In June 2020, Disney announced that the water-based ride Splash Mountain would close to be rethemed into an attraction inspired by the Disney animated film, The Princess and the Frog. (Splash Mountain in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom closed permanently on January 23, 2023, and Splash Mountain closed permanently in Disneyland on May 31st, 2023.)
From the story, to the music, to Princess Tiana’s NEW adventure, and more, there’s SO much to share about this upcoming dual-coast attraction! Simply click any of the links below to jump to a specific topic:
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Story
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — Princess Tiana
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Characters
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Music
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Queue
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — Ride Elements
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Inspiration
- The Re-Imagining of Splash Mountain
- Transformation Timeline
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — Inspiring Art
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Story
Disney has shared that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will pick up the story of The Princess and the Frog “after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”
So, what exactly DOES happen “after the final kiss”? Well, when the film itself ends, Princess Tiana makes her dream come true when she opens her very own restaurant, Tiana’s Palace (just like the one opening in Disneyland later this year)!
The story of the attraction, as Disney shares, picks up during New Orleans’ Carnival season, and Tiana is hosting a Mardi Gras Party for the people of New Orleans — the community that has supported her successful restaurant. (The storyline is set about a year after the movie.)
But Tiana realized that the party is “missing a key ingredient” and she needs help finding it…
And YOU will join Tiana, too, as Disney Imagineers have shared that guests will be active participants coming along with Tiana on this adventure! “On Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, we’ll join Tiana and Louis on a trip to the bayou, where they meet all sorts of unexpected new friends who have a special role to play at the party.”
Click HERE to take a closer look at the model for this NEW attraction! And take a DEEP DIVE with us into all the DETAILS we’ve spotted so far!
You’ll notice that Tiana is wearing pants, which is “connecting who Tiana was in the movie to who she will be in the future.” Costume designer Ida Muldrow from Disney Live Entertainment along with other members of the team talked about their approach to designing Tiana’s new look.
Since the story takes place in the 1920s, they looked at the trends of the time. They wanted to make sure Tiana’s look was historically accurate, while still being authentic to her character. Muldrow shared, “Tiana was equally at home in the bayou as she was at a banquet…We wanted her look to reflect that, and be a compliment to the story’s setting.”
The team also worked on developing a unique hairstyle for Tiana. According to Disney, “the team placed emphasis on the versatility of Black women’s hair and its significance to our identity across geographies and generations.”
From hair to hat to outfit, learn about all the questions, details, and research that went into creating Tiana’s look for the attraction HERE!
At the ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans in June 2023, Disney showed off Tiana’s NEW look!
(It looks like this new outfit might be part of a new Princess Tiana meet-and-greet in the parks, but Disney didn’t confirm that.)
President of Walt Disney Imagineering Bob Weis shared with D23 that “Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman who pursues her dreams while never losing sight of what’s really important. So it’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.”
Weis also noted that Walt Disney opened New Orleans Square in Disneyland park in 1966, “so it feels natural to link the story of The Princess and the Frog to the park.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Characters
Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis, Mama Odie will be joined by more characters from the original film. Disney notes that guests can expect to find some “familiar faces” on the ride including Eudora (Tiana’s mom), Charlotte, “Big Daddy,” the King and Queen of Maldonia, and Naveen’s brother Prince Ralphie.
Imagineer Laura West designed some new characters from the ride, including a band of musical critters!(In all, Disney shares that seventeen characters will be part of the ride!) There’s a beaver on the drums, an opossum playing bass, a raccoon playing accordion, a turtle with a harmonica, a rabbit on the washboard, and an otter playing the fiddle. About the animals, Disney said, “It feels like they may have a bigger role to play in this story…but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.”
Disney shares that “this new scene [featuring the band] is the thrilling moment you first drop* into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar.” Disney also shared that “fireflies will light up the night and invite you deeper into the bayou … almost like they’re waving you forward.”
*Nope, not THE BIG DROP — this is referring to the riders’ first entrance into the bayou 🙂 .
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Music
Music, of course, will play an important role in setting the scene, and the attraction will even feature original music “inspired by songs from the film.” Disney had previously shared that Jenifer Lewis, the voice behind Mama Odie, will be featured in the rethemed ride.
And at the D23 Expo held in September 2022, it was announced that even more of the original voice talents behind the beloved characters from Princess and the Frog will reprise their roles from the film including Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen, Michael Leon Wooley as Louis, and, of course, Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana.
Riders will also hear zydeco music in the attraction (specifically in the bayou). Imagineers expressed that, “Zydeco is a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana.” Disney wanted to include this style of music because it “brings together the sounds and styles of many cultures.” The Imagineers wanted that spirit of inclusion to be reflected throughout the attraction.
Disney shares, “PJ will perform on and produce the sessions in New Orleans of all-new arrangements of the song, as well as songs from ‘The Princess and the Frog’ film within the attraction.”
Grammy-Award Winning Artist Terence Blanchard is also helping to make the music of the attraction come to life. Fun fact: Blanchard played all of the trumpet parts for Louis the Alligator in “The Princess and the Frog!”
According to Disney, “Blanchard is helming music arrangement for the attraction’s queue. Terence is working with us to select songs from ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ as well as iconic themes from New Orleans. Just like Tiana’s recipes, the music will combine a medley of instrumental ingredients to cook up something worth savoring.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — The Queue
The story of the attraction will begin in the ride’s queue, where you’ll discover that Tiana wants to further bring the community together as she continues to grow her business, an employee-owned company called Tiana’s Foods.
As a result, she’s bought and transformed an old salt mine with the help of her mother, Naveen, Louis, and fellow owners of the cooperative where she and her employees work together to make food products (like Lousiana Tabasco Sauce!) and help members of the community become business people.
The land around the salt mine has also been renewed and now grows veggies, herbs, and spices for her famous recipes.
There will also be a special surprise in the queue… One of Disney’s goals when putting together Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is to pay homage to New Orleans culture as much as possible. And what’s more New Orleans than some fresh beignets?! If the smell of that delicious fried dough is as tempting to you as it is to us, then you’ll be happy to know that the scent will be pumped into the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure queue!
In May 2023, a Disney spokesperson revealed more details about the queue for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, sharing that that there’s “never been a better time to be in a standby line.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — Ride Elements
The existing structure for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a water flume ride featuring the thrill of a 5-story drop! As it was with Splash Mountain, the attraction will last about 11 or 12 minutes. The new ride will feature a combination of practical lighting, digital lighting, animatronics, and scenic paint.
A panel from Disney gathered to discuss the project, and in August 2021 Disney shared the video featuring Carmen Smith, Creative Executive, Vice President, Inclusive Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering; Charita Carter, Senior Producer for Walt Disney Imagineering (who oversaw the creation of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Disney’s Hollywood Studios); and Marlon West, VFX Supervisor for Walt Disney Animation Studios.
They were joined by Stella Chase Reese, owner of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant — the New Orleans restaurant which inspired Tiana’s story! (Her mother, founder Leah Chase, also served as inspiration for Princess and the Frog.)
“The two coming together, music and food, brings joy and happiness to all” — Stella Chase Reese
The panel discussion took place during a research trip to New Orleans to further the goal of “digging deep into the culture of New Orleans to tell a story that’s as authentic to the region as it is to the characters’ stories. From the food, music, art and architecture to the diversity of its people and their traditions, there is much from which to draw inspiration.”
You can also see some of the research for the ride in action in this additional video shared by Disney in July 2022:
The Reimagining of Splash Mountain
Regarding the re-theming of Splash Mountain, Disney shared that the process “begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about.”
“And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today.”
“The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.”
During the ESSENCE Festival of Culture 2022, Disney revealed that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is expected to open in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in late 2024!
During an August 2021 episode of the Theme Park Rangers Podcast, Melissa Valiquette, vice president of Magic Kingdom, provided an update on the project shared that “terrific work has been done, including some selections around music, around animatronics and music, and it is really an inspiring story.”
Additionally, Valiquette asked for guests for their trust “because we promise not to let you down, we’re going to deliver a wonderful attraction that’s inspiring and beautiful, and worthy of this princess, Princess Tiana.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Walt Disney World
In late June 2023, a MAJOR milestone was reached as a tiara-topped water tower with the “Tiana’s Foods” logo made its way to Magic Kingdom as construction continues on this ride transformation!
The water tower has a big sign on the front that says “Tiana’s Foods,” which is the name of the employee-owned company that Tiana started, according to the backstory of the ride. It’s topped with a giant tiara that looks like Tiana’s from the film. Look closely and you’ll see two stars attached to part of the tiara — these are a nod to Ray and Evangeline!
November 2023 brought the full in-park reveal of one of the colorful murals in Magic Kingdom which, along with other works of art inspired by The Princess and the Frog and the spirit of Louisiana will adorn the walls of the queue!
For further context, one of the murals (as seen above) was designed by Louisiana native artist Malaika Favorite and it will be featured in the queues of the ride in both Disney World and Disneyland. Inspired by art found throughout New Orleans, this queue art serves as an introduction to the story of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Carmen Smith, Senior Vice President of Creative Development – Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies, wrote that this art is meant to preserve “the authenticity of Princess Tiana’s experience as a young Black woman striving to achieve her dream in the soulful backdrop of New Orleans”. In Disney’s search to do that, it made sense to use Favorite to bring that vision to life.
Favorite’s mural continues the storyline from the movie and features a collage of scenes displayed on two of the building’s exterior walls. The scenes represent the creation of Tiana’s Foods while showcasing Tiana’s professional journey. According to Smith, the mural reflects the elements of “family, friends, food, music, art, and bringing folks together.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Disneyland
Disneyland’s Splash Mountain closed on May 31st, 2023.
The progress photo above is from late September 2023.
Sharika Mahdi — a visual artist, art educator, and alumna of the YAWA (Young Aspirations Young Artists) Arts Center in New Orleans — was commissioned to create a series of four original paintings to inspire the Disney Imagineers working on the attraction!
The first painting (above) inspires the attraction’s final scene, described as a “Mardi Gras party!” (We imagine it’s likely that this scene will be located after the flume’s “big drop,” which is the riverboat finale scene riders have seen in Splash Mountain.)
A second painting by Mahdi was shared in August 2022, and now we’ve got a first look at this art!
It depicts a scene of jazz-playing frog musicians that “lovingly illustrates the jubilance and liveliness of this musical city.”
Mahdi has shared that her artwork is inspired by how the city makes “a big deal about everything and celebrat[es] everything. I want to show this is what it’s about, being a part of New Orleans and being a part of the culture.”
In August 2021, Disney also shared the following: “To celebrate all of these developments, our love and appreciation for New Orleans, and our commitment to arts education, Disney announced a $50,000 donation to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts, classical instrumental music, jazz instrumental music, classical vocal music, drama, musical theatre, theatre design, visual arts and creative writing.”
We will continue to update this page as new information regarding Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is revealed! In the meantime…
See all the news about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure here!