraction. We are not sure yet if these will all be audio-animatronics but this offers a great variety of beloved characters from The Princess and the Frog. Personally, I am really hoping to see an audio-animatronic of Tiana that’s on scale with the talent we saw from Imagineers that developed Hondo Ohnaka for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction.
Disney has confirmed that the voice talents of Jennifer Lewis as Mama Odie, Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen, Michael Leon Wooley as Louis, and Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana will all be reprising their roles for this attraction.
In addition to our familiar film characters, a brand-new cast of original Disney characters with “distinct names and personalities” will also be part of this new attraction. One of this new characters has already been confirmed such as this new Otter audio-animatronic seen in the panel photo from the 2022 D23 Expo above.
Mama Odie Audio-Animatronic
The details for the new Mama Odie audio-animatronic seems as it will be a great example of the talent of Disney Imagineering like we’ve seen with the Hondo Ohnaka for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction and the Na’av shaman animatronic seen in Walt Disney World’s Pandora.
Princess and the Frog’s fabulously eccentric fairy godmother will be a focal point of the ride as she will show off her magic and joke with guests during their adventure. The appearance of Mama Odie has been inspired by the work of Sharika Mahdi, a YAYA Arts Center alumna. Her local New Orleans artwork has been an inspiration for Disney Imagineers. The image above is a part of a four series commission to depict “our wise and whimsical keeper of the bayou,” which be the inspiration for Mama Odie in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
What about the Splash Mountain animatronics?
It would make logical sense to keep many of the original animatronics from Splash Mountain as part of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure as these critters would blend in nicely with the story. There are more than 100 animals in Splash Mountain! After all, this wouldn’t be the first time these critters have been repurposed. The singing audio-animatronic animals in Disneyland’s Splash Mountain finale were repurposed from the America Sings attraction in Disneyland from 1974-1988.
In fact it’s a well-known practice for Disney to reuse animatronics. In Walt Disney World, the Three Caballeros characters who appear in EPCOT’s Gran Fiesta Tour were originally part of Mickey Mouse Revue in Fantasyland. It would be a great homage to Splash Mountain to reuse some of the critters of Splash Mountain in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Especially since Disney Legend Marc Davis, who was one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” designed many of them.
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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Storyline
The storyline for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is an original story for Tiana that begins after the ending of the Princess and the Frog film. This story tells the tale of Tiana’s success after opening her own restaurant and the adventures she had after.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Ride Queue
The story will begin in the queue for the attraction as it will focus on Tiana’s growing business, Tiana’s Foods, an employee-owned co-op. Tiana’s culinary talents are combined with her love for community as she works to transform an aging salt mine into her own food brand. This part of Tiana’s story shows the stage of this adventure as she purchases the salt mine and area around it with the help of her mother Eduora, Naveen, Louis and other co-0p owners. They work together with Tiana to transform the old salt mine and the land by growing vegetables, herbs, and spices.
The aging salt mine also features a boutique farm and teaching kitchen where Tiana’s Foods works to create new products with her community including a new line of original hot sauces.
But the most exciting part of this ride queue for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? There will be beignet scent pumped throughout the attraction queue!
Princess and the Frog Attraction Storyline
Tiana will invite guests to meet her at Tiana’s Foods to help find the miss ingredient for their Mardi Gras party! Tiana wants to thank her family, friends and community for all their support by throwing a party during Mardi Gras season. But of course, not everything goes to plan and there is one missing ingredient to search for, which is where the guests come in.
When guests arrive in the beignet scented queue, they will see decorations of art from local artists, food being prepared and of course, beignets being loaded into carts for the celebration. (Hence, that beignet smell!) Guests will see all these preparations as they go through the queue to begin their journey into the bayou.
The concept art above shows what guests will see when they first enter the interior of the attraction after that first drop into the ride. This concept art is beautiful and depicts Tiana in her new outfit created just for this new attraction. Disney described the impact of the Zydeco music in this scene as “a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana, and when you hear it, you’ll feel like you’ve truly stepped into Tiana’s world.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure tells a positive story of empowerment as it brings to life Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Her story brings characters together with her brand Tiana’s Foods as it becomes a treasured place to spend time and celebrate diviersity. Tiana spends time with the community teaching gardening, cooking and inspires women to run successful businesses.
The main conflict of the ride is that guests are helping Tiana find this missing ingredient they need for the Mardi Gras celebration. We don’t know much more about the story but I can’t wait to hear more. I’m personally hoping Dr. Facilier and his song make an appearance!
Eudora’s Chic Boutique featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets Now Open
The new Princess and the Frog themed shop at Disneyland is now open in New Orleans Square featuring a variety of home goods, apparel, and more. The store is just a few steps down the street from the Blue Bayou restaurant. The interior design of this store pays homage to the roots of New Orleans Square with its antique features and stained glass lamps overhead.
Tiana’s Palace Restaurant Coming to Disneyland
Tiana’s Palace is a new restaurant coming to Disneyland to replace the classic Disneyland restaurant French Market in New Orlean’s Square. French Market is already closed and work is in progress to improve both the food selection at this historic restaurant and transform the theme to match what we see in the concept art above.
Read all about Tiana’s Palace coming to Disneyland in our guide to this new restaurant opening later this year. No official word has been given on a Princess and the Frog restaurant coming to Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Exterior Concept Art
Outside concept art models of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure were shown at the 2022 D23 Expo. This concept art model is a great way to visualize how Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will look like from the outside in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
For Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World, the new tiara-topped water tower will be installed soon! You can see this water tower in the concept art above.
The video above from Disney gives us the full preview of this new tower and what it will look like installed on the previous Splash Mountain. I like the addition of the tiara as a nice touch for this princess themed attraction!
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