July 22, 2024

You Might Have Problems Riding Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom

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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is the reimagined ride that replaces Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World has already announced that the new attraction will use a virtual queue and offer Lightning Lane access. However,




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Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is the reimagined ride that replaces Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World has already announced that the new attraction will use a virtual queue and offer Lightning Lane access. However, even if you have fast fingers and score a boarding group or buy the line-skipping service, you still might have challenges experiencing the new attraction.

This post covers the issues with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure along with actionable advice so you can (hopefully) minimize your exposure to these issues and increase your likelihood of successfully riding. We also discuss some unknowns, potential issues and proposed operational solutions for the new Magic Kingdom mountain(ish).

Before we get to that, let’s start with a silver lining, of sorts. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be here for years to come. Unlike other attractions we’ve encouraged guests to ride ASAP because we worried problematic effects would vanish and never return (looking at you, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance), this one is likely only going to get better in the months and years to come. If anything, Imagineering has been rushed on this project and there are little (and big!) flaws they’d probably like to fix.

That’s probably not much consolation, especially for the many of you who visit Walt Disney World infrequently and want to ride on your upcoming vacations. With that in mind, here are the issues and our advice…

Daily Downtime – In case you haven’t followed the saga on social media, you should first be aware that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is currently really unreliable. Everything else on this list flows from the simple fact that the ride breaks down a lot. It has had daily downtime during the Cast Member, Disney Vacation Club, and Annual Passholder previews.

According to our friends at BlogMickey, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure averaged approximately 4.5 hours of daily downtime during AP previews, with as “little” downtime as at least 2 hours per day and as much as over 7 hours of downtime. Worst of all, this did not progressively improve over the course of the previews–daily numbers were all over the place.

Some proponents of the ride claim that this always happens with new attractions, and is the whole point of previews. They’re technically right to an extent, but this was excessive. If it were an average of 2 hours every day, that would’ve been in the bounds of what’s reasonable, and roughly on par with Frozen Ever After the summer it debuted.

(It’s easy to forget, but Frozen Ever After was a somewhat similar project that was rushed to make a summer opening; it likewise suffered from delayed openings and frequent breakdowns its opening season as crews scrambled to complete overnight maintenance and fix technical issues. The good news, though, is that Frozen Ever After’s woes are easy to forget because they’ve largely been fixed. Hopefully it’s a similar story with TBA!)

There are a ton of rumors as to the causes of problems with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, from issues syncing the logs with the show scenes to faulty sensors that are having trouble with ‘the elements’ and actual guest load on the logs. Regardless of the reason, every single ride I’ve taken on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure had technical difficulties of some sort, so even if you do get lucky with no downtime, you still might have problems. (For these reasons and others, I’d highly recommend riding more than once. There’s a very good chance your first ride won’t be flawless, so increase your chances of success with repeat rides.)

Given these numbers and the issues even when it is operating, it seems to us that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure should still be in test & adjust. It’s not quite ready to greet guests, even in a preview or soft opening capacity.

Virtual Queue Inconsistency – Next to nothing can be gleaned from the boarding group distribution during the 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. virtual queue entry times during AP and DVC previews of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. On every single day of previews, the 7 a.m. virtual queue remained open longer than the 1 p.m. one. About half of all days, the morning VQ lasted over 2 hours. On no day did it last less than 5 minutes.

This is the opposite of how virtual queues normally work at Walt Disney World. Usually, the 7 a.m. drop lasts milliseconds to a few minutes and the afternoon entry is open for minutes to hours. That’s the case with both Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run right now–and was even during TBA previews.

The bigger issue from the perspective of virtual queue inconsistency is that ride downtime is going to throw a major monkey wrench into things. If Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has been down most of the morning when the time the 1 p.m. VQ rolls around, Walt Disney World will reduce the number of boarding groups distributed in the afternoon. Meaning both the 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. virtual queues could fill up in seconds some days…and be open for hours on other days.

It’s also worth pointing out that Walt Disney World cancelled the 1 p.m. virtual queue entirely on one occasion during AP previews. I wouldn’t expect this to be a normal occurrence during daily operations…but I also wouldn’t rule it out completely. The moral of the story is that, regardless of your preferred riding time, you should probably try for the 7 a.m. virtual queue–and plan on using speed strategy. Don’t have a laid back attitude since this is “only” a reimagining with mixed reviews–it’s still going to be very difficult to experience on some days.

Lightning Lanes Luck – To the unreliability point, there’s no guarantee guests who score high-numbered boarding groups will even be able to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Walt Disney World is pretty good about not over-distributing boarding groups, but they’re not perfect.

The odds are definitely more ‘in your favor’ if you purchase line-skipping access via the Lightning Lane. Even if the attraction is down during your window, you’ll receive a multi-experience pass and still be able to ride it (or something else, I guess, if you’d prefer…but then why are you reading this?) whenever the ride comes back up.

We’d also elevate Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to #1 on our list of Magic Kingdom’s Lightning Lane priorities for at least the first couple months that it’s open. This is again due to downtime, which means that return times will go faster and there’s a lower likelihood of ride reservation refills throughout the day.

Buying the Lightning Lane service at Magic Kingdom is always our recommendation due to the park’s higher ride count, but that’ll be doubly true when TBA debuts. And as noted above, it’s best to ride multiple times–so we’d advise buying Lightning Lane access and joining the VQ.

Longer-Lasting Virtual Queue – When Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens on June 28, it will use a virtual queue. Guests can request to join the virtual queue via the My Disney Experience app at one of two times: 7 a.m. or 1 p.m. While a standby queue will not be available during the attraction’s initial opening days, Walt Disney World expects to open a standby line soon after the attraction’s opening.

At least, that’s what Walt Disney World said when first announcing the opening date and details for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure over a month ago. Disney’s language at the time strongly suggested Tiana’s Bayou Adventure wouldn’t have a virtual queue for nearly as long as any other ride at Walt Disney World.

In our view, a more apt comparison was Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland, which dropped its virtual queue less than a month after opening. So that narrowed down the range from a few days to about a month for the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure virtual queue. Our guess back in mid-May was that the virtual queue for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure would be retired by July 8, 2024 at the latest.

Luckily for Walt Disney World, the attraction’s “initial opening days” is vague and open to interpretation. I no longer have any degree of confidence that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will drop its virtual queue by July 8, 2024. That was before previews or anything else started, and operating under the assumption that TBA would be at least as reliable as Splash Mountain.

Obviously, it is not. At this point, the safe prediction is that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will use a virtual queue for as long at it’s plagued by unreliability and downtime woes. Virtual queues offer a means of pulsing demand and are the imperfect solution to operational woes. That’s precisely why Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted the ride VQ back in 2019!

Suffice to say, I have no clue how long the virtual queue will last for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I’ll simply say whenever the initial rush runs out or the reliability woes are resolved, whichever happens first. I truly hope that’s the former, but my guess is it’ll be the latter. Either way, I’d love to see the VQ gone by the start of the off-season in August, and have some degree of confidence that both of the above variables will occur by then. But that’s just a guess/hope!

Dynamic Virtual Queue for TBA? – We previously proposed that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure should have a ‘dynamic’ virtual queue–basically meaning the standby line opens at night once the sun goes down and the temperatures are cooler. This was because all water rides are less popular at night.

We’ll double-down on this. As long as these downtime woes exist, it’s likely that Walt Disney World will be conservative in closing the virtual queue. They don’t want to issue too many boarding groups in the event the ride breaks down for 6+ hours per day. The problem with this is that there are going to be days when the attraction outperforms and, due to the conservative issuance of boarding groups, the virtual queue is empty hours before park closing. It’s impossible to know or project as of 1 p.m. how much downtime the ride will have for the remaining ~8 hours of the day. This is hardly a bold prediction–it already occurs from time to time with other VQ rides.

The solution is to distribute virtual queue spots conservatively and open the standby queue once that’s “empty.” There is no other good alternative. Distribute VQ spots liberally and guests will be angry when their boarding group isn’t called on the inevitable days when there’s lengthy downtime. Distribute too few and there will be a lot of angry guests who get shut out of the virtual queue because they didn’t have fast enough fingers to score a spot during the millisecond it was open…only to see the ride dispatching empty logs at the end of the night or the ride close early.

Given the nature of the attraction and reliability woes, I’d actually take this a step further if I were Disney: eliminate the 1 p.m. virtual queue entry time entirely, distribute more boarding groups at 7 a.m., and then plan to open the standby line in the late afternoon every day (and communicate that to guests). If they’re already in a position where the 1 p.m. VQ might need to be canceled some days, just make things more predictable by removing a moving part and cancelling it every day.

Extended Evening Hours? – Walt Disney World still has not announced whether Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be open during Extended Evening Hours. Normally, there would be a 6 p.m. virtual queue entry time for Extended Evening Hours. That’s currently how access to TRON Lightcycle Run works during ExEH. Our expectation was that it would be open, but now we’re starting to wonder.

Worth noting is that the first Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom after Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens isn’t scheduled until July 3, 2024. It’s possible that Disney was waiting to address the ride’s status during ExEH because they hoped it wouldn’t need the virtual queue at all during the event.

Regardless of how long the virtual queue lasts for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure during the day, we hope that the ride is both open during Extended Evening Hours and uses a standby line during the bonus time (for the reasons stated above). Given the lessened popularity of water rides at night, we think this seems reasonable. Even if the standby line ends up being long, so what? Let people wait in long lines if they so desire.

Will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Open on June 28? – Even though there’s a non-zero chance the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will be delayed, the answer is probably yes. I’m like…98% sure? Still, every ride in recent memory (since probably Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) was 100%.

It’s difficult to see Walt Disney World backtracking on the opening date because of the other headaches it would cause. It would be unprecedented at this late stage and lead to a deluge of complaints and possibly even cancellations, not to mention negative headlines and doubt about booking trips around attraction openings in the future.

Even if I think Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is not ready for its official opening and that it shouldn’t have had its official opening set for June 28 in the first place in light of that, I also think that it’s too late to change course now. Having 4+ hours of downtime per day is a bad outcome. Having the ride closed entirely even as guests have planned trips around it is an even worse outcome. I’d hazard a guess there are internal conversations just like this right now, reaching the same conclusion–that the least-bad option is opening on time, but with daily downtime.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that they did cancel previews for salaried Cast Members. I don’t think it’s a bullish move to cancel these previews no matter how you slice it, but perhaps the maintenance teams have identified the issue and need that time to implement fixes and make adjustments prior to the grand opening.

Who knows, maybe this is exactly what’s needed and this post will be entirely obsolete by June 28, 2024. Honestly, I’d love for that to be the case…I’m just skeptical it will. Even when the cause of problems is identified and a solution is implemented, there are often nagging issues that last weeks or months.

Obviously, the daily downtime and other issues with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure are not ideal. But I also see sentiment making the rounds on social media and even the comments that this is an ‘indictment’ of modern Imagineering or management. Some fans are acting like this type of thing always happens with new rides, which is a sign Disney doesn’t know how to create reliable rides anymore. Yet it didn’t happen with TRON Lightcycle Run, Cosmic Rewind, Runaway Railway, or the Rat Ride.

Other fans are pretending that this never happened in the past, conveniently forgetting the sad saga of Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, original EPCOT Center’s rocky launch, or even Test Track 1.0 or Frozen Ever After. (Just a very incomplete list of examples.) The bottom line is that this is the latest in a long line of rocky ride rollouts by Disney, but still a minority of all new attraction launches–including recent ones.

I might add that some people are also forgetting that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was originally scheduled to open in Late 2024, but the company threw a ton of resources (labor and money) at it in order to get the ride ready to roll by the hot and humid summer months. Sure, with the benefit of hindsight, we can claim that they rushed it too much. I certainly would’ve preferred a reliable late July opening to an unreliable late June debut.

But we can’t complain about delays with other big projects on the one hand, and then complain about accelerated schedules on the other hand. As should be clear from our CommuniCore Hall Review or the first ~3,000 words of our Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Review, we have no shortage of quibbles with the two most recent additions to the parks. However, it’s important that those complaints are coherent, and that we don’t just whine about everything Disney does. Otherwise, our voices are easy to ignore.

It goes without saying that I wish this launch were going better and that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure had no daily downtime…but I also was cheering on the earlier timeframe and begging Disney to set an opening date when it felt like one was ‘overdue’ last month. (Can’t have it both ways!) Suffice to say, there are a lot of moving parts with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure…let’s just hope they’re flowing smoothly and downtime is minimal by opening day or shortly thereafter.

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

What’s your plan of attack for minimizing problems with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure–will you buy trying for the virtual queue, buying Lightning Lane access, or both? Are you excited for the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure or worried about the daily downtime and other issues? Glad that it’ll have a limited time virtual queue for the initial opening period, or would you prefer a standby line? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? 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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