Tiana Audio-Animatronic figure in Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Opens June 28 at Walt Disney World Resort: What You Need to Know

By Zach Johnson

As the tune goes, “grab somebody, come on down” for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new family thrill ride celebrating the Walt Disney Animation Studios film The Princess and the Frog. Opening Friday, June 28, in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort and later this year in Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure features dozens of Audio-Animatronics® figures, a sound-sational soundtrack (including music from the film and new compositions), and an exhilarating 50-foot drop.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is the most recent example of how Disney continues to turbocharge investment in its theme parks, leveraging its most popular stories to create unforgettable, immersive experiences for guests and offer them more of what they love.

Set a year after the events of The Princess and the Frog, the attraction gives guests a glimpse of life after Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen’s happily ever after. Now successful business owners, they want to bring their community together for a special Mardi Gras celebration. And so, during the flume-drop water ride, guests will join Tiana and her jazz-loving alligator pal Louis in search of band members to play at their neighborhood soirée.

Guests can “dig a little deeper” in the queue, which is lined with newspaper clippings that chronicle everything from Tiana’s Palace being named Best New Business to the grand opening of the employee-owned Tiana’s Foods, which offers hot sauces, spices, and other food products. All the way, a radio broadcast plays jazz music written by Grammy® winner Terence Blanchard.

“We wanted to make sure people have a good time while they’re waiting to get on the ride,” Blanchard said. “But we also wanted to represent the city so that they get a bit of a history lesson just by listening to the music as they’re waiting to go through the adventure.”

The exterior of Tiana's Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World Resort.

One song features vocals by Chef Leah Chase, who actually inspired the Princess Tiana character. “Leah Chase was a dreamer and a doer—a working mom of four who followed her dream to own a restaurant,” said Carmen Smith, the executive creative producer of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. “She and her husband, Dooky, ran Dooky Chase in New Orleans, but it wasn’t just a restaurant; it was a gathering place that inspired so many… When Disney Animation visited New Orleans and sat down with Chef Chase, they knew that this American original was the perfect inspiration for Disney’s first African American princess.”

As guests move further through the queue, they will discover Princess Tiana—having combined her talents with those of the local community—revived an old salt mine and the surrounding land in order to grow an array of vegetables, herbs, and spices for her recipes.

“We’re really big on expanding Tiana’s story, and great storytelling is what Imagineering does best,” said Rebecca Clancy, Project Coordinator, Walt Disney Imagineering. “We were really excited to place it amid the backdrop of Tiana’s Foods, a new business that she’s created. In fact, you’ll even see parts of the queue that reference her entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Tiana is our inspiration because Tiana is everybody’s princess,” added Charita Carter, the executive creative producer behind Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. “Everyone can find an aspect of Tiana’s story in their own story… [because] Tiana is a dreamer and a doer.”

Guests ride a log flume in Tiana's Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World Resort.

Several stars from the film reprise their roles in the attraction, including Disney Legend Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana, Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie, and Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis. “It is an amazing thing to have a ride based on something you created,” Rose said. “For people to have felt that, ‘Oh, yes, we want this in perpetuity,’ it’s mind-blowing, really.”

While in the queue, guests will be immersed in the story, helping the characters find the “missing ingredient” for Tiana’s party preparations. They’ll interact with Louis and Mama Odie as they search for musicians and hear the stylings of amphibian musicians playing Afro-Cuban, Rara, and Zydeco music.

Not only will guests be delighted by the mesmerizing scenery throughout the attraction, but they will marvel at 48 new, innovative Audio-Animatronics figures of characters from the film alongside 19 new musical critters—including an otter named Timloléon, a rabbit named Gritty, a racoon named Apollo, a beaver named Byhalia, and a turtle named Rufus.

According to Ted Robledo, executive creative director of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the critters showcase “the diverse and rich styles of New Orleans, playing their own renditions” of beloved Princess and the Frog songs such as “Almost There,” “Dig a Little Deeper,” “Down in New Orleans,” and “Gonna Take You There,” all while playing instruments made of natural materials found in the bayou. The critters also perform a song written just for the attraction, “Special Spice,” featuring the talents of Grammy winner PJ Morton, Terence Blanchard, and Rose.

The finale scene from Tiana's Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World Resort

Hearing “Special Spice” performed in the attraction was “literally a dream come true,” Morton said. “It’s going to take some time for me to process this. Seeing it come full circle—because this was a two-, three-year process—and become real is totally surreal.”

“To have spent time with PJ Morton—who’s a brilliant, wonderful representation of New Orleans, a city that I love and that has been so very good to me—was beautiful,” Rose said. “It’s fun. It’s joyous. The song itself is a bop, if I may say so myself! And I think it’s going to permeate kids and adults. They will have fun with it, they will feel it, and they will leave with it—which is what you want for music. You want it to be something that moves people.”

Seeing state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics figures perform those songs makes for an unforgettable experience. “The progress Imagineering has made is remarkable,” Clancy said. “If you look at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln in 1964, you can see how far we’ve come. It’s been spectacular to see how that team has grown and innovated in that space.”

“It took a lot of love, passion, and compassion to bring Tiana’s story to life, and we’re so incredibly proud of what we’ve come up with,” she continued. “One of my favorite parts about the attractions we build is that they are re-rideable. If you latch onto something the first time, you’ll notice something new each time you experience Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.”