Disney has revealed the title, opening timeline, idea artwork, and particulars for Splash Mountain’s reimagining impressed by Princess and the Frog coming to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This shares new information, building permits, undertaking progress, when Splash Mountain will doubtless shut, commentary on the turnaround timeline and extra. (Up to date October 16, 2022.)
Let’s begin with the brand new title of the attraction evolving from the reimagining of Splash Mountain: Tiana’s Bayou Journey. The all-new attraction will deliver company into the world of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ movie “The Princess and the Frog” like by no means earlier than. In line with Disney, the reimagined trip will open at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California in late 2024.
In the course of the D23 Expo in Anaheim final month, Walt Disney Imagineering shared extra particulars concerning the reimagined trip, together with a mannequin showcasing how Splash Mountain can be remodeled. See our Images & Video of the Tiana’s Bayou Journey Mannequin, which affords a complete have a look at the modifications to the mountain’s exterior, queue, and even on-ride particulars that’ll be added to the attraction because it turns into Tiana’s Bayou Journey.
October 16, 2022 Replace: Walt Disney Imagineering has filed a allow with Orange County (Florida) to begin building on the reimagining of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Journey at Walt Disney World.
The allow is for “Undertaking CY1899” with an handle in Magic Kingdom related to Splash Mountain and an expiration date of June 30, 2024. It lists Balfour Beatty Building LLC because the contractor on the undertaking.
There are some things value noting with regard to this allow…
First, this “Discover of Graduation” doesn’t truly imply that building will start instantly. Whereas it is a essential prerequisite to the beginning of labor on the Splash Mountain transformation, it’s not conclusive as to when it should begin. Walt Disney World has filed loads of permits weeks or months earlier than building truly commenced.
Beneath, we talk about what date Splash Mountain is prone to shut, and when building is definitely prone to start.
Second, the expiration date isn’t indicative of a completion or opening date for a undertaking or attraction, however it does point out the newest date when all building is predicted to be completed on that part of the undertaking. Because of the closure, we’ve seen some permits should be re-filed resulting from prematurely expiring, however that’s not the norm.
Likewise, we’ll talk about the chance that Tiana’s Bayou Journey will open by Summer time 2024 within the commentary beneath.
Lastly, it’s frequent for these building permits to be assigned to 3rd social gathering contractors. In reality, Imagineering all the time works with exterior groups–and there can be completely different contractors for the Florida and California variations of Tiana’s Bayou Journey. (One of many contractors engaged on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance truly made a big mistake in California, inflicting that model of the attraction–which had been effectively forward of schedule beforehand–to open after its Florida counterpart.)
For its half, Balfour Beatty Building is extremely regarded and has in depth expertise with main initiatives within the Orlando space. They’ve been concerned with many parts of the EPCOT overhaul, together with the currently-paused Play Pavilion. Previous to that, they have been chargeable for Pandora – World of Avatar, Gran Destino Tower, Reflections Lakeside Lodge, plus Cabana Bay & Loews Sapphire Falls Resorts at Common Orlando and the Dr. Phillips Middle for the Performing Arts.
As for when the attraction closure will start, my expectation is that each Splash Mountains will shut inside the subsequent few months. The attraction is at present in tough form with many damaged results and Audio Animatronics, suggesting that not a lot was mounted over the last refurbishment. That was in all probability intentional–a restricted refurbishment price range for a trip with a restricted shelf life.
Nonetheless, I don’t assume the downtime begins this fall and even earlier than Christmas 2022. Splash Mountain is just too in style of an attraction this time of yr, and one that gives very essential capability. It’s doable that Splash Mountain received’t shut in Magic Kingdom till after TRON Lightcycle Run closes, but when my prediction for that’s correct, I do count on Splash Mountain to shut first.
Magic Kingdom opening TRON Lightcycle Run across the identical time that Splash Mountain goes down for its multi-year reimagining into Tiana’s Bayou Journey simply is sensible from an operational standpoint. Magic Kingdom wants the headliner trip capability, so it’s onerous to see a lot of a spot between the closure of Splash Mountain and opening of TRON Lightcycle Run.
It will additionally make sense to shut Splash Mountain first so the fan “farewell” of that doesn’t overshadow the debut of TRON Lightcycle Run. Whereas there are a number of prospects, my guess is that the Splash Mountain completely closes a few months earlier than TRON Lightcycle Run opens.
As for a selected date, I’m unsure. I’ll put it this manner: I don’t assume Splash Mountain will shut earlier than Orange County winter break ends and Walt Disney World Marathon concludes. That’s when the worst of vacation season crowds subside, and Splash Mountain can be helpful in including to Magic Kingdom’s capability throughout these busy dates. I additionally assume Disney will wish to shut the attraction nearly instantly after the vacation season concludes to supply most downtime to perform the reimagining.
Accordingly, my prediction is that Splash Mountain will completely shut on January 9, 2023 at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. (There’s no marathon at Walt Disney World, however Los Angeles colleges return into session January 6, so closing that model after the weekend on the identical date additionally is sensible.)
My honest hope is that Splash Mountain doesn’t stay open for much longer than that. Truthfully, if the trip quietly closed tomorrow, I’d be high-quality with that–even when it meant not attending to “say goodbye” to Splash Mountain.
Tiana’s Bayou Journey is probably going going to be round for many years to return, so I’d like for Imagineering to have as a lot time as doable to do it justice. Sacrificing a number of months of the outdated trip for even incremental enhancements to the standard of the brand new trip that’ll be round for years to return is a worthwhile trade-off, in my view. (Clearly, my opinion doesn’t matter–the timeline is what it’s.)
Given the underlying causes for the Splash Mountain closure, I might not count on a “lengthy goodbye” or a line of tribute merchandise. At this level, I don’t even count on Disney to announce the closure date upfront to not directly incentivize unofficial farewell journeys. It’s very clear that Disney doesn’t wish to draw additional consideration to Splash Mountain, even when which means forgoing income on goodbye journeys and souvenirs.
It’s doubtless that there can be a red-text blurb posted to the present Splash Mountain attraction web page indicating it’ll be closing a number of weeks earlier than that happens. Past that, we count on the corporate to solely acknowledge the closure of Splash Mountain when discussing the way forward for Tiana’s Bayou Journey. They undoubtedly are not going to make an enormous deal concerning the finish of Splash Mountain. That is unprecedented for a marquee attraction, however it’s what it’s.
This brings us to the feasibility of Tiana’s Bayou Journey opening in late 2024 provided that Splash Mountain nonetheless doesn’t have a closure date.
Many followers are understandably skeptical, particularly provided that the cloned TRON Lightcycle Run nonetheless isn’t open and that undertaking has been in progress for the higher a part of 5 years. However, Tiana’s Bayou Journey opening in late 2024 is cheap.
For one factor, the torpid tempo of TRON Lightcycle run is deliberate. At first, Disney moved at a snail’s tempo on that to unfold CapEx prices out over a number of fiscal years. Then got here the closure and uncertainty about journey thereafter, which resulted in a pause and gradual restart.
Nonetheless, if the corporate needed that curler coaster completed 2 and even 3 years in the past, they might’ve made it occur. They didn’t, so it didn’t. At this level, work has accelerated on TRON Lightcycle Run and the timeline has moved ahead. Once more, by selection.
The purpose is that TRON Lightcycle Run is a poor comparability as a result of it’s extended timeline was deliberate from the outset, and never a showcase of how slowly building essentially happens at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. (Simply look how a lot quicker they hustle when DVC contracts will be offered!)
There are additionally a slew of current trip reimaginings that showcase simply how rapidly Imagineering can transfer. The perfect examples listed below are Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout at Disney California Journey and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout took lower than a yr in complete, with a lot of the exterior transformation occurring whereas Tower of Terror was nonetheless operational. As soon as the Hollywood Tower Resort went vacant, the Collector took up residence in solely 5 months. With out query, that’s the quickest turnaround time for Imagineering in current reminiscence–and the outcomes have been shockingly good.
Changing Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After took a bit extra time, however nonetheless occurred in underneath two years. That attraction is likely to be the higher comparability, as each are boat rides that can require new staging, the alternative of quite a few present scenes, and extra. (I’d be curious to listen to from accountants concerning the depreciation guidelines for brand spanking new builds v. renovations, as I believe that comes into play with all of those initiatives.)
As a a lot lengthier attraction, reimagining Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Journey can be a extra concerned course of than these for Mission Breakout or Frozen Ever After. Nonetheless, these illustrate what will be completed in a pair years or much less.
Our expectation with the Princess and the Frog attraction is that lots of the present Brer Critter Audio Animatronics can be reused. That is sensible–lots of these Audio Animatronics themselves are recycled from America Sings at Disneyland and had nothing to do with Splash Mountain’s supply materials. Going ahead, they’ll doubtless be given new life as a part of an “expanded universe” for the Princess and the Frog.
To me, this looks as if a savvy transfer throughout. It’ll enable redevelopment prices and price range to be allotted in direction of different parts of the undertaking, probably shorten the development timeline, and would possibly blunt a few of the fan outrage. These ‘supporting participant’ musical critters are beloved and themselves completely noncontroversial, in order that looks as if a win throughout.
Along with these, it’s doubtless that there can be superior Audio Animatronics and scenic illusions primarily based on the roundtable video above. That immediately calls to thoughts Na’vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom, which melds Audio Animatronics and sensible units with screens and different results. Splash Mountain already has dozens of AAs, so it’ll doubtless keep away from all the pitfalls that make Na’vi River Journey underwhelming in spots.
That is additionally harking back to each Mission Breakout and Frozen Ever After, which use a mixture of screens and Audio Animatronics.
All of this stuff are fabricated and staged off-site, after which put in contained in the attraction when the time is correct. It’s not like Imagineers have to attend for Splash Mountain to shut, after which go inside and begin constructing a bunch of AAs and screens with hammers and chisels (or no matter instruments are used for making that stuff–I’m not a scientist). In different phrases, building crews don’t want to attend earlier than beginning work on the Princess and the Frog trip. That work has already begun.
However, I’m nonetheless considerably skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Journey will open in 2024. I’m downright uncertain that it’ll debut by the June 30, 2024 date listed on the above allow. Although it could make sense to open a log flume trip in the summertime, there’s lots of work to be carried out right here. On high of that, the present Splash Mountain infrastructure may need extra work than is presently identified.
Imagineering has had issue with delays lately, and there’s potential for extra of that with Tiana’s Bayou Journey–particularly given the unknowns. It’s doable this undertaking strikes quicker than anticipated and Tiana’s Bayou Journey opens by June 30, 2024. Nonetheless, if I needed to guess on an earlier or later date, my cash can be on Tiana’s Bayou Journey slipping into 2025. After all, all of that is speculative–and being posted earlier than work has even began!
With the Splash Mountain deadline and Tiana’s Bayou Journey opening date hypothesis out of the way in which, let’s check out what Imagineers have been doing behind the scenes to organize for the trip reimagining…
Walt Disney Imagineers have been frequent vacationers to Louisiana whereas conducting in depth analysis to make sure Tiana’s Bayou Journey preserves the center and soul of the town that impressed Princess Tiana’s story.
From exploring the French Market and the bayou, to consulting with teachers, cooks, musicians and cultural establishments, Imagineers have obtained inspiration from everywhere in the area and realized from native specialists alongside the way in which.
Imagineering additionally famous that to make sure Tiana’s Bayou Journey authentically displays the real-life inspiration of Tiana’s story, their artistic workforce has consulted and collaborated with a number of teachers, musicians, and artists throughout the New Orleans area.
So far as updates go, that is actually of the non-update selection…however it’s attention-grabbing to match the artwork with the present Laughing Place scene in Splash Mountain. This “inspirational” artwork would possibly function a template for the way that may very well be modified to suit Tiana’s Bayou Journey, swapping out turtles and gophers for frogs and fireflies.
Previous to this, Disney additionally revealed a brand new search for Tiana, with character costume artwork pictured above.
That is primarily based upon researching prevailing tendencies of the Twenties and looking out via household archives to make sure Tiana’s look was traditionally correct and genuine to the character. Tiana was equally at dwelling within the bayou as she was at a banquet, and Imagineers needed her look to mirror that, and be a praise to the setting of Tiana’s Bayou Journey.
In line with Disney, company are in for a real deal with with native taste when Tiana’s Bayou Journey opens in late 2024. As Charita Carter shared that “in some ways, Tiana’s Bayou Journey is a love letter to New Orleans.”
Carter continued, “just like the musical metropolis that impressed this attraction, Tiana’s second act is a few neighborhood working in concord to realize one thing extraordinary. She reminds us of an immutable reality we will all relate to: ‘when you do your finest every day, good issues are certain to return your manner.’ And that’s a melody we will all sing alongside to!”
Beforehand, Disney introduced that Splash Mountain can be rethemed to the Princess and the Frog at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This announcement was made in June 2020–nearly two years in the past–and never a lot was revealed at the moment. There was a single piece of idea artwork, a obscure premise of the attraction, and quotes from Imagineers and different concerned events.
Tiana’s Bayou Journey will choose up this story after the ultimate kiss, and be a part of Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical journey — that includes a few of the highly effective music from the movie — as they put together for his or her first-ever Mardi Gras efficiency. Throughout this celebration, company will hear unique music impressed by songs from the movie. Tiana is main the way in which and company will be capable of encounter outdated mates and make new ones alongside the way in which as effectively.
Final summer season, the corporate shared extra particulars on the Disney Parks Weblog. That replace included a ~30 minute roundtable video included quite a few people, together with Charita Carter, Senior Producer for Walt Disney Imagineering. You’ll be able to watch it in full for your self beneath:
Throughout that roundtable, Imagineer Charita Carter said that Disney will “advance the storytelling and actually simply type of change the sport” in the case of the advance Audio Animatronics and scenic visuals utilized within the reimagined trip.
Regardless of its length, that was the one tidbit concerning the precise attraction that got here from the roundtable. The remainder was about Tiana’s cultural affect, the artistic course of behind the upcoming attraction, and Imagineers efforts to analysis New Orleans to inform a narrative that’s as genuine to the area as it’s to the characters’ tales. There wasn’t a lot substance concerning the proposed trip.
Finally, that’s our perspective on the feasibility of this overhaul timeline and certain closure date for Splash Mountain. Personally, I hope Splash Mountain closes earlier than TRON Lightcycle Run opens in Spring 2023 to provide Imagineering a extra time to provide a high-quality attraction, and never only a fast and superficial redo.
Each Splash Mountain and Princess and the Frog deserve higher than that. This reimagining NEEDS the easiest artistic expertise, price range, time, and all different sources. I hope Disney is cognizant of the truth that the Splash Mountain reimagining goes to be underneath a microscope, each from followers and within the mainstream.
If the tip results of Tiana’s Bayou Journey feels rushed, sloppy, or phoned-in, it’s going to draw criticism from a various array of individuals. As the corporate has been getting lots of social backlash not too long ago, hopefully they notice the significance of avoiding that for as soon as. Right here’s hoping that Tiana’s Bayou Journey delivers an distinctive expertise that successfully silences critics and wins over skeptics.
Oh, and as for the title…I’m of two minds about that. As I’ve stated earlier than, I used to be actually hoping for “Splash Mountain ~ Voyage of the Log with Princess and the Frog: New Adventures with Princess Tiana!” That was principally in jest, poking enjoyable at Disney’s comically-long attraction names (though I feel incorporating “log” and “frog” into the title would’ve been a stable transfer).
With that stated, I’m happy that this trip title doesn’t have any punctuation. Tiana’s Bayou Journey is brief and candy, and simple to recollect. I personally would’ve most well-liked “Tiana’s Bayou Blast,” however possibly that sounds an excessive amount of like a royal taste of Mountain Dew. (Possibly Tiana’s Bayou Bash?)
I do assume lots of Walt Disney World followers and even common company will nonetheless simply confer with Tiana’s Bayou Journey as “Splash Mountain.” That’s such an iconic and memorable title, with sturdy model recognition. On condition that, I’m kind of shocked that title isn’t residing on.
Nonetheless, I additionally get the will to make a clear break from the previous. Disney desires this to be perceived as fully new (even when it’s not) and a contemporary begin for the trip. Both manner, it’ll be attention-grabbing to see how this unfolds. We’ll maintain you posted if and when there are extra updates this weekend!
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Ideas on the Splash Mountain reimagining? How a lot of the present attraction (e.g. random musical critter AAs) are you anticipating to look within the reimagined model? Excited for Tiana’s Bayou Journey, or do you would like it have been referred to as “Splash Mountain ~ Voyage of the Log with Princess and the Frog: New Adventures with Princess Tiana!“? Expectations relating to the Splash Mountain reimagining timeline? Hold the feedback civil, as this isn’t the place for politically-charged arguing, tradition wars, antagonism, private assaults, or low-cost pictures. We can be heavy-handed in deleting any feedback that cross the road, no matter viewpoint. You aren’t going to alter anybody’s thoughts through the feedback part on this weblog, nor are you going to alter Disney’s priorities. Should you want to shout your outrage into the web abyss, that’s why Fb was invented.