Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort; Disney
Splash Mountain's reimagining is getting closer!
The iconic Disney ride will become "Tiana's Bayou Adventure" in 2024 at both Disneyland in California and at Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida, in a makeover based on 2009's The Princess and the Frog.
Now, as Disney prepares to close the Disney World location on Jan. 23, 2023 in order to facilitate the transition, it's unveiling a first look at a new scene from the forthcoming re-theming, which features characters specifically created for the attraction.
Alongside Princess Tiana, Naveen and the jazz-loving alligator Louis, guests will travel through the bayou as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration and listen to joyous music inspired by songs from the fan-favorite film.
At the beginning of the boat ride, fireflies will light up the night "almost as if they're waving you forward," inviting guests deeper into the bayou, according a Disney press release.
The ride, which will remain a log flume, will also incorporate zydeco music, a blend of rhythm and blues that originated in Louisiana. A cast of critters will make up the band, including an otter, rabbit, raccoon, beaver, turtle and others.
The Walt Disney Company
"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's releases teases.
Disney has been gradually releasing renderings and information about the new attraction since it was first announced in 2020. Most recently, in September, it unveiled a large model of the ride (below) at the Disney Parks and Experiences Wonderful World of Dreams pavilion at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.
News of the ride's revamp came weeks after several petitions urged Disney to rework the theme of the popular attraction garnered attention on the site Change.org. One titled "Re-theme Splash Mountain to Princess and the Frog" received over 21,384 signatures upon closing.
The petition read in part: "Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be . . . While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South. There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need."
Disney noted at the time that a new story for the ride had long been under consideration.
The controversial Disney film Song of the South has long been criticized for its problematic portrayal of the post-Civil War South and for employing racist stereotypes. Bob Iger, then Disney executive chairman, confirmed in a 2020 shareholders' meeting that it would not be available to stream on Disney+, even with a disclaimer, calling it "not appropriate in today's world."
The Walt Disney Company
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Anika Noni Rose, the Tony Award-winning actress who voiced Tiana, Disney's first Black princess, shared her excitement about the news of the ride's re-theming at the time.
"It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana's presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized!" she wrote at the time of the 2020 announcement. "As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us the Princess and the Frog Mardi Gras celebration we've been waiting for, and I'm here for it!"