Known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Disney took inspiration from Leah Chase’s story to create its first Black princess, Tiana. Imagineers of Walt Disney World’s latest attraction, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, say Tiana is the quintessential Princess: she doesn’t come from royalty, she had a dream and through her own hard work, her entrepreneurial endeavors came true. Unlike other Disney princesses, her prince would be an extension of her, not her savior. Now, 15 years after the release of the animated musical The Princess and the Frog was released, Disney is putting a spotlight on Tiana with the attraction, new merchandise, the princess in physical, and even a Disney+ series in the works. The Chase family remains the foundation, as they’ve been involved in curating the attraction from the beginning.

Her daughter, Stella Chase, and grandson, Edgar “Dook” Chase, IV. spoke with the media recently about everything going on. Tiana’s Bayou Adventures is coined as a love letter to New Orleans, and also a love letter to Ms. Leah Chase. The ride picks up a year after the movie ends, and shows Tiana’s restaurant thriving, but more importantly, she’s a pillar of her community in NOLA, with her contributions to the city remaining her top priority, just as the famous Dookey Chase restaurant has been for the past 83 years. 

“My grandmother was all about, bringing people together. She wanted everyone to come to the table, have fun, celebrate, and do it all over a pot of gumbo,” Dook told us. “So it’s it’s amazing to see the similarities and the parallel of the stories with my grandmother and Tiana. It’s all about connectivity. They both love people. They both love their community. They both love what they do.”

Dook says like Tiana, who works with those she loves to get her business off the ground and serves the community once it’s up and running, it’s the people of NOLA who are responsible for Dooky Chase’s ongoing success and impact. 

Photo: Disney Imagineering

“When you talk about that back, we are celebrating 83 years, we opened in 1941. And when you talk about how we got to that, we only got there because of community. And that’s what my great-grandparents cared about, and what my grandparents cared about, and now what we cared about. As our community gets better, we get better. We’ve serviced great musicians, civil rights leaders, politicians – everyone was welcome, but primarily those who couldn’t have a seat at the table elsewhere. It’s since expanded, but that’s our core.”

In continuing on expanding the legacy of the Chase family, their official line of seasonings is now available to purchase at Walt Disney World in Tiana’s General Store, the attraction’s official merchandise store equipped with toys, clothing, accessories, food, plushies, and beyond. It’s the first time anyone can purchase the line of seasoning outside of the NOLA restaurant, which will also be made available at WDW’s online store. This debut with Disney was a no brainer. Having their seasonings on a worldwide stage such as WDW is beyond what they could have imagined when this project began 15 years ago. In addition to the four seasonings – fried chicken seasoning, seafood seasoning, gumbo seasoning, and a meat seasoning – food lovers can also purchase Leah Chase’s cookbook to try out her recipes at home.

“It’s amazing. It is truly a celebration of the hard work of the people that came before us. As I said, that’s for a generation. We stand on their shoulders of them and we don’t take that lightly,” Dook said with pride. “We understand that the times that they had to put in the work and the struggles that they had to go to to get to this opportunity, it amazes us. And now to showcase it on that level, we use the term continuing the legacy.”

The Chase family couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the attraction and all things Tiana. And though the four-year journey of the attraction is nearing its end with the ride debuting on June 28, they look forward to continuing to serve all they come into contact with.