Disney’s newest park attraction will be going down the bayou! Walt Disney Imagineering recently unveiled Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new attraction inspired by the 2009 animated film, The Princess and the Frog.
The attraction will open in late 2024 at Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, FL, and Disneyland Park in California. The announcement was made during a panel session at the ESSENCE Festival this past July in New Orleans. Imagineers told the panel that the ride will pick up where the movie left off.
Guests will join Princess Tiana, Naveen, and their jazz-loving alligator pal, Louis, on a boat ride through the bayou. The attraction will include the voices of Anika Noni Rose, who plays Tiana, plus all of the original cast members and original music from the movie.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will replace Splash Mountain which closes for good in 2023.
The attraction will replace one of Disney’s most iconic and controversial attractions, Splash Mountain. The log fume, water ride first opened in 1989. But back in 2020, a petition went around calling for the attraction to be disbanded due to its ties to the 1946 Disney film Song Of The South, which has since been considered racist.
That same year, Disney Parks decided to update the attraction and give it a Tiana makeover. Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort will be closed starting Jan. 23, 2023.
The storyline takes place after the movie
Although no sequel is in the works or has been confirmed to Princess and the Frog, it’s easy to consider this attraction a mini live-action one. Disney Imagineers explain Tiana’s Bayou Adventure takes place one year after the 2009 movie.
During this time, Tiana purchased an abandoned salt mine and transformed it into a food processing company called Tiana’s Foods. Her employees are people from her own community.
"She is really grooming folks in the community to find their own dreams," said Walt Disney Imagineering's executive creative director Ted Robledo, who is part of the project.
New music and characters will be on the ride
On Friday, new images of the attraction released by Disney Parks shows Tiana with both old friends and new guiding guests through the bayou she grew to be familiar with as a frog! Louis will be along for the ride, followed by a zydeco critter band made up of a beaver, turtle, raccoon, otter, and others.
“The band members sing and play instruments made of natural materials they found in the bayou,” Disney Parks explains in a press release.
‘Love letter to New Orleans’
Disney Imagineers took time to research the culture of Tiana’s hometown, New Orleans, to capture its authenticity. During their time in the Crescent City, the team visited historic sites such as the French Quarter and of course, the bayou.
“We have the opportunity to reacquaint people with Tiana who always already loved her from the film we have,” said Charita Carter, Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Creative Producer. “An opportunity to bring her to a new generation as we're creating a dimensional space for her and it's very important for us as a team because the city has been so gracious and open to us to make sure that we are giving our guests an experience that is a love letter to New Orleans.”
The team also visited historic African American sites in the city such as Congo Square, The Museum of Free People of Color and Ducky Chase restaurant. Tiana’s story is largely inspired by the real-life story of the late owner of Ducky Chase, Chef Leah Chase.
“This is her way of still doing for our city, her community by giving back and as the inspiration for Tiana,” Chase’s daughter, Stella, said during the ESSENCE panel. “We are so happy that her legacy of giving back and her concern for the community will continue because the community in New Orleans is a city that loves, loves everyone.”
Work on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure began in 2020. It will be a revision of Disney’s previous attraction, Splash Mountain. The original 1966 attraction was faced with backlash for its racial origins and its and is based on the 1946 Disney movie, Song of the South. Critics accused the attraction of romanticizing the Reconstruction-era South.
The Imagineers say Tiana’s new attraction is expected to celebrate NOLA culture and Black joy. “Like the musical city that inspired this attraction, Tiana’s second act is about a community working in harmony to achieve something extraordinary,” said Carter. “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!”