For the first time ever, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (2009) will be the star of its very own attraction at both domestic theme parks, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. The hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film features the company’s first Black princess in a story told through now seldom-used hand-drawn animation and an incredible soundtrack.
With Tiana set to open up her own attraction at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort next year, we’ve put together a roundup of everything we know so far about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
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Creating Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
What is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure replacing?
On June 25, 2020, Disney officially announced that Splash Mountain would be closing to make way for a brand new attraction inspired by The Princess and the Frog. Splash Mountain, Disney’s first log flume attraction that became increasingly controversial over the years due to its source material in the 1946 film Song of the South, opened in Critter Country at Disneyland Park in 1989 and in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom in 1992.
The attraction had grown to be incredibly popular over the years, likely due to the element of thrill with the ride’s 52-ft. drop, but Guests certainly became attached to the characters and songs included on Splash Mountain as well. As such, Disney’s original announcement for the new Princess and the Frog attraction noted that retheming Splash Mountain was in line with the Imagineering direction for “plussing” existing areas of the theme parks:
The approach to retheming or “plussing” attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.
Replacing Splash Mountain, specifically where the inspiration for the ride offers a dated and racist look at the reconstruction era, is also in line with Disney’s recent initiatives that focus on inclusion and diversity.
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Which Imagineers are creating the new attraction?
The design team behind Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is led by senior creative producer of Walt Disney Imagineering, Charita Carter. Carter herself is the the first African-American woman to be in an executive producer role within Walt Disney Imagineering, so she has a personal connection to the work going into the new attraction as well.
Following the initial announcement for the ride, Carter noted:
Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.
Tony Baxter, the Imagineer who created the original concept for Splash Mountain, has also returned to work as a creative advisor on the upcoming re-theme.
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What will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure be like?
How will the ride be different from Splash Mountain?
As a “plussed” version of Splash Mountain, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will take Guests on the same ride path, in similar log flume-style ride vehicles with all-new details and thematic elements creating the ride’s story through each show scene.
While there has been some speculation that Audio-Animatronics used in Splash Mountain will be featured in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Inside the Magic has confirmed that most references to the former attraction, including an iconic nod to Br’er Rabbit, will not make their way into the new ride.
What do we know about the ride’s story and design?
The story of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure picks up after the final kiss between Princess Tiana and Princess Naveen in the 2009 animated film. During the ride, Princess Tiana will join Louis, the loveable alligator who aspired to be a jazz musician in the film as they prepare a magical Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.
The latest details from Disney imply that one of the ride’s first drops (note: not the big one) will bring Guests into the bayou where they will be met by the sound of instruments playing the sounds of Zydeco, a blend of rhythm and blues unique to Lousiana. The music, which follows in the ride’s diversity and inclusion efforts by showcasing sounds from several cultures, will then carry through as Guests follow Tiana’s adventures planning the ultimate Mardi Gras celebration.
We cannot say for sure until Disney releases more details, but after seeing several versions of concept art and a model at the 2022 D23 Expo, fans have also speculated that the top of the final drop will feature Mama Odie due to this scene’s look appearing similar to her scene in the film.
The attraction will also feature a brand new look for Princess Tiana that Guests will see for the first time during the ride.
When will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure open?
The Disneyland version of Splash Mountain is still open, with no closure date announced as of this writing. Disney has updated the Splash Mountain page of its website to note that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to open in late 2024, but we are still waiting to learn when Splash Mountain will close for the transformation.
New experiences inspired by The Princess and the Frog have already opened or are in the works at Disneyland ahead of the closure of Splash Mountain. In New Orleans Square, Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is set to open later this year, and Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets is already open.
Splash Mountain permanently closed at the Magic Kingdom on January 22, 2023, and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is currently set to open in late 2024. Without a concrete opening date confirmed so far, we can only assume that work is on track for the planned late ’24 opening based on how quickly construction seems to be moving on the former site of Splash Mountain.
Tokyo Disneyland has its own version of Splash Mountain, also inspired by Song of the South like its domestic counterparts. This attraction, however, was not included in Disney’s initial announcements for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and as of this writing, Splash Mountain is expected to remain in Tokyo.
Creating Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is an exciting project for Charita Carter, and even the voice of Princess Tiana herself, Anika Noni Rose is thrilled to see the attraction come to fruition.
Anika Noni Rose, shared:
It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!
We will continue to follow new developments on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at both the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort and will be back with more information from each Disney Park as we have it here on Disney Tips.