The Disney World Ride Replacing Splash Mountain Finally Has An Opening Date

Get ready to ride a log flume at the Magic Kingdom again because Tiana's Bayou Adventure is coming to Disney World in the summer of 2024. The new attraction, based on the 2009 animated film "The Princess and the Frog," is set to open in the ride building formerly occupied by Splash Mountain. Disney has also confirmed that the California version will open at Disneyland later in 2024. There, Tiana's Bayou Adventure will hold court in Critter Country, though its theme also makes it an appropriate neighbor for the New Orleans Square area.

You may notice a few cosmetic changes to the old Splash Mountain exterior as you wander into Florida's Frontierland for its take on Tiana's Bayou Adventure. At the Magic Kingdom, the twisty tree stump that once topped the mountain of splashes will give way to a boat in a tree, while a water tower has been erected with the name Tiana's Foods on it. In the ride's backstory, this tower represents Tiana's employee-owned business, established in 1927, the year before the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, "Steamboat Willie."

One preserved part of Splash Mountain is the drop leading to the ride's biggest splash — straight down a 50-foot waterfall. This is where a camera would go off and capture ride photos of visitors taking the plunge. Before Tiana's Bayou Adventure makes a splash on both coasts at Disney, here's what to know about its retheming of a popular attraction that was nonetheless mired in controversy.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure will employ audio-animatronics

Disney fans weary of screen-based rides can look forward to more traditional audio-animatronic figures in Tiana's Bayou Adventure. At Walt Disney Imagineering, Charita Carter, the executive creative producer in charge of the retheme, has already previewed one such Tiana figure on TikTok. Disney has said dozens of new figures will keep with Splash Mountain's critter-infested spirit. Below, you can see concept art for the ride's interior and exterior.

You'll still be riding along in the water with anthropomorphic animals on the shore, but there will be some new faces. In addition to songs from "The Princess and the Frog," there will also be some period-appropriate music. Grammy Award winners Terence Blanchard and PJ Morton are helping the soundtrack draw from New Orleans' rich musical history.

In the past, occasional sightings of real alligators in and around the Magic Kingdom encroached on Splash Mountain, where audio-animatronic gators were part of the show. Cameras caught an employee fighting off one such gator in 2016, with Disney guests floating right by him on the ride's outdoor loop. In Splash Mountain's indoor section, the gators were robots that could be seen fishing, buddying up with a frog, and playing together as a three-reptile band. Meanwhile, Disneyland's gator was left to hitchhike alone with the message, "Take me along." For its part, Tiana's Bayou Adventure will still feature at least one big gator in the form of Tiana's trumpet-playing pal, Louis.

Why Splash Mountain closed in the U.S.

As thorny as the briar patch it was decorated with, Splash Mountain was based on the animated Brer Rabbit segments in Disney's controversial 1946 film, "Song of the South." The movie, which never had a DVD release in the U.S., was a musical set in the Reconstruction era, post-Civil War. Though it gave rise to the Oscar-winning song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," its story has been criticized for presenting a racist, idealized view of plantation life and slavery in the South. Not shown in the ride was the live-action character Uncle Remus, now seen as a Black stereotype. When it was announced in 2022, Tiana's Bayou Adventure was seen as a way to reclaim the narrative on behalf of Disney's first Black princess.

Other Magic Kingdom rides, like Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, are linked to early 1940s and 1950s films that now carry a disclaimer on Disney+ about their "outdated cultural depictions." In the case of "Song of the South," Disney CEO Bob Iger told shareholders in 2020 (via Billboard) that the film was "just not appropriate in today's world." It's unavailable to stream, and traces of it have since been removed from Disney's theme parks. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" has left the song rotation in parades at the Magic Kingdom and California's Disneyland. In 2023, Splash Mountain closed at both parks to make way for Tiana's Bayou Adventure. The sole remaining version of Splash Mountain continues to operate as an attraction that's exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland.