Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Salutes Military Service

Beginning with founders Roy O. and Walt Disney, and their service to the country during the First World War, the Walt Disney Company has long honored and appreciated U.S. military service. Throughout its 100-year history, Disney has continually celebrated military members and veterans. That will continue in a couple of ways this summer, including with a salute to service in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!

Before that arrives next month, Walt Disney World is actively recognizing National Military Appreciation Month. This includes the 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 opening of the President George W. Bush Portraits of Courage exhibit on June 9, 2024 at the American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT. Walt Disney World will also welcome 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, 2024. Those aren’t the only things happening in June that’ll offer a salute to service!

Disney’s admiration for military service will continue when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Walt Disney World on June 28, 2024.

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.

Here are the details from Walt Disney Imagineering…

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.

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.

“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.”

Turning to commentary, just like I’m looking forward to President Bush’s “Portraits of Courage: A Commander’s Tribute to America’s Warriors” exhibit, I’m pleased to see Imagineering do this. Disney doing even more to honor military service and veterans is a good move in my book.

Things like this are exactly what the United States needs more of in these unnecessarily charged and polarized times. Exercises in patriotism instead of politics that remind us of the sacrifices made in the name of our freedoms, shared history and how we’re more alike than we are different. Yeah, it’s a fun thrill ride featuring a princess, alligator, and a bunch of cute critters–but there’s no reason its queue can’t contain a tribute like this that causes guests to pause and reflect on the above.

It’s also a smart move for a ride reimagining that has been polarizing among fans, right down to the queue (read the ~60 comments to that post). I’ve never quite understood those complaints about the queue–it’s just the type of worldbuilding that’ll be overlooked by 99% of guests and is mostly immaterial to the ride itself–but it has somehow become controversial. And not only that, but with a broad spectrum of people.

I’m sure this will still somehow upset someone, but it sounds to me like a loving tribute that’ll be viewed positively by the vast majority of visitors. I don’t think casual guests care about any of the controversies, but they do support military service and veterans. It’s also good to see this as backstory that’s built upon from the film, so it shouldn’t feel shoehorned in.

As with the portrait exhibit at American Adventure, I’m also pleased to see Walt Disney World doing this at a time when the company has become more of a frequent fixture of culture wars. Anything they can do to back away from all of that–as Bob Iger has said they will–is also positive. But as a result of their forays into the culture wars, Disney has been erroneously accused of being unpatriotic (and more) in some circles.

To anyone who actually visits Walt Disney World or Disneyland, that’s obviously nonsense. Few Americans ever were more patriotic than Walt Disney. He was so distinctly patriotic that he even attempted to join the Army in 1918 but was rejected for being too young. Walt Disney went on to serve his country in many ways, and that legacy is still carried on at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland to this day.

Entire lands like Main Street USA or Liberty Square or Frontierland are, in my view, patriotic. Then there are the more overt attractions, like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The American Adventure, and Hall of Presidents. I would also argue that Carousel of Progress, Electrical Water Pageant, and more are patriotic. There are a variety of little ways that Disney celebrates America that go unnoticed by most guests.

If you think Disney is unpatriotic, it’s because you’ve cherry-picked instances of things with which you, personally, disagree and are ignoring the big picture. Disney is a colossal company doing corporate things, some of which are sure to displease…pretty much everyone! But it’s also an undeniability patriotic company, as is evident in its actions.

The bottom line is that if there are more patriotic theme parks than Disney, I haven’t visited them. (I remember Busch Gardens Williamsburg seeming patriotic, but it’s been a while…and the park might be blurring together with Colonial Williamsburg in my mind.) What separates Walt Disney World and Disneyland from other ostensibly patriotic parks is that it’s substantive and not superficial window dressing. Disney showcases what it really means to be patriotic in sincere and thoughtful ways.

Before wrapping this up, we’ll put a plug in to check out the 2024 U.S. Military Salute Ticket & Resort Discounts at Walt Disney World. If you’re active or retired US military personnel, you are eligible for some of the very best discounts. Don’t even bother with the general public special offers, as the military ones are always superior savings.

Even with those excellent resort room rates, you might instead check out our review of the excellent Shades of Green Resort. My dad is retired military, and we typically stayed at Shades of Green (once it existed) when I was growing up. We’ve stayed there again in the last several years, and it was looking great thanks to its last overhaul.

My parents have stayed at Shades of Green even more recently, and my dad still loves it. He prefers to stay there for the camaraderie and since (how to put this delicately…) children tend to be more disciplined there, and he has some strong opinions on that. He doesn’t really do rides anymore, so I’m pretty positive he wouldn’t want to visit Walt Disney World if it weren’t for the hotel!

Shades of Green is located in the Magic Kingdom area, but sadly is no longer walkable from Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Since Shades of Green used to be a Disney-owned Deluxe Resort, its rooms are significantly larger than Value or Moderate Resorts. Additionally, the food is much more reasonably priced. Prices at Shades of Green are based upon military-ranking.

Ultimately, it’s good to see Walt Disney World once again honor military service and veterans–I’m curious to see how this plays out in the queue for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. As with the portrait exhibit, I’m glad Disney is doing this.

It should be a needed win that’ll be well-received by wide swaths of the general public and comes at a time when Disney has had plenty of PR own-goals. Most significantly, it’s a seemingly organic addition to a fraught ride reimagining, and one that could help cool controversy about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. I’m not so naive to think this is going to win over the perpetually aggrieved, but it’s a nice gesture and one that should help improve perceptions of the ride–or at least the queue’s backstory that seemed to irrationally irritate a lot of fans!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Do you have any thoughts on the salute to military service that honors veterans in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Looking forward to seeing the queue display, or are you distinctly unpatriotic? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

15 Responses to “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Salutes Military Service”
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