Disney Princess

This article is about the Disney Princess media franchise. For other uses, see List of Disney animated universe characters.
Disney Princess

The 2013 line-up of the Disney Princess franchise. From left to right: Mulan, Snow White, Tiana, Cinderella, Belle, Merida, Rapunzel, Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine and Pocahontas
Creator Andy Mooney
Original work Animated films
Print publications
Books Disney Princess Chapter Books
A Jewel Story
Novels 7 May 2005 - 29 Mar 2016
Comics Kilala Princess (Manga)
Magazines Disney Princess
Films and television
Films Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams
Animated series
Video games
Original music
Toys Dolls
Palace Pets
extension Palace Pets[1]

Disney Princess, also called the Princess Line,[2] is a media franchise owned by The Walt Disney Company. Created by Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney in the early 2000s, the franchise features a line-up of fictional female protagonists who have appeared in various Disney franchises.

The franchise does not include all princess characters from the whole of Disney-owned media, but rather refers to specific characters from the company's animated films. As of 2015, the eleven characters considered part of the franchise are Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida.[3][4]

The franchise has released dolls, sing-along videos, apparel, home decor, toys, and a variety of other products featuring the Disney Princesses.[5] Licensees for the franchise include Glidden (wall paint), Stride Rite (sparkly shoes), Hasbro (games and dolls), and plastic Fisher-Price figurines.[6]



"Standing in line in the arena [of a Disney on Ice show], I was surrounded by little girls dressed head to toe as princesses...They weren’t even Disney products. They were generic princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume. And the light bulb went off. Clearly there was latent demand here. So the next morning I said to my team, "'O.K., let’s establish standards and a color palette and talk to licensees and get as much product out there as we possibly can that allows these girls to do what they’re doing anyway: projecting themselves into the characters from the classic movies.'"

—Mooney, on his creation of the Disney Princess franchise as reported by The New York Times.[7]

Former Nike, Inc. executive Andy Mooney was appointed chairman of The Walt Disney Company's Disney Consumer Products division in the late 1990s.[7][8] While attending his first Disney on Ice show, Mooney noticed that several young girls attending the show were dressed in princess attire that were not authentic Disney products.[9] "They were generic princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume," Mooney told The New York Times. Concerned by this, Mooney addressed the company the following morning and encouraged them to commence work on a legitimate Disney Princess franchise in January 2000.[7] Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, objected to the creation of the line.[2]

The original line-up consisted of princesses Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tinker Bell, five of whom are royal by blood, two whom have married into royalty, and two who fit the "princess mythology." Tinker was soon removed from the latter category and the overall line-up. This was the first time the characters would be marketed in a separate franchise than their original films. Mooney decided that, when featured on marketing advertisements such as posters, the princesses should never make eye contact with each other in an attempt to keep their individual "mythologies" intact. "[Each] stares off in a slightly different direction as if unaware of the others' presence."[7]

In an unconventional manner, Mooney and his team launched the Disney Princess line without utilizing any focus groups and with minimal marketing. By 2001, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) generated about 300 million dollars, but by 2012, the division had increased revenue to 3 billion dollars, making it the top seller of consumer entertainment products globally.[10] DCP issued princess product licenses to Hasbro for games, Mattel dolls, and plastic Fisher-Price figurines in 2000, allowing the franchise to meet the $1 billion mark in revenue in three years.[6]


Tiana became the first additional character to the Princess franchise officially on March 14, 2010, taking Tinker Bell's short-lived place as the ninth member. Her coronation took place at the New York Palace.[11] Tinker Bell was already heading up another franchise started in 2005, Disney Fairies.[12]

Rapunzel was "crowned" and inducted into the Disney Princess franchise as the tenth member on October 2, 2011, at Kensington Palace in London, England.[13] On May 11, 2013, Disney added the first Pixar character Merida as the 11th Princess to the franchise in a coronation ceremony in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Disney World.[3]

Mattel adding a Barbie princess-themed line in late-2010 then the fair and fantasy store based Ever After High in 2013. Mattel was only putting out Princesses Cinderella, Ariel and Belle plus the two Frozen princesses during the last year or so of its license. With these competing lines and an expiration of the brand license at the end of 2015, Disney gave Hasbro a chance to gain the license given their work on Star Wars which lead to a Descendants license. DCP was also attempting to evolve the brand by making them less as damsels and more as heroines. In September 2014, Disney announced that Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1, 2016.[6]

Princess Animal Name[1]
Cinderella puppy Pumpkin
Aurora kitten Beauty
Snow White bunny Berry
Belle puppy Teacup
Ariel kitten Treasure
Rapunzel pony Blondie

The June 2013 release of the Disney Princess Palace Pets app from Disney Publishing, led DCP to turn Palace Pets into a Disney Princess franchise extension, with the release of The Palace Pets toy line in August from licensee Blip Toys. The line was also selected by TimetoPlayMag.com for its Most Wanted List Holiday 2013.[1] In 2015 Disney Publishing released animated shorts series Whisker Haven Tales with the Palace Pets. The shorts journey to a magical world of Whisker Haven, a secret realm located in a fairy-tale space between the Disney Princess kingdoms.[14]

Disney Princesses

Princesses were given an official number in the franchise lineup starting with Snow White as the first and original Disney princess, with Cinderella being the second, followed by Aurora and so on.[15]

Classic era

Snow White

Main article: Snow White (Disney)

Snow White is the first and original Disney Princess.[15] A main character in Walt Disney Animation Studios' 1st animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Snow White is a beautiful young princess, described by her evil stepmother's Magic Mirror as having 'hair as black as ebony, lips as red as the rose, skin as white as snow' and also dubbed by the Mirror as the 'Fairest Of Them All'.[16] She is forced to seek refuge in the home of the seven dwarfs where she hides from her evil stepmother, the Evil Queen Grimhilde, who got angered by the fact that Snow White's beauty was greater than hers. She asked the Huntsman to kill the princess; however, as an act of pity, he ends up setting her free and telling her the Evil Queen's plan. Snow White is often described as a kind, optimistic, tidy and happy person who sees the good in everyone. Originally voiced by Adriana Caselotti and animated by Marc Davis and Les Clark, she and her movie are based on the heroine and story of the German fairy tale Snow White (1812) by the Brothers Grimm. She has also been voiced by Mary Kay Bergman, Carolyn Gardener, and most recently Katherine Von Till. A crisp, blood red apple has become her trademark with years of exposure. She later inspired the character of Princess Winter Hayle, the princess of Luna, one of the main characters of 'The Lunar Chronicles' by Marissa Meyer.

Snow White is often known as one of the most anti-feminist Disney princesses through her goodness, which leads to passivity, her living with the Seven Dwarves, her tendency to clean, and her awaiting of a prince to save her from her oppressions, which critics have viewed as misogyny and a danger to young women who will want to replicate these behaviors in their own lives.[17][18] While many argue that she was a reflection of the era in which she was created, others claim that the complexity of animation of the time made it too difficult to add complexity to the characters in the film. Janet Maslin of The New York Times claims, "Aside from her great daintiness and her credentials as a fervent housekeeper, Snow White has no distinct personality. She exists only to be victimized by her wicked stepmother - a far more interesting character - and to wait for Mr. Right," that supports feminist theory,[19] but despite public feminist responses to the character, Disney regards Snow White as kind, sweet, and respectful, encouraging children to, "be a friend to all," in the same way she is depicted in the film.[20]


Cinderella is the second Disney Princess.[15] Her movie, Disney's 12th animated feature film, is named after her, Cinderella, released in 1950. She is often considered the "Leader of the Disney Princesses". Forced into servitude by her evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her two cruel stepsisters, Drizella and Anastasia, after her father's death, her only source of happiness was her animal friends, which consists of birds and mice. While scrubbing the floors of her late father's mansion, an invitation for the Prince's ball is delivered, inviting all of the eligible women to attend so that he can find a wife. While Cinderella meets the requirements to attend, her step family forbids her, going so far as to rip apart the clothes that the mice and birds had created for her as the carriage arrives. When all seems lost, her fairy godmother gives her the means to attend, where she falls in love with the Prince.

Cinderella is based on the heroine of the French fairy tale Cinderella by Charles Perrault and the German fairy tale Ashputtel by the Brothers Grimm. Originally voiced by Ilene Woods and animated by Marc Davis, in recent animated features she is currently voiced by Jennifer Hale. In the original movie, Cinderella's hair was intended to be more of a strawberry-blonde color, but today she is depicted as having blonde hair. Also, her iconic ball gown is depicted as light blue instead of silver in nearly all media and merchandise. Cinderella is also known as "Cinderelly" by the mice. These days, her legendary glass slipper, which was used by the Prince to find her, symbolizes Cinderella's timeless character and tale.

As part of a new launch of live-action Disney classic recreation films, Cinderella was portrayed by Lily James in the 2015 motion-picture. The film is commended for remaining close to the original plot line of the animated feature supplemented by added depth to give the original character more background and dimension. Reviews cite the movie's usage of the mantra, "have courage and be kind," claiming it to support, "But at least [Cinderella's] outward beauty is poignantly augmented by an inner kindness and courage, things she manages to hold on to despite the abuses heaped upon her by her stepmother and stepsisters,"[21] and to help modern audiences reinvigorate their admiration of one of the earliest Disney princesses.

Like Snow White, Cinderella faces feminist criticism for chasing after a man for freedom, displaying household chores, and means of beauty as the only way to attract a man that viewers may see the need to perpetuate.[22] Disney, however, cites Cinderella as a persistent princess in the light of injustice, believing she sends the message to, "never give up."[23]


Aurora, originally voiced by Mary Costa, is the third Disney Princess.[15] She first appeared in Disney's 16th animated feature film Sleeping Beauty (1959). The motion picture is adapted from the French fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault (1697), from the German fairy tale Little Briar Rose (1812) by The Brothers Grimm and from The Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1890). Aurora has hair of sunshine gold and lips that shame the red rose; she is often described as beautiful, kind, shy and sophisticated. She is also a hopeless romantic. At first, she is seen as a little naive and insecure as a result of being sheltered for most of her life but, unlike Snow White, she is somewhat pluckier and more opinionated. In later media, she is shown to have matured and become more self-assured, independent and confident. She was later voiced by Erin Torpey, and Jennifer Hale and is currently voiced by Kate Higgins.

Aurora was also portrayed by Elle Fanning in the movie Maleficent, the movie about the fairy's backstory played by Angelina Jolie. This live-action film is a part of a new series that Disney has been launching in order to give their classic films modern twists to contemporary audiences.[24]

Like her counterparts in the first wave of animated Disney films, Aurora is criticized for feminist depictions, mainly in the fact that she had very little involvement in The Sleeping Beauty. It was also said that even though Sleeping Beauty was her movie, Princess Aurora only appeared for thirty minutes in the film. In accordance with many bloggers' opinions on Aurora, "Aurora in the film is not a person, per se; she is the prize that the other characters fight over. She is an object, really, and that is not feminist at all,"[25] which further solidifies fear of media on viewers. Disney, on their website with a collection of the Disney princesses, claims Aurora to inspire young girls to, "always wonder."[26]

Renaissance era


Ariel is the fourth Disney Princess, as well as the title character in Disney's 28th animated feature film The Little Mermaid, released in 1989. She is the youngest of King Triton's seven daughters. Ariel is a mermaid princess in the undersea kingdom Atlantica (according to later media in the franchise). Fascinated by the human world and tired of life under the sea, Ariel makes a deal with Ursula, an evil sea witch, trading her voice for the chance to experience the human world. Based on the Danish fairy tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson and animated by Glen Keane and Mark Henn. The character was inspired by the protagonist in Andersen's story, but was developed into a different personality for the film.[27] Ariel is fiercely independent and a dreamer, which is notable in her collecting of human world treasures in her private grotto. She is bold and a risk-taker, distinguished by her bright red hair, purple/lavender seashell bra, and green tail.

The Little Mermaid was the first animated Disney Princess film following Sleeping Beauty from 1959.[28] As such, Ariel's film marks a new "Renaissance" of Disney that created more progressive, independent princesses with higher levels of depth and complexity.[29] However, of all of the progressive Princesses, Ariel is regarded as one of the least-feminist ones depicted. She sings "Part of Your World" which pleads for a chance to explore her curiosity in the outside world, though critics cite that curiosity is largely driven by her desire to marry a man that she has never even spoken to. However, in direct contrast to this criticism, Ariel was depicted in the film as being interested in the human world and species long before falling in love with Eric. Without her voice, many fear that she is reliant on her beauty and sexuality only and, in the end, is saved by her male lover, Prince Eric, only to spend the rest of her life on the human world under his control.[30] Disney, however, claims Ariel spreads a message of, "explor[ing] new worlds,"[31] that many other viewers notice throughout the film.[32] The conflict between modern messages of female independence paired with continual depictions of hypersexuality and reliance on a man is a key aspect to these progressive 80s and 90s films.


Main article: Belle (Disney)

Belle is the fifth Disney Princess, first introduced in Disney's 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). Based on the heroine of the French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, Belle was created by screenwriter Linda Woolverton[33] and originally animated by James Baxter[34] and Mark Henn.[35] Originally voiced by Paige O'Hara, Belle is currently voiced by Julie Nathanson.

Frustrated with her provincial village life, book-loving Belle longs for adventure. When her father Maurice is imprisoned by a hideous beast, Belle sacrifices her own freedom in return for his. At first frightened by the Beast's physical appearance and repulsed by his selfishness, Belle learns to appreciate him after he rescues her from a pack of hungry wolves, expressing her gratitude by tending to his wounds. While the Beast's love for Belle gradually results in him adapting a more friendly and civil manner, Belle befriends him, eventually managing to fall in love with him by the time the last petal falls off an enchanted rose, which ultimately breaks a spell cast on him and transforms him back into a handsome prince.

Emma Watson is set to portray Belle in the upcoming live-action remake, which is also titled Beauty and the Beast. This live-action film is a part of a new series that Disney has been launching in order to give their classic films modern twists to contemporary audiences.[36]

Personality-wise, Belle has been regarded as an independent,[37] intelligent,[38] courageous[39] and headstrong,[40] as well as a feminist.[41] The character has been universally lauded by critics, garnering specific praise and recognition for her intelligence and bravery. The Los Angeles Times hailed Belle as one of the Disney Princesses responsible for "break[ing] the bonds of convention".[42] The Globe and Mail praised the character, complimenting her intellect and labeling her the "main attraction of Beauty and the Beast".[43] Entertainment Weekly highlighted the character's independence, calling her "the hero" of the film and accrediting her with making Beauty and the Beast the best Disney Princess film.[44] The Washington Post described Belle as "more mature, more womanly and less blandly asexual" than previous Disney heroines.[45] The American Film Institute nominated Belle for its list of 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains.[46] Belle remains the best-received Disney Princess to-date. Disney cites Belle as a role model for the mantra, "don't judge a book by its cover."[4]


Main article: Princess Jasmine

Jasmine is the sixth Disney Princess and the leading lady of Disney's 31st animated feature film Aladdin (1992). Jasmine is fierce, bold, and confident, she rarely allowing anyone to tell her how to live her life. Jasmine hungers for independence, tired of the restrictions laid before her by her father. She falls in love with Aladdin while he is disguised as a prince, after he takes her on a romantic ride on a magic carpet. Aladdin's genie companion is summoned by Jafar, who uses the genie's magic to tyrannically overthrow Jasmine's father, the Sultan. Luckily, after Jafar's defeat, the Sultan permits Jasmine to wed Aladdin despite his lack of royal heritage. Princess Jasmine is voiced by Linda Larkin, animated by Mark Henn, and her singing voice is provided by Lea Salonga (in the feature film) and Liz Callaway (in the direct-to-video sequel).

Jasmine is based on Princess Badroulbadour from the One Thousand and One Nights tale of "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp".

Jasmine is one of the first Disney princesses to identify as a minority and to be a part of a movie taking place in an area other than western Europe. While a part of the new line of progressive princesses, shown by how Jasmine is more likely to leave the castle and has immense curiosity about the world beyond the palace walls, critics have judged her for her reliance on a man, sexuality that is displayed more than in the other princesses prior, and for her false representation of Middle Eastern culture. Her sexual depiction, particularly in a scene where she seduces the villain Jafar, as well as her Western features makes critics fear the messages Disney is spreading about culture, as well as the continued image of women winning over men with their bodies: "Other than skin tone, this feature appears to be the only signifier of racial difference. In terms of the body. Jasmine, although still small-waisted is "filmed" in more active sequences and appears, through both the physical presence and activity in scenes, more athletic."[30] Disney claims its intention with Jasmine is to inspire viewers to, "see the good in others."[47]


Pocahontas is the seventh Disney Princess and first appeared in Disney's 33rd animated feature film Pocahontas (1995). Based on the Native American chief's daughter, Pocahontas (c. 1595–1617), and the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Pocahontas is displayed as a noble, independent and highly spiritual young woman. She expresses wisdom beyond her years and offers kindness and guidance to those around her. An adventure and nature lover, in the film she appears to have shamanic powers since she was able to communicate with nature, spirits, and animals and understand foreign languages. In the sequel, Pocahontas, after hearing of John Smith's assumed death, is heartbroken. Despite this, she keeps her independent spirit and playfulness and is even much more mature and self-assured than she was in the first film. During her stay in England, she nearly loses herself in the hustle and bustle of the new world, consequently falling victim to western culture assimilation. But in the end she bravely intends to sacrifice herself for her people's safety and returns to her homeland, finding herself, and love, once again. She was voiced by Irene Bedard and animated by Glen Keane while her singing was provided by Judy Kuhn.

Like Jasmine, Pocahontas, and her film, are criticized for the depiction of over-sexualized females in a culturally diverse world. Both princesses are shown with small waists, large almond eyes, and incredible athletic ability that none of the other, caucasian Disney princesses represent. Further, the film has been met with criticism from the Native American community as heralding colonialism and an invalid, romanticized representation of an important figure to the Powhatan people. In terms of its 90s debut, Buescher and Ono in their critical review of the film claim that Pocahontas's actions, "appropriates contemporary social issues of feminism, environmentalism, and human freedom in order to make racial domination appear innocent and pure."[48] Despite these issues, Pocahontas is the first Disney Princess to not continue her romantic relationship at the conclusion of the film and even plays a direct role in rescuing her lover, John Smith. She is considered to be one of the most independent Disney princesses.[49] Disney claims Pocahontas as a role model to, "respect the earth."[4]


Fa Mulan is the eighth Disney Princess[50] and first appeared in Disney's 36th animated feature film Mulan (1998). The movie is adapted from the legend of Hua Mulan (6th century; 'Northern and Southern Dynasties' period). Mulan, atypical and unlike most previous female roles, is courageous and more self-reliant. She also does not fit in with the expectations of a young Chinese girl of the time; despite her natural beauty, she is clumsy, outspoken, and independent rather than graceful, silent, and demure. After her meeting with the matchmaker ended in chaos, the matchmaker claimed that even though she had the looks of a bride, she would never find a match. However, her courage, intelligence, and determination helped her through her adventures, in which she disguises herself as a male soldier in order to fight in the Chinese army in place of her wounded father. She was voiced by Ming-Na Wen and animated by Mark Henn while her singing was provided by Lea Salonga.

Mulan saves her people and is the hero of her own story. Although she ends up with a man in the end of her film, many see Mulan as a positive role model in her determination, risk-taking, and her conclusion of saving all of China.[49] The depiction of Mulan as a man through a large portion of the movie aids in removing much of the stigma behind hyper-sexualization of Disney princesses. However, the matchmaking scenes in the beginning, as well as the mistreatment of Mulan as a woman prior to her rebellion may lean towards negative representations of Chinese culture, a fate that many of these more ethnic princesses face.[51]

Modern era


Main article: Tiana (Disney)

Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose and animated by Mark Henn, is the ninth Disney Princess character to be incorporated into the franchise, appearing in Disney's 49th animated feature film The Princess and the Frog (2009). Her film is loosely based on the novel The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker, which is in turn based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Frog Prince. Tiana is portrayed as being a hardworking, ambitious, and beautiful young woman who has no love interest (at the start of the film). Living in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tiana strives to achieve her goal of opening her own restaurant (an ambition inspired by the accomplishments of real life restaurateur Leah Chase).[52] However, she is transformed into a frog after trying to break a spell cast by a Bokor on Prince Naveen that had changed him into a frog also. Throughout the film, the pair must embark on a quest to find a way to break the spell. Tiana was officially "coronated" and became a member of the Disney Princess line-up on March 14, 2010 at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan, New York.[11]

Tiana marks the first princess in the "fourth-wave" feminist movement that initiated the most modern line of Disney films, including movies like Tangled, Brave, and Frozen. Unlike her past counterparts, Tiana has received more praise than criticism for her depiction of female independence and of minority culture. Christopher Lehman, author of "The Colored Cartoon," claims that, "Princess and the Frog" [i]s a step in the right direction because it deviates from those polarized caricatures with characters that are crafted with individuality," those characters being either "mammy" or over sexualized versions of female African Americans. Instead, Tiana offers a new perspective as simply a hard-working woman who bears no reliance on a man.[53] Disney says Tiana represents, "mak[ing] a dream real."[4]


Main article: Rapunzel (Disney)

Rapunzel is the tenth Disney Princess. First appearing in Disney's 50th animated feature film Tangled (2010), Rapunzel is based on the heroine of the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Created by screenwriter Dan Fogelman, Rapunzel was originally animated by Glen Keane, and is voiced by recording artist and actress Mandy Moore. The character was "coronated" and inducted into the Disney Princess franchise on October 2, 2011 at Kensington Palace in London, England.[13][54][55]

A princess born with long, magical golden hair, Rapunzel, stolen from her parents, the King and Queen of Corona, at infancy, is raised by Mother Gothel, an evil and vain old woman and exploits her hair to remain young and beautiful. Incarcerated in an isolated tower for eighteen years, Rapunzel enlists the help of a wanted thief named Flynn Rider to see the floating lanterns in time for her 18th birthday.

Rapunzel is notably the first Disney Princess to appear in a CGI film, but is frequently revamped to a traditionally animated design when appearing in merchandising alongside fellow, classically animated Princesses.

The character has been generally well received by most critics. Particular praise was awarded to her spirited personality and contemporaneity. The Los Angeles Times described Rapunzel as "a very modern young woman".[56] The New Yorker called Rapunzel a witty and intelligent character,[57] while USA Today wrote, "Rapunzel is more believable in her teenage histrionics" than previous Disney heroines.[58] However, some reviews, such as the two provided by Time Out, were less favorable in their opinions of the character, describing her as both a "bland"[59] and "synthetic" character.[60] Disney describes her as promoting, "jump[ing] into new adventures."[4]


Main article: Merida (Disney)

Merida is the eleventh Disney princess, first appearing in the Pixar film Brave (2012).[3] Voiced by Kelly Macdonald, the character's singing voice is provided by Julie Fowlis. She was created by director and screenwriter Brenda Chapman. Merida is the 16-year-old daughter of Queen Elinor, who rules the kingdom alongside King Fergus. Queen Elinor's expectations of her daughter make Merida see her mother as being distant while also causing friction between the two. Despite Elinor's desire to see Merida as a proper royal lady, Merida is an impetuous girl who wants to take control of her own destiny. She has honed her skill in archery, and is one of the most skilled archers ever seen. She is also skilled in sword-fighting and cross-country horse riding on her horse, Angus. Merida was "coronated" and officially became a part of the Disney Princess franchise on May 11, 2013 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.[61]

She is the first Disney princess in the line-up to not have a love interest in her film. Further, her stubbornness and independence has generally resonated with feminists, as well as her near entire rejection of "princess duties" like marrying a man and looking proper.[62] She is also the first Pixar and the second CGI princess. Unlike the other princesses, Merida does not sing in her film. By her actions throughout the film, Disney makes Merida the spokesperson of bravery.[4]

Portrayals in culture and media

Theme park rides


Ariel has an attraction at the California Adventure park called "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" which opened June 3, 2011.[63] Guests in Paradise Pier hop in the "clam-mobile" and are taken under the sea into Ariel's world.[64]

Snow White has her own ride at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris known as "Snow White's Scary Adventures".

Walt Disney World

The "Snow White's Scary Adventures" ride is also featured at the Walt Disney World Resort however was removed in 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland expansion.[65]

An attraction opened in the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland entitled "Enchanted Tales with Belle" on December 6, 2012.[66] The 20-minute attraction takes guests into Maurice's cottage to meet Belle and reenact the story of the Beauty and the Beast.

Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, which is based on Disneyland's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, opened on December 6, 2012.[67] The Magic Kingdom attraction has a different exterior and queue than the one in Disneyland.

On May 28, 2014, the "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train" opened in Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.[68] The 2,000 foot long steel roller coaster averages a speed of 34 mph and features two drops peaking at 41 feet. "Just like in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, make your merry way across the rolling stone bridges and through a forest where you’ll find the Dwarfs’ cottage and all the stars from the film."[69] Riders are brought through the classic tale in a runaway mine train alongside the Dwarfs through the forest, by the cottage, and into the diamond mine of the Dwarfs. The mine cave features what Disney Imagineers say are "some of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics characters ever created."[70]

Meet-and-greets and live events


left to right: Snow White, Prince Florian; Ariel, Prince Eric; Tiana, Prince Naveen; Rapunzel, Flynn Rider; Cinderella, Prince Charming; Prince Phillip, Aurora; Aladdin, Jasmine; Belle, the Beast (before returning to his human form) on February 14th, 2012.

Currently all the princesses are available for meet-and-greets in Disneyland Resort in California. Additionally, In 2006, as part of the "Year of Million Dreams" celebration, the Fantasyland Theater began hosting the Disneyland Princess Fantasy Faire, a show featuring Lords and Ladies that taught young boys and girls the proper etiquette to be a prince or princess and features appearances from the Disney Princesses. In 2010, Rapunzel was given a Tangled meet-and-greet location. The Carnation Plaza Gardens bandstand, adjacent to Sleeping Beauty Castle, was closed to be replaced by a new Fantasy Faire area in the Spring of 2013.[71]

Fantasy Faire
Fantasy Faire
Area Fantasyland
Status Operating
Opening date March 12, 2013
Replaced by Carnation Plaza Gardens
Website Fantasy Faire
Magic Kingdom
Name Princess Fairytale Hall
Area Fantasyland
Status Operating
Opening date 2013
Website Princess Fairytale Hall
Shanghai Disneyland
Name Once Upon a Time
General statistics
Attraction type meet-and-greet location
Theme Gothic-inspired village & fair
source [72]

The Fantasy Faire area in Disneyland officially opened on March 12, 2013 as the permanent home for the Disney Princesses and consists of a Royal Hall, a Royal Theatre, Maurice's Treats food cart and Fairytale Treasures gift shop.[72][73] The theater features two small shows based on Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. The hall is used for meet and greets with the princesses, which have a rotation schedule with three princesses scheduled to appear at a time.[72]

Walt Disney World

At Walt Disney World Resort, the princesses are available for meet-and-greets in more specific locations. Cinderella-based character dining and interaction, located at Cinderella's Royal Table in her Magic Kingdom castle, as well as "Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner," (formerly known as the Cinderella's Gala Feast Dinner) at 1900 Park Fare in the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are common places for Cinderella and other Disney characters to appear. The Princesses also can be found at the Princess Storybook meal at Epcot. On September 18, 2013, a new meet-and-greet attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall opened at the Magic Kingdom.[72][74][75]

Many shows and parades across the property feature the princesses, including Fantasmic, Main Street Electrical Parade, Dream Along with Mickey, the Festival of Fantasy Parade, Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. A store named "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique" opened April 5, 2006 at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World also features Disney characters. On January 22, 2007, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort began its first Pirate and Princess Party. This hard ticketed event features "Disney's Enchanted Adventures Parade" and a specially themed fireworks spectacular called "Magic, Music and Mayhem". The parade features the six main Princesses attended by knights and dancers. Each land is themed accordingly to a pirate or princess, such as Jasmine's Court in Adventureland, Ariel's Court in Fantasyland and the Princess Pavilion in Mickey's Toontown Fair. This event has since been discontinued.

Shanghai Disneyland

A Princess meet and greet location called Once Upon a Time was operational at Shanghai Disneyland's opening and is located at Storybook Castle.[72]

Films and television

The Disney Princesses' television appearances were compiled into the Disney Princess Collection, a series of compilation DVDs containing episodes from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and two Beauty and the Beast specials. A later DVD series was released, entitled Disney Princess Stories, featuring content similar to the previous release. Princess Party Palace (formerly known as The Princess Power Hour) was a programming block on Toon Disney from 2000 until 2007 and where it used to air episodes of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.

Belle had her own live-action television series called Sing Me a Story with Belle. The first eight Disney Princesses also made appearances on the animated TV series House of Mouse and Belle also made an appearance (along with her husband, Beast) on a short episode from the TV animated series Mickey Mouse.

In early 2007, Disney announced Disney Princess Enchanted Tales, a new series of direct-to-video features that feature new stories for the Disney Princesses. The first movie in the series, entitled Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams, was released on September 4, 2007. It is a musical film featuring new tales about Princess Jasmine, and the first new tale about Princess Aurora since the original Sleeping Beauty.

Originally, Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: A Kingdom of Kindness was announced as the first film in the series, which contained a different Princess Aurora story, and had a Belle story rather than a Princess Jasmine story. Disney made this change without any sort of notice. Currently, the series is cancelled and only "Follow Your Dreams" exists.[76]

The TV series Once Upon a Time that airs on the Disney-owned ABC, featured live-action versions of Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Mulan, Ariel, Rapunzel, Merida and Jasmine. Many of these characters are patterned after the Disney versions, but a few draw inspiration from older stories.

The TV series Sofia the First premiered on January 11, 2013, on Disney Junior; to date, Cinderella appeared in the first movie Once Upon A Princess. Princesses Jasmine, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Mulan, Tiana and Merida have appeared on the show, and Ariel and Rapunzel appeared in the TV Specials The Floating Palace and The Curse of Princess Ivy, respectively. There are plans to feature Pocahontas and Moana in future episodes. However, Sofia is a minor princess and not in the royal court. She is voiced by Modern Family star Ariel Winter.

In the 2014 film Maleficent, Aurora was played by Elle Fanning. Lily James portrayed Cinderella in the 2015 film of the same name. Emma Watson has been cast as Belle in the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast.


Disney Princess Chapter Books

  • Ariel: The Birthday Surprise
  • Belle: The Mysterious Message
  • Cinderella: The Great Mouse Mistake
  • Tiana: The Grand Opening
  • Jasmine: The Missing Coin
  • Aurora: The Perfect Party
  • Rapunzel: A Day to Remember
A Jewel Story
  • Ariel: The Shimmering Star Necklace
  • Cinderella: The Lost Tiara
  • Belle: The Charming Gift
  • Jasmine: The Jewel Orchard
  • Tiana: The Stolen Jewel
  • Merida: Legend of the Emeralds

Comic adaptation

In Kilala Princess, a Japanese fantasy/romance manga produced by Kodansha that debuted in Nakayoshi in April 2005. The plot of the manga revolves around a girl named Kilala and her adventures to find her kidnapped friend with the help of the first six Disney Princesses, who are Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine, though Kilala herself isn't considered part of the franchise.

Video games

Disney Princesses have appeared in various other media, such as video games, including Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, Disney Princess: Magical Jewels, and Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure.[77] Rapunzel can be found as a character in the 2013 game Disney Infinity along with other non-franchise princesses. Anna and Elsa are also included but are not officially part of the Disney Princess Royal Court. Disney Infinity: 2.0 Edition has the addition of Merida and Jasmine. However, Merida is also included with Stitch in the Toy Box Starter Pack. Disney Infinity 3.0 includes the character Mulan.

Kingdom Hearts

In the Kingdom Hearts game series, the seven "Princesses of Heart", are young ladies with entirely pure hearts who would open the way to Kingdom Hearts if gathered together. Five of these maidens- Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Snow White and Jasmine are Disney Princesses. The remaining Princesses of Heart are Alice from Alice in Wonderland and game series' heroine, Kairi, though the latter is only exclusive to the video game like Kilala. The Disney Princesses make various appearances throughout the series:


The Disney Princess franchise has received mixed reception from critics and customers, particularity feminists.

Ethnic reception

The introduction of different ethnicities in Disney animated features has also faced skeptical reactions, as well as criticism, from authors and media alike. An example is Princess Sofia in Sofia the First, mistakenly presented as Disney's first Latina princess. Dubious reactions to Disney's statement about the Princess being a Latina and the lack of characteristics actually identifying her as such placed the studio under mild fire and fueled discussions in the blogosphere, which were ultimately cleared up by a Disney Junior executive in her statement:

"The range of characters in 'Sofia the First' -- and the actors who play them -- are a reflection of Disney's commitment to diverse, multicultural and inclusive storytelling, and the wonderful early reaction to 'Sofia' affirms that commitment. In the story, Sofia's mother, Queen Miranda, was born in a fictitious land, Galdiz, a place with Latin influences. Miranda met Sofia's father, Birk Balthazar, who hailed from the kingdom of Freezenberg, and together they moved to Enchancia, where Sofia was born."[79]

Disney's "progressive era" was the first to introduce princesses of varying backgrounds: Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan and has since received widespread criticism for its depictions of culture in the films. Jasmine is presented in a seemingly violent society that threatens to cut her hand off for giving an apple to a hungry boy that she had not paid for, while she is mainly used as a mode of sexual distraction and interest for Aladdin's heroic undertakings. At the same time, some critics objected to Disney's choice of lyrics for the opening song "Arabian Nights" in the film that claim, "it's barbaric, but hey, it's home," depicting Middle Eastern Culture as extremely unappealing.[51] Criticism is also directed at Pocahontas which University of Puget Sound Communications Professor Derek Buescher and University of Utah Professor of Communication Kent Ono, in their paper Civilized Colonialism: Pocahontas as a Neocolonial Rhetoric, saw as an attempt to justify and purify colonization, as well as to imply that all Native American people are "savages" that are in need of white assimilation.[48] The film was an attempt by Disney to gain more cultural diversity in their lineup, for which the production sought input from Native American actors including national director of The American Indian Movement and Native American activist, Russell Means, who played Chief Powhatan. Mulan has been judged negatively for depicting Chinese culture as one in which women are only appreciated for their physical beauty and their ability to attain a man, one in which Mulan literally must become a man in order to gain the respect of society.[51] While reception to Disney's first African-American princess, Tiana, the star of The Princess and the Frog, was mostly positive, and considered a step in the right direction, the fact that she falls in love with a Caucasian prince drew criticism from parents and the media, as did the film's post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans setting, and voodoo references.[79]

Feminist reception

Tension has been present between The Walt Disney Company and feminists ever since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. The type of representations of women in Disney films reflect Walt Disney's personal feelings about family life, which in turn also shaped the Disney Company. Another influence was the fact that Disney's attitudes mirrored the patriarchal cultural beliefs of the 1940s about what roles women should play in society.[80]

On December 24, 2006, Peggy Orenstein published "What's Wrong With Cinderella?" in The New York Times. In her article, Orenstein discussed her concerns about the effects of princess figures on young girls. Orenstein used the Disney Princesses specifically to present many of her points. Orenstein also noted the pervasive nature of Princess merchandise and that every facet of play has its princess equivalent.[7] Tamara Weston of Time magazine criticized the franchise, referring to the princesses as "damsels in distress" and negative role models for young girls.[81] Anna Smith of The Guardian disliked that Disney princesses were typically drawn with slender figures and large eyes.[82] Other sources have also voiced concern that the franchise could possibly give young girls the wrong message.[83] However, other parents who have young daughters say that they would eventually grow out of this phase.[84]

Many articles describe Disney Princesses as the beginnings of feminism. In "A Feminist Ranking Of All The Disney Princesses, Because Not Every Princess Was Down For Waiting For Anyone To Rescue Her," Chelsea Maze ranks Disney Princesses and how each one contributes to feminism in her own way. The first princess is Mulan and the last one is Aurora. These ranks connect to how they contribute to the man's needs and also the main story plot in the films.[85]

Another recent article explains how the Disney Princesses have always been feminist and has a deeper explanation as to how they are feminist. Kristi Harrison explains in her article "4 Ways Disney Princesses Created Modern Feminism". She explains how we should think of the princesses as protagonists instead of princesses. Most of their adventures began with the recognition that most of their adventures began with rebellion against the patriarchy.[86]

Another article titled "How Fourth-Wave Feminism is Changing Disney Princesses" explains how the connection of feminism and Disney Princesses and the waves of feminism shape the way film and TV illustrate women. The first wave of feminism took place during the time the first three Disney princess films were produced. As said in the article, for these original Disney princesses, their beauty is their most defining characteristic. In all three films, the prince falls in love with and saves/marries the princess based solely on her appearance. These princesses are beautiful women and suffer because of circumstances out of their control and finally find salvation in the love of a powerful man.[87]

Kaitlin Eberson, the author if the article, explains how the second waved of feminism that lasted until the 1980s went hand in hand with the civil rights movement and focused on women’s legal and social equality. During this time Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan illustrated the ideology of society’s drastically altered beliefs about who women are and how they should act, as each princess has a distinct personality.[87]

The earlier Disney princess films were criticized for their representation of domestication, romance, and dependence on a male hero. The next wave of Disney princess films, part of the so-called 'Progressive' Disney of the studio's renaissance era of animation, attempted to make more independent female characters, though romance still played a large role in all of these films. There was a long-time gap between the releases of Mulan and The Princess and the Frog, but the fourth wave of feminism discusses the issues faced by women and how women acknowledged the inequality between genders. During this wave, the films showed strong, independent women that were powerful and were not submissive to a patriarchal society.[87] Studies evaluating the prevalence of classic male and female qualities represented by varying characters in Disney animated films showed that the earlier films tended to have more of the female characters displaying feminine characteristics at 86%, while the middle films were more along the lines of 58%. The Princess and the Frog alone had 53% of feminine qualities featured in its films in comparison to male characteristics, showing the progression that Disney has undergone in terms of feminism and escaping gendered norms.[28] There is little data on the most recent films; however, general viewer reception has been positive in regards to the "feminist" qualities that these princesses display.[88]


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