Here's how Disney is cooking up the story for Tiana's Bayou Adventure

June 1, 2023, 10:00 AM · Now that Splash Mountain has closed on both coasts, Disney has revealed more details about its replacement, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which will open next year at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will present a new storyline which picks up where Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" left off. Princess Tiana, Naveen and jazz-loving alligator Louis will set out on an adventure through the bayou to find a "missing ingredient" as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration during Mardi Gras season.

The story is set in Tiana's Foods, an old salt mine Princess Tiana has purchased and transformed into a thriving business where she grows a wide array of vegetables, herbs and spices for her recipes. While Disney hasn’t given away the full story yet, we can begin to see how Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will differ from Splash Mountain.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Concept art courtesy Disney

Splash Mountain utilized the twists and turns of the flume to support the tale of Br'er Rabbit’s high-strung escape from Br'er Fox. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure won’t change Splash Mountain’s flume, but now those twists and turns will set the rhythm of a new soundtrack, creating what sounds to be a less stressful and more jovial environment than that of its predecessor. Grammy-winning artist PJ Morton has created an original theme song for Tiana's Bayou Adventure, and worked alongside Grammy-winning artist Terence Blanchard on new arrangements of songs from "The Princess and the Frog."

Disney invited me to a press event in New Orleans last week, where we got to tour the New Orleans Jazz Museum and see some of the items and locations that have inspired Imagineers’ research into the new attraction. We also heard from Imagineers Charita Carter, Carmen Smith, and Ted Robldeo, as well as Morton.

PJ Morton with Tiana
PJ Morton with Tiana. Photo courtesy Disney

We learned that we will be seeing some familiar faces inside the attraction, including Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Mama Odie, Louis, Eudora, Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the King and Queen of Maldonia, and Prince Ralphie (Naveen’s younger brother). Prince Ralphie has picked up the drums and will be jamming on a Leedy bass drum set, inspired by a real 1920’s drum set currently at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

1920’s drum set

A variety of bayou critters will be joining in the music-making as well. You might see an otter playing a fiddle made of a tin can, or a rabbit strumming a license plate like a washboard. A raccoon, a beaver, an opossum and frogs will join in the fun to make up a band of about 17 new and original Audio Animatronic characters.

More instruments in the Jazz Museum

Tiana will be decked out in brand new "adventure-wear" for this expedition across the bayou. Imagineers have taken care to ensure her outfits and hairstyles accurately reflect the 1920s setting of her story. They have expressed their intention to display the versatility of black hair, and we may see Tiana with a number of chic 1920s updos throughout the course of the ride.

Tiana's outfit
Concept art courtesy Disney

A cluster of fireflies will lead the way as guests set out with Tiana and team to find that "missing ingredient." Here’s a hint from the Imagineers - ingredients don’t always pertain to food. Zydeco music (a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana) will fill the air, mixed with the sounds of the bayou.

Another look at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Concept art courtesy Disney

Imagineers and designers took great care to authentically recreate the spirit and cadence of the bayou, closely studying bayou flora and fauna during research trips to Louisiana, including "low-hanging Spanish moss and high-reaching aquatic grasses... as well as cypress, oak, and magnolia tree canopies," according to the Imagineers.

Raccoon in the bayou
A real-life raccoon in the bayou. Photo courtesy Disney

They have also expanded on frogs quite a bit, utilizing classic Foley techniques amongst other musical tools to bring the various ribbits and croaks of the bayou to life.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure promises to be a visually stunning, musically driven new take on Splash Mountain's old flume. Disney has kept the focus on nature, cute critters, and songs - the formula that made Splash Mountain so fun - and added a rich new storyline backed by countless hours of historical research and attention to detail. Ultimately, this ride will be judged based on the experience of the attraction, but I have high hopes that it will easily become a new classic.

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Replies (11)

June 1, 2023 at 10:07 AM

So long as they don’t cheap out on the animatronics and sets, this should be at least an adequate replacement for Splash Mountain considering the circumstances. But my goodness, they would be missing a trick by not including the voodoo stuff from the film to ratchet up the tension. Imagine a big voodoo head chanting at you as you ascend the lift to drop to your doom! Facilier is the best part of the movie and Disney’s weird obsession with strict story timelines already saw them whiff on a ton of stuff in Galaxy’s Edge. Hope they don’t make the same mistake.

June 1, 2023 at 10:17 AM

I still feel they're missing a massive opportunity by refusing to utilize the Dr. Facillier character in this reskinning. For me, he was the most memorable thing about the movie, and injected more Bayou/Cajun culture into the story than any other aspect of the film. Other than having difficulty finding ingredients, which is a pretty lame premise IMHO, where is the conflict to warrant 2 plummeting drops featured on the ride?

June 1, 2023 at 10:55 AM

Awesome write-up! Imagineers seem to be keeping some secrets so perhaps that is when and if the villain will appear. Nevertheless, it seems they are on working on authenticity and original props. I don't want to see anymore animatronics from the 1970's America Sings attraction.

June 1, 2023 at 11:06 AM

Hopefully it's some really great tunes. It makes me kinda happy to know it won't be Randy Newman. I know, everybody loves some Randy Newman, but I'm not a big fan to be honest. And the soundtrack to the Prince and Frog can't hold up to Zippadee Doo Dah or however that was spelled.

June 1, 2023 at 11:52 AM

I agree with the above--even if Dr. Facillier isn't in the attraction, there's no reasons the "friends on the other side" can't be. You could have guests get separated from Tiana & Co. and enter a "restricted" section of the bayou, culminating in a narrow escape for the final drop.

"ingredients don’t always pertain to food."
Is the secret ingredient going to be "family" or "you" (a la Enchantment)?

June 1, 2023 at 12:02 PM

"Is the secret ingredient going to be "family"?"

Vin Diesel takes exception to this unless you're on the Party Bus.

June 1, 2023 at 1:31 PM

@ russell meyer, now that's an attraction that needs a full gut job :)

June 1, 2023 at 3:06 PM

I also think "the conflict / potential antagonist" isn't being revealed yet. The entire book isn't being shown, haha. They are still revealing things sporadically. This was the first time we heard that "ingredient" may not refer to food.

Pretty sure there will be more tidbits of info revealed between now & when it officially opens. Any villain appearance will most likely be kept under wraps until then.

I do appreciate how much detail is being applied in terms of replicating the environment, sounds & music.

If that much care is being taken with those aspects of the ride, it makes me almost certain they won't skimp out when it comes to the animatronics. This clearly isn't going to be a simple "retheme", so I'm still pretty optimistic.

June 1, 2023 at 3:42 PM

A "less stressful version" of the ride? Was anyone stressed by the old version? Do you mean a less EXCITING version of the ride??

So far I'm not hearing any story at all--other than find the missing ingredient, which, spoiler alert, is YOU, derp derp.

Instead I'm hearing about a SALT MINE where this lady grows vegetables. In a salt mine. Underground. Where there's no sunshine. She's growing vegetables.

The refurb to the exterior is an insult. They're ripping down all of the distinctive elements and replacing them with jack squat. There's so sparkly tree, there's a rusted water tower.

June 1, 2023 at 4:11 PM

Definitely agree that the exterior is underwhelming, to say the least. Replacing the iconic Chick-a-pin Hill with nothing is a baffling decision that suggests the budget for this is not quite there.

Frankly, my expectations are minimal and if it comes out as well as Frozen Ever After did I’ll probably count it as a win, all things considered. There’s virtually no chance it rivals Splash Mountain, but hopefully it will be a solid complimentary ride.

June 2, 2023 at 8:20 AM

I didnt even realize that the exterior was completed. I was just at Magic Kingdom just a couple of weeks ago and it appeared as though there was yet a great deal of work yet to be finished. I can’t wait to see for myself on my next trip how shoddy it must look in person. Unless of course you guys are basing your criticisms on concept art, in which case I guess I’ll have to wait. Alas

I for one am excited for this. I do agree with @Russell, @MyHandsDontScan and @evenweston that to not include elements containing either the Other Side or Dr. Facilier would be a huge missed opportunity. I also agree that they are most likely going to be holding some cards close to the vest in terms of certain details. But in terms of sheer detail and atmospheric world building I think the Imagineers will knock this right out of the park. I’m reminded of the rainforest scenes on Living with the Land or more recently the jungle of the Navi River Boat ride and I’m just awash with ideas of how awesome they will build out this swamp and bayou setting to look.
I guess I understand the groans about the attractions new story pitch, but I honestly rode and re-rode and re-rode Splash for the songs, AA and drops so nothing about this gives me pause. As for Disney “cheaping out” on the AA’s, I also doubt that that will be an issue. I’m sure that money for this has been Earmarked (no pun inten- ah screw it, pun intended) for quite some time. I seriously doubt they would reskin one of their most beloved attractions with anything less than top tier replacements. My opinion. As I’ve said before, I’m very sad to see Splash go, but until I ride this and it completely sucks, im gonna keep my pitchfork and torches in the garage.

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