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Character Corner: PRINCESS TIANA

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Tiana is the main character on Disney's 2009 animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog. She is an amazing cook living in New Orleans during the Jazz Age, with dreams of opening a restaurant of her own. In a desperate attempt to reach her goal, Tiana shares a kiss with a prince that had been magically transformed into a frog by the "Shadow Man." In doing so, Tiana falls victim to the curse, as well, setting off an adventure in the bayou to find a cure.

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Tiana is the ninth official Disney Princess and the most recent to originate from a traditionally animated feature. She made history as the first African-American princess in the Disney Princess franchise. She is loosely based on both Princess Emma, the heroine of E.D. Baker's novel, and the princess who appears in the Grimm fairy tale. According to co-director John Musker, adapting the fairy tale "The Frog Prince" by the Brothers Grimm into an animated feature film had been a subject at Walt Disney Animation Studios for 18 years. Disney bought the rights to The Frog Princess, a novel by E. D. Baker that is based on the fairy tale, in 2006. Co-directors Ron Clements and Musker were then hired to lead the studio and fought for The Princess and the Frog to be traditionally animated. Ron Clements and John Musker, who once worked as animators on The Fox and the Hound, and known for their works like The Great Mouse Detective and Hercules, decided not to hire "big stars" to voice the film's main character. Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys, as well as Tyra Banks were among those who expressed an interest in voicing Tiana. The role ultimately went to Anika Noni Rose, who starred with Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce in the musical film Dreamgirls.

Early in development, Tiana was originally called Maddy and worked as a chambermaid in the La Bouff household. However, public criticism eventually caused her character's name to be changed to Tiana and her job, a waitress. The character was inspired by famed restaurateur Leah Chase, who Clements and Musker met on their research trip to New Orleans. "There's a woman in New Orleans named Leah Chase who was a waitress and ultimately opened a restaurant with her husband." They met with her and talked with her and she told her story and her philosophy about food, which inspired the story of Tiana's dream. She would also contribute to the "Tiana's Cookbook" that was published when the film came out.

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Tiana is a meetable character at the Disney parks, dressed in her "lilypad/flower" gown from the movie. She made her debut in the temporary 2009 boat show, Tiana's Showboat Jubilee. In Disneyland, California, Tiana makes meet-and-greet appearances in New Orleans Square. Tiana also appears in Mickey's Soundsational Parade, within her own float, alongside Louis. Near the end of Mickey and the Magical Map, Yen Sid's apprentice Mickey Mouse travels to New Orleans for one final adventure with Tiana and many other citizens as they perform "Dig a Little Deeper". Animatronic versions of Tiana (as a human and frog) can also be seen in the Enchanted Window display along Main Street, U.S.A.

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On the Disney Cruise Line, Tiana has a restaurant in her honor; appropriately named Tiana's Place aboard the Disney Wonder. When she makes appearances, she dons her outfit featured in "Almost There" and engages in meet-and-greets with guests.

Tiana was officially welcomed into the Disney Princess Royal Court in early 2010, during the release of The Princess and the Frog. The coronation event took place in The New York Palace, in New York City. Joining the festivities were the original eight Disney Princesses, as well as Prince Naveen.

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