Fifteen years after Disney premiered its first Black animated princess in The Princess and the Frog, Princess Tiana is making her marks at Walt Disney World theme parks. Replacing the Splash Mountain, Princess Tiana comes to life unlike ever in Tiana’s Bayou. Construction has been underway in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom Park for months, with tidbits about what riders can expect amping up the anticipation. Riders will be transported through Tiana’s home and mind in the swamps of New Orleans via animation, water, music and more. 

The ride includes voiceovers from the original cast, including Anika Noni Rose in the title role. Friendly critters join the adventure along the way. Imagineers have been hard at work designing the new attraction. In Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, riders join Princess Tiana, who shows up in style in her swamp look, and jazz-loving alligator Louis, who explains the roots of the music heard throughout the journey. A band of nature’s finest creators — including an otter, a rabbit, a raccoon, a beaver, a turtle, and others — sing and play instruments made of natural materials they found in the bayou. 

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure also features Audio-Animatronics figures in the new attraction. The figures include Mama Odie, Louis the Alligator, Prince Naveen’s nephew Ralphie and also more of Tiana in her adventure wear.

Stella Chase Reese, owner of the popular and iconic New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase’s, visited Walt Disney Imagineering and Disneyland Resort to get a look at the new attraction. For those unfamiliar, her mother, Leah Chase, is the key source of inspiration for Princess Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.

Blavity had the chance to speak with Sivonne Davis, Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Walt Disney World, about the highly anticipated debut of the attraction later this year.

Splash Mountain has been a Walt Disney World and Disneyland staple for years. Was there any backlash to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure replacing Splash Mountain, or was the response overwhelmingly positive? 

Sivonne Davis: I think that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a reflection of what the Walt Disney Company and Disney Imagineering is always looking to do. We make sure to show and tell the multiple stories of people that are out there. This is a reflection of bringing in fresh, relevant, new and relatable content, and consumers are overjoyed by that. And so we’re really excited for the story of Tiana in this new dimension coming to life through Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, coming to Magic Kingdom here at Walt Disney World Resort this summer, and then later on this year at Disneyland in California.

What made Tiana the perfect selection to garner an attraction from all of the new Disney characters released in the past two decades?

SD: We are constantly looking for new stories to tell, and there are so many stories to choose from. We look to bring multiple new attractions and experiences that will delight our guests, and that’s happening across platforms. This newest attraction is important to showcase the importance of dreaming and dreaming big. And I think for us, Princess Tiana is the epitome of pride, perseverance and confidence. And having a support system around her to help make her dreams come true. And that is a story that has relevance for so many people.

You debuted the Princess Tiana merchandise line two years ago and now have this amazing attraction. What are the other expansion plans to continue to feature her throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland?

SD: Oh my goodness, that’s such a great question. So she’ll show up in so many different ways. Of course, with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure coming this summer to Magic Kingdom. She will also be coming to Disneyland in California later this summer. You’ll see her showcased in various beautiful merchandise. You’ll see her in a number of other merchandise. So you’ll see her story coming to life, not only in its physical form with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure but also seeing our princess walking around Magic Kingdom. But you’ll see so many other stories coming to life, and I’m looking forward to showcasing them as we’re ready to debut them very soon.

This is an amazing chance for representation, and the beauty of it is that I’ve seen so many little girls throughout the parks and all shades dressed as their version of Tiana. So, how excited are you to have this representation here and to showcase diversity and inclusion in this way?

SD: I think it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s been quite stunning to see the various shades, as you said, of people enjoying Princess Tiana. It shows how connected her story is and the stories that help make her multi-dimensional. So, some of that comes to life in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Some of that comes to life in the original story, The Princess and the Frog. And then much of it comes to life as you experience Magic Kingdom and Disney World.