REVIEW: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Is As Good As Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

Shannen Ace

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A man in a print shirt stands next to the text "Tom's Honest Review of Tiana's Bayou Adventure" with a themed park background, featuring a decorative bayou-themed animal.

REVIEW: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Is As Good As Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom has held several previews before its grand opening on June 28. WDWNT’s Tom (and Eric) had the chance to ride it three times and now bring their honest review.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Honest Review

A man in a print shirt stands next to the text "Tom's Honest Review of Tiana's Bayou Adventure" with a themed park background, featuring a decorative bayou-themed animal.

First things first: this is an honest review. We’re on the Disney media list but will always give you our honest thoughts, based on facts and feelings. If you’ve come in with an open mind and want to hear why we like or dislike the attraction or certain parts of it, then keep reading.

Background of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

A rugged mountain structure features red rock formations and a wooden cabin with a steep water flume, set under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds, creating an enchanting scene perfect for a Magic Kingdom photo report.

Splash Mountain opened at Disneyland in 1989 and at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992. It became an indelible part of those parks and a classic attraction known worldwide. In 2020, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Disney announced Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. There is some debate about how far along the development of the project was at that time.

Fans had three years to say goodbye to Splash Mountain (compared to three weeks for The Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure). We think every attraction should get that kind of notice.

In January of 2023, Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World closed, with the Disneyland version following in May of 2023. There’s been a surprisingly quick turnaround. In less than 18 months, we have Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

We had concerns that this attraction was going to be all decals and projectors, especially given Bob Chapek was CEO at the time of the announcement. As Disney started sharing videos of the new Audio-Animatronics and other details, we realized they were putting a lot of thought into this experience. They were replacing an attraction that was quintessentially Disney. Like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain had long immersive scenes with tons of animatronics and great music. Disney knew they were replacing something beloved and iconic and they took that seriously.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Story

A sign reading "Tiana's Bayou Adventure" welcomes visitors at an entrance surrounded by lush greenery and themed decorations, with a water tower labeled "Tiana's Foods" standing proudly in the background.

It was interesting to see them start molding a story for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Your instinct would be to just tell the story of “The Princess and the Frog.” However, there are problems with incorporating that into the structure of Splash Mountain. One, it’s a mountain (now a salt dome). Two, there were concerns about including Dr. Facilier and the religious tones of voodoo.

So Disney chose to set Tiana’s Bayou Adventure one year after “The Princess and the Frog.” Tiana is now a successful business owner and has founded a co-op, Tiana’s Foods. She and Prince Naveen live in Fleur de Bayou and are throwing a Mardi Gras party. They’ve checked everything off their list except a band, so guests are enlisted to help Louis find one.

Was Splash Mountain’s storyline the pinnacle of Disney storytelling? No, but it didn’t need to be. The strength of Splash Mountain wasn’t the narrative, it was the scenes, animatronics, and placemaking. Going back to quintessential attractions, the narratives of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean aren’t great, either. The story of Space Mountain is just going to space. And speaking of quintessential Disney — this is just down the road from the Country Bears, who play music, sing songs, and have silly backstories, just like the characters of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

With that being said, the story of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure isn’t any less intricate than that of Splash Mountain. We’ll get into the problems of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure but they’re not (compared to Splash Mountain) narrative and story.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Facade

A serene pond surrounded by lush greenery and tall trees with hanging moss. Pink water lilies float on the water, and a building with a tree-covered façade is visible in the background.

The exterior is beautiful. It’s lush and green. You still see the logs floating by. I think the Splash Mountain facade told its story, and we miss the tree on top of Chick-A-Pin Hill. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a completely different setting. From far away, it is unassuming, but close up, it’s striking. We really love the exterior. It has the same quality as the fake rocks and foliage in Fantasy Springs.

Throughout the ride, there is a lot of foliage and flowers in thoughtful places, bringing the mountain to life. It does feel like a bayou.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Queue

A kitchen with a chalkboard on the wall reading "Don't Forget! Celebration at my house tonight! Everybody's welcome! See you there! Tiana." Shelves hold jars, cookware, and utensils, making it feel like you're stepping into Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

There is no argument that the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is better than the queue of Splash Mountain. The former queue put you in a time and place but there wasn’t much story to set up.

In true Disney quality, there’s a lot of storytelling in this queue. We were worried about them trying to pack too much narrative into a log flume, but it’s one of those attractions where you can choose how much backstory you want to know. You don’t have to read everything in the queue to enjoy the attraction but there are thoughtful, interesting details, which Disney fans love. For example, items at Tiana’s Foods are missing; the delivery truck doesn’t have a license plate. But then on the ride, you see the license plate as Gritty the rabbit’s washboard.

The first half of the queue is the Tiana’s Foods headquarters. We were surprised and charmed by the Splash Mountain references in Tiana’s office. We expected them to brush it under the rug, but ignoring history completely isn’t right.

The second floor is the kitchen, which is a beautiful set. Unfortunately, the Lightning Lane queue skips this section.

A sign on a rocky wall reads "Remember! Salt Mines Reserved for Seasoned Veterans."

The second half of the queue is the salt mine. This is where you get blasted with cold air conditioning and it smells just like Splash Mountain. In fact, this whole section feels like the Splash Mountain queue — because it was basically just repainted. Disney did put a glittery finish on the walls to make it look like salt, which is great.

The load area has some extra props. Kudos to Disney for giving themed shade structures to the Cast Members — cranes carrying Tiana’s Foods crates.

First Scenes

A water tower labeled "Tiana's Foods" stands amid lush vegetation, swamp-like trees, and a pond with blooming water lilies under a clear blue sky.

There’s an odd moment at the start of the ride after your log turns away from the loading area, where a Cast Member on the right seems to check your safety restraints. We kind of felt like they were to distract us from the hardware that remains from Br’er Frog being removed on the left.

At the top of the first lift hill, you look up at the Tiana’s Foods water tower and then down over Frontierland as you make a right turn. It’s a stunning view with cypress trees, lilypads, and people walking in the distance. The water cannons are gone from here — we think they would’ve been removed from Splash Mountain at some point, anyway, but it still makes us sad that they’re gone.

“Down in New Orleans” plays in this area and we’ll say, in general, the music volume could be turned up. We don’t mind it as much at this moment when it’s just background noise, but it’s part of the story after this point. Crank it up!

A wooden staircase leads upward beside a display of jars and a broom; a human figure stands on the stairs next to the rocky cave entrance, reminiscent of Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

They’ve covered the emergency exit walkway with a fence featuring gumbo ingredients. Then comes the second lift hill through the mill, where you see your first animatronic — Tiana. She tells you to find Louis and join him in searching for a band.

In the next scene, you see Louis stuck under a crate as he starts to look for a band. There didn’t used to be animation in this area but they’ve added some movement: the Louis figure doesn’t move, but the okra around him does. This is a Tiana’s Foods farm, not unlike what was there before. On the right is another Louis figure — this one made out of gourds, which is cute. We miss the birdhouses and they’re one of the things that we feel could’ve remained.

Lari the Armadillo

An armadillo sculpture with baskets of vibrant vegetables set against a wooden fence and green foliage on a sunny day.

This scene introduces the recurring original character of Lari. Other than Figment, we think he might be our favorite Walt Disney World original character. He’s a despicable-looking kleptomaniac armadillo wearing an eyepatch like a pirate. The eyepatch is always facing away from you but the left eye follows you like the Haunted Mansion busts, which we love because he’s always giving you the side-eye like, “I didn’t steal this!” There are several examples like that of the ride using old Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) standards, proving they still work.

Lari doesn’t move but he’s a beautifully sculpted figure. He has scars on his armor. They’ve created hair details. He’s adorable and we love him. He’s the best thing on this ride. In fact…

Lari the Armadillo's Bayou Adventure sign stands proudly next to a large armadillo statue holding an umbrella, with trees and a pond in the background. One can almost imagine Tiana's Bayou Adventure right around the corner.

We think the ride should be renamed to Lari the Armadillo’s Bayou Adventure because he is the star. The fact that Lari doesn’t have a plush is appalling.

Into the Bayou

A rocky landscape covered with greenery and plants, with a small, dark cave and a waterway at the bottom in an outdoor setting under a clear sky, reminiscent of Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

Br’er Rabbit’s former home is a hole in a rock, which we thought was weird. We believe that if a scene existed somewhere on a ride, you need to either hide it or make a new scene. This is just a void and reminds us of what used to be there. Br’er Bear’s house, on the other hand, is now Mama Odie’s house. You can hear her talking as you pass by.

You then come to a small drop, which used to be Slippin’ Falls. They removed the tiny bridge with an opening where a critter had fallen through. We loved the tiny bridge and think it could’ve been kept. It didn’t detract from the story.

Then you drop into the interior show scenes. A big change from Splash is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure takes place at nighttime instead of daytime. WDI has done an extraordinary job transforming this into a nighttime scene. It looked soulless in YouTube videos but actually riding through these scenes is great. The lighting on the water and the firefly effects are good. Overall, they did a great job of set dressing.

Here, we encounter our first Louis animatronic.

An animatronic alligator with an open mouth is surrounded by foliage and colorful lighting.

There are three checklist items for us to make a good theme park attraction: good audio-animatronics, original characters, and original music.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure nailed the animatronics. They are the same quality as those in Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea.

We did notice the dialogue was slightly out of sync with the animatronics. Disney was aware of it during our media visit so it should be fixed by the time most guests ride. Another issue during previews was that the animatronics sometimes didn’t trigger at the right moment. Their dialogue is triggered by an approaching log vehicle and when logs were backed up, the trigger didn’t work. Hopefully, that will also be fixed by the time it officially opens.

Meeting the Musicians

A group of animated woodland animals playing instruments in a bayou setting, surrounded by foliage. The scene is brightly lit with various colored lights.

At this point, Louis is excited to introduce the first band. These are original characters playing zydeco music. These aren’t full-blown animatronics, we’d call them animated figures. They look great and have beautiful animation but simple movements. They’re playing improvised instruments made of found items (like the license plate), which is cool. You’ll be able to buy three of them (not enough, we love them) as plush.

Touching on the audio again, we felt the music should have gotten louder as we approached the band. Audio is our biggest negative, but it’s also the easiest thing to resolve.

Right after that is Tiana. We don’t know who wrote the script but you’ll hear, “Boy, they can play!” a lot. There has to be another way to convey that these critters are good musicians.

Then we go through a kind of dark passage. On Splash Mountain, this had the skunk and porcupine playing instruments. There’s nothing there now.

Where the young bunnies were is a great scene — and we hate this because we’re commending projection scenes, but there is a place for screens and projections. On this ride, they’re not used to place a character where you could’ve put an animatronic. This scene has groups of fireflies going through a log, bouncing along with the music. There are two physical trees also in this area, and we love that a real glowing light hits the back of the trees as the fireflies go by. It’s a tremendous use of projections.

The backgrounds throughout the ride are great. With older rides like Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, we love the painted backdrops. They’re beautiful but only somewhat immersive. The projected backgrounds on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure make it feel like the bayou continues far beyond. It’s similar to Na’vi River Journey in that way.

Three animatronic bears are playing instruments in a forest setting. A fox and bear on the left plays a drum, the bear in the middle plays a guitar, and the bear on the right plays a horn.

The next scene has Louis and Tiana praising two bobcats, and across the way is a fox and three bears. This part happens so quickly and then there’s mostly dead space before you encounter Tiana again. Splash Mountain didn’t have much going on here, but it was better. The only movement here is bouncing fireflies.

We’re not asking them to make more animatronics. We think they should have spread the figures out more, giving each more time to breathe and making the ride feel more like we’re discovering creatures to assemble this band. Start with the bobcats, give them a beat, bring in the bears, give them breathing room, and then introduce the fox.

There’s also a “shed” that’s just a flat, painted piece of wood with no dimension. It looks out of place because everything else about the bayou has depth. There are a couple of other minor things like that on the ride, where we could see wires or an electrical conduit, which break the immersion if you see them.

My general feeling is that the Disneyland version is going to be better because of the layout. It’s a little smaller and shorter but we think that means the scenes will feel fuller.

Frog Club

Tail of Louis the alligator animatronic surrounded by foliage and trees in a dark setting.

Next is another Tiana animatronic, followed by Louis stuck in a log (another Splash Mountain homage). After Louis is a group of small frogs.

A Mama Odie projection appears above, and is another well-done projection. It has depth — as you go under Mama Odie, you see the bottles hanging above her.

You drop down through purple and gold light that represents Mama Odie’s magic shrinking you. The light is simple but effective.

A smiling green frog is seated while playing bongos in a jungle-themed setting with large leaves and purple ambient lighting.

You pass by giant props like a pink bottle, signifying you’re small now. And then you come upon one of the frogs from before, Mondo, now giant and playing the bongos. After that, you pass under a string of Mardi Gras beads and a club soda bottle cap creating a sign for the frog club. In this section are giant leaves with another Na’vi River Journey effect — dancing, glowing fireflies are back-projected onto them. Near the end of this scene is another giant bottle that magnifies the fireflies, which is neat.

A dimly lit indoor scene featuring oversized mushrooms, leaves, and plants, with a frog holding a flower trumpet in the center. Bright, colored lights enhance the setting.

This is by far our favorite scene. We love the big mushrooms. It feels like old Disney rides, including Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, which had giant mushrooms. It’s trippy. The frogs are original characters and impressive figures. There’s fun music, too (“Dig A Little Deeper”).

Tiana and Louis are projected into this scene as giants looking through a hole in this log, which works. The weird thing is that they’re 3D animated, while the fireflies across from them (now depicted in full detail) are 2D animated. Both independently look cool but they’re jarring to see next to each other.

Just like on Splash Mountain, there is water jumping over you. The Laughin’ Place of Splash Mountain was a little more populated, but the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure frogs are much bigger.

The Drop

Mama Odie surrounded by colorful bottles and hanging foliage in a dark, immersive environment.

The frogs are my favorite scene but the next section is our least favorite. The build-up to the final lift and drop is not good. There’s a big black empty hole on the bottom of the lift hill where Br’er Fox and Br’er Rabbit used to be. So we know a figure could have gone there. Instead, there’s a circular projection above, where the vultures used to be. It’s had a few problems, like triggering too late, and it looks stupid if it doesn’t work because it’s just a picture of a bunch of leaves.

If timed right, the leaves swirl away, revealing Mama Odie and Juju. Mama Odie tells you it’s time to get big again. Then you go through a dark tunnel with more lights and mist. It’s okay and will probably look better at night, but it’s kind of a dead moment. Then you come upon a tremendous Mama Odie figure in her crow’s nest, telling you it’s time to get to the party.

Nothing about these moments explains how or why you’re about to splash down a mountain. It’s weird because there is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure merchandise that says, “We know a shortcut!” Maybe we missed a line of audio but we didn’t hear Mama Odie telling us this is a shortcut.

Our understanding is that Disney doesn’t want to scare kids, in general, but specifically with the build-up to the drop. We believe that more younger kids are going to ride this than Splash Mountain because they know these characters. However, there needs to be more explanation here. We don’t believe the ride needed Dr. Facilier. We would’ve loved an antagonist, but Dr. Facilier is the lazy answer. Not every attraction has to be that something went wrong, sometimes it can just be silly.

We believe the story Disney has for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure can be compelling and they could have come up with something better for the drop that fits. It could be a comedic moment, with Mama Odie sending you over a waterfall. It’s a big miss. They could fix it with added lines of dialogue. You could also animate a new sequence for the bottom of the lift hill.

A group of people riding a log flume boat down a water slide, emerging from a tunnel surrounded by rocky and wooded terrain, reminiscent of Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

As for the actual drop, we thought dropping into the bayou worked. The trees are tall, making it feel like a more narrow passage. It felt harrowing.

You get to see Lari again at the bottom. Now he has an umbrella and a lantern. After that, the small waterfall from Splash Mountain remains, so your friend on the right side of the log can still get extra wet.


A colorful, animated scene depicts a musical performance with animal characters playing instruments on a balcony and stage, reminiscent of Tiana's Bayou Adventure. The backdrop shows a decorated building with vibrant lighting.

The finale has almost too much going on. There are so many characters: Tiana, Naveen (finally), all of the bayou critters, Louis, Lottie, Eudora, Ralphie, etc. — and those are just the figures. Big Daddy and Naveen’s parents are on screens in the windows. Lari’s back, and this time he has knocked over a lamp, and it’s broken on the ground. He’s sitting on the column as a replacement.

It’s awesome but it goes by too quickly. Like the bobcats, bears, and fox, we think the finale scene should have been spread out more. There’s some empty space at the beginning of the room and we would love to take the tiny frog band and put them there.

This is where you hear the original song: “Special Spice” by PJ Morton. It’s fine and Iwe appreciate it exists. It’s not like we can’t stop singing it when I get off the ride. Do you know what Splash Mountain did not have? An original song.

On the right, after Tiana’s house, you see Tiana’s Palace on the river. There are two tiny frog statues, which are cute. Then you pass an animatronic Mama Odie again. She has a plate of beignets, which you can smell, and Juju is trying to steal them. We love Juju. He’s a static figure on a moving base, so his movement is fluid but, it also kind of looks like there must be a person behind the table moving a stick up and down.

A small frog sits on a wooden barrel beside a glowing lantern in a dimly lit cave with wooden crates.

Before you unload, one more frog is sitting on a barrel. The highlight of this ride for us is the non-animated vignettes like this. The frogs and Lari make it for us.


Animatronic characters in a whimsical, colorful garden scene with an armadillo characters on a stairway, and a glass-domed structure in the background. The setting is illuminated with vibrant lighting.

When we first rode this, we thought it was bad, but after two more rides, we liked it. We think Splash Mountain fans will need at least two rides to appreciate it and separate the two attractions. To be fair, this was during media previews and we didn’t have a single ride where everything worked 100 percent. We can’t judge the operations too much while they’re testing, but we’ll weigh back in after it officially opens.

The drop sequence is not as good as Splash Mountain. There are some glaring holes. There are things Disney could and should have done better.

However, there are also things they should be commended for. Animatronics of this quality are few and far between at Walt Disney World. The best ones, like the Shaman and Hondo, are individuals. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has a large quantity — something that hasn’t been seen at Walt Disney World since Splash Mountain opened in 1992.

We think, overall, Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure are even. The rule is you have to be as good or better than what you replaced. Tiana’s is not better than Splash but it’s just as good.

We have a lot of emotional connection to Splash Mountain, and have to remove our emotional connection from the equation and put ourselves in the shoes of regular guests, judging Tiana’s Bayou Adventure on its own merit. We will be stunned if people don’t like this as much as Splash Mountain. We think there are people who would not ride Splash who will ride Tiana’s.

The world has changed. “The Princess and the Frog” resonates with modern guests. We love the film, its music, and 2D animation. We like that the ride isn’t a retelling of the movie, because we have original characters. The setting also opens the door for a Tiana’s Palace restaurant, which would also take place after the movie. We think we’ll inevitably get that at Walt Disney World.

Disney put valiant effort (and money) into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — more than with other modern rides. For example, this is a better replacement than Frozen Ever After was for Maelstrom. We wish we had been blown away. We would have loved to say it’s better than Splash Mountain, but it has impressive animatronics, cute original characters, and fine original music, even while using a pre-existing IP.

Watch the video version of this review below.

Also, check out our scene-by-scene comparison of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and Splash Mountain, everything you need to know about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and our queue tour and ride POV.

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