July 24, 2024

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Construction Starts with Splash Mountain Rockwork Removal


Splash Mountain has been closed at Magic Kingdom for nearly two months, and in that time construction has started on transforming the attraction into Tiana's Bayou Adventure. This photo update features a look at the

Splash Mountain has been closed at Magic Kingdom for nearly two months, and in that time construction has started on transforming the attraction into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This photo update features a look at the progress thus far, offers an official update from Walt Disney World, and our commentary about the timeline.

For starters, what’s happening right now is probably better categorized as demolition or destruction rather than construction. This type of modification is a necessary prerequisite to forward progress and actual construction commencing, especially in light of how the facade of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure won’t have the same ‘mountainous’ profile as its predecessor.

However, as with all things about the Splash Mountain ride reimagining, this is a charged topic. Using terms like “demolition” or “destruction” in a headline feels a bit too ominous, clickbaity and inflammatory…even if accurate. Suffice to say, this is the awkward portion of the transformation from Splash Mountain to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, setting the stage for the new attraction to take shape.

Speaking of which, Walt Disney World has indicated that we should start to see visible forward progress starting in Summer 2023. That’s when the tiara-topped water tower emblazoned with the Tiana’s Foods logo will make its way to Magic Kingdom and be installed in front of the existing mountain.

According to the company, the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure project team of Imagineers recently traveled to New Orleans to capture the essence of the Mardi Gras celebration–energy, colors, rhythms of the music, and more–to infuse into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Here’s a video:

My reaction to that video, to borrow the wise words of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, “…what do you mean?! That’s so vague!”

Then again, that could describe so many of the videos about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure that Disney has released thus far. To each their own, but I’d love to hear about the actual attraction reimagining. On a positive note, this video is the first time that quality footage of the day/night concept loop from the D23 Expo has been shared online.

Above is a look at the model of the tiara-topped Tiana’s Foods water tower that’ll be installed in the coming months, which was also shared back at the D23 Expo.

In case you missed it, here’s the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Backstory About Tiana’s Foods. This has some fans concerned, but I’m personally not one of them. It sounds like this will be mostly relegated to the queue, setting the stage for the adventure to come. As with other queue backstories, it’s something most guests will probably miss.

How many regular guests “get” that Cosmic Rewind takes place in the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion? That’s also should stage-setting to transition from EPCOT to the main adventure of that attraction, but paying careful attention to the galleries is absolutely unnecessary to understanding or enjoying the core of Cosmic Rewind.

That’s just one of many examples where the queue rewards astute observers, but is unnecessary to the main attraction experience. I’m absolutely expecting something similar with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. But I digress.

Before we get to the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure construction (or Splash Mountain destruction dun dun dun) photos, I wanted to share a quick update on what I’ve been hearing about this project. In the last update to our main Tiana’s Bayou Adventure: Everything You Need to Know post, I mentioned that a single team of Imagineers is working on both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland versions of the attraction, and has prioritized the Florida incarnation.

To the best of my knowledge, that’s the main driver of delay in closing Splash Mountain at Disneyland. Park ops there might’ve also wanted the capacity while Indiana Jones Adventure and Toontown were down, and those have since returned. Maybe that version of Splash Mountain will close after spring break in light of that. I truly don’t know.

In addition to that, another thing I’ve mentioned (repeatedly) is that the “Late 2024” opening target for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is incredibly aggressive, and that I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the actual opening date slips into 2025.

I’ve since received pushback, for lack of a better term, on this. Supposedly, the timeline is realistic and matches the aggressive pace of the project and resources being allocated to it. So long as installation and modifications go smoothly, the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure should easily make its target 2024 date.

Or so I’m told.

To be fair, Imagineering has achieved impressive turnaround times on past projects of somewhat similar nature. As we’ve mentioned before, Frozen Ever After and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout are the big recent ones. With that said, the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has a level of ambitiousness and complexity above those. It’s also an old attraction with a lot that needs to be done, and assuming that’ll go smoothly is quite bold and presumptuous, in my opinion.

Suffice to say, I remain skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is going to open in 2024. However, I wanted to clarify that this is my opinion and speculation, rather than a credible rumor. Perhaps I’m a bit overly cynical as a result of recent projects and their lethargic paces, but so much of that was deliberate.

In any case, the actual rumor is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open in 2024. Which, I guess, isn’t really a rumor at all since that’s what Disney is publicizing, too. So long as the company puts 2024 in each update on the attraction’s progress, there’s (continuing) internal confidence that they’ll meet it. If or when the date is quietly dropped, that would be a red flag that the project is behind schedule. Even with all of that said, I’m still skeptical.

On that note, let’s turn to some new construction/destruction photos of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure/Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom…

To the point about this project having an aggressive timeline but resources to match, above is active work I saw during the most recent Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. These nighttime photos were all taken after midnight.

There were at least a dozen workers in the flume, and those were just the ones visible to me–most of the attraction is concealed by walls or the mountain itself. Nevertheless, the site was very much active.

Quickly running through other updates, I also saw that the Splash Mountain attraction marquee has now been removed.

That was the last sign (literally and figuratively) of Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom. Everything else was already gone.

Adjacent to the flume, there are a couple of spots where the rockwork has been cut into, revealing the steel infrastructure of the mountain behind it.

It’s unclear why this is happening. One possibility is that the construction team needs to access what’s behind the rockwork. Another is that the plan is to reshape portions of the mountain to give it a different appearance.

My money would be on the latter explanation, especially at the top of the mountain. Based on the concept art, we already know this is being rounded up to minimize the mountainous appearance of Chick-a-Pin Hill.

As we’ve seen while watching Moana’s Journey of Water take shape from the monorail, rockwork is now prefabricated in sections and can be installed pretty quickly once on site. So it’s entirely possible that more of the mountain will be torn apart and pretty quickly replaced with new sections to give the facade a different appearance.

During the course of consecutive days and nights in Magic Kingdom, I saw an increased amount of scaffolding installed in the flume and around the facade of the mountain. I’d expect more of the rockwork to be removed in the coming weeks, revealing the steel frame underneath. That’s an especially safe bet at the top of Chick-a-Pin Hill.

If you’re in Magic Kingdom, I’d recommend taking a few minutes to watch the work from the bridges in Frontierland; there’s a lot of activity happening. Could be a good sign for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening in 2024!

Before we offer some concluding thoughts, here are a ton more new construction photos of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure:

Ultimately, it’s heartening to see so much activity outside the exterior of the former Splash Mountain and future Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While so many resources devoted to the outside is good, what’s happening inside is what really matters. Obviously, we cannot see that, but my hope is that the interior crew is exponentially larger, with a huge team working to transform the attraction in a thorough and meaningful way.

As I’ve said before, I hope Disney is dumping a ton of resources and a healthy budget into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Even if you were vehemently opposed to this reimagining, what’s done is done. The best everyone can–and should–hope for now is that the end result is an attraction that will exceed expectations and live up to the legacy of its predecessor. Both Splash Mountain and Princess and the Frog deserve as much, and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure being an excellent attraction with elaborate themed design, details, show scenes, and impressive effects is the best outcome for all.

Personally, I really hope Disney shares something soon to reinforce exactly that–and instill fans with a sense of optimism and excitement about this transformation. Despite Disney offering a lot of updates on the process of the attraction’s development, they’ve said very little of substance. I’m ready to hear about the tech, see concept art of show scenes, footage of Audio Animatronics. Something, anything offering reassurance that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is going to be high-quality and fun.

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Thoughts on the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure construction or Splash Mountain destruction? What changes to the exterior are you expecting to see take shape in the coming months? Expectations regarding the Splash Mountain reimagining timeline? Agree or disagree with our assessments about this project or its construction? Keep the comments civil, as this is not the place for politically-charged arguing, culture wars, antagonism, personal attacks, or cheap shots.

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