Disney has finally revealed the official name of the new attraction that will replace the Splash Mountain rides at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland.
What attraction will replace Splash Mountain?
During a panel at ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans in July 2022, Disney revealed that the new themed area evolving from the reimagining of Splash Mountain at the two Disney Parks in the United States is officially called Tiana’s Bayou Adventures.
What is Tiana’s Bayou Adventures?
First announced in 2020, the attraction will take guests on a musical adventure inspired by the beloved story and characters from the 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog. A sequel to the fan-favorite movie, the themed area will let visitors join Princess Tiana, Naveen, and the jazz-loving alligator, Louis, on an adventure through the bayou as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration where everyone is welcome. Along the way, guests will encounter familiar faces, make new friends, and travel through the bayou to original music inspired by songs from the animated film as they are brought into the next chapter of Tiana’s story.
“Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a love letter to New Orleans,” Charita Carter, executive creative producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, said during the panel. “Like the musical city that inspired this attraction, Tiana’s second act is about a community working in harmony to achieve something extraordinary. She reminds us of an immutable truth we can all relate to: ‘if you do your best each and every day, good things are sure to come your way.’ And that’s a melody we can all sing along to!”
To make sure that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure preserves the heart and soul of New Orleans, which is the very city that inspired Princess Tiana’s story, Walt Disney Imagineers traveled multiple times to Louisiana to conduct extensive research. During those trips, Imagineers explored the French Market and the bayou, consulted with academics, chefs, musicians, and cultural institutions, and received inspiration from all over the region by learning the culture of the city with the help of local experts.
In December 2022, Ted Robledo, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, reiterated to a small group that Tiana’s Bayou Adventures is “not a retelling of The Princess and the Frog,” noting that it is set a year after the animated film ends.
In Tiana’s Bayou Adventures, the titular Disney princess wants to help her community succeed as well after having realized her dream of opening her own restaurant. To achieve that goal, she opens an employee-owned co-op called Tiana’s Foods.
The mountain of Splash Mountain will be reimagined as a salt dome for Tiana’s Bayou Adventures. The salt dome was inspired by the actual salt down Imagineers visited on Louisiana’s Avery Island during one of their many research trips for the new themed area. “It’s a perfect in for us to explain the elevation [of the upcoming attraction],” Robledo said with a smile.
Also in December 2022, Carter stressed that it’s important for them to preserve the authenticity of Tiana’s story while giving dimension to her world. “She’s fantastical, but she came from a very real place,” Carter said of Tiana, before adding that she hopes guests from Louisiana will try the new ride and say, “Yeah, this feels right.”
Just like in The Princess and the Frog film and in New Orleans culture, music will play a big part in Tiana’s Bayou Adventures. In addition to Louis the alligator, the musical adventure ride will also introduce other animal characters such as an otter, rabbit, raccoon, turtle, beaver, and opossum. Robledo shared that Imagineers looked for animals that lived in the bayou and imagined what kinds of found objects they might use to make instruments.
Carter also confirmed in December 2022 that some of the original voice actors from the movie will reprise their roles in the upcoming attraction. While the final list of cast members returning for the ride isn’t available yet, the cast of The Princess and the Frog movie includes Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jim Cummings, Jennifer Cody, Peter Bartlett, Jenifer Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, and John Goodman.
When will Splash Mountain change?
Both rides at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and at Disneyland Park in California will officially become Tiana’s Bayou Adventures, which will open in 2024.
Why is Splash Mountain getting replaced?
The Br’er Rabbit story of both U.S. versions of the attraction is tied to the Disney movie Song of the South, which has long been criticized for its racist and offensive portrayal of African Americans.
“While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film,” read a June 2020 Change.org petition, which called for the re-theming of Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog.
Though Disney announced the new theme after the petition drew national attention with its more than 21,000 supporters, the entertainment giant noted that the change had been in the works since 2019.
“We continue to review our offerings for negative depictions of people and cultures, and we invest in new offerings and experiences to better reflect the diversity of stories in our world,” Disney told USA Today. “The Splash Mountain attraction was originally based on Song of the South, and we are eager to create an entirely new experience that is more inclusive and inspirational for all guests.”
Is Splash Mountain open?
Despite the impending makeover, both U.S. versions of the attraction are still open. But in December 2022, the Walt Disney Company revealed that the last day of operation of Disney World’s Splash Mountain will be on January 22nd, 2023. The attraction will permanently close the following day to give way for the construction of Tiana’s Bayou Adventures.
Disney Parks has yet to announce when the Disneyland version of the iconic log flume ride will retire for good. But both Disney World and Disneyland post updated attraction hours on their respective websites and apps, where guests can check availability daily.
How many Splash Mountains are there?
In addition to the Splash Mountain rides at Disney World and Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland also has its own version of the attraction. But unlike its U.S. counterparts, the attraction at Tokyo Disney Resort will remain as it is in the near future, as there are currently no plans to change it to a completely new ride.
It’s worth noting, however, that Tokyo Disney Resort occasionally makes changes to its version of the water ride. For instance, just last July 2022 to August 2022, Tokyo Disneyland transformed its Splash Mountain into Splash Mountain Get Wet MAX, where guests got more soaked than usual to beat the extremely hot and humid Tokyo summers.