June 17, 2024

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom Construction Update: It’s Almost There!

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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World is almost there. Construction on the reimagined ride is nearing completion before the reimagined ride's Summer 2024 debut. This photo report shares fresh progress photos from this week




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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World is almost there. Construction on the reimagined ride is nearing completion before the reimagined ride’s Summer 2024 debut. This photo report shares fresh progress photos from this week at Magic Kingdom, along with updates on the renamed gift shop and why we still don’t have an official opening date.

The good news is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is coming along quickly…and nicely. In the last couple of weeks, a lot has been revealed about the substance of the attraction, with the biggest update being a First Look at Imagineering’s Innovative Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I had the chance to see these Audio Animatronics of Mama Odie, Louis the Alligator, Eudora, Charlotte, Ralphie, Prince Naveen, Byhalia the Beaver, and Princess Tiana in person and they are incredible.

Disney has also shared details about the first critter crew and the second critter crew and the third critter crew of musicians inside Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. 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. The final faction brings the jazzy sounds and complex rhythms of Afro-Cuban music to life in the bayou.

In terms of progress, one very positive sign is that Walt Disney Imagineering project team members have been spotted in the last few weeks doing test rides of the attraction. This follows the refilling of the flume of the log ride with water and testing of ride vehicles with dummies. During our days at Walt Disney World, we saw the the flume filled and emptied on multiple occasions. We never saw any actual test riders, but logs were floating/sitting around.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the test ride-throughs with Imagineers is that they have not be wearing hard hats. This may seem insignificant, but what it should mean is that installation of Audio Animatronics and show scenes on the inside has been completed and the attraction has been ‘cleared’ and is no longer an active construction site.

This isn’t to say that work is done. There’s a lot of programming and finishing touches that could need to be done–both inside and outside. The ride could still be months away from completion even without ongoing construction on the show scenes. Still, it’s a very positive sign that everything has (mostly likely) been installed inside and Imagineers are working on little details. That suggests that the project is in the home stretch–it’s more or less what we want to see ahead of the Summer 2024 opening.

Before we get to the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening date speculation, let’s take a quick look at construction as of mid-April 2024…

When it comes to construction, there’s not much that’s all that remarkable. The exterior queue is coming along nicely and even though work remains to be done, that’s the kind of thing that always seems to come together very quickly at the last minute.

That was the case with TRON Lightcycle Run and countless other attractions before it. Even CommuniCore Hall, which has been built at a glacial pace, is now coming together pretty quickly as it prepares for its June 10, 2024 opening. (Based on views from the monorail, I wouldn’t be surprised if those walls largely come down in early May 2024.)

Probably the biggest surprise to me is that there’s still scaffolding up on the exterior of the mountain at all. This has been looking like it’s 90% finished for the last few months, and I honestly can’t discern much progress since the last time I saw it. Maybe it’s just since the facade flew along for the first 9 months of work and has slowed significantly since, but still. I’m also somewhat surprised they don’t want all of that down to start shooting marketing videos and the like.

It’s possible that work needs to be redone or they’re awaiting props or other features that still haven’t been installed on the outside of the attraction. It’s also possible that there’s no sense of urgency to take down this scaffolding because there’s still work inside being done.

I mention all of this because I’m beginning to have concerns that the opening target for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has been pushed back. Many Walt Disney World fans are wondering why we haven’t gotten an official opening date yet…and when we will. After all, Summer 2024 is fast-approaching and people are making their vacation plans–or already have. There’s a reason Walt Disney World has already released discounts for dates beyond July!

Not only that, but the 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. Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro was spotted recording a video outside of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure over a month ago, and the logical conclusion at the time was that it was the official opening date announcement–to be shared at one of those two events.

All of the critters have now been revealed, as have the Audio Animatronics, and the ride is testing. At this point, it seems like waiting to announce is actively counterproductive, and wouldn’t be happening unless there’s doubt about the date. Disney just provided its weekly update on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and once again didn’t announce an opening date.

That post did end with the following, which wasn’t exactly reassuring: “We look forward to sharing more details about all of these updates in the coming months, and can’t wait to welcome you to this updated area and attraction later this year – it’s almost time to let the good times roll!” Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but it sure doesn’t make it sound like an official opening date is imminent!

The next big date on the calendar is the Walt Disney Company’s quarterly earnings results on May 7, 2024. These calls have increasingly become times for dropping big news, so perhaps the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be announced then. I’m still skeptical and hope that isn’t the case, but it’s surprising and somewhat concerning that there’s not yet an official date.

However, next week is probably Halfway to Halloween, and it doesn’t seem like Disney would want to have that overshadow the opening date of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure or vice-versa. Then again, maybe a marketing blitz is exactly the intent–to flood the zone with news about Halloween, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Pixar Fest (at Disneyland), and more of this summer’s plans that have yet-to-be-revealed. Disney has been doing more of this lately, so perhaps it’ll become a trend.

As should be clear from the above, I have no clue when the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be announced–your guess is truly as good as mine. At this point, I’d expect the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opening date 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 late April. Maybe they’ll push back Halfway to Halloween and let Tiana’s Bayou Adventure have the spotlight next week…or maybe they’ll roll with a ‘flood the zone’ approach.

The bottom line is that the announcement could happen literally any day now. As soon as tomorrow or perhaps about a week from now to preserve this cadence of weekly releases. I expected the announcement to occur at least 2 weeks ago, so it’s already behind schedule from my perspective. Then again, the entirety of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is ahead of schedule, so it’s not like this is a normal attraction opening scenario.

To that point, this is a good problem to have. We went from being skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would make its Late 2024 opening (and instead slip into 2025) given Disney’s lethargic construction pace in the last ~4 years 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 impatiently 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 that includes Free Dining as well as ticket and room-only discounts, so it’s not like bookings or attendance projections are already sky-high. They also are rolling out summer entertainment and are bringing back VIPASSHOLDER Days. All of that is happening for a reason–and there’s a good chance Tiana’s Bayou Adventure got fast-tracked to Summer 2024 for that very same reason!

As for the most likely opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, that’s still probably going to be dictated by what’s attainable and not what’s strategically advantageous. Unlike other recent attractions that were ‘slow-rolled’ to meet a predetermined deadline, this reimagining is more like a race against the clock.

Whenever there’s anything slated to open in the summer season, between Memorial Day weekend and late June make the most sense. Those are the dates consistent with past precedent. Of the recent additions with summer openings at Walt Disney World, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Pandora – World of Avatar both debuted on May 27; Frozen Ever After opened on June 21 and Toy Story Land had its grand opening on June 30.

I never thought Memorial Day was realistic for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’s official opening date, and now I think that ship has also sailed on soft openings or affiliation previews (AP/DVC/C33/etc). Maybe the reimagined ride will be ready for Cast Member previews by then, but I’m skeptical–I think those slip into early June 2024. Keep in mind that even though ride testing is full steam ahead, work still needs to be done, along with Cast Member training, test & adjust, and more. That always takes more time than fans anticipate.

My prediction of an official opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is June 20, 2024. I think there’s a reasonably strong probability of the opening date being from June 20-28, 2024. However, that’s just a semi-informed guess based on what I know plus past precedent with other attractions at Walt Disney World.

This is the date that I’ve been predicting since the opening season was moved forward to summer, and I’m sticking with it even though there’s not yet an official date. My suspicion is that there have been (or are ongoing) delays that have pushed back an official announcement.

It’s worth noting that an article published in NOLA.com indicates that the Chase family of the famed Dooky Chase Restaurant will be taking a trip to Walt Disney World as part of an media preview of TBA scheduled for mid-June. Other invited guests have posted on social media that they will preview Tiana’s Bayou Adventure June 9-11, 2024. This presents a tight timeframe for previews, but it’s a reimagining, meaning that the ride system (and more) are all known quantities.

Moreover, I think there’s a sense of urgency to get this opened before Independence Day, so to the extent that there have been delays, they’ll come at the expense of previews and soft openings. With a brand-new attraction, that wouldn’t have been possible–those previews are necessary for Cast Member training and working out issues. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure won’t need as much in the way of technical rehearsals as TRON Lightcycle Run or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

That also makes Frozen Ever After the best comparison, and that attraction didn’t have any affiliation previews before its June 21, 2016 debut. It was a similar race against the clock scenario, and barely made its opening date (work was still being completed after-hours for weeks/months afterwards and the ride was notoriously unreliable for that first summer). It’s also notable that Frozen Ever After’s opening date wasn’t announced until May 20, 2016. So we might still have a month to go before an official opening date announcement if Tiana’s Bayou Adventure follows that same pattern. Let’s hope that’s not the case!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

When are you expecting Disney to announce an opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Surprised one hasn’t been released yet? Thoughts on current construction progress to 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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