While the film takes place in the mid-1920s, the time when Prohibition was still enforced until 1933, alcohol is seen being served in Tiana's restaurant, on the riverboat, and at the La Bouffs' masquerade ball. Prohibition was widely ignored in the U.S., generally, and particularly in New Orleans, so this is not very surprising.
One of the more subtle Louisiana references is the name of Ray's love, Evangeline. The name refers to the poem "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, about an Acadian girl's search for her lost love. The poem is held dear by the Louisiana descendants of the Acadians ("Cajuns"), people of French descent who were forcibly relocated during a Canadian war in the mid-1700s from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (aka Acadia) to Louisiana, often being permanently separated from their families in the process.
The Mama Odie character was inspired and patterned after the late famed New Orleans storyteller Coleen Salley, even down to the character's voice. Coleen consulted with the director several times, but never lived to see the completed movie. Her name is mentioned in the films credits. Coleen was known especially for the telling of the old Southern children's story "Epaminondas and His Auntie," and her own updated version entitled "Epossumondas." Mama Odie can even be heard saying a famous line from those stories, "You ain't got the sense you was born with!" Coleen passed away September 16, 2008 at the age of 79.
Dr. Facilier looks very similar to the Voodoo god of magic, ancestor-worship, and death, Baron Samedi. Baron Samedi is often described as being very thin, wearing a top hat and tuxedo, and having a skull face. When Dr. Facilier casts his spell on the Prince, you can see a skull appear on his face, solidifying the connection.
The animation style was influenced primarily by Lady and the Tramp (1955), for the city scenes, and Bambi (1942), for the bayou scenes. Those films were, in the directors' opinion, "the peak of animation in the classic Disney animation style."
When the Shadow Man is reading Prince Naveen's tarot cards, the last card he pulls is of the prince's future. It features him sitting on a lilypad in a pond (with the money in hand), foreshadowing his later transformation. He's also singing: "it's the green it's the green it's the green you need, and when I look into your future it's the green that I see." We learn that he doesn't see money (green) in his future, but foresees the prince turning into a (green) frog.
When Louis (the alligator) is singing about becoming a human being, he mentions Louis Armstrong and, at the same time, pulls some Spanish Moss from a tree and wipes the left side of his mouth. In his later life, Louis Armstrong suffered damage to his lips from years of blowing high notes on his horn. This caused the left side of his mouth to dribble saliva. Armstrong kept a handkerchief in his left hand and frequently wiped his mouth.
Right at the beginning of the opening credits song, "Down in New Orleans," you can see someone shaking a carpet out their window. It is the same as the magic flying carpet in Aladdin (1992), which was also directed by Ron Clements and John Musker.
When Louis is describing Mama Odie in the swamp, he pulls some Spanish moss down around his head and leaves his snout sticking out. This mirrors an almost identical scene in Disney's The Sword in the Stone (1963), when the Mad Madam Mim pulls her hair down over her face just before she transforms her face into that of a pig.
The colored symbols that float around during the song "Friends on the Other Side," and that appear on the floor during Dr. Facilier's bargaining with his "friends on the other side," are based on actual vodou symbols called vévé. One main symbol is the voodu goddess of love, Eruzile's, heart vévé.
The Prince of Maldonia is called Naveen. Naveen is an Indian name (meaning "new"), which suggests that Maldonia is a Eurasian country (the name of Maldonia is a mix between Malta and Macedonia). During the "Down in New Orleans" montage, the newspaper mentions in print that Maldonia cannot be found on the map; i.e. it is made up for the movie.
The film was originally titled "The Frog Princess." Disney changed several key elements to the film after receiving numerous complaints of racial insensitivity. Besides retitling the picture to avoid the implication that the first African-American Disney princess was somehow ugly or animal, the lead character's name changed from Maddy to Tiana, since "Maddy" sounded too much like "Mammy." A subplot about her working as a maid was also dropped to avoid negative stereotypes.
One notable similarity between Dr. Facilier and Keith David, who provided his voice, is that both have a prominent gap in their front teeth. The animators also incorporated David's expressions and gestures into the character.
The print in the newspaper that Big Daddy reads in the opening song reads, "Rich playboy arrives in New Orleans this morning from the luxury liner S.S. Beesknees. This is the final stop in a whirlwind tour for the United States. Rumor has it that the eligible and handsome Prince is looking for a bride. True or gossip, the ringing of wedding bells has every lovely lady in town lining up to see Prince Naveen in all his royal glory. Dust off the gowns and tiaras. The royal ball of all balls is scheduled for the next week."
The streetcar Tiana takes to work, during an early scene, is labeled with the number "A113." A113 was the room for the animation department at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts; the room now houses graphic design classes). During the 1970s, directors John Musker and Ron Clements, in addition to Disney/Pixar animation executive John Lasseter and Pixar director Brad Bird, studied animation in room A113. "A113" labels are hidden in Disney and Pixar films.
New Orleans celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, who is famous for his Cajun and Creole cuisine, plays the voice of Marlon, one of the alligators who tries to eat Naveen and Tiana in the swamp. He uses his signature "Bam!" line in some of his character's sentences. (Marlon is, of course, named after Marlon Brando, star of the New Orleans drama A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)).
Contains several references to the plays of Tennessee Williams who, despite having been born in Mississippi, grown up in Missouri, died in New York, and was nicknamed "Tennessee," was still strongly associated with New Orleans, the setting for this movie. Williams lived for many years in New Orleans, wrote and set several of his plays there, and met his longtime boyfriend Frank Merlo, there; the city hosts an annual literary festival named for Williams. References include: Charlotte calling her father "Big Daddy," the name of the wealthy patriarch character in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and during the party, La Bouff calls for his dog, Stella, using the distinctive cry from "A Streetcar Named Desire." John Goodman, the voice of La Bouff, lives in New Orleans and has starred in several productions of Williams plays, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1995) and a 2005 Geffen Playhouse production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (as the original "Big Daddy").
Animator Eric Goldberg supervised the animation of Tiana's "Almost There" fantasy sequence, which was based on the art of African-American painter Aaron Douglas, one of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Goldberg had previously directed the stylized "Rhapsody In Blue" segment in Fantasia 2000 (1999), which was based upon the work of Al Hirschfeld. The fantasy sequence eschewed the Toon Boom Harmony pipeline of the rest of the film; the animators's line drawings were scanned into Photoshop and composited using Adobe After Effects.
Ron Clements was at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival when he got caught in a downpour and took cover under a table. Clements later added the scene in the bayou, in which Tiana and Prince Naveen get caught in the rain.
The first hand-drawn Disney animated film since Home on the Range (2004). Disney's UNIX-based CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) digital scanning, ink-and-paint, and compositing system was dismantled following the cancellation of 2-D animated Disney features following Home on the Range (2004). This, as well as the twenty-year old system being outdated, led Disney to create a new animation pipeline based around customized installations of Toon Boom Harmony, a retail software solution already in use for the DisneyToons productions and many other 2-D productions from other studios. Character animation was done traditionally on paper and scanned into the computer system, while effects animation was input directly into Harmony using Wacom Cintiq pressure-sensitive tablet displays.
Upon receiving three Academy Award nominations in February 2010, The Princess and the Frog (2009) became the first Disney animated feature film to receive more Academy Award nominations than just one, since Pocahontas (1995).
During the tarot card reading, four cards are based on actual tarot: Prince Naveen's first card, the three of pentacles, which is the card symbolizing constructive energy particularly with money, and Lawrence's first card, the ten of wands, the card of oppression. When the Prince's second card is spun, it shows the prince in front of a tower with no money; the Roman numeral XVI is shown at the top denoting it to be "The Tower," a card that represents uncontrolled change and loss. Likewise, the final card the Prince is shown resembles the Card 0, "The Fool."
The animation backgrounds in the film are entirely digital, painted in Adobe Photoshop using Cintiq tablet displays. Some subtle use of textured 3-D animation from Autodesk Maya (for doors, blankets, automobiles, etc.) is also employed. 3-D models from Maya were also used to establish the perspective for complicated pieces of architecture, such as the La Bouffs' mansion and the St. Louis Cathedral.
In voodou (voodoo, voodun, voodu, etc.), the spirits, or gods, are called Loa (or Lwa); they are all connected to "nations" or families. Doctor Facilier is odd in that he wears the colors (black and purple) and styles (suits and skulls) of the Ghede, has the symbol for a Rada god on his wall, but the main mask and shadow creatures are normally attributed to the Petro.
Despite the fact that the characters they voice appear to be in their late 30s to early 40s, Terrance Howard (the voice of Tiana's father, James) and Oprah Winfrey (the voice of Tiana's mother, Eudora) significantly differ in age; Howard is 44 and Winfrey 60. Also, despite the fact that she voices a young woman, Anika Noni Rose (the voice of Tiana) is 41.
There was an early draft entitled "Stop and Smell the Roses" where Naveen tells Tiana she needs to have more fun. In this scene, Naveen claims in his home country (then called Maldaquesh), there are two numbers in-between 28 and 29 (twenty-badini and twenty-caladonza).
For much of the film, Naveen calls Tiana "Princess" and later "Waitress", symbolizing his objectification of women as a whole. He doesn't call her by her real name until after the song 'Ma Belle Evangeline', when he starts to fall in love with her.
According to the movies subtitles, the last line of Dr. Facilier's Friends On the Other Side song is "You got what you wanted but you lost what you had", which is in direct contrast to Mama Odie's song about finding who you are and learning what you need; accentuating the evil side vs good side of voodoo. It means you may have gotten what you wanted but you lost what you already had that you needed.
As most traditional fairy tales are set in Europe, John Musker and Ron Clements were keen to do one based in America. New Orleans - with its colorful history - seemed the obvious choice. The two spent 10 days there, assimilating the atmosphere and making notes and drawings.
The firefly Ray is in love with the Evening Star he named "Evangeline" and thinks it's another firefly. Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie is a poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel. Ray is a Cajun, an ethnic group consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles.
Market research suggested that one of the reasons why the film - while successful - was not a box office bonanza was because it had the word 'princess' in the title, thereby immediately alienating boys. For this reason, the next Disney cartoons to feature a princess were renamed from "Rapunzel" to Tangled (2010) and from "The Snow Queen" to Frozen (2013).
First Traditionally Animated Disney Film released in theaters since Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2005) (not counting Enchanted (2007) which is only partly Traditionally Animated with a Majority of the film being Live Action).
In the party scene at the start, the sound of the birds is the same as the birds at the wedding of Eric and Vanessa in The Little Mermaid. The flamingos later, use the same cells and animation as the birds in Kiss the Girl in The Little Mermaaid.
The dance Naveen and Tiana do in the last few seconds resembles a simple version of the "cakewalk." It was also known as "The Cake-Walk," "chalkline-walk," and the "walk-around." According to Patricia C. McKissack, author of "Mirandy and Brother Wind," a book about cakewalks, "First introduced in America by slaves, the cakewalk is a dance rooted in Afro-American culture." There are many variations on the cakewalk, but the one shown is simple, and may be a sign that Naveen made good on his implied promise of teaching Tiana to dance.
In the graveyard scene during the Shadow Man's defeat, there are three headstones that appear with stone faces before the voodoo masks break out. The center face is that of Madam Leota, a character from Disney's Haunted Mansion. She appears both on a headstone and during the ride. The attraction is also in the New Orleans Square portion of Disneyland.
Considering Tiana spends a large amount of the film naked (in frog form) she actually has more costume changes than any other Disney princess. Two waitress uniforms, two costumes at the costume ball, one white outfit in the shadow man's illusion, one dress in the Bayou wedding, one in the church wedding and one in the final Tiana's Palace scene (this doesn't include the childhood flashbacks).
In the first act of the film, Tiana's clothes are mostly in subdued colors, symbolizing her overly serious personality. After she's turned into a frog, she slowly learns to lighten up and live life to the fullest. After she returns to her human form, Tiana's clothes become noticeably brighter, mirroring her change of heart.
Although Dr. Facilier's plot hinges on killing Big Daddy La Bouff with a Hex doll (commonly known as a Voodoo doll), and has several other dolls in his hideout, such dolls are unknown in the actual practice of Voodoo. The concept of using these cursed dolls to attack a victim comes from European witchcraft; many accused witches in the 17th century were charged with attacking their enemies by sticking pins into such dolls. The dolls were not linked to Voodoo until the 20th century, when many white writers and film producers began to portray Voodoo as a form of evil sorcery.
At the end of the movie Tiana's place has a band called "Firefly Five Plus Lou". This is a play on the Jazz band "Firehouse Five Plus Two" which had Frank Thomas and Ward Kimball, two of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men".