This is the biggest year for the Disney Princesses. Disney is not adding one princess, but two. Later this month, Disney will introduce the very first Latina Princess, Elena in Disney Junior’s brand new series, “Elena of Avalor”. Then, this Thanksgiving, Disney will introduce the first Polynesian princess, “Moana” in theaters. To make Moana more special, Disney cast a random Hawaiian teenager, 15-year-old Auli’l Cravalho to voice this feisty princess. Not only is Disney getting more diverse, but also little Hispanic and Polynesian girls get their own princess to celebrate themselves. But, wait a minute.
In late May, the creator of Elena, Craig Gember announced that Elena will not join Snow White, Tiana, and Merida at the big Disney Princess castle. Now, this is very expected because unlike the other girls, Elena is in a TV show. TV shows fade and expire. I thought this was the reason why Elena isn’t joining the lineup, but then I read something extremely shocking. In early July, a Disney spokesperson announced that Moana is not joining the Disney Princess lineup. This is shocking beyond belief because a. Pocahontas is a daughter of a chief, just like Moana and b. Mulan, the only current Asian “princess”, is not even a princess and yet she’s still in the lineup. She’s clearly only there to add diversity in the lineup. The reason why Moana isn’t joining? Because “they don’t speak of her lineage in the movie.” This is clearly a lie since most of the princesses don’t speak of their lineages in their movies. Meanwhile, Elena will be here for a while because they’re planning five seasons of “Elena of Avalor.” Hence, the show will end in the late 2010’s/early 2020’s. Because of this, Elena can join the lineup for a while. It’s one thing that a TV character isn’t joining the lineup because of her numbered days, but an actual princess with a movie that will last forever not joining? Something is off.
1. Merchandise + Race
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room and no, it’s not Jasmine’s friend Abu as an elephant. Could it be possible that Elena and Moana aren’t joining the lineup because…they’re not white? What will it mean for Hispanic and Polynesian girls to see their girls not with the famous white princesses? That Elena and Moana aren’t beautiful enough to be with the white girls? Or Polynesian and Hispanic women are not important as white women? There have been complaints on the Internet that there is not enough merchandise of the "Princesses of Color" (Jasmine [who’s Arabic], Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana [who’s black]). One angry poster on Tumblr pointed out that there was no Tiana merchandise to be found when she was at Target with an employee checking back and everything, but yet Target was flooding with “Frozen” merchandise. Another angry poster revealed that while visiting the Disney Princess aisle at Target, there was not one mention of the POC Princesses, even in the packaging, except for a Tiana doll who was packaged with six white dolls. Does Disney ignore the "Princesses of Color" altogether?
In 2014, a chart revealed that the most-selling princesses were Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Ariel while two of some of the least selling princesses were Tiana and Jasmine with shockingly Belle as the least-selling princess with only $6,687 worth of merchandise. So, does Disney not believe that diversity sells?
This is the most realistic possibility. It should be noted that the “Frozen” princesses (with one becoming queen), Anna and Queen Elsa are not in the Disney Princess lineup. As a result of the shocking popularity of the movie, Anna and Elsa have their own franchise that includes toys, books, and more. It is clear that Disney’s logic is if Anna and Elsa are with the other princesses, little girls will focus on the sisters more than the other princesses. Hence, girls would rather want to buy Anna and Elsa separately. Disney’s logic is very successful -- ”Frozen” merchandise made $107 billion dollars as of May 2015. Like Anna and Elsa, Moana is the main star of her movie and might be popular, so thus little girls will want to focus on her more than the princesses. If “Moana” is successful like “Frozen,” you can bet that Disney will be rolling in the money. Meanwhile, Elena already has her own franchise that includes nightgowns, costumes, dolls, backpacks, and books. If franchise is the reasons why Moana and Elena are not going to be in the lineup, that is very smart on the behalf of Disney’s business side. But, it would still be excellent to see even more diverse princesses standing with the white princesses.
3. Disney just doesn’t want any more Princesses in the lineup.
When Merida from Pixar’s “Brave” joined the lineup, I frequently thought to myself, “How many more princesses Disney will take after “Frozen?” As of right now, there are 11 princesses in the lineup. If you add Anna & Elsa, Elena, and Moana, it would climb to 15 princesses. That would be princess overload. Can you imagine try to stuff 15 girls in one package, website, or commercial? And then trying to break them up into groups for merchandise? Talk about stress! Then, with possibly more princesses in the near future, there would be even more cramming. There’s a reason why past Disney heroines, such as Tinker Bell, Esmeralda from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and Meg from "Hercules" were removed after a while and even princesses such as Vanellope from “Wreck-It Ralph,” Elionwy from “The Black Cauldron” and Kida from “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” didn’t make the cut (It should be noted that Giselle from “Enchanted” was slated to join the lineup until Disney realized that they would have to pay the actress, Amy Adams for royalty). “Elena of Avalor” creator Gember added in a tweet, “Being an "official Disney Princess" is not determined by the "line-up" anymore,” so it sounds like Disney isn’t taking any more “Disney Princesses” for now. However, Disney has one final test, so we can understand what’s going on.
Disney’s next fairy tale is “Jack and the Beanstalk” and it’s titled “Gigantic.” Because of even more story problems (which also delayed “Gigantic” from this November to 2018), “Gigantic” is moved to Thanksgiving 2018, having “Wreck-It Ralph 2” take the March 2018 slot. And since this is a fairy tale, we need to have a princess. Meet Imna.
Unless Disney dramatically changes the movie during the delay a la Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” Imna is planned to be a princess. According to a live feed from the D23 Expo while the announcement was going on, she is the princess of the Storm Giants and her currently-unnamed father, who happens to be the villain, is the cruel King of the Storm Giants. And she’ll be another ground breaker. Obviously, Imna would be the only non-human Disney princess, as she is a giantess. Since “Gigantic” takes place in Spain, Imna will be the first “real” Spanish Disney Princess. Plus, she is only 11, being the “first” real child Disney Princess, despite Vanellope, “Sofia the First” from Disney Junior, and Melody, Ariel’s daughter as seen in “The Little Mermaid 2.” This will be a test because connecting to my points:
1. Imna is Spanish.
2. Because Jack is, of course, the real focus of “Gigantic,” Imna might be useless for her own franchise.
3. Disney could possibly squeeze one in last princess since she is from a movie unlike Elena and not the central focus, unlike Moana.
Really, at this point, the only things that might mess up Imna’s chances are the fact that she’s a 60-foot giantess and her young age since the princesses, including Elena and Moana who are both 16, are 14 and up. But, we will find out Imna’s royal fate in mid 2018 or early 2019. In fact, we will find out at the Disney Expo next year if Imna is officially a princess in the film or not.
Despite not being in the lineup as of right now, this could certainly change within the next 10 years. It is quite possible that at least Moana (along with Anna and Elsa) will join the lineup when her buzz dies out. The important thing is that being excluded in the lineup does not make Moana and Elsa any less of a princess than Snow White, Pocahontas, and Tiana and even Giselle and Kida. All of the Disney Princesses have something to be celebrated about, lineup or not, and I’ll be sure to celebrate these two fine diverse princesses when they are released to the public this year. Hispanic and Polynesian girls should celebrate because of the wonderful role models they’ll have. Long live Elena and Moana!