June 22, 2024

New Orleans Square & Critter Country Construction Updates for Disneyland


Critter Country is now temporarily closed as construction continues on the west side of Disneyland as of May 2024. This photo update shares our latest look at the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana's Bayou

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Critter Country is now temporarily closed as construction continues on the west side of Disneyland as of May 2024. This photo update shares our latest look at the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, along with work around Haunted Mansion and New Orleans Square, as well as an official update from Disneyland.

Let’s start with the what Disneyland has shared about these construction projects, and how various aspects of both lands is being impacted. As noted above, Critter Country is temporarily closed as of May 2024. Here’s what that means for the various components of that land, what’s still open and how to access it:

  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure – will open later this year!
  • The Briar Patch – Closed as of May 1, 2024—along with the land—to begin its transformation to Ray’s Berets.
  • Pooh Corner – Closed as of May 1, 2024—along with the land—to begin its transformation to Louis’ Critter Club on the left side of the store. When the location reopens, the treats side of Pooh Corner will remain a destination for must-have merchandise from Hundred Acre Wood, including beloved sweet treats like Tigger tails.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Due to its location in Critter Country, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is closed along with the land as of May 1, 2024.
  • Hungry Bear Restaurant – Due to its location at the periphery of Critter Country, Hungry Bear Restaurant will remain open during the Critter Country closure. Due to increased traffic in the area, Disneyland reminds guests that the restaurant is also accessible via Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Use the Frontierland entrance into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, proceed past the marketplace and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and continue along the path to Hungry Bear Restaurant.

Here’s what’s happening in New Orleans Square:

  • Haunted Mansion – Haunted Mansion is closed while Disneyland creates a new queue experience. Read more about the enhancements taking place here.
  • Disneyland Railroad – New Orleans Square Station – Due to work in the area between Tiana’s Palace and the Haunted Mansion, the Disneyland Railroad station in New Orleans Square is unavailable for boarding and unloading, though the train will continue to operate. Guests who require an accessible entrance to the attraction can use stations in Mickey’s Toontown or Tomorrowland.
  • Popcorn and churro carts may be temporarily relocated during this time.

With the specifics addressed, let’s turn to fresh progress photos of New Orleans Square from this week:

The first thing worth pointing out here is that the construction walls have moved back significantly and are now much closer to Haunted Mansion. This happened a week or two ago, sometime after the start of Season of the Force but before Pixar Fest.

Previously, the construction walls were very close to promenade along the Rivers of America. In fact, there wasn’t really any space along the main walkway that connected New Orleans Square to Critter Country–at one point, the path even dead-ended into a popcorn cart. That made Haunted Mansion a pinch point during even moderately busy times, and very congested when it got truly busy. (It probably didn’t help that Harbour Galley has new cookies that went viral and have made that corner more popular than ever.)

It was a foregone conclusion that the walls would have to move back at some point with the return of Fantasmic later this month. This area of New Orleans Square is a veritable nightmare fantasmic before, during, and after that show even with regular walkways. It would be literally impossible to bring back the nighttime spectacular without the added clearance.

Speaking of foregone conclusions, another one of them is that the regular Haunted Mansion won’t return until 2025. Disneyland has not officially announced that, but in watching the pace of progress on this and other projects…I just don’t see how this attraction can conceivably return in the next couple of months.

Although the construction walls have moved in and the giant mound of dirt has been reduced in size, the front and side lawns of the Haunted Mansion are still totally torn up. While we can’t speak to progress on the new accessible elevator exit, it sure seems like everything else is still months away from being done.

If they’re not confident that regular Haunted Mansion can reopen by mid-July, they won’t bother. What’s the point of opening the regular version for a couple of weeks only to close it to install the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. (Not to mention removing the overlay in the first place, as it’s presumably still up!)

Honestly, I’m starting to get nervous that Haunted Mansion Holiday will be ready along with the start of Halloween season on August 23, 2024. I know that’s still almost 4 months away, and literally all of my “knowledge” about this project consists of standing on the hump in front of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and watching work as it progresses. But it’s far more involved than expected and I think it’s going to take longer than some fans are anticipating.

Only 4 more months worth of work seems like a best-case scenario at this point. Who knows, though. Maybe I’m way off and the dirt will quickly disappear, with landscaping and queue materializing. To their credit, this has been a very active construction site–so it’s not like Disney is dragging its feet–it’s just a lot of work to get done! Certainly more than I expected based on the original concept art.

Now let’s take a look at progress on nearby Tiana’s Bayou Adventure:

This is another project that is very clearly well-staffed and moving full-steam ahead. Imagineering and construction teams are currently working hard to bring Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to life on both coasts. Disney already 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. We haven’t heard any credible rumors about progress on the Disneyland version since late last year. At that time, what I had heard was that there were a couple of tricky transitions and partial scenes in the California version that could necessitate extra work and time. I have no clue whether that’s still the case.

What I can tell just from looking at the exterior of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Disneyland is that it’s not nearly as far along as the Walt Disney World version. I would hazard a guess in eyeballing it that the exterior is easily three months behind the Magic Kingdom version.

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.

Of course, the exterior is not necessarily indicative of the interior, but it stands to reason that the construction cadence would be similar between Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, meaning that the visible progress is a decent barometer of an opening timeline. That’s not to say delays aren’t possible if those “tricky” transitions are still issues.

It’s also not to say things couldn’t be sped up based on what’s learned from working on the Walt Disney World version. The company can also allocate more resources towards the Disneyland version once its Florida counterpart is finished, meaning that the home stretch could fly once the WDW version opens this summer.

All things considered, my guess is that Disneyland wants Tiana’s Bayou Adventure open by Thanksgiving at the absolute latest. I’d take that a step further and suspect that there’s a very strong desire to have TBA online by fall break. Between those school breaks and Halloween, the entire month of October has become one of the busiest stretches of the entire year (it’s the most expensive month, on average, and there’s a reason for that!).

Having Tiana’s Bayou Adventure done as early in Fall 2024 as possible would be ideal. Southern California does gets cold starting in November, so even Thanksgiving is pushing it. Wait times for Splash Mountain always dropped from around Halloween until around the following spring break, especially in the mornings and evenings when it gets chilly. (Although that’s true much of the year in Southern California.)

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.) But that’ll be accomplished by opening the Magic Kingdom version this summer. 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.

From the perspective of crowds, it’s probably a plus that Fantasmic won’t be fighting with regular traffic into Critter Country and beyond. 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. The real question is what will open first: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure or Haunted Mansion? The answer is hopefully Haunted Mansion (Holiday). But it’s not impossible to envision a scenario where that gets delayed and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is able to open by October, beating out the 999 happy haunts.

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’s your take on the Haunted Mansion closure? Expect the project to be done by late August, or do you think Disneyland’s history with delays will extend here to this placemaking project? What do you think of Disneyland closing Critter Country to reimagine a couple of shops to Princess and the Frog themes? Any TBA opening date predictions? 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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