Yesterday, Imagineers released the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening timeframe and a closing date for Splash Mountain. Here are the details…
In 2020 Disney announced that fan-favorite Splash Mountain was going to get an overhaul to become a The Princess and the Frog-themed attraction with an opening date of 2024.
Excitement is building for this hotly anticipated new ride, and we were fortunate to be invited to a special event to learn more about the plans for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure from Charita Carter (Executive Creative Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering) and Ted Robledo (Executive Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering).
What is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure About?
Set one year after the events of the film The Princess and the Frog, Tiana has found success as an entrepreneur with her restaurant, Tiana’s Place.
In the new attraction narrative, Tiana has purchased an abandoned mine at a Salt Dome to establish the headquarters for her next venture: Tiana’s Foods, which provides opportunities to her community members for employment and to learn business skills.
Tiana and Louis (the Jazz-loving alligator from the film) will guide guests through the bayou as they go on an all-new adventure. This isn’t just a retelling of the movie, it’s a whole new story!
And yes, the original voice cast of Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), and Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis) will all reprise their roles, along with some new friends—concept art showed us some bayou critters including a raccoon, rabbit, otter and a possum playing homemade instruments. This merry little band will perform zydeco music that beckons guests further into the attraction.
We Virtually Rode Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
We got a sneak peek inside the ride through the magic of virtual reality (VR). Using VR technology is essential to the Imagineer’s process as it allows them to construct scenes and adjust timing, lighting, and scenery as their vision comes together insuring everything is perfect before it’s time to build.
A small show scene was previewed for us, and we learned that thanks to the VR software, Cast Members can “sit” in any seat on the ride vehicle so that no detail or vantage point is overlooked.
At the 2022 D23 Expo we got an up-close look at a model for the re-imagined attraction, which you can see here. Based on the model and what we currently know, we don’t expect the track layout, or the signature 56-foot drop will change at either the Florida or California versions of the ride.
It’s unclear if any of the current set pieces or Audio-Animatronics from Splash Mountain will find new life in the new attraction, Disney does have a history of finding new life for old attraction pieces when rides are updated.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Details
To guarantee that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is authentic to the culture and environment of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana, the Imagineers embarked on research trips to soak up the atmosphere and gain hands-on experience and foundational knowledge from the museums and universities, iconic cultural locations, and influential citizens of the region.
Everything from Tiana’s new outfit and hairstyle to the scenic flora and fauna of the ride, and the mountain’s new backstory as a salt dome are authentic to the time and place of 1927 Louisiana.
When is Splash Mountain Closing?
At Walt Disney World, Splash Mountain is set to close on January 23, 2023 (it debuted in 1989 at Disneyland and in 1992 at Magic Kingdom). At this time, the closing date for Splash Mountain Disneyland has not been announced.
Also, no announcement has been made regarding Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland. For the time being, major fans of Splash Mountain will need a trip overseas to keep experiencing the original version.
We cannot wait to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While closing a popular attraction to completely re-theme it may sound like a risky maneuver, Disney has successfully done this with the beloved Tower of Terror in Disneyland (now Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT!) and Maelstrom in Epcot (now Frozen Ever After).
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure uses the same formula—take a popular ride system, add in characters that fans resonated with, music you can’t help but sing and dance along to, a unique queue, and a sprinkle of the latest technology.
2024 can’t get here soon enough… but as Tiana says, we’re almost there!
Thanks to Disney for inviting us to the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure WDI Fireside Chat where we were able to hear from Disney Cast Members, including Imagineers Charita Carter and Ted Robledo, about how the new attraction will further Princess Tiana’s Story.