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Splash Mountain closed at Disney World. Here’s why and what’s next.

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Splash Mountain closed at Disney World. Here's why and what's next.

Splash Mountain is officially closed at Walt Disney World.

Longtime fans flocked to Magic Kingdom for one last splash over the weekend, with wait times of 220 minutes Sunday night.

The popular ride remains open at Disneyland, but it’s only a matter of time before that too shutters to make way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which next year will continue the story started in “The Princess and the Frog.” Disneyland has already opened a Tiana-inspired shop, Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets, and has revealed plans for a new Tiana’s Palace restaurant.

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How long will Splash Mountain stay open?

Splash Mountain’s last day of operation at Disney World was Jan. 22.

Disneyland hasn’t announced its Splash Mountain closing date yet, but guests can check availability daily on the California resort’s website and app.

There are currently no plans to change Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disney Resort, which is owned by Oriental Land Company, which licenses from Disney.

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Wait times for Splash Mountain swelled on its last night of operation at Walt Disney World, as reflected in the resort's app.

Wait times for Splash Mountain swelled on its last night of operation at Walt Disney World, as reflected in the resort’s app.

Why is Splash Mountain closing?

Splash Mountain’s Br’er Rabbit story is tied to “Song of the South,” a 1946 Disney film, which has been criticized for its idealized portrayal of plantation life.

“I’ve felt, as long as I’ve been CEO, that ‘Song of the South’ was – even with a disclaimer – was just not appropriate in today’s world,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said at a March 2020 shareholders meeting.

A petition to change Splash Mountain’s theme went viral the same year and Disney announced plans to do so, noting the change had been in the works since 2019.

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Splash Mountain riders hurtle down a five-story drop at the Disneyland's Splash Mountain in Critter Country.

Splash Mountain riders hurtle down a five-story drop at the Disneyland’s Splash Mountain in Critter Country.

When will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure open?

Disney previously announced the attraction would open at both Disneyland and Disney World in late 2024.

However, fans may not have to wait that long. Disney World told USA TODAY there was no need to say “late” anymore for Florida’s attraction, but simply 2024.

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Princess Tiana will lead guests on a bayou adventure in the new "The Princess and the Frog" makeover of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Princess Tiana will lead guests on a bayou adventure in the new “The Princess and the Frog” makeover of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Is Splash Mountain now ‘The Princess and The Frog’?

“This is not a retelling of ‘The Princess and the Frog,’” Ted Robledo, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, said in December.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set a year after the animated film ends and continues the story, they explained.

Having realized her own dream of opening her own restaurant, Tiana now wants to help her community succeed, too, as guests will learn in the ride’s queue. To do so, she opens Tiana’s Foods, an employee-owned co-op built into a new incarnation of Splash Mountain’s mountain.

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Disney Imagineers Ted Robledo and Charita Carter share a new peek at Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

Disney Imagineers Ted Robledo and Charita Carter share a new peek at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

What’s happening to Splash Mountain?

The mountain will be reimagined as a salt dome, like one Imagineers visited on Louisiana’s Avery Island during one of their many research trips for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

“It’s a perfect in for us to explain the elevation,” Robledo smiled.

Charita Carter, executive creative producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, stressed the importance of preserving authenticity while giving dimension to Tiana’s world.

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“She’s fantastical, but she came from a very real place,” Carter said. She hopes guests from Louisiana will ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and say, “Yeah, this feels right.”

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Will Tiana’s Bayou Adventure have the same characters as the film?

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Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis the alligator and several other characters from “The Princess and the Frog” will star in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and their original voice actors will reprise their roles, according to Carter.

Guests will also meet new friends: an otter, rabbit, raccoon, turtle, beaver and opossum.

Robledo said Imagineers looked for animals that lived in the bayou and imagined what kinds of found objects they might use to make instruments. Music will play a big part in the ride, just like in the film and history of New Orleans.

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Brand new characters will join Tiana and Louis on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Brand new characters will join Tiana and Louis on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Is Tiana’s Palace a real place?

It’s going to be. Disneyland plans to open a real-life Tiana’s Palace restaurant later this year.

“Within its peach-colored walls and fancy green wrought-iron balconies, you’ll find elegant fixtures and appointments reminiscent of Tiana’s life and friendships,” Disney shared on Disney Parks Blog. “The new Tiana’s Palace will have much of the same pinch of pizzazz and flair as the restaurant from the film, offering authentic New Orleans flavors inspired by Tiana’s friends and adventures in this quick-service style restaurant.”

The restaurant will replace French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square. Both French Market Restaurant and Mint Julep Bar will close on Feb. 17 to make way for the transformation, but Mint Julep will reopen later. Opening dates just haven’t been announced.

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Tiana's Palace will be a quick-service restaurant when it opens at Disneyland. It will not offer character dining, though guests may see Princess Tiana in New Orleans Square.

Tiana’s Palace will be a quick-service restaurant when it opens at Disneyland. It will not offer character dining, though guests may see Princess Tiana in New Orleans Square.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Splash Mountain closed at Disney World. Here’s why and what’s coming.

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