A jazz-backed projection show will serve as temporary nighttime entertainment along the Rivers of America in Disneyland while “Fantasmic” is refurbished. 

Called “The Heartbeat of New Orleans – A Living Mural,” the new show will tell the story of a frog that “that leaps into the lively heartbeat of New Orleans when he is lured by the jazzy sounds he hears in the distance,” according to a Disney press release. 

Projections onto Tom Sawyer Island will include original works by Marcella “Marci” Swett, the Disney graphic designer known for her chalk art during Downtown Disney’s “Celebrate Soulfully” events during Black Music Appreciation Month. 

The temporary show opens on Sept. 29. “Fantasmic” is scheduled to return in spring 2024 without the Maleficent animatronic dragon figure, which caught fire during an April performance. No one was injured, but the nighttime spectacular has been on hiatus ever since. 

Tiana’s Palace restaurant now open at Disneyland 

Speaking of New Orleans vibes in Disneyland, the Tiana’s Palace restaurant is now open.

Tiana’s Palace (Disney)

Taking over the space previously known as the French Market, the quick-service dining location offer cajun and Creole-inspired fare such as the 7 Greens Gumbo, gulf shrimp and grits, house-filled beignets. 

The restaurant comes ahead of another “Princess and the Frog”-themed addition to New Orleans Square, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. That replacement for Splash Mountain is now under construction and scheduled to open in late 2024

Wildcat coaster at Lake Compounce will reopen next year

The 96-year-old Wildcat wooden coaster at Connecticut’s Lake Compounce amusement park will reopen next year with some improvements to try and smooth out the infamously rough ride. 

Wildcat (Lake Compounce)

Wildcat has been closed this entire season. It was fully retracked in 2017, but coaster enthusiasts had a largely negative view of the project. One 2020 review called it “by far the roughest coaster I have ever experienced.” 

The coaster is being retracked again, this time by the Gravity Group, the coaster firm behind family woodies such as Oscar’s Wacky Taxi at Sesame Place Philadelphia and the more extreme Hades 360 at Wisconsin Dells’ Mount Olympus. In a press release, Lake Compounce said the latest restoration work will create “a smoother ride while maintaining its classic appeal.”

The Bristol, Connecticut park isn’t done with its 2023 season just yet, as it will kick off its second Phantom Fall Fest on Sept. 23. The Halloween event will include four haunted houses and four scare zones, all included with regular park admission.