One month from today will mark the final day of operation for Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World. Splash Mountain will have its final day of operation on January 22, 2023, closing for a multi-year retheme into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure the next day.
Disney has not announced a reopening date yet but promises to have Tiana’s Bayou Adventure up and running by the end of 2024.
In Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, you’ll join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans. This new scene is the thrilling moment you first drop into the bayou and encounter some friends both new and familiar.
As you can see here, fireflies will light up the night and invite you deeper into the bayou … almost like they’re waving you forward. What you can’t tell from this rendering is that beautiful zydeco music will fill the air. Zydeco is a special blend of rhythm and blues that was born in Louisiana, and when you hear it, you’ll feel like you’ve truly stepped into Tiana’s world.
Here you’ll find Louis, who explains where this amazing music is coming from. Tiana made some new friends out here – a band full of adorable critters, including an otter, a rabbit, a racoon, a beaver, a turtle and others. The band members sing and play instruments made of natural materials they found in the bayou. 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.
According to the new storyline, guests will travel into the salt mines of Louisiana as they help Tiana prepare to throw a party. One of the major new additions to the facade that wasn’t in the initial concept art is a water tower. This new addition will seemingly tie in the attraction’s overarching “Tiana’s Foods” storyline. Disney says that Tiana’s Foods is an employee-owned cooperative that Tiana pursued as a way of growing her business beyond Tiana’s Palace restaurant.
As the story goes, Tiana combined her talents as a restaurateur with the talents of locals to transform an aging salt mine and build a beloved brand that bolstered neighboring communities.
Splash Moutain is themed around the 1946 film Song of the South. The film has been criticized for employing racist stereotypes for some of the characters. In a March 2020 shareholder meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger talked about Song of the South when a shareholder asked if it would be included in the Disney+ catalog. Iger said, “I’ve felt as long as I’ve been CEO that Song of the South — even with a disclaimer — was just not appropriate in today’s world…It’s just hard, given the depictions in some of those films, to bring them out today without in some form or another offending people, so we’ve decided not to do that.” Just a few months later, Disney would announce that Splash Mountain would be closed permanently.
In the initial announcement in the summer of 2020, Disney noted that the retheme was due to their Diversity & Inclusion initiative to tell more relevant stories in their theme parks:
The approach to retheming or “plussing” attractions (as Walt Disney referred to it) begins with Imagineers asking the question, how can we build upon or elevate the experience and tell a fresh, relevant story? It’s a continuous process that Imagineers are deeply passionate about. And with this longstanding history of updating attractions and adding new magic, the retheming of Splash Mountain is of particular importance today. The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year.
Splash Mountain originally opened in 1989 at Disneyland and 1992 at Walt Disney World. A closing date for Disneyland’s Splash Mountain has not been announced.
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