The Crusader Newspaper Group

Disney World opens ride honoring first Black Princess and legacy of Leah Chase

EDGAR “DOOK” CHASE after he presented culinary items from his grandmother’s restaurant on June 10. (Photo courtesy Jamie Broadnax/Founder, CEO/Black Girl Nerds.) Stella Chase Reese enjoys a walk-through at the Walt Disney Imagineering Campus in California, where she sees the Princess Tiana Audio Animatronics figure.

“My grandparents always said that they changed the course of America over a bowl of gumbo…”Edgar “Dook” Chase IV

Community was the main theme when the Chicago Crusader was invited to “This Is Magic’s” Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. At least that’s what Stella Chase Reese and Edgar “Dook” Chase IV stressed to folks, as media outlets traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, June 9-June 11 to take in some entertainment and particularly to ride the park’s newest attraction—Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

What does the distinguished New Orleans’ Chase family have to do with Disney, you may ask?

Disney reached out to the Chase family to create a ride and experience that piggybacks on “The Princess and the Frog” story. And with this splendid collaboration comes Disney’s first Black princess, Princess Tiana. And by extension a great tribute to Dooky and Leah Chase and their iconic establishment—Dooky Chase Restaurant.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Walt Disney World Resort on June 28. The story is set in Tiana’s Foods, an old salt mine Princess Tiana has purchased and transformed into a thriving business where she grows a wide array of vegetables, herbs and spices for her recipes. The awe-inspiring experience digs a little deeper and takes guests on a musical adventure. They will be goin’ down the bayou with Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season, as the pair prepares to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans. But it turns out there’s been a bit of a mix-up with the party preparations and an essential ingredient is missing.

Leading up to the log-flume ride, (where you will most likely get wet), are dozens of Audio-Animatronics figures, a foot-tapping soundtrack, and a celebration where everyone’s welcome. In the queue, or line, the sweet scent of beignets being kept warm in the oven—reminiscent of strolling through the French Quarter—permeates the area.

The ride proceeds down the old Splash Mountain route. I can imagine this ride is beautiful at night. Trumpets, New Orleans jazz, blues, zydeco and calypso music are heard throughout.

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(TOP IMAGE) A DEPICTION OF “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.” (BOTTOM IMAGE) THE VOICE CAST of “The Princess and The Frog” film visits Walt Disney World. Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen; (from left) Keith David as Dr. Facilier; Jennifer Cody as Charlotte La Bouff; Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana; Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie; Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis and Jim Cummings as Ray (far right). (Photo courtesy Disney World Instagram).

It’s like a party in the water.

After a while, there’s a drop that opens up to Louis urging folks along. Mama Odie, Tiana, an otter, a rabbit, a racoon, a beaver, a turtle, a bear and other assorted critters welcome folks along the way—as guests float through the cypress trees and Spanish moss of a beautiful Louisiana bayou.

When all are assembled, a big soirée awaits for “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” riders.

Leah Chase’s daughter Stella Chase Reese, during a press event, spoke about the significance of the restaurant, which opened in 1941. She said the restaurant answered the needs of the community. “Our Civil Rights leaders, local and national, came to strategize at Dooky Chase Restaurant. Our freedom bus riders came to refresh and get the energy they needed to continue their work. Many entertainers performed all over but of course they couldn’t eat all over, and they came to Dooky Chase. Celebration and unity started right at our restaurant.”

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FAMED CHEF AND restaurateur Leah Chase mixes magic in a pot. Jenifer Lewis and her Audio-Animatronics figure Mama Odie (bottom photo).

Grandson Edgar “Dook” Chase also discussed this project and the parallels between Leah Chase and Tiana. “When I think about the story of Tiana, I am reminded of the story of my grandmother. A story of a young girl chasing her dreams. Her father would tell her three things as she headed off to school—work hard, pray and do for others.” He said that Leah fell in love with a bandleader named Dooky Chase who played the trumpet. (In the film, Louis the Alligator plays the trumpet). His family had a small restaurant called Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. “And that is what Leah turned into her fine dining dream. You see the connection is not just about how Tiana realizes her dream, but more importantly it’s about the confidence, the resilience and the love of community that is the true connection to us all.”

He added profoundly: “My grandparents always said that they changed the course of America over a bowl of gumbo. Just like Tiana, my family was taught to ‘dig a little deeper’ and find out who you are. We understand that people and the connectiveness are what make us better.”

Visit to see the ride.

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