Thursday, May 16, 2024

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Opening Date


At long last, Disney has made it official - Tiana's Bayou Adventure will open June 28 at Walt Disney World.  This post will look at that announcement, talk about how you can ride and discuss some of the previews that have also subsequently been announced.

Let's start with the announcement itself.  Ever since Disney moved up the opening of this attraction from "late 2024" to "summer 2024", it was only a matter of time before we heard something officially.  What's interesting is that there had been numerous opportunities (shareholders' meeting, earnings call, etc) to make the announcement in recent weeks, and Disney didn't take any of them.  

On Sunday morning, it was teased that there would be an announcement related to Tiana's during the episode of American Idol that evening.  While that wouldn't have been my choice, one can understand why Disney chose to do this.  American Idol airs on ABC, the TV network that Disney owns.  And not only that, this week's episode was "Disney night", where all the remaining contestants sang Disney songs and aired from Disneyland.  This must be all that synergy that the company keeps talking about.

But that wasn't the interesting part about this announcement.  Disney's social media accounts must have been set up to issue a post after Idol aired, probably around 10:00 p.m. ET.  But that's not what happened - Disney actually posted this news in the morning (likely around 10:00 a.m.), spoiling their own "big" reveal later that night.  That post was quickly taken down, but Disney Twitter was far too fast and the news was everywhere.  I actually was out that morning and figured I didn't have anything to worry about for a while.  Imagine my surprise when I opened up Twitter to see everyone talking about it before lunch.  Oops!

In any case, the official opening is June 28, however we got here.  There are numerous previews for annual passholders, DVC members and D23 Gold Members.  Rather than rehash all of that here, I'll point you to the always excellent Disney Tourist Blog if you're interested in the details.  Since AP's still need to make Park Pass reservations for most days, the announced preview dates at Magic Kingdom filled up quickly and the reservation system crashed, none of which is a surprise.

The more interesting details came yesterday, which mostly relate to HOW to ride this thing.  The first big question that was answered was whether Tiana's Bayou Adventure would have a virtual queue (VQ) and the answer is yes ... at least for now.  Disney says that a standby line will "not be available during the attraction's initial opening days" but that should change soon.

Pictures courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

It has become standard practice for most new rides to open at Disney World using a VQ.  In some cases, they are dropped rather quickly (Remy's Ratatouille Adventure comes to mind) while some have kept them long after I would have thought (Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind).  A lot of this is simply supply and demand, and with Tiana's, Disney seems to expect that it will be a madhouse for the early days of the opening, but that it would settle into a rhythm quickly where a VQ would not be necessary.  

The other interesting thing about the VQ here is that this attraction is in a park (Magic Kingdom) that already has a ride using a VQ system - Tron Lightcycle Run.  I don't believe any park has had two VQ operating at the same time before, so it will be interesting to see how Disney handles this.  I would not expect Tron to drop their VQ, since it's still the best way to ride it.  But rather, I would assume Disney will have two VQ for a short time before Tiana's reverts to a standby line, but time will tell whether that is correct.

Given all of that, it's actually not a surprise when it comes to the second way to ride - via Genie+.  This means that Tiana's will be part of the regular Genie+ service, NOT an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) purchase.  I wasn't sure what they were going to do with this one, but I believe it is the right call for a few reasons.

First, Magic Kingdom already has two ILL attractions, Tron and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  Adding a third would be over the top, even for Disney.  So either Disney had to move Mine Train to Genie+ (a change I'm still hoping for at some point soon) or Tiana's had to go straight to Genie+.  For ease of use, this was the better option.

Also, Splash Mountain used to be a Genie+ option, not an ILL.  Tiana's is effectively the same ride (right down to the drop and ride photo, which the Parks Blog mentions) so it makes sense to slot into Splash's old spot.  Make no mistake, Tiana's will be the most in demand Genie+ ride for a while (displacing Peter Pan's Flight and/or Jungle Cruise) but I still don't think the demand (beyond the first week or so) will be so terrible that they needed to resort to an ILL here.

Unrelated to the ride itself, but Disney Parks Blog also mentions two more things.  One is that ride merchandise will be available at the Emporium on Main Street for opening day, but that the Critter Co-op (essentially right across from the ride) will open "shortly" after the attraction.

The other thing of note (at least to me!) is that beignets will be sold at Golden Oak Outpost and Friar's Nook.  Unfortunately, it says that these are "limited time" offers.  I'm hopeful that they just extend this indefinitely.  As of now, the only place you can buy beignets on property are the Mickey shaped ones at the Port Orleans resorts.  With Tiana's Bayou Adventure being a permanent fixture at Magic Kingdom, surely the classic and traditional New Orleans treat should be available to purchase as a companion piece of sorts, right?

So there you have it for Tiana's Bayou Adventure.  Disney managed to get it done ahead of schedule and now we have a real official opening date.  At Disneyland (if you're curious), it says the attraction is coming "later in 2024" but there's no reason to think there's any kind of delay there.  If the rumored Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment is happening soon, getting Tiana's up and running for the summer is a big win for Disney.

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