Who Is Princess Tiana: A Disney Princess Profile

by | Oct 19, 2021 | Disney Cruise Line, Disney Movies, Disneyland Parks, WDW Blog

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Learn more about Disney Princess Tiana from the 2009 Disney classic, The Princess and the Frog.

Princess Tiana made her debut in the 2009 Disney classic, The Princess and the Frog. Voiced by Anika Noni Rose, Princess Tiana marked an important shift in the way Disney portrays its princesses, bringing us not only a princess who is willing to roll up her sleeves and work hard for what she wants, but also the very first Black princess in Disney history.

Disney’s Princess Tiana is known for her work ethic and her fantastic cooking, which is why we’re shining the light on Tiana in our Disney Princess profile this month, ahead of our upcoming November 2021 food issue of WDW Magazine.

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🍽️ Let’s Dig In!

And now, without further ado, let’s dig a little deeper into the history of Tiana, Disney Princess and master chef.

The History Of The Princess And The Frog

The Princess and the Frog was released on December 11, 2009, and opened to glowing reviews. 

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Photo courtesy of Disney

Prior to the film’s release, while still in its development stages, our amazing heroine Tiana had a bit of a different identity. Her character was written as a chambermaid named Maddy.

After early disapproval from critics, writers and directors Ron Clements and John Musker went back to the drawing board. On a research trip to New Orleans, where The Princess and the Frog takes place, they visited Leah Chase’s restaurant.

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Roundtable at Dooky Chase’s on August 16, 2021. Photo by Paul Morse, courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Chase began her career as a waitress, and, you guessed it, opened her own establishment, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant (along with her husband, Edgar Chase).

Musker and Clements then developed the character we know and love as Princess Tiana, modeling her character after the famed restaurateur.  

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Original art by “The Princess and the Frog” director John Musker, courtesy of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and Disney Parks Blog

Earlier this year, a roundtable interview discussing the development of the new theming of Splash Mountain took place in the actual Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. On the panel, one of the noted guests was Stella Chase Reese, Leah Chase’s daughter. You can watch full interview right here:

Tiana: Disney Princess Strengths

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Princess Tiana. Photo courtesy of Disney

What strikes me about Tiana, no matter how many times I watch this film, is how gifted, resourceful, and determined she is.

First, Tiana is an extremely hard worker. I’d go as far as to say she’s perhaps the hardest-working Disney Princess. She is the first Disney Princess who holds not just one job, but two!

She strongly believes in the ethics of hard work and consistently stands by the idea that anything will be achieved (as she sings in “When We’re Human”) “if you do your best each and every day.”

Tiana’s determination is unparalleled. Tiana will become a chef and will own her own restaurant and never loses sight of that dream. Not once.

Princess Tiana is sincere and authentically herself. Her newfound royalty (after marrying Prince Naveen) doesn’t change who she is or deter her from achieving her dream. She buys the restaurant that she worked tirelessly for with the money she earned from working two jobs.

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“She works hard for the money.” Photo courtesy of Disney

Even after she buys her restaurant with her own money, instead of outsourcing the hard labor, she and Naveen put in the labor themselves from the ground up to create Tiana’s Palace. We see a montage of this at the beginning of the song “Down in New Orleans (Finale).”

Tiana doesn’t grow complacent in the ease of life as a royal either. As a Disney Princess, Tiana continues to operate the restaurant as owner and head chef, even after earning her crown.

Tiana is a loyal friend. I adore Charlotte (Lottie) LaBouff as a character, and I adore the friendship between Tiana and Lottie even more.

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Tiana is a loyal friend to Lottie. Photo courtesy of Disney

These are two women from vastly differing social statuses, and their outlooks on life are as different as night and day. However, the two of them, having been besties since childhood, continue to support and love each other no matter what.

Tiana is never jealous when Lottie is handed everything her heart desires on a silver platter, without lifting a finger. In fact, Tiana is always there to help her in any way she can.

(Note to self: Find a friend who will drop everything and whip you up 500 beignets with 12 hours notice so you can impress a prince at the lavish party you’re throwing.)

Another example of what a great friend Tiana is: While in the bayou, she meets Louis, an enthusiastic, trumpet-tootin’ gator. His dream is to play jazz with “the big boys,” and Tiana lets him do exactly that after she opens her restaurant, having him play in the dining room, among human patrons.

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Tiana’s friendship with Louis teaches us a valuable lesson. Photo courtesy of Disney

It’s a tiny moment at the end of the movie, and it can be written off as flippant or silly, but she truly believes in Louis’ dreams and wants to help make them come true, even with the reputation of her own restaurant on the line. 

RELATED: Tiana’s friendship with Louis is just one of the many reasons I think she’s the greatest Disney Princess of all time. Get my full list in last year’s September issue.

Tiana is an incredibly gifted chef. From a young age, she takes on her father’s love for cooking, and food plays a huge theme in The Princess and the Frog

Her specialties are beignets and gumbo, and I bet she makes a sizzling jambalaya and po’ boy too. You can find many of these comforting, southern dishes at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside in Walt Disney World.

I’d personally never tried gumbo myself until I recreated Disneyland’s Blue Bayou Gumbo. How I wish I could have had Tiana with me in the kitchen to show me how to make it even tastier, but I still thought this recipe was the bee’s knees!

Tiana: Disney Princess Motivations

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Tiana may be the most motivated princess in Disney history. Photo courtesy of Disney

Tiana is a shining example of being motivated. She’s consistently dedicated and fastidious, nearly to a fault. She believes that she can achieve success only if she works hard enough (read: all the time without ever even taking a 5-minute breather).

Throughout the movie, her mother Eurodora and the wise Mama Odie kindly try to encourage Tiana by explaining that while her late father James didn’t get everything he wanted, he had what he needed, which was love. Tiana doesn’t fully realize this until nearly the end of the film, but it’s what helps her ultimately defeat Dr. Facilier.

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Tiana’s sweet mother. Photo courtesy of Disney

She also comes to the realization that having Naveen with her is now also part of her dream, telling him that her dream wouldn’t be complete without him in it.

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Prince Naveen. Photo courtesy of Disney

Tiana is also motivated by loyalty, specifically the loyalty she has to her father, James, who died (offscreen) fighting in World War I. James is the one who taught Tiana how to cook. Their shared bond is what started Tiana’s desire to bring people from all walks of life together with good food. 

Tiana is so driven to honor her father by taking up his mantle and carrying on his dream of opening his own restaurant. James’ plan was to open his own eatery, but that dream was likely shoved onto the backburner while serving his country in the war.

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Tiana is fiercely loyal to the memory of her father. Photo courtesy of Disney

James didn’t get to see his dream come to life. So Tiana will do literally anything to see it through (even kiss a frog … which, if you recall, in the film’s prologue, as a little girl, she emphatically swears is something she would never do). 

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The kiss of all kisses. Photo courtesy of Disney

Everything Tiana does to get that restaurant is to honor her father and the dreams they shared together. She even sets her sights on the old sugar mill as the location for Tiana’s Place because that was where James had envisioned his restaurant would be.

For Tiana, opening the restaurant and sharing James’ dishes with all of New Orleans is what keeps his memory alive. 

Princess Tiana wants to break barriers and show that she can do anything she sets her mind to, regardless of race, wealth, or social status. Talk about an important motivation.

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Princess Tiana is severely underestimated by those who want her to fail. Photo courtesy of Disney

Tiana is constantly underestimated by people. The Fenner Brothers, from whom she wants to buy the old sugar mill, refer to her as “a little woman of your background” and tell her that she would have had her hands full trying to run a big business and that she would be better off where she was (as a waitress working two jobs).

Hrrrrmph. I think we were all heartily cheering for her when she proudly pushed her multiple jars of hard-earned savings toward those two property managers.

Princess Tiana in the Disney Parks and at Sea

Wonder where you can meet Princess Tiana at Disney World?

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Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen at Walt Disney World. Photo by Mike Billick

In Walt Disney World, you can meet this peachy keen princess at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom, which is set to reopen soon.

While Tiana appears in both Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade and the castle stage show, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, neither is currently running. However, you can catch her at various points throughout the day in the The Royal Princess Processional, one of the Magic Kingdom Cavalcades.

You can also find Princess Tiana as the central princess in Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms. As you enter your room, you’ll find an enchanting welcome letter from Tiana herself on the side table, and the headboards above the beds display the beautiful bayou.

They even light up, reminding me of sweet Ray and all his firefly family!

Learn more about these Disney Princess Tiana rooms in our August Fairy Tale issue.

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen at Walt Disney World. Photo by Mike Billick

Where else can you see Princess Tiana in real life? Photo courtesy of Disney

One of the biggest new developments surrounding Tiana is the retheming of WDW and Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, which will be changed to feature Tiana, Naveen, Louis, and the whole gang as they take us on an adventure down the bayou as they prepare for Mardi Gras. I personally can’t wait!

In Disneyland, you can normally meet Tiana as she roams through New Orleans Square. At the moment, Tiana remains in New Orleans Square, but on a balcony, where she can greet all her friends from a distance.

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Disney Cruises often depart from New Orleans, Tiana’s home town. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

On Disney Cruise Line, guests aboard the Disney Wonder get to feast their eyes (and their taste buds) on delicious, down-home cajun cooking at Tiana’s Place. Top it off with swingin’ live jazz and an appearance from Princess Tiana herself, and you know you’re in for a rousing time.

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Grab a bite at Tiana’s Place. Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Also on Disney Cruise Line, aboard the Disney Wish, which sets sail in 2022, guests can discover The Bayou, a new magical lounge inspired by The Princess and the Frog.

Disney Princess Tiana: 7 Fast Facts

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Photo courtesy of Disney

Here are some fun facts about Tiana and this beautiful movie:

  1. The Princess and the Frog was the first full-length, hand-drawn animated Disney Princess movie since Mulan in 1998 (that’s 11years!). Every other Disney Princess film since The Princess and the Frog has used computer animation.
  2. The runtime of The Princess and the Frog is 97 minutes.
  3. Notable songs include “Almost There,” “Dig a Little Deeper,” “Ma Belle Evangeline,” “Friends on the Other Side,” and “When We’re Human.”
  4. The film features incomparable voice talents such as Oprah Winfrey, Jim Cummings, and Anika Noni Rose as the pivotal Princess Tiana.
  5. Tiana has a cookbook if you want to channel your inner restaurateur and make your own beignets! You can find it here.
  6. Tiana is the only left-handed Disney Princess (a trait she shares with Anika Noni Rose).
  7. When Disney animator Mark Henn drew Tiana, he brought her to life using some of Anika Noni Rose’s features, such as her dimples and left-handedness. (I was lucky enough to hear Rose speak at D23 Expo in 2017, and she recalled the first time she saw a photo of what Tiana was going to look like. She told the audience when seeing the animation, she cried, because it looked just like her.)

Who Is Your Favorite Disney Princess?

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Photo courtesy of Disney

When you think about the Disney Princesses, who are your favorites, and what qualities about them come to mind? Tell us in the comments on our Facebook page! And tap here to join our newsletter so you don’t miss future Disney Princess profiles and other great Disney features.

All this talk about Tiana’s incredible food has me famished. Have you heard that our November 2021 issue is going to be all about the amazing food of Disney? Go check out a sneak peek of the November issue here, and be sure to subscribe to our magazine so you don’t miss out!

Also in the Disney Princess Profile series:

Disney Animated Classics: How to Watch All 60 Movies in Order of Release Date

Disney World Resort Restaurants: The 7 Best Disney Hotels for Foodies

List of Official Disney Princesses – And the Ones That Got Left Out

Written by Esther Vallins

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Esther Vallins is a pretzel adoring childless millennial who loves ALL things Disney food, Disney fashion, and Disney Princesses! She is a Disney cosplayer who never misses a D23 Expo, a DVC member, and aspires to hold the world record for most Dole Whips ever eaten (with tajín!) by a single human. Chat with Esther on Instagram!
Esther Vallins

Written by Esther Vallins

Esther Vallins is a pretzel adoring childless millennial who loves ALL things Disney food, Disney fashion, and Disney Princesses! She is a Disney cosplayer who never misses a D23 Expo, a DVC member, and aspires to hold the world record for most Dole Whips ever eaten (with tajín!) by a single human. Chat with Esther on Instagram!
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