Lots of changes are coming to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2023. From refurbishments at Disney hotels, to the opening of new attractions like TRON Lightcycle / Run and Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, to new restaurants, and more, this year is sure to bring lots of updates to several theme park and Resorts.
The Magic Kingdom will feature some of the most noticeable changes, with several updates coming to Tomorrowland around the opening of TRON Lightcycle / Run, and the recent return of favorite experiences like the Walt Disney World Railroad and character meet and greets at Pete’s Silly Sideshow and Ariel’s Grotto.
One of the biggest changes coming to Magic Kingdom Park this year will take place in Frontierland where Splash Mountain is set to permanently close on Monday, January 23, 2023, to make way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Once the attraction closes, the ride will remain closed for at least a year as work is done to transform the setting of Splash Mountain in the bayou, with the revamped experience opening in 2024 in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will use the same ride system and layout as Splash Mountain while telling an all-new story inspired by the hit Disney animated film, The Princess and the Frog (2009). The storyline will feature a brand new look for the ride’s leading Disney Princess and will pick up following Tiana and Naveen’s kiss at the end of the film.
The ride has been a popular attraction in the Magic Kingdom since it opened in 1992, but the concept was originally created by Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter in 1983. At the time, Imagineers were tasked with creating new a new attraction or entertainment to draw Guests to Disneyland’s Bear Country, which was at that point one of the quietest area of the Park.
Splash Mountain came to Baxter while he was sitting in traffic one morning as his mind worked through how to re-use the animal Audio-Animatronics from the former America Sings attraction while also fulfilling then-Disney Park President Dick Nunis’s request for a log flume attraction. Song of the South (1949), the now-controversial film featuring a combination of live actors and animation inspired by The Stories of Uncle Remus, seemed to cover all of the bases with material that would work well for a log flume ride, while using the America Sings figures, and adding in memorable songs like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
The original Splash Mountain attraction opened at Disneyland Park in 1989, followed by 1992 openings in both the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. According to D23, Splash Mountain boasted the longest drop on any log flume attraction in the world (at 52 ft.) when it opened in 1989. Over 100 Audio-Animatronics figures operate throughout the attraction, with many of the original America Sings figures designed by Disney Legend, and one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” Marc Davis.
While renovations will begin soon on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of the ride, no changes have been announced at this time for Splash Mountain in Tokyo Disneyland.
Will you be experiencing Splash Mountain one last time before it closes? We are excited to learn more about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure as work begins on the new attraction this year, and will continue to keep you updated on changes out of the Magic Kingdom here on Disney Tips.