Splash Mountain has permanently closed at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida. While the structure and ride path will remain the same, the story will be changed to and rethemed to The Princess and the Frog Disney Animated movie based on New Orleans.
There are a few reasons for this change. Part of the motivation for re-theming Splash Mountain is that the attraction is based on a film that presents problematic portrayal of plantation life, which is no longer appropriate to keep at the parks. Disney is also always working to bring more current franchises into the parks, and this presents the perfect opportunity to introduce The Princess and the Frog to Disneyland. Recent rethemings at Disneyland have garnered incredible success, with the transformation of rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! and the Incredicoaster seeing significant popularity.
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Why Did Splash Mountain Close?
The Splash Mountain attraction is based on “Song of the South,” a film that has been criticized and pulled from distribution channels over its rosy depiction of race relations after the Civil War in the South.
In an effort to remove references to the controversial film in the theme parks, Disney announced that they would replace the attraction with the Princess and the Frog theme. Disney announced the change in 2020, though it had already been in the works.
Disney is also always working to add in their most popular franchises to the theme parks.
Splash Mountain Closing at Disneyland & Disney World
Magic Kingdom's Splash Mountain creatures sang their last notes in January of 2023, and Disneyland's on May 31, 2023. Now, the ride has closed its doors forever.
The brand new ride replacing it, Tiana's Bayou Adventure, is inspired by Tiana, the radiant star of the 2009 animated hit The Princess and the Frog. So, while we say goodbye to Splash Mountain, we can look to the future in anticipation of the next magical chapter in Disney's storybook.
Tiana's Bayou Adventure Storyline
In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana is a hard-working waitress with big dreams of owning a restaurant in New Orleans. When the credits roll, after her final kiss with Prince Naveen, Princess Tiana finally realizes her dream and swings open the doors to her very own restaurant, Tiana's Palace.
This is where Tiana's Bayou Adventure kicks off! Guests are part of the action of the ride as Tiana is in full swing prepping for a Mardi Gras bash, where she has noticed she's short of a special ingredient that is crucial for this event. Join Tiana and the jazz-loving alligator Louis as they take a detour to the bayou, meeting a whole zoo of swamp critters on this wild ingredient hunt.
Tiana's Bayou Adventure Ride Queue
Disney shared new details on the backstory for the new attraction and the queue that guests will encounter. As you step into the line, you'll realize that since the ending of The Princess and the Frog, Tiana has been busily growing her empire with Tiana's Foods, an employee-owned co-op.
She has taken a rundown salt mine and, with a little help from her mom Eudora, Naveen, Louis, and the community, flipped it into a buzzing farm and kitchen where she collaborates with the community to whip up new products, including a zesty line of hot sauces.
As you mosey through the queue, you'll also be tantalized by the heavenly aroma of fresh beignets as these treats are being prepped for the party. But there's a mission at hand! You'll need to hunt down that key ingredient to make sure this celebration doesn't hit a sour note, and this is where the ride begins.
Inside Tiana's Bayou Adventure
Once you step into the enticing realm of Tiana's Bayou Adventure ride, you're part of the story! See the concept art above, which gives a little sneak-peek into the enchanting world you'll dive into after the first drop.
Imagine floating serenely through the bayou, basking in the soft, flickering light of fireflies in the inky darkness. To make the experience even more immersive, there's the pulsating rhythm of zydeco music, a spicy Louisiana-born blend of rhythm and blues. As Disney put it, “Zydeco is 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.”
You'll spot a whole host of critters that call the bayou home, as well as some familiar faces. But who might you see on your quest for Tiana's missing ingredient?
Tiana's Bayou Adventure NEW Animatronics
Splash Mountain's older animatronics were charming but the Disney Audio-Animatronics have evolved dramatically since then.
According to Disney, Tiana's Bayou Adventure is set to welcome a whole chorus line of brand new audio-animatronics. We can't wait to see them in action! One Audio-Animatronic that will be particularly exciting is the new one modeled after Mama Odie, the voodoo priestess, from the movie seen above.
There is a chance that some of the Splash Mountain animatronics will be repurposed, as the concept art for Tiana's Bayou Adventure is practically teeming with critters.
Which Princess and the Frog Characters Will Star in Tiana's Bayou Adventure?
Princess and the Frog enthusiasts will hear some familiar voices as they soak up the magical ambiance, swaying to a mix of brand new melodies and cherished classics from the 2009 film.
You will be reunited with Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis, Eudora, Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the regal King and Queen of Maldonia, and even Prince Ralphie as you embark on Tiana's Bayou Adventure.
Just like in the film, Mama Odie, the 200-year-old fairy godmother, is going to be a major player on this ride. She'll light up the bayou, pop up throughout the ride, trade some banter with you, and flaunt her magic skills.
Disney has confirmed that Jennifer Lewis (Mama Odie), Bruno Campos (Prince Naveen), Michael Leon Wooley (Louis), and Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana) will all be reprising their roles. There is also some new talent in the mix, including a Disney star voicing an otter audio-animatronic.
Mama Odie Audio-Animatronic
With Mama Odie slated to be a major scene-stealer in Tiana's Bayou Adventure, playing the wise yet whimsical keeper of the bayou, you might be wondering: will Disney be treating guests to a jaw-dropping animatronic spectacle like Hondo Ohnaka in the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run attraction or the awe-inspiring Na'vi shaman in Walt Disney World's Na'vi River Journey?
Concept art from the talented Sharika Mahdi, a proud alumna of the YAYA Arts Center, might just hold some visual clues. These stunning visuals provide us Disney enthusiasts with a few breadcrumbs, as well as a blueprint for Disney Imagineers for how this pivotal character will materialize throughout the ride.
Repurposing Splash Mountain Animatronics
With Splash Mountain now a thing of the past at Walt Disney World and Disneyland soon following suit, many of us Disney diehard fans are left pondering the fate of those vintage animatronics.
Given the theme and narrative of Tiana's Bayou Adventure and the fact that our bayou critters are all set to play a big part in the story, it's a safe expect that the iconic America Sings Audio-Animatronics won't be retiring just yet and may just be getting ready for their next act.
Outside Tiana's Bayou Adventure
Construction on Tiana's Bayou Adventure in Walt Disney World is chugging along nicely. Even from the outside, you can spot subtle transformations: the facade is undergoing changes, with the briar patch and other sculptures being phased out.
As part of the Splash Mountain retheme, Disney is set to crown Tiana's Bayou Adventure with a tiara-topped water tower, complete with the Tiana’s Foods logo.
Eudora’s Chic Boutique is Now Open And Tiana's Palace Restaurant Soon To Follow In Disneyland
Tiana's Bayou Adventure may take a tad longer to debut at Disneyland than at Disney World, but Disneyland has its very own Eudora's Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana's Gourmet Secrets, a Princess and the Frog-themed gift shop nestled in New Orleans Square that is a treasure trove of home goods, apparel, and goodies.
Disneyland is also set to welcome ‘Tiana's Palace” restaurant, a brand-new eatery replacing the beloved French Market in New Orleans Square. There hasn't been any official word on whether a Princess and the Frog restaurant will be hopping over to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
When Will Tiana's Bayou Adventure Open?
Disney has announced that the new attraction will arrive at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland Park in California in late 2024!
Visitors of all ages can look forward to being delighted by Disney's latest addition as they immerse themselves in a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration. Tiana's Bayou Adventure will warmly welcome guests and pay homage to the vibrant spirit of New Orleans, and we can't wait to see this new attraction!
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