New details about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure have been revealed by NOLA.com, including information about the advanced audio-animatronics that will be used on the ride. A NOLA.com reporter toured the attraction at Magic Kingdom in early January with Imagineering executive creative director Ted Robledo.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Tour
Robledo began his tour on the queue courtyard for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, where there are new flagstone pathways and a mural by Louisiana artist Malaika Favorite. The mural is on a two-story barn that remains from Splash Mountain but was repainted yellow before the mural was added.
Robledo said the courtyard will set the scene for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. “Like a movie, this is the setting. We’ve got to know where we’re at,” he said.
The first floor of the barn, which guests enter as part of the queue, will house the offices of Tiana’s Foods. The backstory of the attraction explains that Tiana founded the co-op after the events of “The Princess and the Frog.”
Poles outside the barn will support loudspeakers broadcasting a 1920s radio show. Reimagined classic New Orleans songs will play, performed by local musicians assembled by New Orleans musician and Grammy winner Terence Blanchard.
In addition to Favorite and Blanchard, Disney has recruited Maroon 5 keyboardist P.J. Morton, another New Orleans native, and the family of the late Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase, who served as inspiration for Tiana.
“This is our love letter to New Orleans, and in that spirit, art is everywhere,” Robledo said. “The city as a place is as important as a character. The story reacts to the place. We’re starting to hint at that in the queue, to try to craft that love letter to New Orleans in every way possible.”
At the ride’s loading area, NOLA.com noted there were cranes hoisting pallets of Tiana’s Foods crates. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will use the same ride vehicles and track as Splash Mountain. The NOLA reporter got to walk some of the track and stated all of Splash Mountain’s fake vegetation has been replaced with plants native to Louisiana, including cypress trees, marsh grasses, and Spanish moss.
“This will be where we first see ‘the critters,’ as we’re calling them,” Robledo said, referring to the ride’s new animal band seen in the above concept art.
Two-dimensional cutouts of Louis and Tiana currently represent their future animatronics. We previously saw a preview of a Louis animatronic. The cutouts help designers see how the characters fit into the scenes.
There will be several Tiana animatronics that will speak directly to guests. The animatronics, NOLA.com stated, will be the same high-tech versions recently used for World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland. The animatronics are notable for having advanced physical faces instead of projected screen faces, which were popular for Disney a few years ago.
The Audio-Animatronics will be the same at the Disneyland Park version of the attraction, as will most aspects of the experience.
Other new elements inside Tiana’s Bayou Adventure included a pair of stone arches over the ride flume. But some of the Splash Mountain architecture like rocks and boulders will remain.
We saw a glimpse inside Tiana’s Bayou Adventure during “A Special Edition of 20/20 – Disney 100: A Century of Dreams.”
Robledo said of the removal of the tree from the top of Splash Mountain, “We needed some real estate there to fit the added show magic.”
The tour stopped before the ride’s climactic scene, which was previously the Laughin’ Place. Robledo said of the surprise scene, “I’ll just say it’s got a lot to do with magic. It’s a magical moment that happens down there.”
In our most recent Tiana’s Bayou Adventure construction update, we noted bottle lights had been installed at the ride’s drop, implying the scene will take place at Mama Odie’s shipwreck home.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open this year at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland.