Tiana’s Bayou Journey speeds in direction of completion in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and in Disneyland, getting into the house stretch of the transformation. Because the reimagining begins to wrap up, one fortunate reporter has already gotten a sneak peek contained in the attraction.
Mike Scott from NOLA.com was the primary reporter to go inside Tiana’s Bayou Journey; you may learn his full walk-through report at NOLA.com. Since that is the very first time Walt Disney World has pulled again the curtain on the inside of the attraction, we thought it’d be value sharing key takeaways from the hardhat tour, led by Ted Robledo, Government Artistic Director of Walt Disney Imagineering.
The story begins within the Frontierland courtyard that previously served as a queue space for the Magic Kingdom’s iconic Splash Mountain. The courtyard may also be an overflow line for Tiana’s Bayou Journey, however may also set the stage for the journey to return. This begins with the previously-revealed mural designed by Baton Rouge-area artist Malaika Favourite on the facet of the Splash Mountain barn.
The primary flooring of that barn will home the primary places of work for Tiana’s Meals, the manufacturing operation that the film and journey’s titular character based after the occasions of the 2009 movie, in keeping with the journey backstory. Final 12 months, Imagineering shared new backstory for the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Journey. The set-up to the journey will basically clarify the “subsequent chapter” of the story for Tiana, set after The Princess and the Frog. Combining her abilities with these of the area people, Tiana has reworked an growing older salt mine and constructed a beloved model.
All through the barn and queue, background music will play that broadcasts an old-timey radio present that includes reimagined New Orleans classics carried out by an assortment of native musicians gathered by a number of Grammy winner Terence Blanchard. Count on one thing much like Jungle Cruise or Tower of Terror on this regard; we’d anticipate a combination of music, commercials, and different enjoyable gags to maintain astute company’ ears open whereas ready in line.
As beforehand introduced, the scent of beignets will waft by way of the air within the queue of Tiana’s Bayou Journey to additional set the scene for the journey to return. There’s additionally been an intricate steel climate vane crafted by New Orleans grasp blacksmith Darryl Reeves put in on the journey’s exterior, and different efforts made at authenticity. As is now abundantly clear, Tiana’s Bayou Journey is Imagineering’s love letter to New Orleans.
As soon as company go by way of the queue space and arrive on the loading space, they’ll discover that it largely resembles that of Splash Mountain. The important thing distinction is the addition of cranes hoisting pallets of crates marked Tiana’s Meals, which is one in all many indicators that the journey is definitely a working meals manufacturing outfit.
Tiana’s Bayou Journey will use the identical journey automobiles and system as its predecessor, which was a protected assumption given each the turnaround time and that no observe work has been completed. Accordingly, the journey structure is precisely the identical as earlier than–there’s a short out of doors part, lifts, and the identical bunny hill drops to pacing out the primary couple acts of the points of interest. Once more, we just about knew all of this regardless that it wasn’t confirmed by Disney–making these varieties of adjustments would’ve resulted within the undertaking taking one other 12 months or longer.
One other factor that the walk-through did reveal is that Splash Mountain’s vegetation has been stripped out and changed with fake flora native to Louisiana. That features cypress timber, marsh grasses, Spanish moss, and extra.
Whereas I’ll personally miss the enduring tree stump atop Chick-a-Pin Hill and suppose it was foolish to take away that and convert this to a supposed salt dome to make a “mountain” slot in a New Orleans attraction, I like these cypress timber and the flora on the outside of the dome. The outside in Magic Kingdom seems actually near completed type, and I feel it seems improbable.
Inside the primary Tiana’s Bayou Journey present scenes, Robledo indicated that that is the place the primary of the critters would seem, referencing the brand new Audio Animatronics (AA) band made up of swamp animals. Rounding a bend, a big Louis the Alligator AA that has yet-to-be-installed comes into view.
Rounding one other bend, the same area for a future Tiana AA seems. A number of Tiana Audio Animatronics will seem all through the journey. Alongside the way in which, she’s going to repeatedly deal with company immediately, in search of their assist to discover a yet-to-be-named lacking ingredient for a Mardi Gras celebration she’s planning. (What do you need to wager that the lacking ingredient is love, our goals, household, friendship or one other summary thought–slightly than like tumeric or one thing?)
A lot of the inside journey structure, equivalent to rockwork and different environments, have been retained from Splash Mountain, however there may also be additions. A pair of stone arches spanning the flume have been amongst these noticed on Robledo’s tour.
In the course of the walkthrough, Robledo hinted there may be just a few refined nods to the outdated Splash Mountain. That is truly considerably of a shock. I figured that Disney would need to distance itself as a lot as doable from that attraction given the entire motive for changing it within the first place and wouldn’t formally acknowledge something to do with Splash Mountain.
In fact, I’d count on the reimagined journey to include a ton of refined and not-so-subtle nods to Splash Mountain, just by advantage of Tiana’s Bayou Journey recycling a lot from its predecessor. (Does it technically depend as a nod to America Sings if it’s not completed on function, however slightly is inherited from that attraction?)
Disney additionally revealed that the Audio Animatronics in Tiana’s Bayou Journey would be the identical high-tech variations utilized in Hong Kong Disneyland’s recently-opened World of Frozen. It’s good to have affirmation of this, nevertheless it’s probably not a shock. The brand new Elsa Audio Animatronics for Arendelle and Belle and Beast AAs in Enchanted Story of Magnificence and the Beast are superb. These completely meld outdated and new expertise to create one thing extra true to the animated character fashions. These have wonderful fluidity and options, and also will age gracefully.
It’s most likely truthful to say that the projected faces on Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Prepare haven’t aged properly; these are an instance of ambitions outpacing obtainable expertise, which was nonetheless in a clumsy place. Given Imagineering’s output since 2019, our assumption is that the part of projected face AAs is lengthy over.
Imagineering has made super strides with Audio Animatronics of animated characters within the final a number of years, and we’d count on the Belle or Elsa fashion for all new AAs going ahead. (That does not imply that Walt Disney World goes to return and change the OG Frozen Ever After AAs. We don’t count on that anytime quickly.)
The tour ended simply earlier than Splash Mountain’s Laughin’ Place scene. In keeping with Imagineering, what occurs from that time on is a shock. Pressed by the NOLA report for particulars, Robledo responded: “I’ll simply say it’s bought loads to do with magic. It’s a magical second that occurs down there.”
Okay, commentary time. I’ll begin by saying that I’m baffled by Disney’s technique is for advertising and marketing Tiana’s Bayou Journey. In previous articles concerning the journey, we’ve bemoaned the entire no-news updates from Disney about Tiana’s Bayou Journey, which have as a substitute highlighted analysis journeys Imagineers have been taking to New Orleans and a bunch of issues irrelevant to the ‘meat’ of the journey itself.
It appears there’s a laser deal with consideration to element and authenticity of the attraction. However this isn’t a World Showcase attraction–it’s in Magic Kingdom. Being a love letter to New Orleans is good, nevertheless it’s not one thing that the typical visitor “wants” from a journey in Frontierland. It’s a bizarre manner of attempting to generate hype and enthusiasm. What household goes to have a look at these articles and say, “we will’t wait to ebook a visit to expertise Walt Disney World’s latest journey–it seems so genuine!”
The main focus needs to be on enjoyable. The remainder of it’s window-dressing, higher reserved for area of interest audiences. In equity, NOLA.com is sorta that, so my grievance isn’t completely apt right here. I however suppose it’s odd that we all know so little concerning the substance of the attraction, however have heard the origin story of a climate vane.
Even after this walk-through, we nonetheless don’t know a lot. Affirmation of the modernized AAs is an efficient factor, and different minor notes concerning the queue, background music, and cargo space are all good to listen to. These are fascinating tidbits, to make certain. I simply really feel like Disney is a lacking a chance to showcase even just a few second wow-inducing clip of a Mama Odie, Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, or Louis the Alligator Audio Animatronics.
To every their very own, however I’m past prepared for Disney to share one thing of substance to showcase that Tiana’s Bayou Journey will likely be a superb attraction with elaborate themed design, particulars, present scenes, and spectacular results. That’s what’s essential to instill followers with a way of pleasure about this transformation.
Even when it’s not a photograph or video of Audio Animatronics, even new idea artwork of present scenes can be nice. One thing providing reassurance that Tiana’s Bayou Journey goes to be high-quality and enjoyable. Authenticity and being a love letter to New Orleans is good, nevertheless it’s icing on the cake for an attraction. Enjoyable is crucial and crucial to an attraction.
In any other case, the massive open query is the opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Journey. It’s been a bit since we’ve heard any credible updates, however final we did, they have been that the reimagining is pretty far forward of schedule. This makes full sense if you happen to spend time within the park watching building progress. Not solely is it shifting at a brisk tempo, however there are a ton of employees on the location each single day–and infrequently into the evening. It’s a really energetic undertaking, particularly as contrasted with the EPCOT overhaul or different current rides.
Not solely that, however Disney has quietly modified the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Journey from “Late 2024” to simply “2024” in plenty of advertising and marketing supplies. It’s my understanding that this was purposeful, and that it is because the Walt Disney World model might formally open as early as Summer time 2024.
However, I stay skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Journey will open by Summer time 2024. I don’t doubt what I’ve heard that the undertaking is forward of schedule (or was, after I heard that). Why I’m skeptical is as a result of we’ve been down this highway earlier than. It isn’t unprecedented for tasks to be forward of schedule till unanticipated points come up in the course of the later levels that completely derail issues and delay the opening. That has additionally occurred many, many instances previously. In different posts, I’ve used Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as a main instance–a journey that ended up being delayed by months.
Truthfully, I’m beginning to wonder if the identical factor has already occurred with Tiana’s Bayou Journey. If the journey remains to be on observe for a Summer time 2024 opening, it certain looks like we’d have at the least an up to date season by now. I used to be shocked when the ABC Christmas Day Parade phase aired, and it was completely recycled footage that didn’t actually do something to market the journey.
Once more, I’ve been perplexed by the method to Tiana’s Bayou Journey because the starting, nevertheless it appears to me that–if there have been confidence within the Summer time 2024 opening season for Tiana’s Bayou Journey, Disney would have shared it then. That’s the time when households collect and begin planning journeys for the upcoming 12 months, and there wasn’t actually something new and tangible to “promote” individuals on Walt Disney World in 2024. The window for reserving summer season holidays is beginning to shut, and if Tiana’s Bayou Journey doesn’t get a gap date till March, it’s most likely not shifting the needle a lot on June bookings.
The opposite risk is that, for some motive, Disney is ready for Mardi Gras (February 13, 2024) to do its large PR push for Tiana’s Bayou Journey. I don’t suppose that’s a very savvy method, nevertheless it’s definitely a synergistic risk. That appears unlikely to me until there’s inside hesitation about assembly the summer season timeframe, they need to wait till there’s extra confidence about a gap season, and it simply so occurs that readability is available in early February–through which case, a Mardi Gras announcement checks out. If we get a lot past mid-February and nonetheless haven’t heard a lot as a season, my wager is that Tiana’s Bayou Journey opens on October 1, 2024 or later.
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Ideas on the Tiana’s Bayou Journey? Do the small print from this walk-through contained in the attraction have you ever extra enthusiastic about it, or does this not transfer the needle for you? Excited that dozens of completely new Audio-Animatronics figures are coming to the attraction? Expectations relating to the TBA opening timeline? Agree or disagree with our assessments about this undertaking? Preserve the feedback civil, as this isn’t the place for politically-charged arguing, tradition wars, antagonism, private assaults, or low-cost pictures.