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Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Disney Princesses

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Nick Spake Every Disney princess has a story. For this list we’re taking a look at the Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney Princesses. Did you know that Tinker Bell was originally a Disney Princess? That Ariel has red hair for a reason? That Pocahontas has many unique aspects? That several actresses inspired Belle? And that Merida was the first princess without a love interest?

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Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney Princesses

Every princess has her secrets. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney Princesses.

For this list, we’re taking a look at fun facts about Disney princesses that even the most diehard Mouse House fans probably aren’t aware of. Pixar included!

#10: Ariel Ended a Thirty-Year Princess Drought

“The Little Mermaid” was a major turning point for Disney's animated wing - ending a long streak of disappointments and ushering in the studio’s 1990s “Renaissance Era”. Arriving in 1989, the film revisited many of the hallmarks that initially put the company on the map- most notably, shining the spotlight on a plucky princess. In fact, Ariel was actually the first Disney princess to grace the silver screen in the thirty years since Aurora, in 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Considering that the Disney princess line is now one of the company’s most marketable franchises, it’s hard to imagine such a large gap between princesses. In many respects, the Little Mermaid was the key to waking Sleeping Beauty

#9: Tinker Bell Was Originally a Disney Princess

There are several requirements a character needs to meet in order to join the Disney Princess franchise. Strangely enough, though, having the title of “princess” isn’t a mandatory quality. For example, Tinker Bell doesn’t have a royal bone in her tiny little body. Nevertheless, when Disney created the lineup in 2005, they originally decided to include Tink. Of course it wasn't long before her spot was usurped by Tiana. The House of Mouse quickly decided to remove Tinker Bell from the Princess Line so she could be the face of the Disney Fairies franchise. So what's the criteria to be a Disney Princess? Logistics and marketing, apparently.


#8: Hercules & Ariel Are Relatives

It’s often theorized that Disney’s animated features are all part of the same world. One of the most fascinating connections is between “The Little Mermaid” and “Hercules.” These two films not only have the same directors- Ron Clements and John Musker- but the titular characters are technically related. According to Greek mythology, Hercules is the son of Zeus. Zeus, meanwhile, has a brother- Poseidon- who is the father of Triton. All of this amounts to Hercules and Triton being first cousins. In “The Little Mermaid,” Triton rules the seven seas while also raising his seven daughters, which, of course, includes Ariel. Thus, Hercules and Ariel are actually first cousins once removed. Seriously, why hasn’t Disney made a crossover already?

#7: Ariel Has Red Hair for a Reason

Aside from, you know, the fins, Ariel’s most distinctive feature has got to be her red hair. The studio executives weren’t immediately sold on making Ariel a redhead, however. Initially, they wanted the little mermaid to have yellowish-blonde hair. The animators, on the other hand, felt that red was a better fit for Ariel. The color not only worked better with the character’s green fin, but red was also easier to colour. On top of that, sister-company Touchstone Pictures had recently released its own movie about a mermaid with golden locks: “Splash”. Wanting to avoid comparison with Daryl Hannah, the higher-ups at Disney eventually got on board with the luscious red hair.

#6: Ariel & Belle Had the Same Live-Action Model

 Ariel and Belle are two of the most beloved princesses from Disney’s Renaissance Era, but that’s not the only thing they have in common. Both actually have the same live-action reference model: Sherri Stoner. This actress provided several mannerisms that would inspire the Disney animators, like the way Belle pushes her hair away from her face, and the way Ariel bites her lip. Disney isn’t the only animation studio Stoner is affiliated with either. She also worked as a writer and producer for Warner Bros. shows like “Tiny Toon Adventures” and “Animaniacs.” She even provided the voice of Slappy Squirrel, who’s a close friend of Bambi’s… er, Bumbie's mom.  

#5: Pocahontas Has Many Unique Aspects

 A Chinese legend might’ve inspired Mulan, but Pocahontas has the distinction of being the first Disney princess to be based on a real person. That’s not the only reason why she stands out. Pocahontas is the only the princess with any body art, sporting a red tattoo on her right arm. She was also the only Disney princess to have multiple love interests- well, until Anna in “Frozen.” As if that’s not enough, the real Pocahontas was born somewhere around 1596, while the animated feature hit theaters in 1995, just in time for Pocahontas’ 400th birthday. It's only fitting that someone so unique could paint with all the colours of the wind.

#4: Several Actresses Inspired Belle

To help mold Belle into an intelligent, elegant, and fiercely independent character, Disney tooinspiration from various famous actresses. Her physical appearance has traces of Julie Andrews in and Judy Garland, while Audrey Hepburn and Vivien Leigh additionally provided the basis for Belle’s facial features. Meanwhile, screenwriter Linda Woolverton modeled Belle’s strong-willed personality after Katharine Hepburn’s performance as Jo March in “Little Women.” Although several real life women contributed to her creation, Belle is truly one of a kind. In fact, a keen eye will notice that she is the only person in her village that wears blue.


#3: Merida Was the First Princess Without a Love Interest

With a spunky attitude and a head of untamable red hair, Merida has never been one to follow the crowd. Part of what makes her so distinctive is her lack of a love interest, a rare trait among Disney Princesses. Many potential suitors offer their hand in marriage, but Merida isn’t won over by any of them. Following her own path, Merida decides that she’ll only take a husband when and if she’s ever ready. Since then, we’ve gotten a couple other Disney heroines that have flown solo, such as Elsa and Moana. Merida ultimately helped pave the way for a different kind of Disney princess, demonstrating that there’s more to life than waiting for your prince to come


#2: Mulan’s Body Count

There seems to be an unwritten rule that Disney heroes aren’t supposed to kill people. So it might come as a shock to learn that Mulan actually has a higher kill count than any other Disney character. Remember that epic battle against the Chinese army and the Huns? Well, Mulan uses a cannon to cause an avalanche, killing 2,000 Hun soldiers, as well as 2,000 horses. Only six Huns emerge from the snowy graveyard alive, meaning that Mulan snuffed out 3,994 lives. Interestingly though, Mulan technically wasn’t the one responsible for killing the big baddie, Shan Yu. While Mulan pins him down with a sword, it's Mushu and Cri-Kee who launch the rocket that claims his life.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Tiana’s the Only Princess With An Official Job

Elsa Was Originally a Villain

Merida is the Only Non-Disney Character Who’s a Disney Princess


#1: How Old Everyone Is

Snow White- first Disney princess- was also the youngest. It’s hard to believe, but the fairest in the land was just fourteen years old. But Snow White’s not the only one who goes off to be married at a young age. Jasmine is pressured to find a husband at age fifteen, while Aurora, Mulan, Merida, and Ariel are only slightly older at age sixteen. Belle is seventeen while Pocahontas, Rapunzel, and Anna clock in at eighteen. Cinderella and Tiana are both nineteen, which puts them just a couple years behind the oldest Disney Princess, the 21-year-old Elsa. Sure, she's technically a queen rather than a princess, and isn’t even officially part of the Disney Princess franchise, but Elsa is still the only person here who could legally have the full Vegas experience.


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