Get Set for a Magical Bayou Adventure

Walt Disney World Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column , New Attractions
The sign for Tiana's Bayou Adventure lit up at night in front of the attraction
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
The Magic Kingdom is getting ready for the official opening of its new ride this month. Here’s what we know about it.

We’re currently counting down the days to the June 28 opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Magic Kingdom Park’s latest ride and long-awaited replacement for Splash Mountain.

For Disney fans, it is a major landmark in creating a first ride based on Princess Tiana, as well as continuing to keep its Orlando theme park world fresh and exciting. It will, of course, be a celebration shared with the original Disneyland Resort in California, but, while we have yet to hear an official date for the Bayou Adventure in Anaheim, Walt Disney World Resort is definitely ready to unveil its latest ride.


The cast of The Princess and the Frog outside Tiana's Bayou Adventure


This week’s media previews have been unstintingly positive about the major transformation of this iconic attraction in the Frontierland area, especially after the fan furore over the closing of Splash Mountain in the first place.

This impressively  themed log flume ride opened in Orlando in 1992, based on the original story from 1946 film Song of the South. It offered a fun ride with Brer Rabbit and Co, finishing with a 50ft vertical drop at 40mph from Chickapin Hill into a splash pad at the bottom of the fabled briar patch. With Song of the South largely forgotten, it made sense for Disney to update this attraction with a complete makeover, while it was also considered an out-dated view of the slavery world it portrayed, with Disney CEO Bob Iger insisting it “was just not appropriate in today’s world.”

Consequently, Disney’s Imagineers began planning for something new in 2019, with Iger making the big announcement of the new Princess and the Frog theme a year later. And then we waited for something to happen. And waited. Finally, in December 2022, Disney revealed that Splash Mountain’s final day would be January 22, 2023, and the transformation to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would begin immediately, with an opening date “in 2024.”

The New Year rolled around with no further news, and it wasn’t until May 13 this year that we were finally given a date – June 28 – and a lot of extra detail about the new ride.


People in a log shaped boat at the bottom of a log flume drop


For those completely new to the concept, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure picks up where the film left off, with a major celebration under way. The city of New Orleans provides the backdrop – and the party vibe – and Disney’s Imagineers have really gone to town with their research for the right look and style of the ride, which includes a journey into the mysterious, critter-filled bayous of southern Louisiana as well as a salt “dome” that provides the impetus for the big splashdown.

At the end of the movie, Tiana’s dream of owning her own family restaurant had come true, and ride guests learn that she is now giving back to her community by hosting a big Mardi Gras party, with everyone invited. Except there is a key missing ingredient – a band to provide the music – and riders need to be shrunk down to the size of frogs to help look for one.


A large from animatronic on Tiana's Bayou Adventure


That’s the cue for the ‘bayou adventure’ part of the ride, a super-cute and superbly detailed journey into the watery backwoods, where music-loving alligator Louis introduces the sounds of the region, along with fellow “musicians” from the animal realm, all voiced by the same actors from the movie. The animatronics on their own are quite dazzling, putting the previous Splash Mountain version firmly in the shade, and they are accompanied by some clever video screens sprinkled through the interior. But the whole ride is laced with the sights and sounds of this compelling part of the US, and that is a real triumph for the ride designers.

They have certainly aimed for an authentic Louisiana experience, as the jazz and zydeco-centric music, the Mardi Gras style and the essential background of the attraction have all been extensively studied. It even smells good, as there is the scent of beignets from Tiana’s kitchen wafting through the queue area.


Guests in the queue for Tiana's Bayou Adventure taking pictures of the theming


There are several encounters with Princess Tiana, Louis and Mama Odie as they urge visitors to savour the spirit of the firefly-filled bayou, and it all builds up to the long ascent inside the salt “dome” and then the big splashdown, prior to concluding in the Mardi Gras party itself.


Animatronics of Princess and the Frog characters having a Mardi Gras party


Lead Imagineer Charita Carter explained that the emphasis of the ride is like a love letter to New Orleans, insisting: “Even though Tiana is a character, the place she comes from and the culture are very real, and we wanted to capture that from the start.” And, as good as it looks during the day, under the night-time lighting it positively glows with the full array of Disney charm and character. You should also watch out for some terrific “Easter eggs,” or secret visual references, related to the previous ride, including a nod towards the old dead tree from the summit of Chickapin Hill.

Just remember, this is still classed as a thrill ride (mainly for that precipitous drop!), and there is a height restriction of 40 inches (102cm) to be able to ride. It lasts a full 10 minutes and also exits into the inevitable gift shop, Tiana’s Bayou General, which is crammed with highly sought-after collectibles and food treats, while there is also the lure of Critter Co-Op on the way in or out, so beware your wallets!


Are you looking forward to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure or would you prefer the old Splash Mountain ride? Give us your thoughts on the friendly Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.


Tickets you may be interested in...

Walt Disney World Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column , New Attractions