Imagineers Began Developing Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in 2018

    In a recent interview, Carmen Smith (Walt Disney Imagineering SVP, Creative Development – Content, Product & Inclusive Strategies) said that Imagineers began developing the idea for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure back in 2018. The Splash Mountain reimagining was officially announced June 25, 2020, and in the announcement, Disney said that development of a Princess and the Frog attraction had been in development for over a year.

    Smith was asked about the origin of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is when she said that development began in 2018:

    I think we’ve all had an opportunity in our lives to think about something that we’ve always wanted to do. I’ve followed the Tiana story, working for the Walt Disney Company for over 40 years, and just seeing that come to life – I realized that there was a great story there.

    Again, probably 2018, we began to shape and mold that there is a story here for us to tell. I’m one of those Imagineers that if you tell me ‘no’, I look at that as the road to ‘yes’. So, it was a bit of a journey, but again, I look at no’s as opportunities to continue to iterate and refine the story that you want to tell. You don’t tell the story until you have a full team, so I’ll just say that.

    We worked on the story probably starting in 2018, and a lot of things happened in our world. Leadership said “Carmen, you’ve got a bucket of projects that you’re working on, what do you have that you want to showcase for us?” And Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was one of them, and [leadership] said yes. And again, no one at WDI, Walt Disney Imagineering, works alone – we are an incredible team…
    Carmen Smith, Walt Disney Imagineering SVP, Creative Development – Content, Product & Inclusive Strategies

    Later in the interview, Charita Carter (Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Creative Producer-VP) described how the project really started to gain traction in 2020.

    When we really got started on this project as a project team, me as the producer, part of my role is to cast the team. So I had to cast our creatives and our designers. And normally, what we call our Blue Sky process, which is that very up-front ideation session where we’re coming up with the story, and we talk about what the guest experience will be, we’re normally together – we’re in a room and we’re pinning stuff up on boards, and we’re bouncing [ideas] off of one another. But we were what I call a COVID baby, because we got this started in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, when we were all very isolated.
    Charita Carter, Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Creative Producer-VP

    When it was announced in 2020, Disney released rather ambitious concept art, featuring Mama Odie’s treehouse boat on top of the iconic facade. Since then, the story has continued to evolve and change the look of the attraction into a more subdued version that is receiving the final touches now.

    Original Tiana’s Bayou Adventure concept art
    Updated Tiana’s Bayou Adventure concept art

    Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Backstory

    Princess Tiana is the proud daughter of Eudora and James. Eudora influenced Tiana’s entrepreneurial spirit, while James instilled a deep passion for cooking. With its mouthwatering menu, exceptional entertainment, and warmhearted hospitality, Tiana’s Palace quickly became a treasured meeting place in New Orleans. Princess Tiana used her newfound success to support surrounding neighborhoods, which led to her role as a community leader.

    From the success of her restaurant, Tiana expanded her business into an empire thanks to the entrepreneurial drive she got from her mother. Tiana opened Tiana’s Foods – an employee-owned cooperative. The endeavor began when Tiana purchased the salt mine and the area surrounding the large salt dome it operated from. With the help of her mother Eudora, Naveen, Louis and fellow owners of the cooperative, Tiana revived the old salt mine and the surrounding land, growing a wide array of vegetables, herbs and spices for her recipes.

    This multi-faceted enterprise has turned the aging salt mine into a space that has come alive. Complete with a boutique farm and both a working and teaching kitchen, Tiana’s Foods is where Tiana and her colleagues create all sorts of new products that they are bringing to the world, including a line of original hot sauces.

    With Tiana’s Foods established, the story of the attraction will take place after the final kiss as Naveen and Louis join Tiana on her latest adventure, hosting a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration where everyone is welcome.

    Tiana wants to give a big thanks to her family and friends and the entire community for all the support they’ve given her by throwing an amazing party during Mardi Gras season. When it turns out there’s been a bit of a mix-up with the party preparations, Tiana invites us to meet her at Tiana’s Foods to help with the missing ingredient for the party.

    When we arrive, we may see that Tiana spruced up the company’s facilities with vibrant art from local artists. Food for the party is being prepared and beignets are being loaded into crates for the celebration. All kinds of preparations are underway for the journey into the bayou with Tiana, along with new and familiar friends from the animated film.

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