June 15, 2024

Frog Friends Scene in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure & Opening Date Announcement Predictions


Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World is in the home stretch of its transformation before the reimagined ride's Summer 2024 opening. Ride testing is now underway and Imagineering has shared more names and backstories

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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World is in the home stretch of its transformation before the reimagined ride’s Summer 2024 opening. Ride testing is now underway and Imagineering has shared more names and backstories for final round of animals in the attraction–the Frog Friends. This shares their profiles, first looks at a show scene, plus our predictions about when the official opening date for the Magic Kingdom version of TBA will be announced.

We love that Disney is creating original characters for the attraction and giving them backstories and personalities. 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.

In part 2, Disney shared more Adorable Animals in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. In that round, Octavia the Bobcat, Pawpaw the Bobcat, Claude the Louisiana Black Bear, Bernadette the Louisiana Black Bear, Sebastián the Louisiana Black Bear, and Phina the Gray Fox greeted guests for the first time. A wise old bobcat and a bunch of bears–all winners in my book.

The musical tapestry of New Orleans is woven with traditions and voices from all over the world. That first band of critters were the ones who who play Zydeco music. The second group performs Rara, a musical tradition from Haiti that’s part of the musical history and melting pot of New Orleans. Now it’s time to introduce you to critters who bring the jazzy sounds and complex rhythms of Afro-Cuban music to life in the bayou.

Here are the Afro-Cuban critter musicians you’ll discover on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure:

Felipe the Frog – Deep among the cypress trees, you’ll hear band leader Felipe making musical magic on the piano! Felipe is also the proprietor of an exclusive bayou night club, where the local fireflies love to dance the night away to a musical recipe of hot rhythms and spicy melodies. He’s an old-school family guy, especially to his “family” in the band.

Mayra the Frog – Have you ever seen a frog play a flower blossom like a trumpet? You will when you meet Mayra; be sure to stick around for one of her toe-tapping solos. Mayra’s the most ambitious of the four frogs and has been practicing her instrument since she was just a tadpole!

Mondo the Frog – Mondo is a natural on the conga drums, which he made as a happy accident when his favorite bottle cap got stuck on his second-favorite acorn. From there, the rhythm in Mondo’s soul took over! He’s very copacetic and accepts what comes, a trait as steady and reliable as his drumbeat.

Isabel the Green Tree Frog – Learning from Mondo’s example, Isabel loves getting lost in the music playing her congas. She’s the youngest member of the group, and there’s nothing she loves more than “going with the flow” and getting to play drums all night long!

From Zydeco to Rara to Afro-Cuban jazz, you’ll hear all kinds of musical flavors from critters big and small around the bayou, just like you would walking the streets of the French Quarter in the Crescent City.

Not everyone you’ll meet in the attraction is a musician – among others are a couple of amphibious friends who love to sit back, relax and catch up on all the gossip from around the bayou. Gloria and Delores the frogs are best friends who love to observe folks as they float in logs down the bayou. Don’t be surprised if they keep their watchful eyes on you as you float by.

Also, keep an eye out for Lari the Armadillo. This mischievous fella, while quiet in demeanor, seems to always show up where you least expect him to. He has a habit of “borrowing” things that aren’t his (although those things eventually make it into the right “paws”).

The first thing to note is that these frog friends don’t appear to be Audio Animatronics. This means the minimum Audio Animatronics count for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure remains unchanged from last week at 29 (17 characters, 12 critters–Louis counts as a character, not a critter).

There’s possibly more, but those are the ones that are currently accounted for. There’s also an outside chance that some of the prior critters are not AAs, so that number could drop. As for the frogs, they’re…cute, I guess? (Is that a word used to describe frogs?) Mondo is obviously the best one.

I’m optimistic about the mentioning of other animals that aren’t musicians, too. My hope is that this means the Swamp Boys–the alligator band from Splash Mountain–are reprised, even as background characters with no musical role in the ride.

Having a huge supporting cast of critters, musicians and otherwise, in addition to the awesome Audio Animatronics plus the music plus everything about the ride that will not conceivably change pretty much seals the deal on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure for me. I guess it’s possible the whole doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts, but I doubt it. I’m very optimistic after everything we’ve seen in the last few weeks!

Speaking of which, I’m probably not alone in that sentiment, as we’ve noticed a sharp rise in reader interest for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and its opening date. This is unsurprising as the hype cycle has turned positive with Disney finally focusing on the attraction and less on superfluous stuff. And wow does the inside of the attraction look good. At least, what we’ve seen so far. These adorable animals are one big part of that, but it’s really the Audio Animatronics that have fans excited.

If you missed it, last week we got a First Look at Imagineering’s Innovative Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. There are photos in that post, but the best looks at these next generation AAs are in the new YouTube series, We Call it Imagineering. The (excellent) first episode of that focuses on Audio Animatronics old and new, with the new primarily being the ones from Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

I had the chance to visit Imagineering in Glendale last week and see these same Audio Animatronics in person. Staged in that area from the video are Mama Odie, Louis the Alligator, Eudora, Charlotte, Ralphie, Prince Naveen, Byhalia the Beaver, and Princess Tiana. They are incredible. The fluidity and range of motion and expressiveness of the figures is next level.

It’s like animated characters jumping from the screen into the dimensional world, which I don’t think Imagineering managed to achieve with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Frozen Ever After. (They did with Cars Land and Radiator Springs Racers, but those are a different type of characters.)

Anyway, one of the things I learned while at Imagineering is that all of the figures staged there are for the Disneyland version of the attraction, which is several weeks to months behind the Magic Kingdom ride. The Walt Disney World set of Audio Animatronics has already been installed. This isn’t to say there’s not still on-site programming, test & adjust, or other punchlist items that need to be completed, but the interior of the attraction is not still some active and unfinished construction zone.

I mention all of this because many Walt Disney World fans are wondering why we haven’t gotten an official opening date yet…and when we will. After all, the ride is now being tested with Imagineers riding it and summer is fast-approaching. Not only that, but the two most obvious dates for making a splashy announcement–the D23 Down in New Orleans event and the Annual Shareholders meeting–have both come and gone. So what does that leave us with in terms of major ‘events’ when it could be announced?

The next big date that was just added to the calendar is the Walt Disney Company’s next quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. While these calls have increasingly become times for dropping big news, I highly doubt the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be announced then. That is, unless something has gone wrong and the ride’s opening has been delayed–and I’ve heard nothing to suggest that’s the case, even if there might be uncertainty about certain things.

Assuming all is still roughly on schedule, that earnings call would only be about a month before the first previews of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure are anticipated. It’s only a few weeks before Memorial Day, the unofficial start to the summer season. People will have already made their travel plans by then (many already have!), undercutting the near-term marketing value of an announcement. The month of May is too late for a Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening date.

Another possibility is a subsequent We Call it Imagineering video release later this month. I also doubt that. For one thing, I don’t think this is going to be a weekly or even biweekly video series. And I really don’t think the second installment will come so soon–they’ll want to assess fan response and make adjustments.

Cutting to the chase, I think the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening date is going to be announced randomly, perhaps via a segment on Good Morning America–but maybe just by a regular ole press release on some day in mid-April. They’ll probably share something else new alongside it, but I don’t expect to see much more from inside the ride at this point. (Honestly, I don’t want to and don’t think it accomplishes anything. If the Audio Animatronics alone didn’t sell you on TBA, you’re unsellable.)

That announcement could happen literally any day now. As soon as tomorrow now that the big Audio Animatronics reveal has occurred and all of the critters have been named, or perhaps about a week from now to preserve this cadence of releases. The only thing that gives me pause about an announcement next week is that it (roughly) lines up with Halfway to Halloween, and I would think/hope Disney wouldn’t want those two things competing during the same news cycle. But it’s not uncommon for big news dumps where a lot of stories come out all at once.

In the end, I expect the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to be announced sooner rather than later. Honestly, I figured it already would’ve come by now–and think it probably would have if progress was happening as smoothly as possible.

I also can appreciate the extent to which this all reflects a certain impatience. We went from being skeptical the ride would make its Late 2024 opening (and instead slip into 2025) to being more confident about 2024 to getting an official Summer 2024 timeframe. This is the rare ride that has had its opening date moved forward instead of delayed, and we’re still not-so-patiently wanting more.

Nevertheless, with each passing day that Walt Disney World doesn’t announce, the marketing impact on summer bookings decreases. (Keep in mind, Walt Disney World has several aggressive special offers for July–so it’s not like bookings are already sky-high and they don’t need to worry about occupancy.)

I don’t have any answers as to when the official opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be announced, but I think we can safely rule out the May 7 earnings call–or any date next month–unless there are delays. Something between tomorrow and the next 10 days makes a lot more sense, even if that does end up coinciding with Halfway to Halloween. (It would also be perfectly logical to delay Halfway to Halloween; that’s a marketing event to mostly generate hype for MNSSHP…but is so much runway really needed? Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has sold out every single date for the last two years, and there’s no signs of that slowing down.)

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When are you expecting Disney to announce an opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Surprised one hasn’t been released yet? Thoughts on the cute critters coming to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? 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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