We Were One Of The First To Ride ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ At Disney World

Olga Thompson, Photographer

Walt Disney World visitors can soon join the People’s Princess on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The attraction follows the first Black Disney princess’s life after the events that played out in the hit film The Princess and the Frog. ESSENCE received a sneak preview of the magic found, fittingly, at the Magic Kingdom theme park ride.

Princess Tiana’s dream and reality have expanded as she’s gone from owning a restaurant to growing an empire. Riders who enter the Bayou neighborhood created for the attraction will see her establishment, Tiana’s Palace, but also the princess’s brand, Tiana’s Foods. Vintage vehicles and vibrant murals line the entrance to the ride area, where guests who wait in the queue hear tunes curated by Grammy award-winning and two-time Oscar-nominated producer Terence Blanchard, who played trumpet on songs for the film.

Blanchard and other notable figures, including stars of the animated film, showed up at the preview event to celebrate the ride’s upcoming opening. They included Anika Noni Rose, who was the voice of Princess Tiana, Keith David, who played Dr. Facilier, and Jenifer Lewis, the epic voice of voodoo priestess Mama Odie.

We Were One Of The First To Ride ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ At Disney World
Olga Thompson, Photographer

Another guest was Stella Chase, daughter of Dooky Chase founder Leah Chase, who inspired the character of Princess Tiana. Television personalities Yandy Smith-Harris and Toya Johnson-Rushing, as well as content creators Courtney “Color Me Courtney” Quinn and Emmanuella “Funmi” Ford, were also on hand to celebrate.

Once guests get inside Princess Tiana’s world, they get to see all of the consumer goods that she sells. A radio announcer welcomes riders to Tiana’s Palace during Mardi Gras season, where the Princess is preparing for a huge community celebration for all of New Orleans. And the restaurant offers a fully immersive experience. There’s an old-fashioned clock, an annotated calendar, vendor forms, functional aprons, lunch pails, and more. The counters are stocked with signature products from Tiana’s Foods, including jarred peppers, spicy hot sauces, and seasonings.

Every aspect of the attraction is filled with these thorough details, and it’s only right that Disney went all out for a ride honoring the first Black Disney princess, as expectations and excitement are high.

Bionqua Johnson, a new mom to a five-month-old and a Tampa resident, had the chance to experience the attraction. She was excited to see it come to life. “As a new mom to a little Black Hispanic girl, this ride really means a lot to me,” she tells ESSENCE.

“Little girls really tend to look up to Disney princesses,” says Johnson. “The fact that they finally created a Black princess, and now created a ride that children who visit Disney are going to get to enjoy, it really is just phenomenal. I think it’ll inspire little girls and encourage them to be their true selves.”

We Were One Of The First To Ride ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ At Disney World
Olga Thompson, Photographer

The great thing about The Princess and The Frog and what the ride represents is that while it’s all magical and inspirational, it’s not totally unrealistic. “I think this is the first princess that had a job,” Jenifer Lewis says. “This is very important for the children to see this character.”

Bionqua Johnson agrees, noting it’s uplifting for adults too. “It’s not necessarily just fantasy, it really can be attainable,” she says. “They took it a step further and are showing that Tiana is now a businesswoman; she’s able to create her own food line. That’s inspiring for little girls, you know? Even [for] Black women like myself, who didn’t grow up seeing a Black female figure in many of these Disney stories, so I’m really proud of what Disney has done.”

Riders proceed further into Princess Tiana’s world as they file into a line for the ‘coaster element. There are small drops before everything concludes in a fifty-foot plunge down water.

The ride doesn’t just show her future, though. It expands on her past. Her late father’s military service is featured, highlighting the contributions of service people. And Princess Tiana also has a new look that is sure to be appreciated by riders. The Princess has traded in her signature look for period-accurate festive clothing for special occasions. A teal floor-length gown with a flapper flair is a showstopper for the grand affair she is hosting.

You can join in on Princess Tiana’s party and celebrate this landmark attraction by visiting Disney World. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens to the public on June 28.

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