Disney announced the name, arrival date and more details about its reimagined Splash Mountain ride on Friday during a special Essence Fest panel held at New Orleans’ Preservation Hall.
The revamped attraction, titled Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, will make its debut at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland in late 2024, according to the Disney Parks Blog. The new attraction, which celebrates the characters and real-world Louisiana setting of The Princess and the Frogis a musical adventure inspired by the 2009 film and first animated Disney feature to star a Black princess.
The experience will pick up where the film left off, with riders joining the movie’s leading characters Princess Tiana, Naveen and the jazz-loving alligator Louis on a bayou adventure that sees the trio hosting a Mardi Gras celebration. Disney promises that the attraction will feature both new and familiar faces to the New Orleans-based universe, as well as original music inspired by songs from the movie.
In a video teasing the attraction, executive producer at Walt Disney Imagineering Charita Carter shares that the Imagineering and parks team pulled from a number of sources to help craft Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Faculty and experts from Xavier University, an HBCU institution, also consulted with the Imagineering team “about all aspects of culture for New Orleans,” Carter says.
The team who worked on the attraction also did a bayou tour, looking at details as specific as the flora and the fawna, and went to Avery Island and toured a salt dome to help them design the settings for the ride. Additionally, they visited Congo Square, where Carter says, “a lot of free people of color as well as enslaved people congregated and played music” and viewed a number of exhibits featuring set design and props to aid them in crafting an “authentic” ride experience.
Carter was among those voices featured on the Essence Fest panel, along with Ted Robledo, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering and Stella Chase, daughter of the late chef Leah Chase, who inspired Tiana’s story.
This is one of the first major looks at the coming attraction, which was first announced back in 2020 amid the year’s anti-racism and racial justice protests, as well as ongoing petitions to have the ride changed were made. The decision to retool Splash Mountain, which has been directed for its racist depictions tied to the 1946 movie Song of the South — a Disney chairman and former CEO Bob Iger previously noted would not be available for purchase or to stream on Disney+.
Splash Mountain opened in 1989 and starred the character Br’er Rabbit — whose story is told by Song of the South character Uncle Remus, a Black man on a plantation in the Reconstruction-era South — on an adventure to avoid the clutches of Br’ er Fox and Br’er Bear. Remus, written by white author Joel Chandler Harris, was at the time of the film’s release and through 2020 considered an example of a racist caricature.