Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Ride at Disney World & Disneyland: Opening Timeline & Updates

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a new ride replacing Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and New Orleans Square in Disneyland. This shares everything we know so far: opening timeframe, construction progress, concept art, and commentary about the first Princess and the Frog attraction. (Updated April 9, 2024.)

There have been a lot of recent updates about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, but we’ll start with the most pressing detail–especially as many of you start to plan 2024 Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacations: the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. As of right now, the only thing that’s been announced is that the Magic Kingdom version of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open in Summer 2024, up from Late 2024.

We’re expecting the official opening date any day now. In fact, it was a surprise that it wasn’t announced during the Walt Disney Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders. There are no major events on the horizon that serve as opportune announcement times, so it’ll probably just happen some random day via social media sometime this month. The opening date needs to be revealed sooner rather than later if Disney wants the reimagined ride to offer a boost to summer bookings.

The good news is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is coming along quickly…and nicely. In the last couple of weeks, a lot has been revealed about the substance of the attraction, with the biggest update being a First Look at Imagineering’s Innovative Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I had the chance to see these Audio Animatronics of Mama Odie, Louis the Alligator, Eudora, Charlotte, Ralphie, Prince Naveen, Byhalia the Beaver, and Princess Tiana in person and they are incredible. Disney has also shared details about the first critter crew and the second critter crew of musicians inside the ride.

The most recent development is the addition of a Tiana’s Foods delivery truck outside the entrance to the administrative office barn as guests walk from the outdoor to indoor queue. This vintage vehicle looks a lot like one parked outside Beach Club, and is a nice addition, and is one of several props that’s been added recently around the exterior of the attraction.

Here’s a video of the vintage vehicle arriving at Magic Kingdom:

Another very positive sign is that Walt Disney Imagineering project team members have been spotted in the last few weeks doing test rides of the attraction. This follows the refilling of the flume of the log ride with water and testing of ride vehicles with dummies.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the test ride-throughs with Imagineers is that they have not be wearing hard hats. This may seem insignificant, but what it should mean is that installation of Audio Animatronics and show scenes on the inside has been completed and the attraction has been ‘cleared’ and is no longer an active construction site.

This isn’t to say that work is done. There’s a lot of programming and finishing touches that could need to be done–the ride could still be months away from completion even without ongoing construction. Still, it’s a very positive sign that everything has (mostly likely) been installed and Imagineers are working on little details. That suggests that the project is in the home stretch–it’s exactly what we want to see from an ahead of schedule Summer 2024 opening.

As for the most likely opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, that’s probably going to be dictated by what’s attainable. Unlike other recent attractions that were ‘slow-rolled’ to meet a predetermined deadline, this reimagining is more like a race against the clock. So it may be dictated by what’s possible rather than what’s strategically advantageous.

Whenever there’s anything slated to open in the summer season, between Memorial Day weekend and late June make the most sense. Those are the dates consistent with past precedent. Of the recent additions with summer openings at Walt Disney World, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Pandora – World of Avatar both debuted on May 27; Toy Story Land opened on June 30.

My expectation is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will not officially open Memorial Day weekend. From what we’ve heard, that’s just too early and aggressive for an official opening timeline. Keep in mind that even though ride testing is full steam ahead, work still needs to be done, along with Cast Member training, test & adjust, and more. That always takes more time than fans anticipate.

My prediction of an official opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is June 20, 2024. I think there’s a reasonably strong probability of that being correct within a week. However, that’s just a semi-informed guess based on current progress and past precedent with other attractions at Walt Disney World.

That’s still early enough in summer that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would debut before crowds really start heating up, and it could be conservative enough to allow for ample AP and other affiliation previews if the ride reimagining is ready before then. (It’s possible those start by Memorial Day, but I’m skeptical.) Regardless, I’m impressed by the Summer 2024 opening season–and Disney’s ability to meet and (thus far) maintain an accelerated timeline. Really puts CommuniCore Hall into perspective!

Note that all of the above applies only to the Magic Kingdom version of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Not only did Splash Mountain close a few months later at Disneyland, but it’s our understanding that a few show scene and staging differences were proving to make that reimagining “trickier.” It’s our assumption that the Disneyland version will open later, but we haven’t heard any credible rumors about it in several months. All of the above insight pertains to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World.

My guess is that Disneyland will want Tiana’s Bayou Adventure open by Thanksgiving, but I truly do not know. I’d be really surprised if it opens before October. Southern California does gets cold in the winter months, so having it done sooner would definitely be ideal, but there’s also probably not the same sense of urgency. Most of the excitement will center around the first version of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to open, and since it won’t be done for the summer season regardless, it won’t be hugely helpful for park capacity.

One new development is that Disneyland is closing Critter Country temporarily starting May 1, 2024. This is ostensibly for the transformation of two gift shops, but that’s mostly just window-dressing. Closing the land is a bigger deal as a cost-savings and could also be conducive to construction.

One of the very visible developments in looking at the exterior of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Magic Kingdom is how green everything is looking. There’s a ton of faux foliage and newly-added trees surrounding the flume, and it looks fantastic. Then there’s the mountain itself, which is covered in a vibrant array of white and pink flowers.

Splash Mountain’s vegetation has been stripped out and replaced with vegetation native to Louisiana. That includes cypress trees, marsh grasses, Spanish moss, and more. This all looks great, and I can’t wait to float through all of this–it should add nicely to the atmosphere.

While I will personally miss the iconic tree stump atop Chick-a-Pin Hill and think it was silly to remove that and convert this to a supposed salt dome to make a “mountain” fit in a New Orleans attraction, I love those cypress trees and the flora on the exterior of the dome. The exterior in Magic Kingdom looks really close to finished form, and I think it looks fantastic. This has been a very fast project by Walt Disney World standards!

Disney has confirmed that there will be 17 original character Audio Animatronics from The Princess and the Frog physically created for the attraction, in addition to those repurposed from Splash Mountain. This will include multiple appearances of Princess Tiana, who will make wardrobe changes throughout the ride, plus other major and recognizable characters from the movie, including Louis the Alligator and Mama Odie.

These brand-new and reimagined Audio-Animatronics figures will bring the invigorating sounds of New Orleans to life. These will be scenes you commonly see in New Orleans: the joie de vivre influencing every movement–including with a band of friendly critters playing joyful Zydeco-style music.

Imagineering shared that it’s creating brand-new characters with distinct names and personalities as part of an expanded Princess and the Frog universe for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Along with this, there will be dozens of entirely new Audio Animatronics figures, including adorable critters with incredible talent, bringing the “diverse flavors of musical gumbo found in New Orleans!”

In addition to the new characters, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will feature the familiar faces from the film such as Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis, Eudora, Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the King and Queen of Maldonia, and Prince Ralphie. The attraction will also serve up new and original music alongside favorite tunes from Princess and the Frog, as well as the alluring scent of beignets being prepared for the party in the attraction queue.

One of the returning characters who Disney has highlighted is Mama Odie, reprising her role as the catalyst to that magic and joking with guests along the ride after a special display of her magic. The legendary actress Jenifer Lewis, who starred as the voice of Mama Odie, is once again returning to her role for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Additional voice talent from the film reprising their roles include Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen, Michael Leon Wooley as Louis, and Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana.

Given what Imagineering has announced about Mama Odie, current views of the climactic drop at Magic Kingdom (see above) and the model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure that’s already been unveiled (see below), it looks like Mama Odie and her display of magic will be the final scene before the attraction’s climactic drop.

On a positive note, we are really reassured by Imagineering’s announcement that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will feature dozens of entirely new Audio Animatronics. I’ve gotta admit that I was getting a little worried about the lack of detail, and was concerned complaints that “it’s going to be all screen-based” might have a degree of validity as Disney continued to focus on sharing details about research trips to New Orleans.

It’s incredibly promising that the number of Audio Animatronics is in the dozens (plural). That alone bodes really well for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and should put to rest supposed rumors that the attraction would be all screens.

The fast pace of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is reminiscent of what happened with Mission Breakout and Frozen Ever After, two other recent fast-paced ride reimaginings that could be serving as a blueprint for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. With those attractions, everything added was fabricated and staged off-site, and then installed inside the attraction when the time is right.

Suffice to say, Imagineers did a ton of work off-site before Splash Mountain even closed. It’s not like they were waiting for that, and then finally go inside for the first time and start building a bunch of AAs and new scenes with hammers and chisels (or whatever tools are used for making that stuff–I’m not a scientist).

Many of the Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure are going to be adorable animal musicians that will form an “expanded universe” for the Princess and the Frog. These critters will form a brand-new cast of original Disney characters with distinct names and personalities.

As for the advanced new Audio Animatronics, there will be multiples of Princess Tiana, Louis the Alligator, and Mama Odie (I know this because I’ve seen these multiples). Mama Odie will be right before the drop, as will whatever “magic” effect occurs via her bottles. These advanced AAs are really impressive–better than recent princesses and princes at Walt Disney World.

Imagineering has made tremendous strides with Audio Animatronics of animated characters in the last several years. It’s probably fair to say that the projected faces on Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train haven’t aged well; those are an example of ambitions outpacing available technology, which was still in an awkward position.

By contrast, the new Elsa Audio Animatronics for the Arendelle lands and the Belle and Beast AAs that have already debuted at Tokyo Disneyland as part of Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast are amazing. Those are absolutely stunning, and perfectly meld old and new technology to create something more true to the animated character models. Those have excellent fluidity and features, and will also age much more gracefully than their counterparts in Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

One of the things I loved about Splash Mountain was all of the critters, totally unrelated to the story being told, who inhabited Chickapin Hill. Why were they there? What was their deal? They were not just anonymous animals that spontaneously gathered to watch Brer Rabbit’s attempt kidnapping.

In fact, the alligator band–The Swamp Boys–had a concert poster in the queue. It would’ve been great to know more about these critters, even if wholly immaterial to the attraction itself. While wholly unnecessary, it would’ve been added color, world-building details for the eager fan. (I also vividly recall inspecting all of the birdhouses as a kid, wondering who/what lived inside.) It’s great to hear that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure plans to tell more of the story of the expanded universe of these critters.

Here’s everything else we know about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure…

If you want a closer look at exterior details of the transformed attraction, see our Photos & Video of the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Model, which offers a comprehensive look at the changes to the mountain’s exterior, queue, and even on-ride details that’ll be added to the attraction as it becomes Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Note that the model is the Disneyland version of the attraction. There are going to be slight differences between the two both outside and inside the attraction, due to the layout of the entrance, queue, and staging of some show scenes. The logs are also different at Disneyland–side by side seating will still exist in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom.

It’s also our understanding that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Disneyland will have some details not present in the Walt Disney World version (the opposite is probably also true).

Walt Disney Imagineering has installed the tiara-topped water tower at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. This water tower is the icon of the attraction, and ties in with the Tiana’s Foods backstory about the attraction.

The water tower has a “Tiana’s Foods” painted marquee on the front, which is the name of the employee-owned company that Tiana founded according to the backstory of the ride. On top of the tiara itself there are two stars, which are a reference to Ray and Evangeline.

We’re not super-enthused about the Tiana’s Foods backstory, and are hopeful that Imagineering doesn’t place it front-and-center in the actual attraction. The Tiana’s Foods logos emblazoned on the water tower and all over the construction walls don’t exactly bode well for that, though.

Speaking of which, Imagineering shared new backstory for the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The set-up to the ride will essentially explain the “next chapter” of the story for Tiana, set after The Princess and the Frog. Within the queue, guests will discover that she continues to grow her business with Tiana’s Foods, which is an employee-owned cooperative. Combining her talents with those of the local community, Tiana has transformed an aging salt mine and built a beloved brand.

Many fans expressed concern or disappointment about this backstory. While it doesn’t get me the least bit excited, I also don’t think it really matters. It sounds like the backstory will be mostly relegated to the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, setting the stage for the action to come. As with other queue backstories, it’s something most guests will probably miss.

One specific that has fans upset is that the pretense of the ride is Tiana inviting us “to help with the missing ingredient for the party.” I could be wrong, but this strikes me as an obvious MacGuffin.

For those who aren’t fans of Alfred Hitchcock or Pulp Fiction (first of all…why not?), a MacGuffin is an seemingly-significant item that advances the plot and motivates the characters, but ends up being irrelevant or unimportant. Muppet Haunted Mansion also uses this device, cleverly calling it The Great MacGuffin.

Personally, I appreciate good world-building and superfluous backstory, with my one condition being that it doesn’t as a substitute for substance and isn’t an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. Around these parts, we call that “The Dino-Rama Rule.” There are so many queues at Walt Disney World that reward astute observers, but are unnecessary to the main attraction experience. I’m expecting something similar with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. But who knows.

Now let’s take a look at what Imagineers have been doing behind the scenes to prepare for the ride reimagining…

Imagineering revealed that they are collaborating with award-winning artists PJ Morton and Terence Blanchard on the music in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Both natives of New Orleans, PJ and Terence will help Disney score a lyrical love letter to the region that first inspired The Princess and the Frog.

Both PJ and Terence are multiple Grammy award-winning musicians; Terence also played all of Louis the Alligator’s trumpet parts in The Princess and the Frog. PJ is writing, arranging and producing the original song for the attraction. He’s performing on and producing the sessions in New Orleans of all-new arrangements of the song, as well as songs from the film that’ll play in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Terence Blanchard is helming music arrangement for the queue in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. He’s working to select songs from the movie, as well as iconic themes from New Orleans. There will be more to share down the road as teams make progress on a new original song composed by PJ Morton and new renditions of fan favorite music from the film.

Prior to this, Disney also revealed a new look for Tiana, with character costume art pictured above.

This is based upon researching prevailing trends of the 1920s and looking through family archives to ensure Tiana’s look was historically accurate and authentic to the character. Tiana was equally at home in the bayou as she was at a banquet, and Imagineers wanted her look to reflect that, and be a compliment to the setting of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Ultimately, that’s our perspective on Splash Mountain being transformed into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I hope Imagineering is given as much time as necessary to produce a high-quality attraction, and not just a quick and superficial redo. Both Splash Mountain and Princess and the Frog deserve better than that. This reimagining NEEDS the very best creative talent, budget, time, and all other resources. I hope Disney is cognizant of the fact that the Splash Mountain reimagining is going to be under a microscope, both from fans and in the mainstream.

If the end result of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure feels rushed, sloppy, or phoned-in, it’s going to attract criticism from a diverse array of people. As the company has been getting a lot of social backlash recently, hopefully they realize the importance of avoiding that for once. Here’s hoping that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure delivers an exceptional experience that effectively silences critics and wins over skeptics.

As for the name…I’m of two minds about that. I was really hoping for “Splash Mountain ~ Voyage of the Log with Princess and the Frog: New Adventures with Princess Tiana!” That was mostly in jest, poking fun at Disney’s comically-long attraction names (although I think incorporating “log” and “frog” into the name would’ve been a solid move).

With that said, I’m pleased that this ride name doesn’t have any punctuation. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is short and sweet, and easy to remember. I personally would’ve preferred “Tiana’s Bayou Blast,” but maybe that sounds too much like a royal flavor of Mountain Dew. (Maybe Tiana’s Bayou Bash?) Regardless, I think a lot of guests will end up calling it Splash Mountain or Tiana’s Mountain or something like that. That’s such an iconic and memorable name, with strong brand recognition. Given that, I’m sort of surprised that name isn’t living on. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this ride reimagining unfolds. We’ll keep you posted if and when there are more updates!

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Thoughts on the Splash Mountain reimagining? How much of the current attraction (e.g. random musical critter AAs) are you expecting to appear in the reimagined version? Excited for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Expectations regarding the Splash Mountain reimagining timeline? Keep the comments civil, as this is not the place for politically-charged arguing, culture wars, antagonism, personal attacks, or cheap shots. We will be heavy-handed in deleting any comments that cross the line, irrespective of viewpoint. You are not going to change anyone’s mind via the comments section on this blog, nor are you going to change Disney’s priorities. If you wish to shout your outrage into the internet abyss, that’s why Facebook was invented.

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