Teen gets preview of 'Tiana's Bayou Adventure' after ball gown goes viral

A high school senior whose prom dress inspired by Disney's “The Princess and the Frog” attracted national attention has been invited to preview the new attraction “Tiana's Bayou Adventure” at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“I knew I wanted to make a prom dress, but I didn't want to do something that was already out there or something that I often see other people do,” Layla Hildreth, a graduate of Shades Valley High School in Alabama, told USA TODAY.

Instead, she decided to design a ball gown modeled after the ball gown from the film that had inspired her in her childhood.

Princess Tiana, the protagonist of the film, is “an independent woman,” said Hildreth. “She basically didn't need anyone's help and never gave up on what she wanted.”

She spent five months sewing her dress while juggling her senior year and extracurricular activities. After her dress went viral, Disney's Imagineers invited her to Walt Disney World, where she met the voice actors from the movie “The Princess and the Frog,” which inspired her dress.

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Her dress fascinated people at the prom.

“A lot of people were just amazed,” Hildreth said.

She adds that people from her school who she didn't really know stopped her and asked if she could take photos with them.

But she didn't just attract the attention of her classmates. She gave numerous interviews to various media outlets and also caught the attention of Disney's Imagineers.

Charita Carter, Disney Imagineer and Executive Creative Producer for Tiana's Bayou Adventure, said the Imagineers were so fascinated by Hildreth's story that they invited her and her family to the resort. They were also able to attend the “Dig a Little Deeper” show, where Hildreth got to model her dress.

“I didn't realize the story would touch so many people,” Hildreth told Florida Today, part of the USA TODAY Network. “I know people my age have seen Tiana, but they don't talk about it as much as they used to. So I'm just glad it's coming back.”

Sewing was an integral part of creating a viral ball gown

The graduate took five months to complete, but worked on it between his school commitments.

She sewed it while attending rehearsals and performing in three shows during the school year. She said some days she would rehearse from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“When I really think about how much time actually went into making the dress, it was probably about two weeks of work,” Hildreth said.

Anyone who wants to start sewing “just has to start,” says Hildreth.

“It took me a long time to get started,” she said. “And it's going to be a while before I can really, really enjoy it, because in the beginning I was just making things to be able to say I made them. But now I really enjoy making things, and I'll work until one in the morning if I want to.”

While Hildreth recently completed other projects involving hemming her parents' pants, she is also working on designing more varsity jackets for the university she will attend in the fall: Georgia State University.

However, she does not sell her creations, but instead uses her talent to make gifts for others and to hone her craft.

“I'm trying to learn how to use my embroidery machine better so I can actually start selling things,” Hildreth said.

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Hildreth got to try Princess Tiana's beignets, her favorite food of the entire trip, explore Pandora's Island at Animal Kingdom, and stroll through Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios.

In addition to exploring the most magical place on Earth, Hildreth also met Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, and Michael-Leon Wooley, the voice of trumpet-playing alligator Louis, at the presentation.

But what she enjoyed most was trying the many different dishes inspired by the film's New Orleans setting.

“I’m a foodie, so I definitely enjoy trying all the new dishes and seeing what I like and what I don’t like,” Hildreth said.

Preview of Tiana's Bayou Adventure


Inside Tiana's Bayou Adventure, Disney World's newest attraction

In 2020, Disney announced it would replace Splash Mountain in its U.S. parks with Tiana's Bayou Adventure, based on The Princess and the Frog. An earlier version of this video misstated the queue flow. It leads visitors into their employee co-op, Tiana's Foods.

In addition to the invitation to the most magical place in the world, Hildreth also got a preview of the newest attraction in the Magic Kingdom: Tiana's Bayou Adventure.

“I've never been on a ride like this before,” Hildreth said. “When it started, I expected it to be very slow, and that was fine. But then there are like downhills, and there are fast and slow moments, and the visual effects are just incredible.”

The water ride is scheduled to open to the public on June 28th this summer. But a word of advice from the recent high school graduate:

“You’ll get wet,” warned Hildreth. Especially if you sit at the very front of the ride.

She adds that people who want to use their phone should take special precautions.

“If you plan on recording video, be sure to get something for your phone to keep it from getting wet,” Hildreth said.

Florida Today recommends that people watch the movie before they ride. The Princess and the Frog can be viewed on Disney+.

Contributor: Britt Kennerly, Florida Today

Julia is a trends reporter for USA TODAY. She has covered a variety of topics, from local business and government in her hometown of Miami to technology and pop culture. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on X, formerly Twitter, Instagram And Tick ​​​​Tock: @juliamariegz