Generations of children have grown up idolizing the Disney Princesses. Categorized into three distinct eras, these characters served as an example of everything girls, especially, wanted to be when they grew up.
To begin with, the princesses were beautiful, kind, and could shatter glass with their singing. Then as the values of the world changed, Disney caught up, and the Princesses became smart, resourceful, and resilient.
Today, there are Disney Princesses who are independent, flawed, and capable of anything they set their minds to. It’s taken a while, but today there are characters worthy of being called role models.
Though people often critique the early Princesses, like the soft-spoken Snow White and the helpless Aurora, fans still have a soft spot for them as they appreciate them for what they are: entertaining characters reminiscent of a totally different time.
Despite having grown up, many people today are still fans of these royal women who influenced so many of their childhoods. And as they look behind the scenes, it’s obvious that there’s so much fans never knew about them! There’s certainly more to being a Disney Princess than meets the eye.
Know everything there is to know about the Disney Princesses? Think again, and keep reading to find out these little-known facts!
Sorry, everyone. Becoming a Disney Princess one day just isn’t going to happen for all of us (or any of us, for that matter).
To be officially considered a Disney Princess, a character must have a central role in a Disney animated film, she must be human or human-like, and she can’t only appear in a sequel.
Interestingly, being born as a princess or marrying a prince isn’t actually a necessity on the road to becoming certified animated royalty.
Thanks to this nit-picky criteria, several of the characters you would think are princesses actually aren’t, and those that aren’t technically royalty are in the Disney world. Take Mulan, for instance. She isn’t born a princess, nor does she marry into it (although Li Shang is so much better than a lot of the Disney Princes). In real life, there’s no way she would be considered a princess, but she is according to Disney because she’s the hero of her story.
It’s hard to pick just one Disney dress that makes us melt, but many fans have listed Belle’s yellow ball gown as their absolute favorite.
Yes, we all lost it when Emma Watson wore the real-life version of the dress in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.
The inspiration for Belle’s gown actually came from the dress Audrey Hepburn wears in Roman Holiday. The film is in black and white, but we can see from publicity shots that the dress was yellow.
Fans of Anastasia have always campaigned for the lost princess of Russia to be considered an official Disney Princess, even though the film was not a Disney film. It looks like all that campaigning has actually paid off! It was recently announced that Disney has purchased the rights to Anastasia, making her a Disney Princess. It’s also been reported that there are plans underway to create a live-action remake of the film in 2019. Stoked would be an understatement!
Have you ever noticed that when all the Disney Princesses are shown together, they never actually interact or look each other in the eye? This wasn’t just a careless design choice.
Andy Mooney, the Disney Consumer Products chairman, revealed that the Princesses purposely never look at each other to keep their individual mythologies going strong.
In other words, we as viewers get the impression that, since they don’t look at each other, they aren’t aware of each other’s presence, and exist only in their own worlds.
Princess Jasmine from Aladdin is an interesting case. In the real world, she would qualify as a princess, because she’s the daughter of the Sultan. But because she isn’t her film’s main character (Aladdin is, while she’s the love interest), she technically doesn’t fit in with the official description of a Disney Princess. She’s still royalty to us, though! She also happens to be the only Disney Princess not to have a gown or dress as her costume (other than Moana).
Despite being inspired by stories that come from all over the world, the majority of Disney Princess have US accents. If we want to get technical, Ariel should have a Danish accent, and Cinderella should have a French accent, and Snow White should be German.
But things are more consistent when most of the characters in the universe have the same accent.
The only exceptions are Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, who has an English accent, and Merida from Brave, who is the first Scottish Disney Princess.
At this point, only one Disney Princess has been based on a real, historically documented person. Pocahontas actually existed in the 1600s, but she was quite a bit different from the animated version we know today. Pocahontas was actually her nickname, and being around ten years old when John Smith arrived, was never romantically involved with him, though she was a mother and a wife. Her life was a lot less picturesque than what’s portrayed in the Disney film.
Most Disney Princesses are based on ancient stories and legends that have circulated for years. Mulan is one such character, who may have been a real person at some point in history—although historians aren’t sure.
Her story is based on the legend of Hua Mulan, who was a female warrior described in the poem called The Ballad of Mulan.
Real or not, Mulan is one of our favorite Disney Princesses because of the way she gets things done!
The very first Disney Princess, Snow White, was voiced by an eighteen-year-old actress called Adriana Caselotti. Though she should have been honored and held in high regard for her iconic contribution to Disney, she was actually treated in a very questionable way. She was paid less than $1,000 to do the film and wasn’t even credited as the voice of Snow White. Worse, Disney prevented her from taking on any other roles to preserve the voice of Snow White forever.
Disney hasn’t always been the most inclusive empire, and it actually took until 1992 for the company to create a single Princess that wasn’t white European.
Being of Arabian descent, Princess Jasmine was the first Disney Princess of color.
Thankfully, since then, Disney has continued to create more diverse and inclusive characters, including Mulan who is Chinese, Pocahontas who is Native American, Tiana who is African American and Moana who is Polynesian. May the trend continue!
Many fans don’t realize that Queen B was only a step away from joining the Disney Princesses. She was almost cast to voice Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. We know: what could have possibly made Beyoncé lose the role? It was reported that because she refused to audition, and expected the part to be offered to her automatically, the filmmakers decided to give the role to Anika Noni Rose, who did audition. B and Rose worked together on Dreamgirls a few years earlier.
Although the Disney Princesses are becoming more culturally diverse, we still have a way to go when it comes to getting away from the idea of women anchoring their lives around men, and only feeling like they’re worth something when a guy likes them.
Luckily though, there is one Disney Princess who doesn’t have a love interest.
Merida has no prince to sweep her off her feet, and has to do a lot of hard work herself. Instead, the film focuses on the relationship between her and her mom.
Ever wondered how old the Disney Princesses are? The short answer is they’re all teenagers. Snow White is the youngest at fourteen, followed by Jasmine who is fifteen. Aurora, Mulan, Moana, Merida, and Ariel are all sixteen. Interestingly, Tiana and Cinderella are the oldest Disney Princesses, and at nineteen, look like grandmas next to the others! Elsa from Frozen is twenty-one, but many don’t consider her a Disney Princess because Anna has the central role in the film, not her.
Blue is a recurring color among many of the Disney Princesses, and it’s no accident. This color is universally understood to be a color of serenity, trust, and calmness, as well as confidence.
The Princesses who wear blue—including Cinderella, Jasmine, Belle, and Aurora—are intended to empower girls by saying that they can embody these powerful feelings.
It’s also a good way to show little girls that it’s okay if they don’t like wearing typically feminine colors, like pink.
Some of the Disney Princesses are actually drawn with a famous face in mind for inspiration. In the case of Belle, her physical appearance was influenced by two greats of the silver screen: Julie Andrews and Judy Garland. Belle is also shown wearing a blue dress, which aside from having all the positive attributes of the color blue, is intended to portray that Belle is an outsider in her community since nobody else wears the color.
Sometimes Elsa is considered a Disney Princess, and sometimes she’s not. But either way, some fans didn’t realize upon first watching Frozen that the color of her palace directly correlates with her mood.
When she is happy, the castle is blue. It becomes yellow when she gets angry, and purple when she becomes sad. When she’s scared, it turns red.
That’s more color changing since Aurora’s infamous dress in Sleeping Beauty when the fairies couldn’t decide between blue and pink!
Aurora was the last Disney Princess that Walt Disney personally witnessed before his passing. Perhaps her most iconic scene is when she sings "Once Upon a Dream" with Prince Philip. In development, the scene was called Sequence 8, and Walt rejected it over and over again. While the developers were trying so hard to get it right, they nearly bankrupted the studio! Thankfully it all worked out and we have this gorgeous scene to cherish forever.
Another common trait of almost all the Disney Princesses? Nearly all of them are right-handed. The only ones whose dominant hand is their left are Tiana and Mulan.
Although Mulan is seen using her left hand frequently, she also brandishes a sword in her right hand at one point in the film.
Because of this, we could also assume that Mulan is ambidextrous and Tiana is really the only lefty among the Disney Princesses.
Aside from being the only mermaid Disney Princess, Ariel is also famous for her crimson hair. It’s hard to imagine now, but she wasn’t always going to have red hair. The decision was made for her to be ginger on purpose because the mermaid in the movie Splash, played by Daryl Hannah, was blonde. Disney wasn’t to differentiate the two. If Splash’s mermaid wasn’t blonde, there’s a chance Ariel would be. We just can’t picture it!
At this point, there is only one Disney Princess who has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and that’s Snow White.
Not only is she the first Disney Princess to be inducted into the Walk of Fame, but she’s also the first animated and fictional character to be given a star.
Since her ceremony in 1978, several other fictional and animated characters have made it onto Hollywood Boulevard, including Shrek, Snoopy, and Bugs Bunny.
Most of the Disney Princesses become royalty by marrying Disney Princes, although some were born to Kings and Queens. Belle, Cinderella, and Tiana, for example, were all common girls until they found their Princes. There is one way to distinguish them from the likes of Snow White and Aurora, who are Disney Princesses by birth. Those who become royalty by marriage wear opera gloves with their ball gowns, whereas the others do not. The gloves are a nice touch, but you have to be a Disney Princess to get away with them!
Since Snow White, the Disney Princesses have been divided into three eras. The Golden Era was comprised of Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora, who are all warm, kind characters with a focus on embodying the ideal royal woman. Next came the Renaissance Era, which features Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan.
These Princesses are smarter, quirkier and much more self-reliant than their predecessors.
Then we have the Modern Era, which includes Tiana, Rapunzel, and Merida. These ladies have bigger fish to fry than falling in love.
Belle came along over half a century after Snow White, and it took that long for Disney to purposely design a Princess who was not perfect in every single way. This is why Belle’s hair tends to fall out of place on her head—she is intended to be more relatable to young girls than the Princesses who came before her, and has been created to be imperfect. Since Belle, the Princesses have been getting more flawed. Goals!
Walt Disney liked to play favorites with his films and his characters. Ilene Woods, who voiced Cinderella, claimed that Walt loved Cinderella more than any other one of his Princesses.
He identified with something in Cinderella’s story, and it was rumored that the transformation scene, where the Fairy Godmother turns her rags into a ball gown, was his very favorite piece of animation.
Rumor also has it that Walt’s favorite Disney song was "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins.