Splash Mountain Closing Date at Disney World & New Reimagining Details
Disney has revealed closing date for Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World. Additionally, new details have been released about the reimagined ride for both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. This shares all of the details, new concept art, and commentary about the condition of the attraction and the turnaround timeline.
As previously shared, the reimagined ride will be named Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and will bring guests into the world of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ film “The Princess and the Frog” like never before. According to Disney, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California in late 2024 (supposedly).
During the D23 Expo in Anaheim earlier this fall, Walt Disney Imagineering shared more details about the reimagined ride, including a model showcasing how Splash Mountain would be transformed. 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.
Anyway, let’s dig right in with the new details about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Disney indicated today that progress continues on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, with Imagineers hard at work designing an immersive experience inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “The Princess and the Frog” and the heart and culture of New Orleans.
Today, Disney shared a first look at a new scene and some of the brand-new characters the company is creating specifically for this attraction. In Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, you’ll join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans. This new scene is the thrilling moment you first drop into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar.
As you can see here, fireflies will light up the night and invite you deeper into the bayou, almost like they’re waving you forward. What you can’t tell from this rendering is that beautiful zydeco music will fill the air. 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.
Here you’ll find Louis, who explains where this amazing music is coming from. Tiana made some new friends out here – a band full of adorable critters, including an otter, a rabbit, a racoon, a beaver, a turtle and others. The band members sing and play instruments made of natural materials they found in the bayou. In the announcement, Disney teased that they “may” have a bigger role to play in this story.
Like so many musical genres, zydeco brings together the sounds and styles of many cultures. Imagineering wanted that spirit reflected in this scene (and throughout the attraction) so that all our guests feel welcome to join in the celebration.
It’s emblematic of what we’re always striving for with our attractions – bringing people of different backgrounds together through timeless Disney stories. This new musical adventure provides us with a song sheet to write that concept into reality. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will take you on a journey inspired by the story and characters from the hit film, picking up where that story left off.
In preparation for this new experience and the many exciting updates ahead, Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort will be closed starting January 23, 2023. This means the last day to ride this incarnation of the attraction will be the day before that.
Additional information about Splash Mountain at Disneyland Resort will be shared at a later date. At present, there’s no reason to believe Disneyland’s Splash Mountain will be closing on or before January 23, 2023.
I’m actually slightly “surprised” by the closing date–and lack thereof–for Disneyland. I thought for sure they’d close both coasts as soon as holiday crowds subside on January 9, 2023.
I guess with the Disney100 celebration kicking off at Disneyland in late January, the calculus is a bit difference there. Perhaps they’ll wait until Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (or even the rest of Toontown opens) to relieve some crowd pressure before closing. Still, that puts a lot of pressure on Imagineering with even more limited time to complete the overhaul.
On a different note, I’ve experienced Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom several times since summer, including yesterday (December 1, 2022). It has been in rough shape for a while, but it’s at the point that it’s not even show ready anymore. The show lighting isn’t even on in some scenes, multiple Audio Animatronics are broken, and the backgrounds just look dirty and tired.
Walt Disney World has clearly made the decision not to invest in routine maintenance and upkeep with the reimagining right around the corner…and it shows! (The photos here are not from December 2022–I didn’t bother with photos, incorrectly assuming they wouldn’t have relevance.)
Point being, if you haven’t had a chance to say your final goodbye to Splash Mountain, perhaps that’s a good thing. The version that exists in your memory is almost certainly the one that exists in the park at this point.
Accordingly, we also don’t recommend taking a long weekend trip for one last ride unless you are a serious Splash Mountain diehard and won’t have closure otherwise. (Now, we do recommend visiting for the 2023 EPCOT Festival of the Arts, and if that trip happens to include a ride on Splash Mountain, so be it–but don’t do a trip just for this.)
This brings us to the feasibility of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening in late 2024. Many fans are understandably skeptical, especially given that the cloned TRON Lightcycle Run still isn’t open and that project has been in progress for the better part of 5 years. Nevertheless, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening in late 2024 is reasonable. Maybe. If Disney wants it to be.
Personally, I’m hoping that date slips into 2025, so my commentary below is at least partially-colored by that. Reason being, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is likely going to be around for decades to come. I’d like for Imagineering to have as much time as possible to do it justice. Sacrificing an extra few months for even incremental improvements to the quality of the new ride that’ll be around for years to come is a worthwhile trade-off, in my opinion.
One thing that Walt Disney World fans will undoubtedly bring up when discussing the ambitious turnaround time for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is TRON Lightcycle Run and how long it has taken Disney to build a roller coaster in an empty warehouse. However, the lethargic pace of TRON Lightcycle run is deliberate.
At first, Disney moved at a snail’s pace on that to spread CapEx costs out over multiple fiscal years. Then came the closure and uncertainty about travel thereafter, which resulted in a pause and slow restart. If the company wanted that roller coaster finished 2 or even 3 years ago, they could’ve made it happen. They didn’t, so it didn’t. At this point, work has accelerated on TRON Lightcycle Run and the timeline has moved forward. Again, by choice.
The point is that TRON Lightcycle Run is a poor comparison because it’s prolonged timeline was deliberate from the outset, and not a showcase of how slowly construction necessarily occurs at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. (Just look how much faster they hustle when DVC contracts can be sold!)
There are also a slew of recent ride reimaginings that showcase just how quickly Imagineering can move. The best examples here are Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout at Disney California Adventure and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout took less than a year in total, with most of the exterior transformation occurring while Tower of Terror was still operational. Once the Hollywood Tower Hotel went vacant, the Collector took up residence in only 5 months. Without question, that’s the fastest turnaround time for Imagineering in recent memory–and the results were shockingly good.
Converting Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After took a bit more time, but still occurred in under two years. That attraction might be the better comparison, as both are boat rides that will require new staging, the replacement of numerous show scenes, and more. (I’d be curious to hear from accountants about the depreciation rules for new builds v. renovations, as I suspect that comes into play with all of these projects.)
As a much lengthier attraction, reimagining Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be a more involved process than those for Mission Breakout or Frozen Ever After. Still, those illustrate what can be accomplished in a couple years or less.
Our expectation with the Princess and the Frog attraction is that a lot of the existing Brer Critter Audio Animatronics will be reused. That makes sense–a lot of those Audio Animatronics themselves are recycled from America Sings at Disneyland and had nothing to do with Splash Mountain’s source material. Going forward, they’ll likely be given new life as part of an “expanded universe” for the Princess and the Frog.
To me, this seems like a savvy move all around. It’ll allow redevelopment costs and budget to be allocated towards other components of the project, potentially shorten the construction timeline, and might blunt some of the fan outrage. Those ‘supporting player’ musical critters are beloved and themselves totally noncontroversial, so that seems like a win all around.
In addition to those, it’s likely that there will be advanced Audio Animatronics and scenic illusions based on the roundtable video above. That instantly calls to mind Na’vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom, which melds Audio Animatronics and practical sets with screens and other effects. Splash Mountain already has dozens of AAs, so it’ll likely avoid all of the pitfalls that make Na’vi River Journey underwhelming in spots.
This is also reminiscent of both Mission Breakout and Frozen Ever After, which use a mix of screens and Audio Animatronics.
All of these things are fabricated and staged off-site, and then installed inside the attraction when the time is right. It’s not like Imagineers have to wait for Splash Mountain to close, and then go inside and start building a bunch of AAs and screens with hammers and chisels (or whatever tools are used for making that stuff–I’m not a scientist). In other words, construction crews don’t need to wait before starting work on the Princess and the Frog ride. That work has already begun.
Nevertheless, I am still somewhat skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open in 2024. I’m downright doubtful that it’ll debut by the June 30, 2024 date listed on recent construction permits. Even though it would make sense to open a log flume ride in the summer, there’s a lot of work to be done here. On top of that, the existing Splash Mountain infrastructure could need more work than is presently known.
Imagineering has had difficulty with delays in recent years, and there’s potential for more of that with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure–especially given the unknowns. It’s possible this project moves faster than expected and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens by June 30, 2024. However, if I had to bet on an earlier or later date, my money would be on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure slipping into 2025. Of course, all of this is speculative–and being posted before work has even started!
Ultimately, that’s our perspective on the feasibility of this overhaul timeline and closure of Splash Mountain. Personally, I hope Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is delayed into 2025 to give Imagineering a more time 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.
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Thoughts on Splash Mountain closing in late January 2023 at Walt Disney World and on ??? at Disneyland? 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? Think they can finish it by late 2024? 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.
Visiting at the end of Aug23, so will miss riding again, our last visit in Oct17 Spalsh was closed as well. One of my favourite rides in MK, not riden since 2014. On the brighter side lots of new rides to ride, if nothing else change is a constant we need to embrace, if not we wouldn’t have left the sea….
It’s a disgrace what they let happen to splash. One of my favorites and was looking forward to my youngest finally getting to experience it. What a let down. As Tom said the condition is so poor. They are letting so many rides fall apart. Haunted and pirates were still great but so many tired attractions.
Appreciated you taking the time to answer!Allow me the privilege to answer your rebuttal!
My comment on “let go”refers to Management….not taking care of problems in a timely manner!OLD TIMERS….who knew how to do the work(took pride in their work)& taking early retirement…speaks volumes! I retired from CO.I worked for…..lot of quality workers(FOREMEN)retired early due to management&YOU are right….NEW workers just weren’t that dedicated or knowledgeable! Be advised…I’m not only talking about rides but also about other maintenance problems!
Just looking at old pics from Kali River Rapids queue and really hoping this doesn’t ever get a rework. It’s theming non IP at its highest form (outside of Maelstrom). What an accomplishment. Don’t touch this AK gem.
Agreed. Leave the queue alone. Just make the river ride twice as long as the current length.
Splash is definitely looking weak these days with no maintenance, and Splash often has had animatronics down (obviously not as bad as now) so that was always hit or miss if you were going to get the full character experience. But the best parts of this ride have always been that it’s a long ride with the nice build-up to the end with good, catchy music throughout the scene transitions. If the refresh keeps these elements, then I’ll be happy. If they overthink it and ruin the fun parts or have mediocre choices in music, then I’ll wonder if Chapek is still in charge. Just do it right, Disney. Don’t try to save money and make everyone unhappy.
I am very excited for this change. Especially if it means repairs and refreshing of my beloved Swamp Boys and Can-Can Geese. I have a ton of nostalgia for America Sings, even though it closed when I was in elementary school.
What a shame that this classic attraction, along with one of Disney’s most iconic songs will no longer be experienced. The Tiana story would have been better told in a new location in MK anyway, without the confines of a retrofit.
This is going to be really cool! I can’t wait to hear the music. I hope they put a beignet cart out front.
Just returned from a a trip to Walt Disney World and we went on the Na’vi River Journey. Disappointing to say the least. Most of the Animatronics which made this ride wonderful have been removed and replaced with movie screens. Part of what makes these rides is the animatronics. Anyone can put up movie screens to display images. Its just not as impressive as it was a couple of years back.
WOW – that’s very disappointing! I am also not impressed with the video screens – no real magic to them. When I first saw the end animatronic on that ride after it opened I was blown away at how incredibly it moved and looked. I had hope that they were getting their mojo back – perhaps not…. On a side note, we recently went to “The Other” theme park in Orlando in the spring and I was actually impressed with some of the ways they WERE using screens and 3d animation on rides. I guess its all about how it’s used in context.
The number of AAs on Navi River Journey has not changed since opening. It has always been a screen-heavy attraction, and some of the screens even appear to be actual figures, but are not (and never were).
The only possible wildcard is the shaman at the end, which sometimes is replaced with a b-mode screen/scrim if there’s something wrong with the AA.
I have gone to WDW for the last 36yrs.I remember when “REPAIRS” were made ASAP !NIGHT CREWS would hit EVERY attraction & make sure repairs were made! It was NEVER wait until it breaks….WDW was first class…NOW…..people should be “let go”! Welcome to MANAGEMENT & WORK CREWS who are NOT top of the line!
People being “let go” is the last thing that needs to happen. Maintenance has gotten bad in large part because it was previously heavy on skilled “old-timers” who took early retirement rather than returning when called back after reopening.
It’s going to take years to rebuild that—lots of lost knowledge, skill, and experience.
I would also like to argue that todays ride are also more technical than the rides of past. Like take a look at how often Star Wars The Rise of the resistance breaks down compared tower of terror.
@K – I totally agree with your main point about newer rides being too high-tech and breakdown-prone, but Tower of Terror is a bad example (ditto Test Track, if we’re calling that a ride of the past). Tower of Terror has a lot of reliability and tech woes, they’re just masked by it being (essentially) multiple rides in one–so the attraction continues to operate when one side is down. However, pretty much any time ToT has a wait time above 90 minutes, that means half of it is down. So this type of thing has been an issue since the mid-1990s. On the plus side, we’ve gotten some really cool rides that wouldn’t have been possible without the tech wizardry.
Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion are great examples for making your point! 🙂
That’s more or less what OLC (that runs Tokyo Disney Resort) still does today. A true PREVENTATIVE maintenance program. They don’t wait to fix things when they break, them maintain them on a preventative schedule to keep them from breaking down in front of guests. Much more expensive but 1000x better show. Disney doesn’t do this anymore.
I’m fine with the change. I love splash but think I’ll love Tiana’s as well. My question is when will we get news of any new attractions being built? Universal’s new park has to have them concerned a least a little bit as well as the last report of theme park attendance. What will Disney respond with?
I suspect any AK and MK projects that were greenlit (either in capex budget or specific concepts) will be put on hold and reevaluated now that Iger is back. That’s not necessarily good or bad, just is what it is.
Neither would’ve debuted by the time Epic Universe opened, anyway. At this point, WDW’s next major investment cycle will start opening closer to 2030 than the next few years.
I’ll miss the zip-a-dee-doo-dah song, and the signage style. But that’s about it. Definitely needs a change. Given the short length of the indoor portions of the ride, I’m inclined to think 18 months might be possible in this case, but maybe you’ll be right in the end.
We just so happen to already have plans to park hop over to MK on Jan. 22nd for dinner ADR’s. I’m curious what the wait time might be on the last night it’s to be open. Would love to ride it one last time, but not if it’s a 4 hour wait.
I’m excited for a reboot of this attraction. I love the ride that is there now but it is time to update it. My only hope is that they use PROPER animatronics and not those horrible back-lit face things they use on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train! They have the tech, just look at the Na’vi River Journey! This is a seminal ride in the park, it deserves top-shelf treatment! Fingers Crossed.
Tom, I’ve heard several reports on WDW’s Splash that match yours – that it’s rundown and far from show ready. Is DL’s the same? We’re traveling to DL in early 2023 and our oldest is finally tall enough for it and I’d love to take her on it but if it’s falling to pieces I’d rather not bother.
I haven’t done the Disneyland version since early September, at which point it was in much better shape than the WDE version was as of yesterday. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t gotten worse, though. Maintenance has not been great across the board at Disneyland of late.
I’m really excited for this. My daughter has such a love for Tiana and it will be cool seeing the New Orleans elements brought to life. Our family has enjoyed riding Splash Mountain through the years but the characters and music don’t really resonate anymore. And as Tom said, the whole ride is looking really tired. I’m glad Magic Kingdom is bringing some new energy to the park.
I looooove Splash, but when I last rode it on our September trip (cut short by the hurricane), I was so disheartened at how run-down and dilapidated it’s become. The refurbished can’t come too soon, at this point.
Oh goodness. Can’t wait to see what’s left of the ride when we’re there in a couple of weeks.
Still no word of the train opening in time for Christmas? Bummer.
I’ve seen the train testing all week and Cast Members have been training *at* the stations. Disney wouldn’t be spending the money on their wages if it weren’t really, really close. It’s days or weeks, not months, at this point.
We agree that it is in bad shape, we were there Nov of last year and it went down 3 times, 2 while we were in line and once after we had made it to the top and we had to be “rescued” out of the boats and walk down the back stairs. (That was an experience seeing the massive control room underneath it all) But luckily we came back later and got a chance to ride it one last time. We also missed riding the train underneath the backside too. But as many have noted, there are a lot of breakdowns lately in all the parks and maintenance/upkeep seems to have taken a backseat.
While we are sad to see it changed, one can go on forever debating that, it will be nice to see something fresh. As you said, here’s hoping that they take the time to do it right. During this trip, we were excited to stay in the refurbished rooms at Saratoga Springs, but our 3-bedroom villa looked like it had been done in a hurry, already having issues with broken furniture, cracked door frames/trim with odd screws put in, warped doors and leaking showers.
We have put Disney on pause and are planning a first Universal Orlando trip. Here’s hoping that they can regroup and get back to doing what they do best.
So excited for this project. Splash will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s time for something new
Agreed! My 15 year old has no idea who the current characters are or where they come from but everyone knows Tiana.