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Disneyland Article
Disney Execs Admit They Feel Pressure Replacing Splash Mountain Creating Tianas Bayou Adventure

Tianas Bayou Adventure
ID:
TMS-5283
Source:
Yahoo
Author:
Janine Rubenstein
Dateline:
June 3, 2023
Posted:
June 8, 2023
Status:
Current
During a Q&A in New Orleans, the creative minds behind the forthcoming re-imagining of the classic ride shared details about what to expect from the 'Princess and the Frog'-themed attraction to come

Days before Splash Mountain’s final drop at Disneyland on May 31, a group of Disney Imagineers fielded questions from press and influencers about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the new attraction replacing the classic ride in 2024.

Asked by one attendee if they feel the ‘pressure’ of replacing such an iconic piece of the theme parks, Disney SVP of Parks, Experiences and Projects, Carmen Smith, responded with “Every day.”

“I grew up with [Splash Mountain] too,” Disney Executive Creative Director Ted Robledo told attendees at Preservation Hall music venue. “We know there’s a lot of love there. The team asked ourselves, ‘What do people really love about it?’ We think they love the thrill, the adventure, so we said ‘Okay, that is sacred. We cannot take that away.’”

In 2020, it was announced that Disney would reimagine Splash Mountain, which is based on the controversial 1946 Disney film Song of the South, a work long criticized for its portrayal of the post-Civil War South and for utilizing racist tropes. They revealed that the ride would be re-themed to tell a story based on Disney's 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog shortly after a Change.org petition calling for a reimagining of the attraction gained major attention online.

It read in part: "Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be . . . While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South. There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need."

According to Disney, the decision to revamp the ride had been under consideration long before the petition.

Robledo explained that tinkering with Disney Parks' attractions is standard practice. “As Walt has said, Disneyland is never finished. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s never done. It’s always changing and we’re trying new things.”

The new ride is based on the brand’s first original Black princess character. Set in 1920s New Orleans, it will have new music, provided by Grammy-winning NOLA native PJ Morton, and the Disney team explained that Princess Tiana’s story is evolving as well.

The character will have a new look, a new company to run and some new friends along for the ride to Mardi Gras.

For example, “Prince Naveen’s little brother Ralphie,” said Disney’s Executive Creative Producer Charita Carter. “He will be there with a physical drum set.” She goes on to explain that the animatronic character and his new instrument were partly inspired by a youth drum set Imagineers discovered while researching the time period at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

For other aspects, like the sweet smell of Tiana’s signature beignets that will permeate the ride’s queue, Disney consulted with historic New Orleans staple Dooky Chase, whose late owner and chef Leah Chase helped inspire Princess Tiana and her Creole cuisine.

“We wanted to be able to tell the story of what makes Tiana who she is,” said Robledo, “And understanding how folks like the Chase family run their business and how Leah was doing all this great charity work for the community inspired us.”

Asked by one attendee if they feel the ‘pressure’ of replacing such an iconic piece of the theme parks, Disney SVP of Parks, Experiences and Projects, Carmen Smith, responded with “Every day.”

“I grew up with [Splash Mountain] too,” Disney Executive Creative Director Ted Robledo told attendees at Preservation Hall music venue. “We know there’s a lot of love there. The team asked ourselves, ‘What do people really love about it?’ We think they love the thrill, the adventure, so we said ‘Okay, that is sacred. We cannot take that away.’”

In 2020, it was announced that Disney would reimagine Splash Mountain, which is based on the controversial 1946 Disney film Song of the South, a work long criticized for its portrayal of the post-Civil War South and for utilizing racist tropes.

It read in part: "Disney parks should be a home for all to enjoy regardless of race, age, whatever your background may be . . . While the ride is considered a beloved classic, its history and storyline are steeped in extremely problematic and stereotypical racist tropes from the 1946 film Song of the South. There is a huge need for diversity in the parks and this could help fill that need."

According to Disney, the decision to revamp the ride had been under consideration long before the petition.

The new ride is based on the brand’s first original Black princess character. Set in 1920s New Orleans, it will have new music, provided by Grammy-winning NOLA native PJ Morton, and the Disney team explained that Princess Tiana’s story is evolving as well.

The character will have a new look, a new company to run and some new friends along for the ride to Mardi Gras.

For example, “Prince Naveen’s little brother Ralphie,” said Disney’s Executive Creative Producer Charita Carter. “He will be there with a physical drum set.” She goes on to explain that the animatronic character and his new instrument were partly inspired by a youth drum set Imagineers discovered while researching the time period at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

For other aspects, like the sweet smell of Tiana’s signature beignets that will permeate the ride’s queue, Disney consulted with historic New Orleans staple Dooky Chase, whose late owner and chef Leah Chase helped inspire Princess Tiana and her Creole cuisine.

“We wanted to be able to tell the story of what makes Tiana who she is,” said Robledo, “And understanding how folks like the Chase family run their business and how Leah was doing all this great charity work for the community inspired us.”

"My mother was like an ambassador to New Orleans," Stella Chase told PEOPLE of Leah, who died in 2019 at age 96. "I'm so thankful for Disney and this partnership because it gives my mother an opportunity to still bring people together and still be that ambassador."

Said Smith, “Every project, we always start with arming ourselves with knowledge. It’s so important not to have a transactional relationship [with a place or culture], but to have a relationship.”

Asked whether aspects or easter egg elements of Splash Mountain might show up in the new ride’s design, Smith said, “I don’t think we want to give that away just yet…Stay tuned.”

 
Attractions Referenced

Splash Mountain

Tianas Bayou Adventure

 
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