30 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Disney Princesses

We’ve all seen the movies and we know all the songs from start to finish. But our favorite Disney princess movies didn’t simply come out of nowhere. Each movie takes months and even years of development and movie creators take every single detail very seriously. A 2-second scene might have taken weeks to make! So naturally, there are lots of interesting details about them that we have no idea about. So today, we’ll take a look at 30 surprising details about Disney princesses that you probably didn’t know about. Let’s test your Disney knowledge and see how many of these you actually know!

#30. Mulan Isn’t A Princess

There is a difference between being a Disney princess and being an actual princess. While Mulan qualifies as Disney royalty, she actually isn’t a princess. In fact, she’s the only Disney princess who isn’t royalty —have you noticed? She does save all of China from the Huns, so if anyone should be considered a queen, that’s Mulan. However, let’s take a deeper look into it.

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Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, Merida, Anna and Elsa are actual princesses. Then, characters like Belle and Cinderella marry into royalty. But Mulan is a modern, independent woman who don’t need no man, and she doesn’t get married. And even if she got married, her beau Shang isn’t a prince, so they wouldn’t qualify as royalty.

#29. Jasmine Is Played By Two Actresses

One key characteristic of Disney princesses is that they’ve got some pipes. Some of the best Disney songs ever come from princess movies, such as A Whole New World and Let It Go. However, producers kinda sort of forgot about this when they cast Linda Larkin to play Jasmine, and here’s why.

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Linda Larkin is a fantastic actress, but she cannot sing! Aladdin creators waited until after she was cast to play the female lead to ask her if she could sing, which took the actress by surprise, as she explained in an interview:

“They came to me and asked, ‘Do you sing?’ And I said, ‘I do… but not like a princess!’ And they said, ‘No problem, we’ll find a singer to match your voice.’”

This was the first time Disney split the job between two actors, and it is a strategy that they’ve continued to follow into the present.

#28. Princess Cameos

In true Pixar style, Disney likes to give characters from other movies cameos in upcoming movies. Disney fans love taking the time to find hidden characters and details in movies, which makes watching all the more fun. As some of you might know, The Hunchback of Notre Dame takes place in France; and what other famous movie takes place in France? That’s right, Beauty and the Beast.

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This is why the creators thought it would be clever to include Belle in a scene of The Hunchback where the camera shows the streets of Paris. True to her character, you can see her reading a book as she’s walking. But who else can be spotted here? The Magic Carpet from Aladdin. Why? Cause why not! And there are many more Disney cameos out there, so keep an eye out for them.

#27. Rapunzel’s Hair

Yes, we understand that Rapunzel is a fairytale, and as such, the laws of physics are bent and broken. In Tangled, which is an adaptation of the classic story, this happens as well. Have you ever wondered how in the world can this woman walk around with all that hair hanging from her head? Because we certainly have!

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For Rapunzel to carry around 70-feet-long hair is at most, unrealistic. 100,000 strands of extremely long hair probably weigh around ten pounds. So what we see in Tangled is basically a tiny young girl carrying around ten pounds of hair on her head. We can safely conclude that her neck is made of steel. But hey, it’s a Disney movie, so let’s just say that magic can explain it all.

#26. Cinderella Saved Disney

Sure, nowadays we think of Disney as one of —if not the— most successful movie companies of all time. They broke records and paved the way for the world of animation we enjoy today. However, this was not always the case. Disney struggled for several years as it experienced many ups and downs, and not all of its movies were instant blockbusters.

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Movies that are now considered masterpieces, such as Bambi, Pinocchio and Fantasia, were actually flops at the box office when they came out. Going to the movies wasn’t as popular as it is today, and these movies were very expensive to make. Luckily, Cinderella came out and saved Disney from bankruptcy. The movie made $85 million worldwide. Phew!

#25. Tiana’s Costume Changes

At some point in your life, you might have asked yourself: why don’t cartoon characters ever change their clothes? As realistic as their stories may be, we see them wearing the same outfit every single time. This is because animation isn’t cheap —or at least, it wasn’t back when Disney started making movies— and drawing a different dress for every scene would be an incredible waste of money.

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Disney had its princesses wear the same clothes for as many scenes as possible. Just look at Snow White —she only has two outfits! But as animation techniques evolved, animators were able to give characters more outfit changes, and this peaked with Tiana. She is the Disney princess with the most costume changes in history —two of which are wedding gowns. Gorgeous!

#24. Where Are Cinderella’s… Ears?

Have you ever noticed that Cinderella seems to be missing…her ears? This has opened debates that have been going on for decades. Does she have very tiny ears? Are they hidden behind her tiara and her hair? Why did animators do this? Was it a mistake? So many questions, yet such few answers… Some have speculated that animators thought she’d look prettier without them.

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But we honestly don’t have an answer. It might have been on purpose, or it might have been a mistake. The peculiar thing about this is that, once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. How can she even sing all these songs if she doesn’t have ears? Is she some kind of musical genius like Beethoven? Creators of Ralph Breaks the Internet gave Cinderella a couple of huge ears as a joke, and we’re loving it.

#23. Princesses With Actual Castles

The most famous part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is Cinderella‘s castle. For decades, she was the only Disney princess who had a castle in real life. Then, when Disneyland was founded in California, Disney decided to build Sleeping Beauty‘s castle. The interesting part about this is that the Sleeping Beauty movie hadn’t even been made yet.

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As a genius market strategy, Walt Disney gave a castle to a princess that didn’t exist yet, and it was super clever. Cinderella and Aurora were privileged princesses for decades until Ariel and Belle got their castles too a few years ago. Hopefully, we will live to see a day when each princess has her own castle!

#22. Each Princess Has Her Own Song

Although there are many characters in each movie, each Disney princess gets to have her own solo song, most of which are iconic. What would Frozen be without Let It Go? Would Mulan be the same without Reflection? Most of these songs are part of Disney history, and we can’t imagine these movies without them. However, there is one princess who didn’t get one.

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Princess Jasmine didn’t get to have her own song in Aladdin. Sure, we got the legendary A Whole New World, but Jasmine didn’t get an opportunity to shine on her own. However, in the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin, Jasmine finally got her own solo song, called Speechless. And we gotta say, that song is a banger. Make sure you give it a listen if you haven’t already.

#21. Merida’s Inspiration

We can say a lot of things about the loveable Merida. She’s rebellious, wild, independent, stubborn, and Brave, obviously. But have you ever wonder who served as an inspiration for this character? Unlike Snow White and Cinderella, who are based off fairytales, and Mulan and Pocahontas, who are based on real people, Merida was inspired by someone very special to the creators.

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Brenda Chapman, one of the two directors of the movie, was inspired to create Merida because of her own daughter. According to her, she gave Merida her personality based on her feisty little girl, as she explained in an interview:

“She has been quite a challenge to my “authority” since she was five years old. I love that she is so strong, but it sure doesn’t make my job easy! She is my Merida … and I adore her.”

#20. Belle Is A Funny Girl

Right at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, we are introduced to Belle, and we get an overview of her character and her life in a small village in France. The first song of the movie, Bonjour, is literally about how Belle is strange and doesn’t fit in with everyone else. She’s the only girl in town who likes to read and the only one who doesn’t like Gaston, and it is clear nobody likes her.

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After three and a half minutes of hearing all the townspeople talk about how funny Belle is, we get the main idea of her storyline. However, the movie creators thought out every single detail of the Bonjour sequence, and Belle’s dress is no exception. Have you noticed that she’s the only character wearing blue? This sets her apart from everyone else and reinforces the idea that she’s unique, special, and unlike anyone else in the village. Another fun fact: the Beast is the only other character who wears blue. Aww!

#19. Based On True Events

We can’t say this about many Disney movies, but a few of them are based on true stories. Sure, they might be loosely based on them, but they still count! Hua Mulan, for example, is part of a real Chinese legend, about a woman who took her father’s place in war  —and no, there was no Mushu involved, sadly. However, it has never been confirmed whether the events actually happened.

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Another real-life inspiration came with Pocahontas, but this one was, in fact, a real, breathing person, and there’s plenty of evidence of her existence. Of course, what happened in real life is much different from Disney’s version, and there were obviously no talking trees involved. While Pocahontas was known for facilitating communications between natives and the British, there’s no evidence of her love story with John Smith, and it’s more of a legend.

#18. Love Interests? No Thanks

Disney princesses have been around since the 1930s, so naturally, things have changed over the years. The early dynamic involved a girly princess who gets to be with a prince by the end of the film. We’ve seen that happening with Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, and more. But as times evolved, so did the love dynamics of Disney movies.

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More recent princesses like Pocahontas and Anna have more than one love interest. What’s interesting about Pocahontas is that she has two, Kocoum and John Smith, and she ends up with neither of them. Not only that, but princesses like Elsa and Merida don’t have any love interests whatsoever, breaking the stereotype that every princess needs a prince.

#17. Supernatural Powers

Although there’s plenty of magic surrounding princesses in Disney movies, most of them don’t actually have any magic powers. Cinderella and Aurora have their Fairy GodmothersBelle lives in a magic castle, and Jasmine is caught up in Aladdin‘s wishing spree. But none of them can do any sort of magic themselves. But this came to an end with two of the most recent princesses.

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Rapunzel was the first Disney princess to have magic powers —and what powers! Her magic hair could heal wounds and keep people young forever, and it ends up saving Flynn‘s life. Then, along came Elsa and her ice powers, of course. It was a nice change of scenery to have the princesses do the magic instead of having magical creatures around to do it for them, wasn’t it?

#16. Jasmine’s Origin

Aladdin is based on Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, an old Middle Eastern legend. In the original story, the princess he falls in love with is actually named Badroulbadour. Disney executives thought the name was too complicated for Western audiences to pronounce, so they decided to go for a more popular name instead, and they were inspired by one actress in particular.

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Actress Jasmine Guy rose to prominence in the 90s and popularized her name, which caught the attention of Disney executives. Another princess who suffered a name change was Aurora. Well, actually, in the original story, she had no name. In some adaptations, she was referred to as Morning and Dawn, so Disney thought Aurora was more than fitting.

#15. The Princess With The Least Lines

Speaking of Aurora, did you know she’s the Disney princess who speaks the least in her own movie? Yes, the movie is centered around her and is named after her but, if you think about it, she’s not the true star of the movie. Throughout the film, we get to see the three good fairies and Maleficent most of the time, and Aurora spends a quarter of her movie sleeping.

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In fact, Aurora has only 18 lines in the whole movie! We can safely say that the true sheroes of the movie are the three fairies, followed by Prince Philip. Aurora is more of a side character in the movie if you really think about it. Sure, the whole plot is centered around her, but we spend more time watching the fairies and the prince rather than the sleeping beauty.

#14. Merida’s Incredible Hair

Thanks to the wonders of computer animation, we got to witness the amazing piece of artwork that is Merida‘s hair. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was extremely hard to make. The goal of the movie’s animators was that it looked as natural as possible and extremely detailed. Creating her wild red mane was such a task, that Pixar developed an entire software system to see it through.

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They individually sculpted 1,500 curves to represent each strand of hair and had to program them to interact and bounce in distinct points in a three-dimensional space. All in all, it took three years to finish working on her hair. Of course, Pixar will not throw away all those years of work, so they are officially keeping their software in their company, meaning that no other studio can have a license to use it.

#13. The Inspiration for Belle

Beauty and the Beast is based on the French fairy tale of the same name written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. But the character of Belle is much different in the original story. Belle is the youngest of the six daughters of a merchant, and out of all of them, she is not only the most beautiful, but the kindest and purest of heart. She is also well-read, but that’s about it.

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In Disney’s version, however, Belle is a total bookworm, and also an only child. Linda Woolverton, the writer behind the movie, was inspired by the classic novel Little Women when she was designing Belle. She was inspired by the character of Jo in particular, who is an outspoken tomboy who loves to read and write. Belle isn’t much of a tomboy herself, but she is a very independent woman ahead of her time.

#12. The Princesses’ Official Ages

Although we don’t get to know this information in most of their movies, Disney has given each princess an official age. Before we unveil their ages, take a guess at how old each of them is! People usually think they’re older than they actually are, not only because of their looks but also because of their personalities and the different situations they get themselves into.

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The truth is that most of them are teenagers. In fact, the eldest is Elsa, who is 21; followed by Cinderella and Tiana, who are 19 years old. Next, Pocahontas, Anna and Rapunzel, who are 18. Then, we have Mulan, Merida, Belle, Ariel and Aurora, who are 17; and Moana, 16. The youngest of the bunch are Jasmine, who is 15 (yup!) and Snow White, who is 14. Can you believe it?

#11. Almost Princesses

When Brave was announced to the public, it was reported that actress Reese Witherspoon was going to be taking the role of Merida. Back when the movie was going to be called The Brave, Witherspoon spent a considerable amount of time working in the movie before she quit the project in 2011. Initially, it was thought that the reason was scheduling conflicts, but Reese later confessed the truth about her departure.

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She actually left the movie because she was unable to do a Scottish accent, which is basically the signature characteristic of Merida along with her hair. Another star who almost became a princess was Beyonce, who was offered the role of Tiana, but she didn’t take it because she wanted to be hired in the spot instead of going through an audition. Apparently, not even Queen B can escape auditioning!

#10. Walt’s Last Princess

The brilliant Walt Disney founded the legendary company in 1923. His first work included a short film called Alice’s Wonderland and several Mickey Mouse cartoons. The company produced short films for over a decade, until the first Disney princess, Snow White, graced the big screen in 1934. What many people don’t know is that she was one of only three princesses created by Disney himself.

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Sixteen years after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella came out. Several successful movies later, Walt Disney unveiled what would be the last princess movie that he would ever be involved in, Sleeping Beauty, which came out in 1959. Sadly, Disney passed away in 1969 after a long battle with lung cancer.

#9. Unexpected Ratings

You would think that Disney movies are suitable for all audiences…right? Well, that’s not what the Motion Picture Association of America thinks. While it is true that some Disney films are more on the darker side, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is filled with adult themes, and The Fox and the Hound. But did you know that Tangled was rated PG?!

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Not only that, but for some reason, Frozen and the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast were also rated PG, meaning that parental guidance is suggested. Why? We have no clue. We are even more confused by the fact that The Hunchback received a G rating, which means that no parental guidance is suggested and all ages are admitted… alrighty then!

#8. Elsa Was Evil

Yes, you heard that right. Originally, Elsa was going to be the villain of the movie, and she wasn’t even going to be Anna‘s sister. In fact, the movie was going to be a much more faithful adaptation of the original story, The Snow Queen, a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, The Snow Queen is a cold magical creature that lives in the woods and kidnaps a boy.

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Anna was going to be Disney’s adaptation of the kidnapped boy actually. However, when Disney got a hold of Let It Go, the story changed completely, and they literally let go of the whole Elsa-is-the-villain thing. The song was so powerful that it changed the writers’ hearts, and Elsa became the main protagonist of the story, and Hans became the villain instead.

#7. Ariel’s Look

There is a very specific reason why The Little Mermaid looks the way she does. Originally, Ariel was supposed to be blond, and she, in fact, was for a long time. This changed, however, when movie creators realized that she looked a bit too much like the mermaid from the movie Splash, starred by Daryl Hannah, so Ariel became a redhead —and what a good choice it was!

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Not only that, but the gorgeous princess of the sea was inspired by actress Alyssa Milano, who served as a model for the character. Do you see the resemblance? Another character of the movie, the evil witch Ursula, was actually modeled after Divine, a drag queen who starred in the movie Pink Flamingos. It is not uncommon for movie makers to model characters after real people, believe it or not!

#6. Princesses’ Origins

Most Disney princesses are based on classic fairytales, and as such, most of them are European. As we’ve mentioned before, Beauty and the Beast takes place in France, but what about all the other movies? The nationality of the princesses is not always clear, but luckily, we’ve got the answer. Snow White and Tangled both take place in Bavaria, Germany, and Ariel is from Denmark.

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Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are also presumably French, although the origin of the original Sleeping Beauty story changed over the years, as there is a French version but also an Italian and a German one. Lastly, Anna and Elsa are from Norway.

#5. Another Princess Cameo

As we’ve mentioned before, Disney loves having characters from other movies pop up in a movie every once in a while, and it is never done in an obvious way. It makes watching Disney movies all the more fun when you gotta keep an eye out for these hidden cameos, and it also gives you a reason to watch a movie again. One thing that has been discovered hundreds of times are hidden Mickeys, which have appeared in over 40 Disney movies.

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But one interesting princess cameo happened in Frozen —which also has a hidden Mickey, by the way. If you pay attention during Elsa‘s coronation scene, you’ll notice that Rapunzel and Flynn are in attendance. This gave rise to the fan theory that Tangled and Frozen take place in the same universe, at the same time, and that the princesses may even be related, which wouldn’t be so crazy considering they look so much alike.

#4. Records Broken By Princesses

Our beloved princesses are more unique than we think. For example, Pocahontas was the first Disney character ever to have a tattoo. Not only that, but she is still the only princess to sport one! Another super cool record broken by one of them is that Snow White is the only princess to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, can you believe it?

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But the strangest yet most interesting record held by a Disney princess is related to Mulan. We all know that she saved China from the Huns, right? Well, this happened because she purposely caused an avalanche that buried a whopping 2,000 Huns alive. She has the highest kill-count in all of Disney history actually, more than all of the Disney villains combined.

#3. Recycled Animation

The Disney Studios have been caught reusing animation many, many times. But hey, there’s nothing wrong about that! Animation used to be an extremely detailed, difficult and expensive process, so whenever movie makers could recycle some animated sequences, they did. For example, a few shots taken from Pinocchio when he’s under the sea, trapped inside a whale, were used later in The Little Mermaid, where they certainly needed a lot of fish.

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But the one that takes the cake is the end sequence of Beauty and the Beast, which is a frame-by-frame copy of the final scene of Sleeping Beauty. Both scenes are iconic and beautifully animated, so we’re not gonna complain about it, are we?

#2. Sleeping Beauty Wasn’t Successful

Disney’s work was groundbreaking, and with that came a lot of risk. Animation used to be very expensive, and each Disney movie took an impressive amount of time and money to make. This not always resulted in a big return for the company, however. In fact, Disney almost went bankrupt at some point, until Cinderella saved the studio, as we’ve previously mentioned.

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One Disney classic that we all know and love was actually a flop in its time: Sleeping Beauty. The movie was ridiculously expensive to make —it cost $6 million, which would be $52 million in today’s money, and it only made half of that at the box office. Because of its failure, Disney didn’t make another princess movie until thirty years later, when The Little Mermaid came out.

#1. Princess Requirements

There are many female-led Disney movies out there, like Alice in Wonderland, yet not all of these characters are considered Disney princesses. In fact, there are real princesses, like Marian from Robin Hood, who aren’t considered one. That is because there are some strict requirements a character has to meet in order to be considered a Disney princess.

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First of all, the character has to be human, which is why Marian doesn’t qualify. Second, the movie has to actually be successful —because if it is not, what’s the benefit for Disney, right?. Also, the princesses have to either be born royal or marry into royalty or do such a great deed that basically turns them into royalty, like the fact that Mulan saved China. Interesting, right?

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    Angeles

    24 - Argentina.

    She's a journalist and a website developer based in New York.

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