Photo Credit: Charita Carter is the executive creative producer of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, coming to Magic Kingdom Park, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif., in 2024. | Photo Credit: Walt Disney World
The Black Executive Behind Disney's Newest Park, Tiana's Bayou
Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort is unveiling a new attraction sure to light up the faces of families. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, picks up where the hit animated movie The Princess and the Frog left off. The immersive experience will take guests on a journey inspired by the film and its characters, stepping into Tiana’s world for a New Orleans-inspired bayou attraction.
As the Executive Creative Producer of Relevancy Activations at Walt Disney Imagineering, we have Charita Carter to thank for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Celebrating 26 years at Walt Disney, Carter is the first African American woman to hold this executive role, as reported by Black Enterprise.
“I have learned that I have staying power,” Carter told Black Enterprise. “What I mean by that is I have been able to keep my eye on the goals I have set for myself, which shapes my approach to all challenges that I face.”
Leaning into her passion to reimagine an iconic Black story for future generations, Carter’s team conducted extensive research to channel the authentic essence of New Orleans. Through virtual and in-person research trips, the team draws inspiration “from the food, music, art and architecture to the diversity of its people and their traditions.”
“We want Tiana’s Bayou Adventure to feel like you’ve stepped right into Tiana’s story. Even though Tiana is a character in a story, her culture and the place she comes from are real. We want this attraction to be a love letter to New Orleans, so it’s important that we approach this story in an authentic way by working with a diverse team and local experts,” she added.
Tiana’s Bayou: A Full Circle Journey To Leadership
Carter’s passion stems, in part, from her own experience in imagining herself as characters she liked, despite the lack of Black representation on screen.
“I was so thrilled that Disney had a Black princess who was uniquely different beyond her ethnicity, and she was so relatable,” Carter says. “I also understood the implication and the impact Tiana would have on the young, and young at heart for the African American community.”
“In some ways, I feel the story of Tiana is one more tool I have, to be known as a Black woman and to help shape people’s initial perception of me and females like me,” she continues.
Upcoming Changes To Disney Parks
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure was announced in 2020, however, Disney Parks recently revealed a new scene in which guests can join “Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis during Mardi Gras season as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind celebration for the people of New Orleans,” shared on Disney Parks blog.
To bring the attraction to life, Disney is transforming the longstanding and cherished Splash Mountain. Starting Jan. 23, 2023 Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort will be closed to begin the next phase of this attraction’s development, a project Carter is leading.
“My secret sauce is to lead from a place of passion and love. My aim is always to create an environment where the people I am leading can thrive, and that requires looking for the treasure within, like leadership initially did with me. Finally, genuine passion combined with world-class talent is a recipe for Disney Magic.”
As Carter gracefully steps into her creative leadership role, she shares words of encouragement that hit home for anyone pursuing a passion.
“You owe yourself to be courageous and lean into it because you don’t know what impact that will have on the world. The key is to overcome fear and be bold rather than to never have stepped out at all.”
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will make its way to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort in 2024.