Tiana's Bayou Adventure Is Coming!

Two years after Disney announced that they would be revamping their Splash Mountain attraction to feature The Princess and the Frog,we finally have an update about it. The newly refurbished ride will be called Tiana's Bayou Adventure and will be unveiled at both American Disney theme parks in late 2024. The title is reminiscent of another princess ride that opened a little over a decade ago, Ariel's Undersea Adventure. I guess they felt the parks were lacking in rides named after a princess with the word "adventure" in them after Snow White's Scary Adventures got replaced by Snow White's Enchanted Wish in Disneyland and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Walt Disney World as well as WDW's renaming of Ariel's Undersea Adventure to Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid. I think it's important to remember that despite the way Disney is marketing this, it is not a new ride.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure opening in late 2024

In a press release last Friday, Disney revealed some new details about this upcoming Princess and the Frog attraction at the ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans. The event featured jazz music and a Q&A with the imagineers who worked on the ride as well as Stella Chase, the daughter of the late Chef Leah Chase, who provided inspiration for Tiana's character. It looks like it was a lot of fun to attend and reminds me of the 10th anniversary event I went to for the film in 2019. The press release features video footage of an interview panel with Stella Chase in which she discloses the positive princess traits that her grandmother brought to the character such as chasing after her dreams and accepting people from all walks of life at her restaurant. These are indeed admirable traits that were represented beautifully in the film, but this interview discussion has very little to do with the ride itself.


Another topic discussed at the ESSENCE Fest in the press release is the new outfit that was designed for Tiana to wear on this ride, which takes place after the ending of the film. Despite being a frog for most of her movie, Tiana has more original looks in her premiere film than any other Disney Princess, so this adventuring gear is just one more historical dress up piece to add to her extensive closet. Costume Designer Ida Muldrow forgoes Tiana's glamorous gowns for a pair of 1920s style khakis, a yellow button-down shirt, red bandana ascot, cloche hat, and hiking boots perfect for navigating the swampy terrain of the bayou. The ride is the first time since Wreck-It Ralph 2 that Tiana is featured with her hair down, an intentional decision to show off her glamorous curls and place emphasis on the versatility of black women's hair and its significance to their identity around the world. The new look reflects how "Tiana was equally at home in the bayou as she was at a banquet". It makes sense for her to wear something more comfortable for this adventure after instead of any of the fancy gowns Charlotte leant her in the film.

Tiana's bayou look with clocheTiana's bayou look without cloche

One thing that surprised me about this press release is the lack of references to the original Splash Mountain ride. I know it's a controversial topic, but if the ride is being rethemed to be about Tiana, some things will likely remain the same, such as the log flumes and the big drop. How will they justify falling down a big waterfall as part of Tiana's story? It may seem like a silly question for any other theme park ride, but Disney is all about storytelling. Splash Mountain takes you on a complete journey with colorful characters from Song of the South. Similarly, Tiana's Bayou Adventure is supposed to immerse parkgoers in Tiana's first Mardi Gras as a princess alongside friends like Louis. I would have loved to hear more about how the ride would function to tell this story, but the event seemed to focus entirely on the culture behind the ride's retheming. The short film about the research the imagineers did in New Orleans seems to avoid telling us anything about the actual ride. However, I'm sure there will be more specifics revealed as we get closer to the release date in two years.

As a big fan of Princess Tiana, I am cautiously excited for this "new" ride that will replace one I was mostly indifferent to. It was great to see so many people come together to celebrate the film at the ESSENCE festival, and I love how much care they are taking in being authentic to the culture of New Orleans and the 1920s. I just wish I knew more about the ride itself as the press release seemed to discuss everything but. Are you eager for a Princess and the Frog ride to join the ranks of the Disney Parks, or would you rather see something brand new featuring these characters? Let me know in the comments!

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