Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is coming to New Orleans Square in Disneyland as part of Princess and the Frog additions to the park. This post shares dates, details, concept art and commentary for the upcoming addition, plus thoughts on whether something similar could–or should–come to Walt Disney World. (Updated August 18, 2023.)
Let’s start with the underlying motivation for the addition of Tiana’s Palace, which is the closure and reimagining of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new ride based on The Princess and the Frog. Already, construction walls are up around Chick-A-Pin Hill and Imagineers have been observed on and around the attraction beginning work on the overhaul.
The transformation timeline is an aggressive one, and we’re skeptical that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will actually open in 2024. More likely, it’ll be delayed until 2025. Nevertheless, other additions to Disneyland inspired by The Princess and the Frog have already debuted, with more coming later this year and in 2024.
Tiana’s Palace Restaurant will be the second location in New Orleans Square to be given an overhaul inspired by the Princess and the Frog. Last fall, Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets set up shop in the former Le Bat en Rouge shop. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, this is nestled into the current New Orleans Squares alleyways, near Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s separated from Splash Mountain by numerous locations, including Haunted Mansion.
Honestly, Eudora’s Chic Boutique isn’t really much. If you weren’t actively looking for the details inspired by the Princess and the Frog, you might miss them entirely. There’s a corner of the location showcasing a period show scene with a sewing machine, sewing mannequin, and aprons. There are also song lyrics and other nods to the movie I’m probably forgetting. It’s very subtle and easy to miss.
Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets was first revealed at the D23 Expo. During that same event, a model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (Disneyland version) was also shared in “Wonderful World of Dreams” Disney Parks booth. That revealed new details about the reimagined ride, and some of what to expect in addition to the attraction at Disneyland.
At Disneyland, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will become part of an expanded New Orleans Square, annexing area from the existing Critter Country. According to Disney, this allows for the opportunity to tell even more of Tiana’s stories. That booth and the Imagineers in it also shared that Tiana’s Palace Restaurant would be coming to Disneyland. Now, we now more about what shape it’ll take and where it’ll be located…
UPDATE: The official opening date of Tiana’s Palace Restaurant in Disneyland is September 7, 2023!
Tiana’s Palace Restaurant will be located in New Orleans Square, replacing the former French Market Restaurant on Orleans Street. Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is not a character dining experience–it’s a quick-service restaurant.
Within the peach-colored walls and fancy green wrought-iron balconies of Tiana’s Palace Restaurant, you’ll find elegant fixtures and appointments reminiscent of Tiana’s life and friendships. The new Tiana’s Palace will have much of the same pinch of pizzazz and flair as the restaurant from the film, offering authentic New Orleans flavors inspired by Tiana’s friends.
According to Disney, there will be elegant yet subtle details throughout Tiana’s Palace Restaurant that offer fun hints at the rich past in New Orleans. Below the lit marquee that reads “Tiana’s Palace” hanging above a metallic gold balcony, is an emerald green wrought iron railing and awnings dyed in yellow and green, reminiscent of Tiana’s beautiful formal ball gown. You will be surrounded by the colors of Mardi Gras as you sit at yellow tabletops, on warm vanilla-colored chairs with green seats, in the shade of yellow and green umbrellas.
Imagineers took inspiration from the film for the interior of Tiana’s Palace Restaurant, which includes a large mural of the bayou. There are other references to Tiana’s story, including lilies represented on numerous signs, plaques and light fixtures, frog porcelains, cookbooks Tiana has collected on little shelves, and her father’s favorite gumbo spoon proudly on display. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the letters from her father and neighbors on display, alongside a childhood photo of Tiana.
New menu items will debut at Tiana’s Palace Restaurant that represent her story and honor the flavors and flair of New Orleans, with an effort to source some ingredients directly from the state of Louisiana when possible. You’ll also be able to mobile order from Tiana’s Palace Restaurant on the Disneyland app when the location opens.
Tiana’s Palace is sure to be a gathering place for friends and family to enjoy great food and celebrate together, just like Tiana and her father James dreamed. Disney Imagineers are partnering with Disney Animation artists from the original film to bring this story to life at Disneyland. In fact, the film designers took inspiration from the exterior of the original French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square when designing Tiana’s Palace for the movie, so this is a long-dreamt homecoming.
In addition to this, Disney has also teased that more entertainment coming soon to New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America, in addition to Queenie and the Jambalaya Jazz Band, as a replacement for Fantasmic. Our strong suspicion is that this will be something themed to The Princess and the Frog, launching alongside Tiana’s Palace.
It was a foregone conclusion that Tiana’s Palace Restaurant would be coming to Disneyland even before Imagineers prematurely spilled the beans at the D23 Expo. Honestly, this probably should’ve happened about a decade ago when the movie first came out. It has always been such a logical fit with New Orleans Square.
There undoubtedly would’ve been backlash from Disneyland fans then, just as I’m sure will be the case now. That’s because New Orleans Square is the pinnacle of themed design and one of the best theme park lands on the planet. It is also one that has been largely unspoilt since its original construction, meaning that characters and Disney intellectual property for the most part have not encroached the land. (Both Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean have become IP outside the parks, though!)
Back last fall when Imagineers revealed that Tiana’s Palace Restaurant would be a reimagining of an existing dining location at Disneyland, it wasn’t clear whether the restaurant would annex more of Critter Country, or replace a location in New Orleans Square.
Our bet was that it’d either be Cafe Orleans, a table service restaurant, or Hungry Bear Restaurant, another quick-service option. Although we would’ve been sad to see the last remnants of the Country Bears disappear from Disneyland, replacing Hungry Bear Restaurant was been the ideal option. That’s the more ambitious move and less controversial route, too.
Our hope was that Disney would go big, making all of Critter Country part of New Orleans Square—or a new bayou expansion to it. That would’ve left New Orleans Square thematically intact, while also tying up loose ends, so to speak, and making this a larger scale expansion. Disney could’ve even marketed Tiana’s Bayou Adventure as part of a new themed bayou area at Disneyland.
Things could come full circle, with Audio Animatronics from Splash Mountain moving over to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. That could become a musical revue—New Orleans Sings! or Bayou Critter Jamboree both sound great to me.
Sadly, that is not what’s going to happen. Not only that, but Disneyland isn’t even replacing the table service Cafe Orleans. Instead, they’re using the buffeteria-style French Market as the basis for the reimagined Tiana’s Palace Restaurant. This is definitely the path of least resistance, and the easiest option–which is why a turnaround time of less than one year is feasible for this project.
Whatever your expectations are for Tiana’s Palace Restaurant, dial them down. It’s possible that Disney will gut French Market to make the interior less cramped, but I wouldn’t count on that. More likely, this will be comparable to the Eudora’s Chic Boutique reimagining–probably a bit more ambitious than that.
Expect to see new props inside that are nods to the Princess and the Frog, a new marquee, and a facade that evokes the look of Tiana’s Palace from the movie. Other than that, I wouldn’t expect to see major substantive changes to French Market. My guess is that it’ll continue to be buffeteria service with the same interior from a substantive perspective.
Personally, I’m not really averse to the move–but I’m also not excited for it. While I think French Market is a lovely location, the same should be true for Tiana’s Palace Restaurant. I can’t imagine them being materially different from one another. More than anything else, I’m disappointed that Disney isn’t going bigger. Closing Hungry Bear Restaurant for an 18-month overhaul that creates a new table service restaurant would’ve been great. That spot is nothing special, but could be.
By contrast, the change from French Market to Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is likely to be a lateral move. There’s simply far less potential upside and room for improvement. On that note, I’ll reiterate what I’ve written before, which is that Disney really needs to swing for the fences with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, as this addition is going to be under a microscope. Opting to freshen up French Market with a superficial update instead of replacing Hungry Bear outright is not evidence that the ride reimagining will be unambitious, but it’s certainly not a positive signal, either.
While Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is not currently part of the plans for Magic Kingdom, we’re still holding out hope that it’ll be announced as an addition outside the park. You might recall that a restaurant based on The Princess and the Frog was announced for Walt Disney World a few years ago.
If you don’t remember, that’s probably because it was very forgettable. It was going to be a mixed-use waterfront restaurant located on the shore of Bay Lake at Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge. (It was likely going to be a character breakfast featuring Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louie the Alligator, and Dr. Facilier and a Signature Restaurant for dinner–much like Topolino’s Terrace.)
Honestly, it’s probably for the best that restaurant isn’t coming to fruition. Disney never released concept art online, but what was flashed on-stage at the D23 Expo took literally no visual cues from the movie. This leaves the door open for a well-done Tiana’s Place Restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Tiana’s Place Restaurant on Disney Cruise Line is awesome, and the concept seems like a slam dunk for Walt Disney World. Even if it doesn’t make sense in Frontierland, hopefully it comes to fruition in Florida. Perhaps it could be built in the unused dining space that already exists at Port Orleans French Quarter, where it would actually make sense?
Regardless of what is announced (or not) for Walt Disney World, it’s not surprising that Disney is doing more than just the ride at Disneyland. For the last year-plus, Imagineers have been discussing their research trips to New Orleans.
In the ~30 minute roundtable video above, the owner of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is joined by various Imagineers and ABC News correspondents.
Generations of the Chase family welcomed Imagineers while Chef Dook cooked up some of their famous gumbo. The group sat down with Leah’s daughter, Stella Chase Reese who shared that “the two coming together, music and food, brings joy and happiness to all.”
According to Disney, Imagineers are researching New Orleans to tell a story that’s as authentic to the region as it is to the characters’ stories. From the food, music, art and architecture to the diversity of its people and their traditions, there is much from which to draw inspiration. The team has done virtual research trips through Zoom and this was their first of many in-person research trips to get the story right.
As Charita Carter shared that “in many ways, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a love letter to New Orleans.” Carter continued, “like the musical city that inspired this attraction, Tiana’s second act is about a community working in harmony to achieve something extraordinary. She reminds us of an immutable truth we can all relate to: ‘if you do your best each and every day, good things are sure to come your way.’ And that’s a melody we can all sing along to!”
Ultimately, we’re looking forward to seeing the ways that New Orleans Square expands and evolves at Disneyland to accommodate Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and more from The Princess and the Frog. There’s a lot that Imagineering is able to do in California that simply isn’t possible at Walt Disney World by virtue of the reimagined ride being adjacent to New Orleans Square instead of Frontierland.
Personally, I hope that Critter Country goes extinct, becoming a bayou-based addition to New Orleans Square. It would be interesting to see if Imagineering can pull off a bifurcated land, much in the same way that Port Orleans Riverside Resort has both the white-column mansions of Magnolia Bend and Alligator Bayou’s quaint backwoods cottages.
Thoughts on Tiana’s Palace Restaurant replacing French Market in New Orleans Square? Do you wish an entire bayou miniland were coming to Disneyland along with Tiana’s Bayou Adventure? Do you agree or disagree with our take that Critter Country should be taken over by Princess and the Frog, and become the bayou-based subland? Any questions? 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!