Splash Mountain will soon be another relic of Disney’s past.
Disney is closing in on remodeling its canal ride at both Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure; this is Princess Tiana, the company’s first black princess and the central character of the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.
On Friday, the company released new concept art of what the adventure will look like. They announced that Splash Mountain at Disney World will close on January 23, 2023, as it undergoes the transformation. Both theme parks are expected to debut the revamped ride by the end of next year.
Carmen Smith, the company’s senior vice president who oversees creative development and inclusive strategies, explained the colorful image.
“This new scene is the exciting moment where you fall into the bayou for the first time and meet some friends both new and familiar,” Smith said. “As you can see here, the fireflies will light up the night and beckon you deeper into the bayou… almost as if they’re beckoning you forward. What you can’t tell from this rendering – so you’ll just have to trust me on this one – is that beautiful zydeco music will fill the air.”
The story, which takes place immediately after the events of the film, is that Tiana and Louis the alligator are teaming up to throw a big party for the people of New Orleans during… what else? — carnival season.
Disney Imagineers has even visited Crescent City in the name of research.
Louis will be the one to tell guests where the music is coming from. Guests about to get wet will also meet some of the princess’ new friends, including an otter, rabbit, raccoon, beaver and turtle, who sing and play instruments made from items found in the bayou.
“Like so many genres of music, zydeco brings together the sounds and styles of many cultures,” Smith said. “We wanted spirit to be reflected in this scene (and throughout the attraction) so that all of our guests feel welcome to join in the celebration. It is emblematic of what we always strive for with our attractions – bringing people together from diverse backgrounds through timeless Disney Stories. This new musical adventure provides us with a score to turn that concept into reality.”
Smith joked that when the ride transforms, “you’ll feel like you’ve truly entered Tiana’s world.”
Up until now, Splash Mountain was based on animated characters from its 1946 film Song of the South, which has long been criticized for its stereotypical depictions of black people and its rosy view of their life in post-slavery America. The film is so reviled that it has never been released for home viewing.
However, Song of the South was given new life in 1989 when Splash Mountain first came out at the California theme park. It opened at the Magic Kingdom in 1992. The Oscar-winning soundtrack to the movie “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” played and the characters Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear have been chasing each other there ever since. Disney announced in June 2020, amid the ongoing George Floyd protests, that it had been working on “inclusive” change for a year or more.