Inside Look: The Teams Who Made Tiana’s Foods Water Tower

May 28, 2024 , ,

From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Meghan Caprez

We’re almost there! The grand opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Walt Disney World is exactly one month away.

Here’s an inside look at how Walt Disney Imagineering worked with an Orlando small business to bring the attraction’s iconic water tower to life at Disney World and Disneyland.

Topped with a larger-than-life tiara fit for a princess and standing at 32 feet tall, the water tower is an integral part of the next chapter of Tiana’s story. The structure features the Tiana’s Foods co-op logo and special nods to characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “The Princess and the Frog” film. Look closely at the right-hand side of the crown for this starry tribute … Je t’adore! Je t’aime!

Bringing this regal icon to life was no small feat. Disney Imagineers worked with local Central Florida business, Icarus Exhibits, to create a water tower truly befitting royalty. This icon fits seamlessly into the story of Tiana’s Foods, inviting guests to join a truly memorable Mardi Gras celebration.

Constructing the Tiana’s Foods Water Tower

Icarus is a design and build company founded in 1987 just down the road from Disney World. Their specialty is creating intentional, themed designs that bring immersive environments to life … something they’ve been doing with Disney since the 1990s when they first worked with Imagineers at Magic Kingdom.

The process for creating an immersive set piece like the Tiana’s Foods water tower is a collaborative one. Disney Imagineers dreamed up the design, and the team at Icarus helped make those dreams realities.

“Whenever we’re creating new experiences, we frequently work with trusted and valued industry leaders like Icarus,” said Peter Ricci, principal show manager at Walt Disney Imagineering. “That was no different for the construction of the beautiful water tower at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I’ve had the privilege of working with Icarus for more than two decades now, and their work as a longtime collaborator never ceases to amaze me.”

From design mock-ups, to paint and material samples, feedback sessions and the final installation, Imagineers worked with Icarus in lockstep to make sure every piece of the water tower was crafted to perfection.

“There’s an immense sense of pride to know that you’ve built it,” Icarus co-owner Mark Ireland said when reflecting on the final installation. “First, there’s a little bit of relief that everything turned out and was installed correctly, but mostly there’s pride.”

The pride in working on this project hit closer to home for co-owner Drayton Knox, who has lived in Florida his whole life.

“Growing up here in Florida, I’ve been going to Magic Kingdom since I was seven years old,” he said. “Any time we work on anything at the park, it’s special. Working on an attraction like Tiana’s is really cool.”

Imagineers Collaborate with Hometown Business

Over the years, Icarus has grown its business, and the team continues to implement best practices learned from working with Imagineers. In fact, Icarus General Manager Jennifer Smith spent more than a decade of her career as an Imagineer!

“My combined past of working for Disney and working with Icarus definitely helped prepare me for my role at Icarus today, as I have a deep understanding and respect for both sides of the work,” Jennifer said. “I am immensely proud of the work we produce for all of our clients. It is also quite fun to still have an opportunity to leave my mark at Disney!”

See the Work of Imagineers and Icarus in the Parks

If you’ve visited Disney World, chances are you’ve been blown away by at least one of the iconic landmarks Icarus helped bring to life.

  • Have you entered the grid on TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by Enterprise? Icarus crafted the Lightcycle shown in the exit area.
  • If you’ve sat on a super cool speeder at Galaxy’s Edge, this photo op was yet another collaboration between Icarus and Disney Imagineers.
  • Posed with Andy’s pals in Toy Story Land? Icarus helped create the larger-than-life figures.

Now, you can see the Tiana’s Foods water tower in Frontierland as we await the grand opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Disney Supports Small Businesses

While initially starting their work with Disney here in Florida, Icarus has helped Imagineers create immersive experiences at every Disney destination – and Disney Cruise Line – around the world.

They’ve also been able to expand their business and work with other companies across a variety of industries.

“Our relationship working with Disney has allowed us to grow,” Mark said. “We now get to work with NASA and other companies like that, and we may not have had those opportunities if it hadn’t been for Disney.”

Icarus is just one of the 2,500 Florida-based small businesses contracted to supply products and services to Disney World – part of the 8,500 small businesses across the country contracted by The Walt Disney Company.

You can learn more about other small businesses we work with at

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Opens June 28

You can see the Tiana’s Foods water tower right now at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park. We can’t wait until you all drop in to ride Tiana’s Bayou Adventure when it officially opens at Walt Disney World on June 28!

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