After making history as the first Black Disney princess in an animated movie, Tiana will be honored with a new “The Princess and the Frog” inspired-attraction that’s coming to Disney World and Disneyland Resort. The news comes at the start of World Princess Week.
“The Princess and the Frog” puts a spin on the classic fairytale, following the life of Tiana, a 1920’s waitress with dreams of opening her own restaurant. She learns that dreams do come true if you work hard, leave room for a little magic and keep your heart open to true love.
In addition to the forthcoming attraction, a donation of $50,000 will be made to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), an organization based where the film is set.
The main character, who does eventually helm her own eatery, was inspired by Leah Chase. Chase was the founder of the iconic Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in ESSENCE’s beloved New Orleans. Chase, a Creole chef who passed away in 2019, represented the soul of America and fed presidents, famous singers, and civil rights fighters over the course of 70 years. Recently, Disney conducted a panel at the dining spot, featuring Marlon West (one of the animators who created Tiana), Carmen Smith and Charita Carter (Walt Disney Imagineers responsible for the new attraction), and Stella Chase, Leah’s daughter. You may remember the name “Stella” from one of the fun-loving characters from the film.
During the sit down, four original pieces of artwork that inspired the new attraction were revealed.
“You know, visual arts really play a role in inspiring us as artists and as designers,” Carter said during the sit down. “So we have the opportunity to reach out to a local artist, Sharicka [Mahdi]…and what we did with her was, we pitched to her our concept for the story. We didn’t show her any of our storyboards. We just pitched it to her because we wanted to see from her perspective, from a native New Orleans artist, how she would interpret what we were saying and how it resonated with her.” Madhi is an alumni of YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists), an arts center in New Orleans.
Fans will also be able to download Princess Tiana’s story from the “Tales of Courage and Kindness” storybook collection, available for free download here throughout the end of the month.