Fans Overwhelmingly Disapprove of Disney World’s New ‘Tiana’ Ride, Disney Faces Intense Backlash

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

An illustration of a character in a blue dress rolling her eyes is superimposed over a theme park ride entrance sign that reads "Tiana's Bayou Advneture." Above the scene, a social media-like icon with thumbs up (34K likes) and thumbs down (9.7K dislikes) is shown.

Credit: Disney (Edit ITM)

Fans overwhelmingly disapprove of Disney’s newest attraction.

A whimsical nighttime scene in Magic Kingdom's newest attraction features riders in a log flume approaching a lively animal band playing on a wooden dock. A woman in explorer attire stands smiling by a tree, and two green frogs sit on a lily pad in the water dotted with pink flowers.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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June is a big month for the Walt Disney World Resort, with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the resort’s newest attraction, set to open in just a few weeks. After months of nonstop construction, guests will finally get to experience Tiana’s Bayou Adventure for themselves, continuing the story of Princess Tiana and her friends in the bayou.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure officially opens June 28, 2024, at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, with Disneyland’s version in California set to open at a yet-to-be-announced date.

Walt Disney World cast members, along with certain guests, have been able to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure early during previews, with photos and videos of the entire experience being shared online.

One of the first things fans look forward to with a new attraction is a ride POV video, which can show off the new experience in a comprehensive way while still not spoiling all of the magic. In a somewhat surprising move, Disney recorded and uploaded its very own POV video of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to YouTube, ensuring the company was the very first to share footage of the new ride.

Unfortunately, the reaction to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has been incredibly mixed, to say the least, with Disney’s own YouTube video suffering a massive number of dislikes.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

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The Walt Disney Company announced Tiana’s Bayou Adventure back in 2020, revealing it would be completely transforming its legendary, decades-old Splash Mountain log flume ride to make way for a brand new attraction. This new attraction would be inspired by Disney’s 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog, with the titular Princess Tiana set to take guests on an all-new adventure through the bayou.

Splash Mountain closed permanently in 2023 at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, with construction picking up rather quickly on the Florida version.

Over the last year, Guests have watched as the once-iconic Chick-A-Pin Hill slowly transformed into a Louisiana bayou, with all remnants and traces of Splash Mountain removed from the parks.

The closure of Splash Mountain came after decades of controversy and backlash, all of which stemmed from the ride’s original source of inspiration, Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South. 

Song of the South is perhaps the single most controversial film ever released by The Walt Disney Company. Upon release, many condemned it for its portrayal of African Americans and the reconstruction-era South. As a result, Disney essentially removed the film from existence, and no official copies were sold for decades. Fans will also not find Song of the South streaming on Disney+.

However, this proved to be quite an issue, with Splash Mountain taking heavy inspiration from the film, including music, scenery, characters, and storyline elements.

Splash Mountain Controversy

The "Tar Baby" scene in Song of the South
Credit: Disney

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Many considered Splash Mountain “untouchable,” similar to other legendary and iconic Disney theme park rides such as Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain. While there have been plenty of rides and attraction closures at the Disney parks, certain rides and experiences are considered to be so beloved and famous that they can’t possibly be removed.

For many, Splash Mountain had become one of these rides, though Disney obviously disagreed. Initial work on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure reportedly started in 2018, with Disney announcing the new project in 2020.

The decision was immediately met with skepticism and even some outrage, with fans of Splash Mountain making their voices heard in many ways. Many called out Disney for closing such a legendary ride, while others criticized the company for not giving Princess Tiana her own experience.

Some fans were so upset by the decision to close Splash Mountain that they started a petition in an attempt to “save” it entirely. This petition had no effect on Disney’s decision, but it received nearly 100k signatures, indicating that a large number of guests were upset by this new project taking over Splash Mountain.

This negative trend subsided eventually, with excitement regarding Tiana’s Bayou Adventure starting to build with every new image and video released by Disney.

However, Disney’s latest footage of the ride has not been popular.

Fans Disapprove of Disney World’s New Ride

A YouTube video thumbnail titled "FULL RIDE POV" featuring the entrance to Tiana's Bayou Adventure, surrounded by a river and lush greenery. The video is by Disney Parks with 1.73M subscribers. Disney fans will spot an animated character on the left and a button to play the video in the center.
Credit: Disney (Edit ITM)

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Earlier this week, Disney surprise-dropped an official, full-length POV of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, allowing guests who may not be visiting the Magic Kingdom anytime soon to enjoy the new attraction.

However, judging by the video’s like and dislike count, the decision to close Splash Mountain and give it a bayou makeover has not been popular.

When taking a look at the official POV of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure on the Disney Parks channel, it’s clear many fans are unhappy. The video has over 9k likes, an impressive number compared to its overall views. However, the dislike count is wildly disproportionate to the likes, with 34k fans disapproving of the new ride.

While YouTube is not the best gauge for popularity, this is an absolutely staggering amount of dislikes, especially for a new ride as exciting as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

A popular criticism of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure comes down to the ride’s style, with some fans feeling as though there’s very little in the way of excitement or danger at this new attraction. During Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, guests are invited to join a spectacular party and are accompanied by a variety of animatronic animals that make up the jazz band in the finale.

However, with no villains or threats, the ride feels flat to some guests. The final lift hill also does not feel as climactic as its predecessor, instead giving guests a joyful feeling as they take the 50-foot plunge.

Splash Mountain made sure to build anticipation toward its terrifying drop, going so far as to make guests feel as though they were in actual danger. This “danger” is nowhere to be seen on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, making it feel more like a traditional Disney dark ride than a thrill ride.

Cast member and guest previews of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure have not gone over well either, with multiple issues and accidents occurring during the ride’s trial period. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has reportedly been evacuated dozens of times in the weeks leading up to its eventual opening, with certain effects either not working or being turned off entirely.

Earlier this week, Disney World completely shut off the water on the final plunge, making for a rather strange and unusual sight, both for riders and those looking at the new ride from a distance.

Disney World describes Tiana’s Bayou Adventure as follows.

Embark on an enchanting musical adventure inspired by the Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog.

Join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis on their journey through a shimmering bayou as they prepare for a spirited celebration during Mardi Gras season. Along the way, you’ll see familiar faces and make new friends as you’re brought into the next chapter of Tiana’s inspiring story.

The Future of Disney Parks

An eerie, moonlit night at a grand, haunted mansion, complete with an abandoned carriage out front.
Credit: Disney

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In other news, Disney has several new and exciting experiences in the pipeline. The Disneyland Resort is currently wrapping up its refurbishment and expansion of the Haunted Mansion, with several new exterior areas being built over the last few months.

As it typically does every year, Haunted Mansion closed in January to return back to its normal state following the season Nightmare Before Christmas-themed holiday overlay. However, the ride has yet to reopen due to massive amounts of construction, which Disney revealed last year.

Disney CEO Bob Iger also announced the company is working on developing a second Pandora – The World of Avatar location at Disneyland in California.

Not many details about this new expansion are known, but Iger stated this would be a worthy addition to Disneyland and would match the grandness and immersion found at the original land in Animal Kingdom. James Cameron’s Avatar franchise continues to be one of the more exciting properties owned by Disney, with Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) swimming past box office expectations.

The success of the Avatar brand cannot be understated, with many considering Pandora to be the best-themed land in  Walt Disney World.

Concept art for the potential Pandora (Avatar) land at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

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Speaking of Walt Disney World, the massive Orlando, Florida resort is expected to change in significant ways soon as well.

For the last year, Disney has teased overhauling the Frontierland section of Magic Kingdom to better match Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. According to rumors, popular quick-service location Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, as well as the Frontierland Shootin Arcade, will eventually close and be rethemed entirely.

The arcade is rumored to be transformed into a new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member lounge, with Pecos Bill expected to join Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and be themed to The Princess and the Frog. 

Country Bear Jamboree, another Frontierland classic, closed earlier this year, with Disney revealing the iconic southern-fried show would be updated and rewritten to better fit in with modern-day Magic Kingdom. The show, which has been in operation for decades, will now be called Country Bear Musical Jamboree and will feature a wide variety of popular Disney songs.

Not many other details are known about this overhaul, but fans won’t have to wait long, with Country Bear Musical Jamboree set to reopen later this year.

What upcoming Disney parks project are you most excited about?

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