First look: Disney's Splash Mountain to get 'The Princess and the Frog' makeover
It's out with the old and in with the bayou!
More than two years after the original announcement, Disney has finally shared exactly when the Splash Mountain log flume attraction will receive its highly anticipated "The Princess and the Frog" makeover, along with new details and artwork for the ride.
The revamped ride will be called "Tiana's Bayou Adventure" and it will open in late 2024 at Disney World and Disneyland.
Why "Tiana's Bayou Adventure?" Let's put it this way. Disney's first princess was Snow White, who made her on-screen debut way back in 1937. In 2009, some 72 years later, "The Princess and the Frog" introduced us to Princess Tiana, the first Black Disney princess.
For nearly three-quarters of a century, Black children grew up without a Disney princess who looked like they did and made them feel seen and represented both in Disney's films and inside its parks.
Now, as part of the company's overall commitment to diversity and inclusion, Disney is bringing this new attraction to Disneyland and Walt Disney World to make more guests feel represented, included and inspired.
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Splash Mountain is the attraction arguably least in line with Disney's push for diversity and inclusion. The music and characters in the current iteration of the ride are heavily inspired by "Song of the South," a 1946 Disney film that depicts dated, racist stereotypes.
Princess Tiana, on the other hand, is a strong, driven and inspirational Disney princess that all guests can relate to in one way or another.
The ride will pick up the story after the final kiss at the end of the film, with Tiana welcoming riders as her personal guests to the biggest and best Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. Guests will recognize familiar characters and songs from the film, along with new friends and original music created just for the ride.
"At the end of the movie, Tiana got her restaurant and this attraction is the continuation of her story," an executive producer with Walt Disney Imagineering said at today's Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans. "Tiana takes us on a joyful trip through music. We’re also reacquainting Tiana with a new generation. Her story is a love letter to New Orleans."
While the mechanics of the ride, including a near-50-foot drop where you will definitely get wet, will stay largely the same, the music, stories and characters will be rethemed to Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen and all of their pals in the New Orleans bayou.
"We wanted to tell a story that would make kids laugh and parents smile," Disney's senior vice president of creative development Carmen Smith said at the event.
"We work hard to bring stories to life and it's important for us to make sure our stories and environments reflect the world we live in," she added.
Disney officially signified its commitment to being a "place where everyone is welcome" in April 2021 when the company announced its fifth key of inclusion (with the other four being safety, courtesy, show and efficiency).
The company made a number of changes inside its parks to demonstrate this commitment. Rather than "ladies and gentleman, boys and girls," an announcement welcomes "dreamers of all ages" to the nightly fireworks show, cast member costume and style guidelines are more flexible and allow each cast member's "look" to reflect their individuality, and Disney World debuted its first-ever light blue, pink and white transgender flag-themed treat during this year's Pride Month celebration.
In recent years, Disney parks have also made updates to culturally insensitive attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. Soon, Splash Mountain will join their ranks when it becomes "Tiana's Bayou Adventure," a ride all guests can happily sing, smile and dance along to.
Tiana's Bayou Adventure will open in late 2024 at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Disney plans to release additional details at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, this September.