Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Debuts Summer 2024

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

In a somewhat surprising move, Disney announced today that the Walt Disney World version of Tiana's Bayou Adventure is set to open in summer 2024.  This post will talk about what was said in that announcement, as well as commentary on why now and an attempt to narrow down that timeframe even further.  Plus we'll look at some of these new audio animatronics!

I said above that this is somewhat surprising, as Tiana's was originally announced with a "late 2024" tag.  Really, the ORIGINAL original announcement was way back in 2020, when the parks were closed and there just wasn't all that much to talk about.  I'm treating the December 2022 announcement as the "official" one, as that shared concept art and at least started the clock on the new attraction.  Splash Mountain officially closed in January 2023.

I don't think we need to rehash this, but Disney is notorious for not exactly finishing projects in the time specified.  The bigger the project, and the further away the projected opening date, the more likely it is to get moved (or in some cases removed entirely) as time goes on.  That's what makes this one so interesting - not only did they complete it in the time they originally stated, it's actually going to be done EARLY.  This is a rarity in Disney terms, and makes for a pretty exciting announcement today, if we're being honest.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.  If you've seen any of the progress on the facade of the attraction, you'll see that it is pretty far along.  There was even a report a little over a week ago that the flume had been filled and actual ride vehicle testing was underway.  That kind of thing usually isn't happening if we're still many months away from opening.  Contrast this to the "speed" that, say, Communicore Hall at Epcot is coming along, and you'll see a stark difference.  Clearly this ride was a priority for Disney and with good reason - it's one of the only major projects currently in progress.

There's no real way to know what kind of construction was happening inside the mountain, of course, and that was always the wild card when it came to an opening date.  But based on what Disney has officially released here, I'd say they're also pretty far along. This Tiana audio animatronic looks complete (and fantastic).  There's a glimpse of another figure in the background there, and Disney has promised "dozens" of new figures, including Louis, Mama Odie, Eudora and Prince Naveen, among others.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

There isn't that much more to the announcement itself, as many of the bullet points link to previous announcements.  But getting a release date (or really, season) is a big step in the right direction and the fact that it was announced at the start of Mardi Gras should probably be no surprise.  For the Disneyland fans, the timeframe still appears to be "later" in 2024.  Considering Splash Mountain closed later in California than in Florida, this makes sense, but given the speed at which the Disney World version is being finished, I would expect the Disneyland version to be moving along as well.

As for what "summer" actually means in Disney terms, that gets harder to pin down.  In the real world, summer is officially mid-June through mid-September, meaning they would have until after Labor Day to still hit the target opening season.  But time moves differently at Disney World - "fall" unofficially starts once the Halloween decorations go up and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party begins, which is usually mid-August.  

To me, this says that Disney is playing word games, and that "summer" starts any time after Memorial Day.  I have nothing to base this on, but I tend to think the opening date will be on the earlier end of this Disney season.  Disney needs something for people to talk about, so they'll want to get this completed as early as they can to allow more people to experience it over the summer school break.  Today's addition of the word "summer" means they're confident they can deliver and it will simply be a matter of a strategic plan for a more specific date.  

I'm on the list of people unhappy about Splash Mountain's closing. And though I'll miss the opening of this ride by at least a month or so (on the early end), I still think this is good news today.  The Tiana figure looks great, and the fact that people will get back to dropping off that high mountain in the near future is great news for Disney fans.  Once worked started on this project, they really went all in and got it done.  I can't wait to see it in action.

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