close
close

How Disney’s New Tiana Ride Gives ‘The Princess and the Frog’ its due

Almost 15 years later The Princess and the Frog was released in theaters, Disney continues to cement its legacy of blue skies and sunshine.

During a media preview of Walt Disney World’s new Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction at Magic Kingdom, PEOPLE spoke with several stars of the 2009 animated musical. Set in 1920s New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog follows Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a waitress who dreams of opening her own restaurant, partly to fulfill the dream of her late father James (Terrence Howard).

When Tiana finally saves enough money to buy the perfect French Quarter building she’s been eyeing, she faces a series of hurdles — including an outbid on the building and, most notably, the fact that she accidentally gets turned into a frog after an amphibian. Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) kisses her, all thanks to a curse placed on him by the evil Dr. Facilitator (Keith David).

Fortunately, with some help from Tiana’s best friend Lottie (Jennifer Cody), Ray the firefly (Jim Cummings), Louis the trumpet-paying alligator (Michael-Leon Wooley), and voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis), Tiana is able to achieve her goal. her dream of opening her restaurant – while digging a little deeper to ‘never lose sight of what’s really important’.

During the media preview of This Is Magic on Monday, June 10, Rose, 51, told PEOPLE, “It’s so rare that 15 years later, something happens to something to a piece that reinvigorates it and brings it back to life.”

Never miss a story: Sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

The Princess and the Frog (2009); Anika Noni Rose.

Everett; Marleen Moise/WireImage


“So that in itself is a rarity,” she continued. “But the fact that the fans are so excited about it and have been clamoring for it for so long. It’s a wonderful gift for us and for them.”

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure takes the place of Splash Mountain, with most of the ride mechanics the same (including the famous 50-foot drop), but a total overhaul of the setting and storyline. Instead of a sleeping beauty, guests are now led through the Louisiana bayou to help Louis the alligator find a band to play during a huge Mardi Gras party hosted by Tiana – which takes place at the very end of the attraction in all its glory is shown.

The ride offers a variety of authentic inspiration, from the smell of beignets wafting everywhere, to pieces from local artists like Malaika Favorite and Varion Laurent, to music from Crescent City-born Grammy winners PJ Morton, Terence Blanchard, Trombone Shorty and Jon Batiste .

“I think the fans of Princess and the Frog may love the music the most,” Rose told reporters Monday of the “magical” ride. ‘But it is also beautiful, the light is stunningly beautiful. And just getting reacquainted with the characters and hearing their voices again in a new space.”

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, Florida.

Olga Thompson/Disney


For Blanchard, 62, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure “goes a long way in giving him the movie he deserves.”

“I think that really justifies the whole reason the movie was made,” he told PEOPLE on Monday. “And it really fuels what’s going to happen in the future because they announced today that there will be more stories about Tiana on Disney+.”

“That’s amazing, because what I love about that is that it’s not a movie where you have to go to the theater. It’s something that can be played in your home, and these kids can watch it whenever they want. he continued. “That, along with this ride, coming here and having a family experience, creating memories, (it’s great).”

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens to the public on June 28 at Walt Disney World. It will open later this year at Disneyland in California.