Disney Chooses Renowned Artist For Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

princess tiana smiles at sharika mahdi

Now that Splash Mountain is officially closed forever in Walt Disney World Resort — and on its way out, in an equally-permanent fashion, in Disneyland Resort — Disney fans are moving past their mourning and turning their attention to the Princess and the Frog ride that will be replacing the Magic Kingdom classic.

We have been learning, bit by bit, about what to expect from Princess Tiana’s ride (which has been named “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure”). Now, we have just learned another new tidbit about the highly-anticipated ride!

Disney has reportedly chosen the New Orleans native and accomplished artist Sharika Mahdi to play a part in the creation of the new Magic Kingdom ride.

sharika mahdi new orleans artist

Credit: WVUE

According to this local news station, Mahdi’s “unique artistry, with her signature swirls, appeals to the likes of locals and is one of the most recognizable companies in the world.”

Mahdi (who is also an art teacher) has been making art since she was just six years old. “People describe my art as very happy, very whimsical, very musical,” Mahdi said in an interview with local news.

Mahdi also spoke about the way that Disney approached her when it came to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. “I actually received an email, and I thought it wasn’t a real email. Like literally, it was a contact on my website saying they were interested in my work,” Mahdi explained. “The young lady said she was interested in my work, and if I’d be interested in doing a project with Disney.”

sharika mahdi new orleans artist

Credit: WVUE

“So, I responded. She responded back. Then we had a phone call. I wasn’t quite sure what it entailed until that first phone call,” Mahdi admitted. “She told me they were looking for some concept drawings for the new ride at the Disney Parks in honor of Tiana’s The Princess and The Frog.”

Mahdi has been hired by Disney to create four different pieces of artwork. One will focus on Mame Odie, one will focus on the Louisiana Bayou outside of New Orleans, one will focus on the famous New Orleans celebration known as Mardi Gras, and the last is still a secret.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure concept art/Courtesy of Disney

Credit: Disney

“This is actually truly a wonderful experience, and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Mahdi enthused during the interview, emphasizing that she’s thrilled to realize that “little girls and other artists can look at that and go ‘wow an African American woman did this from New Orleans and influenced the iconic imagery of the ride.'”

Mahdi is not the only New Orleans native to play a part in the new Princess and the Frog ride; after all, Princess Tiana herself was directly inspired by the famous New Orleans chef named Chef Leah Chase.

Are you excited to take a ride with Princess Tiana and her friends in the bayou when this ride comes to the Magic Kingdom?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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