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Disney Princess is a media franchise owned by The Walt Disney Company. Created by Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney in the late 1990s, the franchise features a line-up of fictional female heroines who have appeared in various Disney animated feature films.
The eleven current members of the franchise are Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida. The franchise has released dolls, sing-along videos and a variety of other products, apparel, home decor and a variety of toys featuring the Disney Princesses.
History and conception 
Former Nike, Inc. executive Andy Mooney was appointed chairman of The Walt Disney Company's Disney Consumer Products division in the late 1990s. While attending the company's first Disney on Ice show, Mooney realized that several young girls attending were dressed in princess attire that was not authentic Disney products. "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.
The original line-up consisted of princesses Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine, four of whom are "royal by blood"; the others having married into royalty. At one point 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" in tact. "[E]ach stares off in a slightly different direction as if unaware of the others' presence."
Despite limited advertising and no focus groups, the various Disney Princess items released became a huge success. Sales at Disney Consumer Products rose from $300 million in 2001 to $3 billion in 2006.
Disney Princesses 
Snow White 
Snow White is the first and original Disney Princess. A main character Walt Disney Animation Studios' first animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Snow White is a beautiful princess born with skin as white as snow, hair as black as ebony and lips as red as the rose. Snow White is forced to seek refuge in the home of seven dwarfs, where she hides from her stepmother, The Queen, who is jealous of her beauty and seeks her death. Snow White is often described as a kind, optimistic, and happy person who sees the good in everyone. Originally voiced by Adriana Caselotti, she is based on the heroine 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.
Cinderella is the second Disney Princess and the title character in Disney's 12th animated feature film Cinderella, released in 1950. She is often considered the "Leader of the Disney Princesses". Forced into servitude by her evil stepmother and cruel stepsisters, Cinderella dreams of going to the ball. When all seems lost, her fairy godmother allows her to attend, where she meets and falls in love with the Prince. Cinderella is based on the heroine of the French fairy tale Cinderella by Charles Perrault. Originally voiced by Ilene Woods, she is currently voiced by Jennifer Hale.
Princess Aurora, originally voiced by Mary Costa, is the third Disney Princess, and 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) and from The Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1890). Aurora has hair of sunshine gold, lips that shame the red rose and is often described as beautiful, kind, shy and sophisticated, as well as 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 much quicker and stronger. 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 then Jennifer Hale.
Ariel is the fourth Disney Princess and the title character in Disney's 28th animated feature film The Little Mermaid, released in 1989. Daughter of King Triton and one of seven sisters, Ariel is the princess of 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 a sea witch, trading her voice in return for the ability to walk on land. Based on the Danish fairy tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson. The character was inspired by the title character in Andersen's story, but was developed into a different personality for the film.
Belle is the fifth Disney Princess and one of the title characters in Disney's 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). Frustrated with her provincial village life, book-loving Belle dreams of having "adventure in the great, wide somewhere". When her father Maurice is held captive by a hideous Beast, Belle bravely offers her own freedom in return for her father's. At first repulsed by his selfishness and cruelty, Belle learns to appreciate the Beast when he saves her from a pack of wolves and begins to show her kindness. Slowly, Belle and the Beast become friends. When Belle is given leave to tend to her ailing father, the Beast is attacked by Belle's jealous suitor, Gaston. Belle returns to the castle just in time to see the Beast stabbed by Gaston, who falls to his death. Upon reuniting, the Beast dies in Belle's arms just as she tells him "I love you", and the last petal falls from the enchanted rose. The Beast is revived and turns back into a handsome prince, and they live happily ever after.
Belle was originally voiced by Paige O'Hara. She is now voiced by Julie Nathanson. She is based on the heroine of the French fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" (1756) by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont.
Jasmine is the sixth Disney Princess and the leading lady of Disney's 31st animated feature film Aladdin (1992). She is the teenage princess of Agrabah and the romantic interest of the eponymous hero of the film, Aladdin. Jasmine hungers for independence, tired of the restrictions laid before her by her father. She becomes besotted with Aladdin while he is disguised as a prince after he takes her on an amorous ride on a magic carpet. Aladdin's genie companion is summoned and rubbed by Jafar who uses the genie's magic to tyrannically overthrow the Sultan and employ a scantily-clothed Jasmine as his personal maidservant. 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, and her singing voice is provided by Lea Salonga (in the feature film) and Liz Callaway (in the direct-to-video sequel).
Pocahontas, voiced by Irene Bedard with vocals provided by Judy Kuhn, 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, free-spirited and highly spiritual young woman. She expresses wisdom beyond her years and offers kindness and guidance to those around her. She loves adventure and nature. In the film, she appears to have shamanic powers since she was able to commune with nature, talk to spirits, empathize with animals and understand unknown languages. In the sequel, Pocahontas seems to have grown after hearing of John Smith's assumed death. She keeps her independent spirit and playfulness, but is 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 this new world and is turned into someone she's not. 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.
Fa Mulan, voiced by Ming-Na with vocals provided by Lea Salonga, is the eighth Disney Princess and first appeared in Disney's 36th animated feature film Mulan (1998). The movie is adapted from the legend of Hua Mulan (386–534). Though not an actual princess, she did marry a general of the military. 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. Which is why her meeting with the matchmaker ended in chaos (that and help from a certain cricket), and why the matchmaker claimed that even though she has the looks of a bride, it will never work. However, her courage, intelligence, and determination helped her through her adventures.
Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, 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 notably the first African-American Disney Princess, 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, during the 1920s, Tiana strives to achieve her goal of opening her own restaurant. 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.
Rapunzel, voiced by singer Mandy Moore, is the tenth Disney Princess, appearing in Disney's 50th animated feature film Tangled (2010). The character is loosely based on the title character in the German fairy tale "Rapunzel" by the Brothers Grimm. She is a beautiful young woman characterized by her enchanted, long golden hair possessing healing properties and restoration upon the recital of a special healing incantation. Because of this, she was kidnapped during babyhood by a selfish, vain woman named Mother Gothel, who desired to take advantage of Rapunzel's hair and to restore her youth, incarcerating her in a tower. 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, traditionally-animated Princesses.
Merida voiced by Kelly Macdonald, from the Pixar film Brave (2012). 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 Elinor 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. Merida has honed her skill in archery, and is one of the most skilled archers ever seen. She is also skilled in sword-fighting and racing across the countryside on her horse, Angus. She is the first princess from a Pixar movie, the first original princess in the line-up that was not inspired by either literature (Snow White, Cinderella, etc.) or real-life (Pocahontas) works, and the first without a definitive love interest. She also never sings a major song, thus breaking away from the traditional line-up, though as a child she sang a small verse of a song in Gaelic.
Future Princess 
Anna voiced by Kristen Bell from the forthcoming Disney film Frozen (November 2013), will be added to the Disney Princess franchise in 2014. Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen.
Live events 
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All the princesses are available for meet-and-greets in the Disneyland Resort in California. Additionally, Snow White has her own ride at Disneyland Resort known as "Snow White's Scary Adventures", though this ride was removed from Walt Disney World Resort in 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland expansion. In 2006, as part of the "Year of Million Dreams" celebration, the Fantasyland Theater began hosting the Disneyland Princess Fantasy Faire. The show has Lords and Ladies teaching young boys and girls the proper etiquette for a prince or princess and features appearances by the Disney Princesses themselves. Princesses that have appeared include Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, Tiana and Pocahontas. The attraction closed on August 12, 2012 and work began new Fantasy Faire village. The new Fantasy Faire had a soft opening on March 5, 2013 and officially opened on March 12, 2013.
At Walt Disney World Resort the princesses are also available for meet-n-greets, but in more specific locations. There is a Cinderella based event where she and her others appear 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. The other princesses are showcased at the Princess Storybook meal. In 2013, the Disney Princesses will have a new meet-and-greet attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom.
Many shows and parades across the property feature the princesses, including Fantasmic, SpectroMagic, Dream Along with Mickey, the Celebrate a Dream Come True 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. 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. Among the themed areas are Jasmine's Court in Adventureland, Ariel's Court in Fantasyland and the Princess Pavilion in Mickey's Toontown Fair. The princesses available for meet-and-greets include Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Snow White, Rapunzel, Merida and Belle.
Disneyland Paris features the special nighttime show, Disney's Fantillusion, which involves the princesses as the finale. The four princesses that appear are Snow White, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine.
The Disney Cruise Line ships feature musical stage shows which feature the Princesses. Ariel, Tiana, Belle, Cinderella, Mulan, Rapunzel, Aurora, Jasmine and Snow White also appear for children and other fans on the ship. Other popular Disney heroines such as Alice and Wendy also appear for meet and greet sessions.
Disney on Ice has three shows containing the Disney Princesses: 100 Years of Magic, Princess Classics and Princesses and Heroes. The Ice Company also has had shows based on the story of Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Mulan and The Princess and the Frog.
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 television series on Toon Disney from 2000 until 2007 where it use to air episodes of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.
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.
A TV series, Sofia the First, premiered on January 11, 2013 on Disney Junior, and will feature Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida.
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
Video games 
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Disney Princesses have appeared in various other media, such as video games, including Disney Princess (2003), Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey (2007) and Disney Princess: Magical Jewels (2007). Disney Princesses also appear 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.
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 Princesses of Heart. The remaining Princesses of Heart are Alice from Alice in Wonderland and game series' heroine, Kairi. The Disney Princesses make various appearances throughout the series:
- While all seven Princesses of Heart and all six Disney princesses appear in the first game, only Belle, Ariel and Jasmine reappeared in Kingdom Hearts II with Kairi, though the others are mentioned. Mulan, however, makes her first appearance as the player visits her world. She serves as a tradeable character in the party similarly to how Ariel was in the first Kingdom Hearts.
- Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and Alice appear in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as figments of Sora's memory, but their roles as Princesses of Heart are not brought up; they also appear in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days when they each meet Roxas.
- In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora feature along with their respected homeworlds Dwarf Woodlands, Castle of Dreams, Enchanted Dominion.
- Digital versions of Alice and Jasmine appear in Kingdom Hearts coded.
The Disney Princess franchise has received generally mixed reception from critics and customers. 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. Tamara Weston of Time magazine criticized the franchise, referring to the princesses as "damsels in distress" and negative role models for young girls.
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