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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Inundated with Criticism From Fans

Disney fanatics online are buzzing about the replacement to “Splash Mountain” coming to Walt Disney World. The attraction, entitled “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” opens on June 28th, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. Many fans of The Princess and the Frog and modern Imagineering have been optimistic about this potential new classic attraction coming to the Magic Kingdom.

However, a month in advance of Imagineering completing the attraction, Disney’s public relations team decided to release a highly-edited “Full Ride POV” of the attraction on YouTube. This point-of-view video has received more dislikes than likes, with over five thousand comments on the video dissecting the new attraction scene-by-scene. Many comments also lament the destruction of Disney Legend Tony Baxter’s “Splash Mountain.” Caroline Reid of Forbes documented this public relations blunder in her latest article entitled, “Disney Spoils Its Own Ride And Pays The Price.”

Let’s break down the Top 5 pieces of criticism fans have for Disney, based on the POV:

#1: Lack of Coherent Story

Perhaps the most prominent critique of “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” thus far is that the story is incoherent. In watching the POV, you would be forgiven for thinking you missed an important plot element or piece of dialogue. The attraction’s facade and queue immerse guests in a story about Tiana’s food production process and her quest to find that ‘special spice’ that makes her recipe complete. The attraction concludes with a song about this stated theme, revealing that the ‘special spice’ is YOU! However, the bulk of the ride itself departs from this theme entirely, taking you on a bayou river expedition to pick up band members for a party.

Critter band inside “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.” (©Disney)

This lack of cohesive story prompted some to comment that the attraction is “very boring.” Here at Mickey Views, we broke the news last December that in a preview of the ride Disney CEO Bob Iger allegedly remarked “This is really boring.” Perhaps Bob Iger was on to something there!

While on the topic of story, one YouTube user makes an astute association between the plot of this new attraction and one of Disney’s most famous attraction blunders of all time, “Superstar Limo,” which had a similar premise.

#2: No Antagonist to Complement the Scary Drop

Above, a YouTube user recounts what made their experience on “Splash Mountain” so compelling during the ‘Laughing Place’ and ‘Briar Patch’ sequences. Given that there is an inherent fear in plunging 52 feet straight down in a heavy log, it is no wonder that the original Imagineering visionaries seeked to capitalize on this aspect. Directing sinister vultures and a threatening fox towards the guests provided some tension that coincided with the drop sequence. Following the splashdown, jovial music resumes as you escape from Br’er Fox and overcome the fear and anticipation inseparable from the drop itself.

In the reimagining of “Splash Mountain,” this fearsome theme was replaced with a celebratory one, in which Mama Odie drops an already-infamous line, directing you towards a party.

A YouTube commenter says: "'Let's make you big because the bigger you are makes the bigger splash at the party' has to be the worst line in the entirety of Disney's history."

The issue is simply that the drop itself is still scary. By not building anticipation for it, the drop fails to deliver the same emotional impact as before. Also, the removal of the “scary characters” may prove to scare children even more. There is zero indication of the severity of the drop prior to it happening, unless the child was paying attention to the facade whilst circling the attraction.

He’s got friends on the other side… Doctor Facilier. (©Disney)

Furthermore, the theme of the attraction presented an obvious opportunity to feature the movie’s villain, Dr. Facilier. Say, for example, as guests search with Tiana for groovy band members, they take a wrong turn, running into the spirit of Dr. Facilier. Following a psychedelic, villainous encounter, we escape down to the sunny part of the Bayou with the help of Mama Odie, making it to a celebration just in time.

It is my completely baseless prediction that the new ‘Laughing Place’ scene will be modified in the future to follow a plot something along those lines. It would not be difficult to modify the content on the screens that have been installed in that portion of the attraction if this attraction is poorly received.

#3: Attraction Highlights Shortfalls of Modern Imagineering

Many users on Disney’s official point-of-view video for “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” comment on how the attraction encapsulates the shortfalls of modern Imagineering. Chiefly, the dedication of budget towards a dozen high-tech animatronics when 5 dozen medium-tech animatronics would have added more visual spectacle throughout the attraction. Several stretches of the ride’s interior previously inhabited by interesting, cartoonish animals are now populated solely by artificial plants.

A sparse stretch of theming during “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.” (©Disney)

This lack of theming and overabundance of plants has led guests to compare the attraction to a certain aisle at the craft store, “Hobby Lobby.”

A YouTube commenter says: "All the splash mountain animatronics could blink..."

Another user points out that many of the basic “Splash Mountain” animatronics had articulation points the new ones lack. Compare the blinking frogs on “Splash Mountain” to the dead-stare frogs featured throughout “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.”

It is also worth noting that most of the limited-movement critters, which charitable fans are counting as “Audio-Animatronics®,” were figures outsourced to a third party company to model and fabricate in order to save time.

#4: Attraction Doesn’t Do Justice to Tiana’s Story

A YouTube commenter says: "This isn’t even the Princess and the frog. I really don’t understand what the hell they were thinking. This is like from a movie I’ve never seen and clearly the imagineers haven’t seen either."

While it was rather predictable that “Splash Mountain” fans would be unsatisfied with what replaced it, the biggest surprise has been the reaction among Princess Tiana’s loyal followers.

Pictured: Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen. (©Disney)

The point of opening a new IP-based attraction is to capitalize on that movie property in order to attract its fans to the park. However, many previously-excited fans of The Princess and the Frog have lamented it feels as though the Imagineers who led this project weren’t well versed in the film’s story and largely departed from it.

The negative reaction of many Tiana fans to the ride POV is one of the most important takeaways from the guest response thus far. If “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” fails to satisfy Tiana’s biggest fanatics, it is unlikely it’ll fare better with the average, uninitiated park guest.

#5: “They Destroyed Splash Mountain for THIS?!”

A YouTube commenter says: "Rest in peace Splash Mountain, you died for nothing."

Finally, as could be expected, many fans of the former “Splash Mountain” attraction are not pleased with the outcome of this reimagining. Of course, when you replace a beloved, iconic classic there will be a subset of fans who will hate the replacement no matter what.  However, it is my opinion that Splash fans were more amenable to accepting Tiana than the Disney shills think. In the end, the lack of satisfaction from the Tiana camp (see previous section) means there is little chance the attraction wins over Splash fans either.

A YouTube commenter says: "The stories told in Disney's Splash Mountain ride are based on African folktales that were originally told by slaves and passed down orally for generations. I wish the people at Disney understood that they destroyed their most popular and beloved ride, which also was a celebration of african culture and history in America, in order to produce this boring lifeless mess. Great job."

Seeing what became of “Splash Mountain” 4 years later, commenters are revisiting the 2020 decision to gut the original ride. Some fans feel the change was a necessary one given the controversial source material “Splash Mountain” was based on. Others posit that this ride was a pseudo-original Disney Parks IP as hardly anyone who rode the attraction had any idea it was inspired by a film.

Who’s Behind The Attraction?

Criticism aside, we should take a moment to acknowledge the creatives behind this landmark attraction for Walt Disney Imagineering. “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” marks the dawn of a new age for Imagineering, with a new team of creative geniuses taking the wheel.

From left to right: Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Creators Ted Robledo, Charita Carter and Carmen Smith. (Photo: Sabina Graves/Gizmodo)

“Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” is the brainchild of Imagineers Carmen Smith, Charita Carter and Ted Robledo. Previous statements suggest these leaders spent several years traveling the country conducting “extensive research” in order to create this “meticulously-detailed” new attraction!

According to sources of Mickey Views, these same Imagineers are now headed on to “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain” to helm the creative on that project as well!

What do you think of what they’ve delivered thus far? Let us know in the comments below!

Brayden
Brayden
Brayden produces quality Disney news commentary videos at Mickey Views. He is also working on feature-quality documentary films at "Address Unknown."

11 COMMENTS

  1. “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” is the brainchild of Imagineers Carmen Smith, Charita Carter and Ted Robledo. Previous statements suggest these leaders spent several years traveling the country conducting extensive research in order to create this meticulously-detailed new attraction!

    You are killing me dude – Love your sense of humor here!!! LOL

  2. This disgrace is in line with what one would expect from a company and country that rewards mediocrity as long as it is delivered by individuals “of color” but is repulsed by creative and executional excellence produced by WHITE MEN! To become a Disney “leader” these days requires one to be racist, rapacious, and most of all completely lacking in creativity, emotional intelligence, heart, imagination, and soul. Sad!

  3. The reason I pay so much money to visit WDW is because of the extra detail that they put into everything. In the past five years that has changed. We have had genie plus, boring hotel renovations, and downgrades to Epcot. Now, this is my final straw. On my next trip to Orlando I plan to wait unitil Epic Universe opens and try Universal for the first time. I hope that WDW changes some imagineering personel they make any more changes.

  4. You forgot something-
    #6: Lack of Memorable Music
    After watching the POV I was stunned how utterly boring and unmemorable all the music was. Music is so integral to either a ride’s success is, or failure. Splash Mountain endured so well for 40 years because it had academy award winning song riders. Music that got used around the park, the Wonderful World of Disney tv show intro, etc. Tiani’s music is flatter than a pancake!

  5. Oh my goodness, get these people off the creative team right away. They’re so severely bungled this overlay that they shouldn’t be trusted with any projects ever again.

  6. Seems to me that this “remodeling” is a fail!!! I have been a long time Disney World lover and visit once a year, but lately have felt Disney is lacking in imagination and the new changes just come up short. Hopefully Bob Iger learns from these mistakes and we see more “positive” updates to our parks!!

  7. I don’t think it’s fair to give the ride flack just because Tiana doesn’t come off as a “princess” to some people. These are people who don’t understand her character – a young woman who does the princess thing when it’s needed and does the hardworking entrepreneur thing the rest of the time. To me, this is what makes Tiana the most interesting of the princesses. She doesn’t get by on her looks or heritage; it’s her ingenuity, wit, and grit. And because of that, what happened in this attraction is a real shame. Very little of what makes her special comes across – and that’s because there’s no obstacles for her to demonstrate her character.

    The classic dramatic story structure has been used for hundreds of years due to its effectiveness. No need to reinvent the wheel – we know it works. Yet when it comes to the parks, with very few exceptions, Disney has struggled for more than a generation to tell engaging stories through the medium of theme park attractions. Every new nighttime spectacular is another movie clip montage around a loose theme… and new rides only try to evoke a handful of simple, positive emotions for fear of upsetting or confusing any attendees. You can’t be challenged, informed, or scared. The result is beautiful, highly polished, forgettable, and bland.

    In Bayou Adventure we have our character who wants something (a band… pretty low stakes) due to a status-quo breaking event (a party… also low stakes)… and then… she just finds them. But in dramatic structure there should be obstacles. These obstacles should escalate to a climax after which the character changes the way they understand themselves or the world. Splash Mountain, for all its flaws, had this; a complete hero’s journey, antagonists, and a ride system that aligned with the dramatic structure. Tiana could have had all this as well, but instead we have a thrill ride with a story as engaging as a checklist written for 5 year olds.

    It was a great opportunity to communicate something impactful. To challenge, inform, scare, AND find joy and celebration. What a shame Disney is too afraid to work with the entire human experience.

  8. Hmmm. It says, “these leaders spent several years traveling the country conducting “extensive research” in order to create this “meticulously-detailed” new attraction!” Where did they travel exactly? The basement at their house? From the looks of the attraction they get an F. An F for Fail. Perhaps they should study up on Walt Disney and the attractions he created that lasted for decades to understand the formula that make it a success. Or better yet, study Splash Mountain since that was also a decades long well loved attraction that never needed a make over. Long lines for that ride because it’s a classic.

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