BY CARMEN SMITH, Senior Vice President, Creative Development – Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies
The next time you visit Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, be sure to look up while passing by Tiana’s Bayou Adventure for a striking new update featuring a custom handcrafted weathervane by Louisiana’s master blacksmith, Darryl Reeves.
In the spirited city of New Orleans, you can barely walk two blocks before seeing metalwork by Darryl, a 3rd generation master blacksmith and Vietnam Veteran. Whether it’s historic wrought iron fences or intricately designed custom pieces, his work is displayed across the city, and in fact, around the world. With over 50 years of service to his craft and city, it’s no wonder why we asked Darryl to create the weathervane; one of the high points of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Inside Darryl’s workshop in the historic Seventh Ward in New Orleans, you can feel the heat emanating from the many furnaces used to create his shop’s labors of love. The immense artistry and complexity displayed by Darryl and his apprentices is evident in the dozens of works displayed in his gallery.
“I take metal and do anything I want with it,” the master blacksmith proudly says. “To have a free hand to design and fabricate the weathervane for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure…that’s an honor.”
Just like a good pot of gumbo, Darryl and his apprentice, Karina, have taken everything they’ve learned throughout their careers to help us tell the story of Princess Tiana and her journey to open Tiana’s Foods.
What sets Princess Tiana’s weathervane apart is that it’s crafted using centuries old techniques with a subtle African flair. You can feel the love Darryl and Karina have poured into this smoldering iron to shape it into a masterpiece.
One of Walt Disney Imagineering’s highest priorities is to bring the authenticity of New Orleans to Disney parks and resorts to immerse guests in this inspiring tale. When you visit Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, we want you to feel like taking a trip down the Louisiana Bayou in a way only Disney can bring to life.
Guests can experience this smoldering collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering, Darryl Reeves, and Karina Roca when Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, an attraction inspired by the story from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “The Princess and the Frog”, opens at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in 2024.