Mar 20, 2024 - Things to Do

Disney to throw Princess Tiana party in New Orleans this weekend

Photo shows Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen on a float in Disneyland.

Princess Tiana and her prince, Naveen, are turned into frogs in the 2009 Disney movie, "The Princess and the Frog." The couple now appear at the parks and in parades. Photo: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

It's been 15 years since Disney introduced us to Princess Tiana, who charmed her way into our hearts with her cooking, singing and bayou critter friends.

Why it matters: Princess Tiana was inspired by New Orleans chef Leah Chase.

  • Tiana was Disney's first Black princess and broke barriers, much like Chase did with her restaurant, especially during the Civil Rights Movement.

The big picture: D23, Disney's official fan club, is organizing events in New Orleans this weekend to commemorate the film's anniversary.

  • AMC will screen "The Princess and the Frog" twice on Saturday at the Elmwood theater.
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum is then hosting a D23 party featuring Keith David, who voices the film's villain, Dr. Facilier.
Photo shows Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, in 2009 at the movie premiere.
Actress Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, arrives for the world premiere screening of "The Princess and The Frog" on Nov. 15, 2009. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

State of play: Disney has a long history with New Orleans. The story goes that Walt Disney was driving through the city with his family and fell in love with the people, food, music and culture.

  • He took that experience and translated it into New Orleans Square in Disneyland.
  • The inspiration for Disney's popular animatronic creations came from
    a mechanical bird Walt Disney found in New Orleans, according to Jason Recher, a vice president at Disney Parks.
  • There was talk that Disney even looked at opening Disney World in New Orleans before deciding on Orlando, where it opened in 1971.
Photo shows the log flume inside the new Tiana's Bayou Adventure
A critter band will join Princess Tiana in the bayou for the new ride at Disney World and Disneyland. Image: Courtesy of Disney

Zoom in: Disney is raising Princess Tiana's profile in the Florida and California parks.

Between the lines: Disney has been working with the Chase family and other New Orleans culture bearers during the development of the ride and restaurants.

  • "Although Princess Tiana is a character in a story, the place and culture she comes from are real," Carmen Smith, a senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering, told journalists last year.
  • "We want people from New Orleans to say, 'Wow, they did their homework.' We want everyone else to book a flight."

Meanwhile, the Haunted Mansion ride also is about the city and is based on a New Orleans mansion.

What's next: Tiana's Bayou Adventure is scheduled to open this summer at Disney World and later this year at Disneyland.

  • Disney+, the company's streaming platform, is working on a new animated series about Princess Tiana.

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