From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Cappy Surette

Beginning with our founders Walt and Roy O. Disney, and their service to the country during the First World War, the Walt Disney Company has long admired U.S. military service.

Throughout our 100-year history the Walt Disney Company has been honored to continually celebrate military service and veterans. That admiration, we hope, will continue to shine in a special way when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Walt Disney World Resort on June 28.

New Photos Dive into Tiana’s Dad James’ Military Backstory

Fans of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “The Princess and the Frog” will recall that Tiana’s father, James, was a veteran of World War I. Walt Disney Imagineering took this as inspiration and built upon his story inside the attraction in partnership with their fellow storytellers at Disney Animation.

Princess and the Frog characters, Tiana's Dad James, in military uniform, and a young Tiana embrace in front of a train.

Ted Robledo, executive creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering, said that his team was thrilled to be able to expand James’ story in a way that honored veterans. He shared that one of the things that makes Tiana so unique is how relatable her story is. Her mother was an entrepreneurial dress maker, and her father was a decorated veteran.

“We looked for inspiration for how we could best expand on his backstory in a way that honored the military families who visit our parks,” said Ted. “In creating these photos for the attraction, we were inspired by real photos of soldiers who served during WWI to ensure we got it right.”

The photos that served as reference for the expanded backstory of James were those of soldiers who served in 369th Regiment, one of the first African American regiments to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. This unit was renowned for its bravery and many members were awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre medal by the French government for their valiant service in action.

In faded sepia tone, Tiana's father, James, offers gumbo to military service members as they play instruments around him.

Real Family Pride Shines Through This Imagineer Tribute

As the daughter of a career U.S. Air Force officer, being able to include a tribute to military heroes inside this new attraction holds special significance for project lead Charita Carter, executive creative producer for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Charita Carter's father in military uniform

“Growing up in a military family is a wonderful and challenging experience that we hoped to pay tribute to inside our newest attraction, even if in a small way,” said Charita.

“In this expanded story, you will see just how much Tiana is proud of her father and his military service. Just like so many of the families who visit us are proud of their military hero. I know I am very proud of my family’s military service, including my father and sister.”

Disney Honors Service Members During National Military Appreciation Month

As we continue to recognize National Military Appreciation Month, this touching nod to all military heroes joins other tributes to veterans throughout Disney parks.

These include our daily flag retreat ceremonies, ferry boats sailing the Seven Seas Lagoon outside Magic Kingdom named in honor of Navy and Army veterans who helped build the parks and more.

Disney’s salute to military service members, veterans and their families continues this summer with the grand opening of the President George W. Bush Portraits of Courage exhibit June 9 at American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT. We also look forward to welcoming the military athletes and their families participating in the 2024 DOD Warrior Games as this inspiring competition returns to Walt Disney World June 21-30.

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