How ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ Salutes Military Service

In every Disney theme park attraction, the story begins in the queue.

And in Tiana’s Bayou Adventureopening Friday, June 28, at Walt Disney World Resort and later this year at Disneyland Resort—the queue updates guests on Princess Tiana’s achievements after the events of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2009 film The Princess and the Frog.

Not only does the attraction’s queue feature the sweet scent of Tiana’s famous “man-catching” beignets, along with an assortment of newspaper clippings; framed awards, letters, and photos; and an original gumbo recipe from Tiana’s great-grandmother, but it also features a tribute to Tiana’s late father, James, a World War I veteran who dreamed of one day opening his own restaurant—a dream his daughter would later realize.

“We have photos of [James] in the queue, and you can see him in his uniform and with Tiana,” Charita Carter, executive creative producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, said. “That’s especially meaningful for me because I come from a military family, and I know so many of our guests do, too. This is a wonderful way for us to connect with those families.”

Walt Disney Imagineering partnered with Walt Disney Animation Studios to craft James’ backstory, referencing photos of soldiers who served in 369th Regiment—one of the first Black regiments to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I—as inspiration. This unit was renowned for its bravery, and many members were awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre medal by the French government to honor their active service.

Among the framed photos on display is a French newspaper clipping with the headline “Un Soldat Américan Du 369ème Régiment D’infanterie Décoré Pour Son Héroïsme À Titre Posthume,” which translates to, “An American Soldier From the 369th Infantry Regiment Posthumously Decorated for His Heroism.”

In one of James’ letters to Tiana, the character revealed he’d found time to test “new recipes” on his Army comrades, like a stew with jerky and hogweed. “The way they reacted,” James wrote, “you would think I made them étouffée.”

Details such as those have a deeper impact for Disney cast members and employees who have had similar relationships in their lives.

“A lot of the storytelling involving James’ service is on the second floor, near the test kitchen area. When guests go upstairs, they’ll see pictures of Tiana and her father, as well as the letters they’ve written back and forth to each other,” said Rebecca Clancy, Project Coordinator, Walt Disney Imagineering. “As the daughter of a veteran myself, it was really meaningful for Disney to tell that story. So many people on our project team have either served or know people who have, so it was really important for us to expand James’ story.”

For more than 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has admired U.S. military service dating back to founders Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney, who both served their country during the First World War.

Since 2012, Disney has contributed more than $20 million dollars in funding and media support to nonprofit organizations that focus on bringing joy to veterans and military families. Today, Disney proudly salutes the thousands of U.S. military veterans who work in all sectors of the company as part of the Heroes Work Here initiative and is honored to celebrate military families with special discounts, daily flag retreat ceremonies at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, and more.