Disney’s Biggest Ride Opening of the Year is Filled with Controversy

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Concept Art

Disney’s Biggest Ride Opening of the Year is Filled with Controversy

A new ride at Disney is in the news. On June 28, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opened up at Walt Disney World. It’s the most significant ride opening of the year at Disney’s Parks, but it has also led to significant controversy.

Let’s look at why the ride is so controversial and how riders who have gotten to try the ride are reviewing it.

Disney Isn’t Opening as Many Rides in 2024

In 2023 Disney World saw a number of major ride openings including:

  • Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom
  • Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Hollywood Studio
  • Journey of Water at Epcot

However, major openings in 2024 are much lighter. Disney is preparing for a very large upgrade of Animal Kingdom that will include a re-theming of Dinoland, but that project is still in the planning stages.

The Biggest Ride Opening is a Re-Imagining of Splash Mountain

Riding Splash Mountain

In January 2023, the animatronics at Splash Mountain went quiet as Disney World embarked upon a re-imagining of the ride.

Splash Mountain is Extremely Popular, but Based on a Controversial Movie

Splash Mountain is based on Song of the South. The 1946 movie is a combination of live-action and animated. It has proven controversial as its characterization of plantation life is widely regarded as racist.

The movie was re-released in theaters in 1956, 1972, 1980, and 1986. However, it has never been released for home video in the United States.

Disney’s Announcement They’d Be Removing Space Mountain Divided the Disney Community

Forzen Ever After

Disney announced they’d be re-theming Splash Mountain in 2020, but said they’d been contemplating the ride change for five years already.

The announcement divided the Disney community as Splash Mountain is a favorite ride. Another ride that was re-themed and caused controversy was Maelstrom at Epcot. The ride previously explored Norway’s history and was replaced by a ride named Frozen Ever After.

Critics of the change lamented how Epcot was drifting from its original vision of showcasing the world’s cultures. However, there’s little doubt the new theme has made the ride more popular as lines often stretch for hours.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Opened on June 28th

Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opened at Magic Kingdom on June 28th. The ride is now themed around the 2009 animated film, The Princess and the Frog. As you can expect for a new ride, wait times have been long. Amusement park tracking site Thrill-Data was tracking wait times at nearly 2.5 hours on its opening day.

Most Reviews of the New Ride have been Mixed

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Concept Art

Reviews of the ride have been mixed. A common “complaint” is there’s still a lot of nostalgia tied up with the original Splash Mountain.

Here’s what Reddit users 82mt82 had to say about the ride:

“I rode it yesterday. I think the art direction was great. Everything was very vibrant and colorful. The queue was also very well done (the interior portion). I think there’s a large portion of WDW fans … that have a nostalgia bias when it comes to the parks. I’m definitely in that category.

Do I prefer the original splash mountain? Of course, it’s the ride I grew up with. Just like I like the original PotC theme, the Maelstrom and the original Figment. But at the end of the day, if [pillaging] or story book animals tied to an obscure film with an unfortunate characterization aren’t good for business, you get Johnny Depp on a throne and a batch of colorful, soggy beignets.”

A Big Complaint is with the Story

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Concept Art

Another complaint has been with the story of the ride. Disney didn’t follow the story for the movie The Princess and the Frog but chose to create a new story after the film. Here’s what Reddit user bigbro411 had to say:

“The ride features way less animatronics than splash did. And while the animatronics are “more impressive” they virtually say the same thing in a different way each time you encounter them.

Also the story lacks any conflict.

Some people dislike the use of screens instead of actual sets.

And finally, while the finale scene is generally liked, you are only in the scene for literally 6 seconds making it not really worth it.”

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