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Disney Has Decided! Here’s Who Will Be First to Ride Newest Attraction

tiana's bayou adventure
Credit: Disney Parks

The Walt Disney Company has confirmed who will be the first guests to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the ride that will officially replace Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park this summer.

Briar Patch Sign

Credit: Disney

Splash Mountain once operated at three Disney park locations worldwide. Now, just the version in Tokyo Disneyland remains open, with both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort’s rides shuttered forever. From aggressive discourse to petitions being signed, the closure of this attraction, which opened in 1989 on the West Coast and 1992 on the East Coast, became a major point of contention with Disney park fans.

It is now over a year since Splash Mountain went dark in Frontierland, and, in that time, Walt Disney Imagineering has been installing and retheming the attraction to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Taking place after the events of The Princess and the Frog (2009), Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will follow familiar faces like Tiana and alligator Louis, as well as a bunch of new critters seemingly paying homage to the Br’er characters of Splash Mountain. No longer will guests sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah with the likes of Br’er Rabbit; instead, parkgoers will encounter state-of-the-art audio-animatronics in a New Orleans setting.

The attraction poster for Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

Credit: Disney

Disney has now confirmed which guests will be riding Tiana’s Bayou Adventure first when it opens this summer. The Magic Kingdom attraction was initially expected in late 2024 but has since been bumped up to arriving in the summer months. And for those regular ticketed guests that will be rope-dropping Disney World’s most popular park to get a ride on the Bayou–they likely won’t be the first onboard.

In a special ceremony, Disney has invited the family of Leah Chase, the New Orleans chef who inspired Princess Tiana, to be the first to ride the brand-new attraction in Disney World this summer. Earlier this week, Disney executives surprised Leah Chase’s family at their restaurant, Dooky Chase, to reveal the news.

Tiana standing near her mother in Princess and the Frog

Credit: Disney

The family of Leah Chase, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 96, has been heavily involved in developing the Tiana ride. During the surprise event, Disney declared Chase’s daughter, Stella Chase Reese, an Honorary Imagineer. Chase’s other daughter, Leah Chase Jr., can be heard singing a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” in the queue at the attraction. Stella and her daughter Myla Chase Reese recently visited California to see some of the new Tiana’s Bayou Adventure animatronics in motion.

“Once Stella and Myla arrived back home, we knew how much of a priority it was to bring the rest of their family along for the completion of this journey,” Disney Parks Blog writes. “During a recent Chase family meeting at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, we surprised the entire family with invites to Walt Disney World Resort this summer [to be] some of the first to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The Chase family has accompanied us throughout the development of the attraction, and we are so grateful that they will be able to see this project come to fruition with us.”

A cheerful group of people, including children and adults, posing with Mickey Mouse at Disney World, wearing Mickey Mouse ears and smiling at the camera.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Related: “Total Greed,” Disney World Completely Changes Entire Park System

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is headed by Walt Disney Imagineer Senior Creative Producer Charita Carter, with Splash Mountain original creator Tony Baxter returning as creative advisor. It seems a long time ago since the attraction’s name was revealed at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, but soon, guests will finally get to embark on Tiana’s new journey.

Based on the controversial 1946 movie Song of the South, Splash Mountain was rooted in the discourse and criticisms of race portrayal despite being inspired by the animated sequences in the film. Song of the South is so disputed, thanks, in part, to its portrayal of African Americans, that it has never had a home release in the United States and is unavailable to watch on Disney+.

Splash Mountain interior

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney World to Combat Controversial Ticket Change With Free Food for Guests in 2025

While Frontierland is currently operating at limited capacity due to the Splash Mountain retheme, it may not be too long until more construction and landscaping begins at the Magic Kingdom location. Following The Walt Disney Company’s recent earnings call, where Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said the Mouse had nothing tangible to show relating to the $60 billion investment (30 of which is for parks and resorts), permits were filed for the area beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This sets into motion the concept Disney Experiences chairman Josh D’Amaro presented at the D23 Expo 2022. What Intellectual Property will be featured in the “Beyond Big Thunder” area is yet to be determined–but all signs seem to point to something villainous…

Will you be heading to Walt Disney World Resort this summer for the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Let us know in the comments down below!

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Thomas Hitchen

When he’s not thinking about the Magic Kingdom, Thomas is usually reading a book, becoming desperately obsessed with fictional characters, or baking something delicious (his favorite is chocolate cake -- to bake and to eat). He's a dreamer and grew up on Mulan saving the world, Jim Hawkins soaring through the stars, and Padmé Amidala fighting a Nexu. At the Parks, he loves to ride Everest, stroll down Main Street with an overstuffed pin lanyard around his neck, and eat as many Mickey-shaped ice creams as possible. His favorite character is Han Solo (yes, he did shoot first), and his favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer except when it's One Tree Hill. He loves sandy beach walks, forest hikes, and foodie days out in the Big City. Thomas lives in England, UK, with his fiancée, baby, and their dog, a Border Collie called Luna.

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