You’ve likely already heard that the Splash Mountain ride in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World is being transformed with a new Princess and the Frog theme. We’ve heard when the rides will open, seen a lot of concept art, and even learned that more Princess and the Frog-themed areas are going to accompany the attraction. But now we’re ready to dig a little deeper and discover MORE about the new ride! (Mama Odie would be proud of that pun.)
At the 2022 D23 Expo, we got to check out a small-scale model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (that’s the new name for the ride, in case you didn’t know). By closely examining this model, we were able to learn a LOT about what we might see when it finally opens in a couple of years!
We recently took an incredibly in-depth look at the concept art that Disney released for the possible Moana, Zootopia, Coco, Encanto, and villains-themed lands that were announced at this year’s D23 Expo. We broke out the magnifying glasses and speculated away — and we think a lot of the speculations are pretty darn impressive if we do say so ourselves. Now we’re doing the same for the upcoming Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!
First, a Disclaimer
Before we get started, we need to warn you that not everything that we saw on the model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is guaranteed to appear in the real thing. We still have a couple of years before the ride will officially open, and in that time, a lot could change.
We’re definitely beyond the “Blue Sky” stage of Disney Imagineering (meaning the ride itself seems to be pretty much guaranteed to happen), but that doesn’t mean that details or even parts of the storyline can’t change over the next couple of years.
In addition, you should probably know that — like we did for our analysis of the new Disney World lands concept art — we have basically become intense conspiracy theorists/detectives in the process of searching for clues on the model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Did we scour the model for any possible hint or connection to the movie The Princess and the Frog? Absolutely. Did we question what every single tiny detail could possibly mean? You bet we did. Are some of our predictions probably way off? …Maybe. We think that we’ve discovered some pretty cool details, but it’s also possible that we over-thought some of the elements on the model. You’ll see what we mean.
In the meantime, though, it’s fun to speculate and wonder, and we’ll get to discover how right we are once the ride officially opens. But just remember that not everything we’re saying here is official — Disney hasn’t verified much of this information, so a lot of it is guesswork for now.
What We Already Knew About Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
To give you a little bit of background information, let’s quickly go over what we already know about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The attraction is going to open in late 2024 in both Disneyland Park and Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
The storyline picks up after the story of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, specifically “after the final kiss.” So, what exactly DOES happen “after the final kiss”? Well, when the film itself ends, Princess Tiana makes her dream come true when she opens her very own restaurant, Tiana’s Palace. The story of the attraction, as Disney shares, picks up during New Orleans’ Carnival season, and Tiana is hosting a Mardi Gras party for the people of New Orleans.
But oh no! Tiana realized that the party is “missing a key ingredient” and she needs help finding it — that’s where we come in. We’ll join Tiana and several other characters (including Louis, Prince Naveen, and some new friends) to help her find the missing ingredient. The story will end with a big Mardi Gras celebration.
As it did in the movie, music is going to play an important role in the attraction. The ride will feature original music that’s “inspired by songs from the film.” Some of the voice actors from the film will reprise their roles in the ride, including Jenifer Lewis (Mama Odie), Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana), Bruno Campos (Prince Naveen), and Michael Leon Wooley (Louis).
Over in Disneyland, a new restaurant called Tiana’s Palace is coming, although Disney hasn’t revealed when it will open or what the menu will look like. Disneyland will also get Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets, which is a gift shop owned by Princess Tiana’s mom, Eudora. The shop will sell a line of merchandise featuring Tiana’s own spices and sauces. According to Disney, some of the ingredients for those sauces and spices are grown on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!
Disney Imagineers have been spending a lot of time in New Orleans in order to do research for the ride and “dig deep into the culture of New Orleans to tell a story that’s as authentic to the region as it is to the characters’ stories. From the food, music, art, and architecture to the diversity of its people and their traditions, there is much from which to draw inspiration.”
We’ve seen some concept art that served as inspiration for the ride, including paintings by Sharika Mahdi — a visual artist, art educator, and alumna of the YAWA (Young Aspirations Young Artists) Arts Center in New Orleans. She created a scene to serve as inspiration for the Mardi Gras party…
…and also a scene of some jazz-playing amphibians with fireflies as the audience.
Mahdi’s artwork is also heavily influenced by the city of New Orleans. She said she wanted to showcase how the city makes “a big deal about everything and celebrat[es] everything.”
NEW Details Revealed
OK, so now that you’ve got the whole backstory, we can really get into the details we found on the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure model. We’ll start by saying that a lot of the ride looks very similar to Splash Mountain (no shocker there). The big drop is still there, and a lot of the ride track seems to be in the same place.
In the queue for the ride and also along the ride track, you can see some of the gardens where ingredients are being grown for Eudora’s Chic Boutique and for Tiana’s Palace restaurant.
We spotted some peppers, cabbage, and other veg that looks like they’d be useful in the kitchen.
In one of the gardens, we spotted some gourds that were arranged in a particular shape, and it doesn’t look like it was an accident. It’s a little bit tricky to tell exactly what the Imagineers were trying to do here — our best guess related to The Princess and the Frog would be that they’re creating the shape of Louis the trumpet-playing gator! See the little pumpkin at the bottom? That could be a gator’s claw. And it looks like he might even be holding a trumpet!
But if we’re honest with ourselves, our first thought was actually the trolls from Maelstrom — a now-extinct ride that used to live in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase (the ride was re-themed to become Frozen Ever After). Maelstrom was also a boat ride that featured a big drop, so maybe this is a nod to that! (We warned you that our speculations got a bit out-there.) OK, so probably the more likely answer is Louis. But can’t you see the resemblance to the trolls??
In addition to the veg, some of the other plants really showcase the Imagineers’ research about New Orleans and Louisiana. See those bushes with the long white things on them?
We think those could be Sweetspire Shrubs, which are native to the southeastern US. They’d fit right into the landscape of New Orleans.
And there are several trees that could definitely be Bald Cypress trees, which are the state tree of Louisiana! Disney said they did their research for this ride, and it looks like they’re not messing around.
Sticking to the Louisiana state theme, we noticed in some of the concept art for the ride that a brown pelican is featured and could possibly be one of the new characters on the ride. This bird is the state bird of Louisiana!
Another ride element we noticed that has some significance to Louisiana is a fleur-de-lis above the entrance to the finale. You’ll see the sign announcing the Mardi Gras party, and just above that is a fleur-de-lis decoration. The fleur-de-lis is an important symbol in Louisiana and in New Orleans specifically. The area has a history of French settlement — Louisiana’s name comes from King Louis XIV when he claimed the land for France in 1862. The fleur-de-lis was a symbol of the French monarchy, and it stuck around even after the area became part of America.
If you zoom out from the details a little bit, you’ll see a big wooden water tower that says “Tiana’s Foods: Employee Owned, Est. 1922.” On top of that tower is a big tiara that looks just like Tiana’s tiara from the movie!
Disney even released some concept art of Tiana, Naveen, and some friends (who we might see in the ride?) celebrating when the tiara is placed on top of the water tower in 1927.
But zoom back in for just a second, and you might notice 2 little stars just a bit to the right of the center of the tiara. See ’em? Those are likely a nod to Evangeline and Ray! Ray is a firefly in the movie, and the love of his life is a star named Evangeline.
The 2 stars together is a tribute to that moment of the story when we sobbed ugly tears because Ray finally gets to join Evangeline in the night sky.
Speaking of adorable couples, we found a couple of frogs perched on a log towards the end of the ride. From what we can see, they look just like Naveen and Tiana in the movie when they were both in their frog form. That makes sense, but we just have one question — why are they frogs again? At the end of the movie, they became human again after the final kiss. Unless the story of the ride gets REALLY wild, the frogs are probably just a nod to their history — we’re pretty sure both Tiana and Naveen will stay human for this ride (but again, anything could happen!).
Disney announced that a new mist element is going to be part of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which sounds like we might be in for a few spookier scenes at some point. The video they showed had a lot of colorful lights shining into the mist and especially a lot of shades of green.
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) September 11, 2022
And speaking of the Shadow Man, he was our first thought when we looked at the opening where the boat comes out of before going down the big drop. You can see a lot of lights and colors inside, which initially reminded us of the Friends on the Other Side scene that had colorful Voodoo dolls and flashing lights.
But then we looked closer and saw that the lights actually looked like glass bottles hanging from the ceiling, so our thought process did a 180 and turned to the scene where Mama Odie sings Dig a Little Deeper. In that scene, Mama Odie’s house is decorated with colorful bottles, and they play a big part in the set of the musical number.
Especially since Disney confirmed that Jenifer Lewis will return to reprise her role as Mama Odie, we think a visit to her tree house is more likely at this point.
While we were examining those bottles, we also noticed the rocks around the entrance. (And this part is where you’ll officially be convinced that we’re losing our minds.) Can anyone else see some strange markings on those rocks?
It might be the friends on the other side talking to us, but they look like they might be faces of Voodoo dolls or even just magical symbols, like the ones that floated through the air when Dr. Facilier sang his iconic number.
OK, we’ve probably officially dug a little too deep with that last speculation. But once you get into the nitty-gritty details, it’s hard to unsee them! We’ll have to wait and see how much of this really comes to fruition once the ride opens in late 2024, and until then, we’ll keep looking for more clues.
If you’re curious to learn more about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, you can check out more of the concept art here, or learn about Eudora’s Chic Boutique and Tiana’s Palace Restaurant. We’ll keep watching for more updates from Disney, so stay tuned to DFB for the latest news!
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What details do you think could come to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Tell us your predictions in the comments!
The post Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Could Have SURPRISING Details You’ve Never Noticed first appeared on the disney food blog.