June 22, 2024

Critter Country Closing Temporarily for Princess & Frog Transformations

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As part of the transformation of Splash Mountain into the new Tiana's Bayou Adventure ride, Disney has announced that two reimagined retail stores inspired by The Princess and the Frog are also coming to Disneyland.

As part of the transformation of Splash Mountain into the new Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ride, Disney has announced that two reimagined retail stores inspired by The Princess and the Frog are also coming to Disneyland. This covers dates & details, shares concept art, and offers an update on construction progress for the upcoming attraction.

Let’s start with the announcement from Disney: The reimagined merchandise locations coming to Critter Country in Disneyland will include Ray’s Berets and Louis’ Critter Club. Their stories will further immerse you into Princess Tiana’s story, along with the opening of the attraction, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, later this year.

The first location, Ray’s Berets (currently The Briar Patch), will be the best place for guests to shop for headwear, apparel, accessories, toys and more with firefly Raymond and his firefly kin in the coziest cabin in Critter Country. You’re sure to light up when you see how these bayou bugs have made this home their own.

Traveling further into the land, you’ll come across Louis’ Critter Club (currently the left-hand side of Pooh Corner) where the friends of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure call this local hot spot their home away from home. Louis’ Critter Club is the place to go for apparel, accessories, home decor and more featuring some of your favorite critters and Princess Tiana.

The treats side of Pooh Corner will remain as a destination for must-have merchandise from Hundred Acre Wood, including beloved sweet treats like Tigger tails.

To make way for these exciting enhancements to the land, Critter Country will temporarily close beginning May 1, 2024. Disneyland also notes that the company is continuing to invest in the improvement of overall pathways and surrounding areas to help provide a great guest experience when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens.

Imagineering and construction teams are currently working hard to bring Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to life on both coasts. Last month during Mardi Gras, Disney announced that the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction will open ahead of schedule, in Summer 2024. No such opening timeline has been provided about the Disneyland incarnation of the attraction.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a reimagining of Splash Mountain. The new-look attraction will use the exact same ride system and remain a log flume with an outdoor section, interior show scenes featuring Audio Animatronics critters, and several smaller drops culminating in one big drop. Same idea, different story and substance.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will pick up the story of The Princess and the Frog after the final kiss, joining Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance. During this celebration, guests will hear original music inspired by songs from the film. Tiana is leading the way and guests will be able to encounter old friends and make new friends along the way as well.

The redone ride will also feature original music and familiar tunes from the beloved movie, plus a colorful mural adorning the queue, and more. All of this is in addition to the already open Tiana’s Palace (best counter service restaurant at Disneyland) and Eudora’s Chic Boutique featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets in New Orleans Square.

Turning to commentary, we were just at Disneyland yesterday. Not only that, but our visit was disportionately dedicated to Critter Country. Not that you care, but Megatron is part of Pooh’s Posse and has outfits in her Winnie the Pooh wardrobe that soon, somehow, will not fit anymore. So we spent a couple of hours getting hours, sitting around, and just watching Tigger. (She’s also a big fan of tigers/cats, and it was pretty mindblowing to see such a large one.)

Despite spending so much time in Critter Country, I didn’t manage to capture a single photo of the construction progress. A year ago, that would’ve been unfathomable and I’d have to surrender my Disney Blogger Card. My plan was to return when the lighting was better, but you know what they say, the best laid plans of mice and men parents often go awry.

Anyway, a long-winded setup to share this phone photo Sarah snapped while walking past the construction:

In case you can’t tell from the photo, the exterior of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Disneyland is not nearly as far along as the Walt Disney World version. Although I only have one photo to show for it, I spent a lot of time looking at the construction, and would hazard a guess in eyeballing it that the exterior is a good 3-4 months behind the Magic Kingdom version. (The next few photos are from 2 weeks ago.)

This makes complete sense. As you might recall, Splash Mountain closed several months later at Disneyland than it did at Walt Disney World. I’ve heard next to nothing about progress on this version, but there’s a lot going on all around the mountain. It also our understanding that a few show scene and staging differences are proving to make the reimagining “trickier” at Disneyland.

With that said, we haven’t heard any credible rumors about the Disneyland version since late last year. My guess is that they’ll want it open by Thanksgiving, but I truly do not know. I’d be really surprised if it opens before October. Southern California does gets cold in the winter months (even yesterday during Spring Break crowds, we saw Grizzly River Run with a 5 minute posted wait time in the afternoon), so having it done sooner would definitely be ideal, but there’s also probably not the same sense of urgency.

Disney will want one version of the ride open before it gets cold to avoid manufactured controversy about the ride reimagining being a bust due to low wait times. (When in reality, it’s normal seasonality of water rides.) That’ll be accomplished by opening the Magic Kingdom version in June. Whatever happens with the opening at Disneyland won’t be as big of a deal–it’ll be old news.

As for the shops transforming, I think that makes sense. Although I’m also guessing that ‘transformation’ is a bit of a strong term for what’s going to happen with both locations. I’d expect signs to be swapped out and, in the case of Louis’ Critter Club, a bit more in terms of set-dressing inside and outside the shop. Neither are likely to be full-scale reimaginings–but that’s not really necessary. These Critter Country shops ‘work’ with the new IP and bayou setting just as they did with the old.

What this is likely really about is having a good “excuse” to close Critter Country for a few months. With Haunted Mansion and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure already down, there’s not a whole lot of reason for guests to head back this way, unless they’re planning on eating at Hungry Bear Restaurant or walking the long way to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

My bet is that Disney is aiming to reduce foot traffic even further, and will take the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh down for “refurbishment” during this time. However, I’d bet on Hungry Bear and the path staying open. I think Disneyland probably needs the dining capacity and they don’t want to make this a complete dead end, even if they do want to further reduce traffic. (All just guesses–no confirmation as to what will stay open or close.)

Once Fantasmic returns over Memorial Day weekend, things are really going to get interesting. After a year of that being gone, there’s going to be pent-up demand for the nighttime spectacular. The current construction zone around Haunted Mansion will (maybe, hopefully) need to shrink–with the walls coming closer to the queue and freeing up a bit of space for Fantasmic viewing and queue staging.

From the perspective of those crowds, it’s probably a plus that Fantasmic won’t be fighting with regular traffic into Critter Country and beyond. Guest flow is already going to be a nightmare fantastic even without that exacerbating the situation. While Disneyland hasn’t shared the return dates for anything, my bet is that Haunted Mansion Holiday and Critter Country both reopen after summer ends–for the start of Halloween season in late August, followed by Tiana’s Bayou Adventure a few months after that. We shall see, though–stay tuned!

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Disneyland closing Critter Country to reimagine a couple of shops to Princess and the Frog themes? Think this is a good or bad move? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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