June 17, 2024

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Attraction Poster & More Cute Critters on the Ride Revealed!


Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is in the home stretch of its transformation before the reimagined ride's Summer 2024 opening. With construction wrapping up, Imagineering has shared more names and

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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is in the home stretch of its transformation before the reimagined ride’s Summer 2024 opening. With construction wrapping up, Imagineering has shared more names and backstories for the adorable animals in the attraction. We have full details, concept art and the attraction poster, plus our thoughts.

In part 1 of this 3 part series, Disney revealed the first round of Cute Critters Coming to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. That introduced fans to Byhalia the Beaver, Gritty the Rabbit, Beau the Opossum, Apollo the Raccoon, Rufus the Turtle, and Timoléon the Otter. While we argued that some of these were bad names or should be switched, that was minor nitpicking. We love that Disney is creating original characters for the attraction and giving them backstories and personalities.

That first band of critters were the ones who who play Zydeco music. Today’s animal act performs Rara. Often found at festivals and street processions, Rara is a musical tradition from Haiti that’s part of the musical history and melting pot of New Orleans. The genre includes unique instruments with beautiful, distinctive sounds. Here are the Rara musicians you’ll discover on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure:

Octavia the Bobcat – Octavia plays the vaksin, a single-note horn instrument popular in Rara music. She’s an adventurous bobcat kitten, and she loves climbing and hanging out in trees almost as much as she loves performing. This daredevil almost never gets scared.

Pawpaw the Bobcat – Not only is Pawpaw Octavia’s devoted grandfather, but he also taught her how to play the vaksin! Pawpaw lives to make Octavia smile and has the view that everything has a way of working itself out – he’s seen it all but isn’t jaded.

Claude the Louisiana Black Bear – Claude is a salt of the earth kind of bear (or, as they say in the bayou, “salt of the mound”) who plays his horn along with the other members of his family. He’s a tinkerer who loves to create with things found in the forest, and is frequently funny without intending to be, especially when it comes to his home-grown creations.

Bernadette the Louisiana Black Bear – Bernadette loves to enjoy life, from splashing in the waters of her bayou home with her cub, Sebastián, to playing the horn with her mate, Claude. She’s a clear thinker and is warm and supportive. Bernadette loves to sink into the bayou waters and munch on plants (so long as Sebastián is clearly within sight).

Sebastián the Louisiana Black Bear – Though he’s definitely a “mama’s cub,” Sebastián charted his own musical course as a drummer, despite his parents being devoted horn players. He’s happy to follow his friend Octavia’s adventurous lead as they explore and play, and is fascinated with the small details in the bayou, like the insects and mushrooms.

Phina the Gray Fox – Phina’s enthusiasm extends beyond her drumming, as she’s constantly thinking of new ideas with optimism and energy! This imaginative fox is continually starting new projects with excitement, and her friends accept and celebrate her unique thinking.

Not only will you meet these new friends as Audio-Animatronics figures throughout the attraction, but some of them will also appear in the Walt Disney World attraction poster:

Turning to commentary, I’m going to refrain from critiquing and renaming each individual animal this time. Even though I acknowledged that was nitpicking and for fun–and that my main reaction was that I love that Disney is doing this–I think a lot of people overlooked the “I love this” part and focused on the nitpicking. Also, I don’t think many of you actually cared. For those of you who did care, I’ll simply say that I do like the names Pawpaw, Bernadette, and Sebastian. The rest…meh.

Previously, I also commented about how prominent random ‘cute critters’ with no Song of the South affiliation were in the original Splash Mountain. It makes complete sense for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to likewise revolve around critters, as it doesn’t mess with the formula of the underlying attraction all that much, and retains a lot of what fans thought made it special.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure recycling a lot of the existing Brer Critter Audio Animatronics is a smart and sensible move–a lot of those Audio Animatronics in Splash Mountain were recycled from America Sings at Disneyland and cloned for Magic Kingdom; they had nothing to do with Splash Mountain’s source material. We’ve been saying all along that those AAs are likely be given new life as part of an “expanded universe” for the Princess and the Frog.

Nevertheless, I’m honestly a bit surprised that Imagineering also chose to add fox, rabbit, and bear Audio Animatronics. As you might recall, those are the main Brer critters from Splash Mountain. I sort of assumed that, if those AAs were going to be recycled, Brer Bear would become Louis the Alligator and Brer Fox and Rabbit would become different types of creatures–like bobcats, for example!

To be clear, I’m not complaining. I don’t think that it should be verboten to even pay tribute to Splash Mountain in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and I’ve been hoping that there would be little nods to the extinct attraction in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While I still think that might be the case with little Easter Eggs (that are never officially acknowledged), doing so in substance is the far better way.

I’ll be directly reminded of the old ride every time I see these critters. It’s a great way of marrying old and new, so to speak, while still keeping a “safe” distance from Splash Mountain. This basically means that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is retaining and reimagining what I loved most about the old ride.

So as long as their personalities shine through, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is already shaping up to look like a hit for me. Crazy how positive this marketing cycle has turned after starting out so badly.

Disney previously confirmed that there will be 17 original character Audio Animatronics from The Princess and the Frog physically created for the attraction, in addition to those repurposed from Splash Mountain. This will include multiple appearances of Princess Tiana, who will make wardrobe changes throughout the ride, plus other major and recognizable characters from the movie, including Louis the Alligator and Mama Odie.

These brand-new and reimagined Audio-Animatronics figures will bring the invigorating sounds of New Orleans to life. These will be scenes you commonly see in New Orleans: the joie de vivre influencing every movement–including with a band of friendly critters playing joyful music.

Imagineering shared that it’s creating brand-new characters with distinct names and personalities as part of an expanded Princess and the Frog universe for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Along with this, there will be dozens of entirely new Audio Animatronics figures, including adorable critters with incredible talent, bringing the “diverse flavors of musical gumbo found in New Orleans!”

Assuming all of that is still accurate, this brings the minimum Audio Animatronics count for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure up to 29. This is the minimum, and before we’ve even seen the last round of critters. My guess is that the final band will feature frogs, alligators, and maybe more turtles–those are the remaining animals left from Splash Mountain that it would make the most sense to recycle.

I think it’s worth pointing this out, as there were a lot of naysayers saying Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would be almost entirely screen-based or greatly reduce the number of Audio Animatronics. I think that was a fair concern at the very beginning, as Disney does have a history of reducing and removing maintenance-intensive AAs from attractions. But Disney said a while ago that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would feature “dozens” of Audio Animatronics…and yet, many fans still doubted this.

I’m fully prepared to eat crow if these end up being static figures (which are not Audio Animatronics) and there aren’t at least 24 figures that are animated, but I don’t believe that’ll be the case.

Finally, I generally like the attraction poster. I do wish it would’ve paid homage to the style of the Splash Mountain poster a little more. Not because reference to the extinct attraction is needed, but because it was an all-time great ride poster and the style really worked. Putting Tiana, Prince Naveen, and Louis the Alligator into a log would’ve been fun. But I also understand the decision to make Tiana prominent–this is a princess ride, even if it’s one with a height restriction. (Same deal with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.)

Otherwise, I like the attraction poster for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I love that all of the critters are featured around the top, and the outlines of Tiana’s Palace and the other building at the bottom have piqued my curiosity. Will both of those be present within the ride? Ages ago, I had heard that the finale (scene pictured below) would have a mansion…so maybe that’s foreshadowing. As for Tiana’s Palace, I’m still surprised and confused as to why that hasn’t been announced yet for Pecos Bill.

Oh, and one final detail is that the attraction’s location is listed as Frontierland. Obviously, that could be a placeholder before a future reveal of New Orleans Square, but I’d expect Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to be located in Frontierland when the ride opens. Whatever changes are on the horizon for the land itself are unlikely to occur in 2024.

Ultimately, I am very excited by this news. I loved the first round of characters, but the presence of old man and young girl bobcats–plus bears–might push this over the top for me. I wish the bears had a bit more quirk to their character design (they look a tad too much like Baloo), but that’s a minor complaint. At the end of the day, I love lore and critters, as well as the idea of Disney elevating supporting players into bigger roles.

This is why I’m such a fan of Lieutenant Bek in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It’s also why I love the Tokyo Disneyland version of Critter Country, which already does this with ‘kawaii creatures’ having nothing to do with Song of the South. And it’s why I wanted more of that with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure from the outset.

I really hope that the last round of characters shines a spotlight on the Swamp Boys–the alligator band from Splash Mountain. I don’t expect them to be called that anymore, but seeing them reprised for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would pretty much seal the deal on this attraction for me. Big bonus points if stuffed versions of the alligator band (or the bobcats) are sold in the gift shop.

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Thoughts on the cute critters coming to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Any new name proposals for the added animals? Does this make you feel better, worse, or about the same with the “missing ingredient” MacGuffin? How much of the current attraction (e.g. random musical critter AAs) are you expecting to appear in the reimagined version? Excited for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Agree or disagree with our assessments about this project? 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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