The Forgotten Disney Princesses

by Jim Korkis, contributing writer

When I worked at Walt Disney World, guests would frequently ask me where Princess Giselle from Enchanted (2007) was for a meet-and-greet opportunity.

The official explanation was that since she did not marry the prince at the end of the film, she was not a princess. The unofficial explanation is that the Walt Disney Company would have had to compensate actress Amy Adams for using her likeness just as they compensated actor Johnny Depp for his unique visualization of Captain Jack Sparrow.

The dozen official princesses in the Disney Princess Franchise are Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida and Moana.

Technically, Pocahontas and Moana (who are just daughters of a chief) as well as Mulan are not actual princesses and Belle and Tiana are considered Princess Consorts or commoners who married into royalty.

Originally Esmeralda and Tinker Bell were part of the franchise but were dropped within a year because it was felt that they did not align with the brand.

Several official Disney princesses are missing from the franchise including Anna and Elsa from Frozen (2013). Most people just assume they are part of the group, but they have a successful and extensive brand on their own. However, they sometimes appear with the other princesses such as in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).

The unofficial rules for the Disney franchise is that the princess must be the star of her own theatrical film, the film was successful at the box office (even Merida who is the least popular of the group has generated hundreds of million of dollars) and must be human and not an animal or insect (even though Tiana spends eighty percent of her film as a frog).

That is meant to help explain why several actual Disney princesses are missing including Ariel's six older sisters: Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista and Andrina, as well as Ariel's daughter Melody who didn't appear in a theatrical release but a straight-to-video feature.

Others, like Maid Marian from Robin Hood (1973) and Nala from The Lion King (1994), and even Faline who marries Bambi who is the Prince of the Forest in Bambi (1942), are eliminated because they are animals.

Princess Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph (2012) and Sofia from Sofia the First (2012) are considered too young to be included.

Here are some other prominent missing Disney princesses:

Princess Minnie Mouse

Minnie Mouse was the default princess character for the Mickey Mouse universe cartoons. The Walt Disney Company claims she is not a princess but an actress who portrays the role of a princess in several projects. Of course, she is classified as an animal so is eliminated from consideration.

A poster for the Ye Olden Days short features Princess Minnie.

She first appeared as a princess in Ye Olden Days (1933), the daughter of the king of Kalapazoo who has promised her hand in marriage to the prince of Poopapadoo (Goofy). Rejecting her suitor, she is locked in the tower with her lady-in-waiting Clarabelle Cow but is rescued by the minstrel Mickey Mouse. Mickey is forced into a duel with the prince to win the hand of Princess Minnie.

The review in The Film Daily (April 17, 1933) states: "Mickey as a roving troubadour rescues Princess Minnie from an unhappy marriage and gets her for himself, reflecting the infinite attention to detail that is characteristic of the Disney workshops."

In Brave Little Tailor (1938), Minnie is again cast as a princess. A menacing giant threatens the kingdom and tailor Mickey Mouse is mistakenly identified as a giant killer who killed seven with one blow. He is offered vast riches (six million gold pazoozas) and the hand of the Princess Minnie in marriage if he can dispatch the giant.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award. More than one hundred manufacturers signed on for merchandise specific to Brave little Tailor and the other "special" Disney shorts. An elaborate coloring book, storybooks and a Good Housekeeping magazine adaptation were among the tie-ins. In addition, on September 15, 1938, the Julien Levy Gallery opened an exhibit with artwork created in the production of Brave little Tailor its centerpiece. An adaptation appeared in the Sunday Mickey Mouse comic strip.

Fun and Fancy Free (1947) featured a segment, Mickey and the Beanstalk, that originally began story development in May 1940. It originally featured a scene where Mickey Mouse takes his cow to the royal palace to try to sell it but Queen Minnie mistakenly believes it is a gift because the royal treasury is bankrupt since Happy Valley had fallen on hard times. Mickey is too flustered and smitten to contradict her and gives her the cow.

She is the one who gives him the magic beans in exchange for the cow. When production re-started after World War II, unnecessary things like this scene were cut to save on costs. At a story conference, Walt told a writer, "I don't think you will miss her."

In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004), Minnie Mouse is the princess of France and her lady-in-waiting is Daisy Duck. Captain Pete of the Musketeers intends to kidnap the princess and take over the kingdom. He assigns Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy as bodyguards for her because he considers them incompetents who won't prevent him from succeeding. Minnie falls in love with Mickey and he and his friends defeat Pete.

Princess Atta and Princess Dot

Princess Atta (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is the oldest daughter of the Queen of Ant Island in the Pixar animated featured A Bug's Life (1998). She is purple and very nervous because she is on the verge of becoming queen.

Princess Atta and Princess Dot appear on a Queen playing card in this A Bug's Life-themed deck.

Atta is named after the genus of ant of the same name. Ants of the genus Atta are leaf-cutter ants.

Princess Dot (voiced by actress Hayden Panettiere) is Atta's younger sister. She is purple, small and initially is the only supporter of Flik. She is a member of the Blueberries, a scout troop.

Co-director and storyman Andrew Stanton has stated that he was the creator of Dot and that he was inspired to want a little girl in the film because he just had a newborn daughter at the time.

Atta and Dot are the first princesses created by Pixar, but since they are insects they are eliminated from consideration for the princess franchise.

Princess Tiger Lily

Princess Tiger Lily was the creation of author James Barrie for his play and novel about the adventures of Peter Pan. She was older and more savage than Disney's version.

Princess Tiger Lily and Peter Pan dance on top of a drum.

Barrie was likely influenced by the James Fenimore Cooper stories and "penny dreadfuls" that were so popular during his time. Barrie's intent was to have a untamed group that appeared exotic.

Even as early as 1905, a New York Times reviewer of the original play wrote, "Mr. Barrie presents not the pirate or Indian of grown-up fiction but the creations seen by childish eyes."

Barrie has his tribe communicate in pidgin English and even the more loquacious Tiger Lily sounds stereotypical like the Lone Ranger's Tonto. In the Disney version, Tiger Lily doesn't say a word in the entire film except for a brief gurgle for help while being drowned inside Skull Rock.

Disney does not name the tribe and Tiger Lily is less caricatured than the rest of the tribe, even having tan skin rather than the bright red on everyone else.

Most audiences probably accepted the declaration of it being the Blackfoot tribe as a gag because the sole footprint the Lost Boys find was black.

"Blackfoot" is the English translation of the word siksika, which literally means "black foot." It refers to the dark colored moccasins the Native American tribe might wear.

The Blackfoot lived in buffalo-hide houses called teepees (just like the Never Land tribe). Blackfoot women wore long deerskin dresses. Men wore buckskin tunics and breechcloths with leggings (just like the Never Land tribe). Both Blackfeet women and men wore moccasins on their feet.

A few American tribes, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, did have royalty – as did the great Indian civilizations in Central and South America – but they were the exception, not the rule. Most tribes did not have a "princess," yet Peter Pan has an authentic Indian princess and it is part of her name, Princess Tiger Lily. She was not just the daughter of the chief of the tribe.

As a princess, the royal Tiger Lily has special privileges, including being the only female allowed to participate in the dance celebration of Peter Pan being made an honorary member of the tribe. Other female members of the tribe must watch quietly, take care of their baby papooses or gather firewood, but perky Tiger Lily is free to express herself with a private dance for Peter Pan.

A young unidentified actress was used for live-action reference for the character by the animators, especially for her energetic dancing on the large drum. That dance was based on an authentic Indian dance called the "Moon Dance" that is "characterized by circling, facing one another, forming crescents by bending, rising suddenly with a shout and sinking down" according to a book on Native American customs.

The principal credit for Tiger Lily's animation goes to a skilled but relatively unpublicized Disney animator, Ken O'Brien.

O'Brien was a character animator who started doing work at Disney on animated features, including Pinocchio (1940) and Bambi (1942), and continued producing memorable animation for the Disney Studio through the release of Sleeping Beauty (1959). He later moved over to WED and worked on Audio-Animatronics.

He was a close friend and one-time assistant of the legendary Fred Moore. Moore was renowned for his skill at drawing attractive animated female characters, including the female centaurs in Fantasia (1940) and the appealing teenage girls in All The Cats Join In (1946).

O'Brien was known around the Disney Studio as Moore's "biggest fan" and he incorporated what he learned from Moore in the design and movement of Tiger Lily to make her cute, as well as athletically resourceful.

Animator Hal Ambro, who also did some animation on Tiger Lily, joined the Disney Studio in 1939 and was known for his strong craftsmanship on many of the supporting characters in Disney animated features like Alice in Wonderland (1951), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Sleeping Beauty (1959).

"Hal Ambro's scenes with her were good. He animated the early scenes with Tiger Lily in the Indian Camp with her father. But Ken O'Brien was the animator who got the most scenes of Tiger Lily and the principal credit for the character should go to him," noted animator Mark Kausler.

Tiger Lily is considered a supporting player and not a star of Peter Pan so is eliminated from consideration.

Princess Kidagakash Nedakh, a.k.a. Kida

One of the abiding themes in many Disney animated films is the enormous growth of character that happens when two people of different cultures interact.

A Princess Kida mini figure from Japan.

It is even more challenging when the white-haired warrior princess is over eight thousand years old as in the animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), and her interaction is with a sheltered, bespectacled twenty-something cartographer and linguist named Milo Thatch in 1914.

When a wounded Milo lays unconscious in a darkened corner of the cavern, he is surrounded by Atlantean masked warriors who are about to kill him when their fierce leader stops them.

Milo awakens to find himself finds himself face-to-face with the intimidating leader who lifts her elaborate mask to reveal the beautiful tattooed visage of Princess Kida.

She is the daughter of Kashekim Nedakh, the King of Atlantis. At the end of the film, with the death of her father, she becomes queen. Her fighting style incorporates aspects of Thai boxing and she wields a deadly Atlantean spear. Like the other Atlanteans she wears a blue crystal shard around her neck that can be used for healing and also provides a form of immortality.

The masks are a mixture of Polynesian and West African. Don Hahn stated, "The fact that you can't quite place it is a good thing. We didn't want to do the Greco-Roman Atlantis. We didn't want to do the Aquaman kind of version of it.

"We thought: 'Let's take the idea that Atlantis the mother civilization'. If it was a truly Tower-of-Babel advanced civilization, that meant its architecture, language and culture must have inspired all the other great cultures of the world.

"That was our beginning of taking Mayan, Cambodian and Indian architecture and devolving them almost into what Atlantis was like. The land of Atlantis, when viewed from a mountaintop, resembles the temple structure of Angkor Wat."

Composer James Newton Howard's score for the film has been described as "quiet and mysterious" by one reviewer. However, Howard used chimes, flutes and a chorus on one of his favorite tracks, "Milo meets Kida," to create what he said was "a feeling of cuteness and humor" for the moment.

Cree Summer Francks, the original voice of Kida, remarked, "Milo annoys her a little bit at first and that fascinates her. Of course, that fascination leads to something much more."

Francks has supplied the voices for several Disney animated feature film and television characters, as well as voicing Kida in the 2003 sequel Milo's Return, where Kida is married to Milo. A proposed animated television series entitled Team Atlantis was planned, but the weak performance of the theatrical feature resulted in it being cancelled. Three episodes from the aborted series were finished and combined in the direct-to-video sequel.

"Kida is strong willed and knows what she wants. She is tough but cute. Her words can seem harsh so you have to look at what's behind her words. She has a playful side, and it only comes out when she's with Milo," stated Kida's supervising animator Randy Haycock.

Haycock wanted her to look different than a typical Disney princess, so he designed her with a wider nose, fuller lips and looking a little older, physically appearing somewhere in her late 20s.

Haycock was initially intimidated by Francks' wild and unique personality, but incorporated aspects of her into Kida. Kida's name originates from a Kiowa girl's name meaning "raising away the darkness." According to Haycock, Kida's facial tattoos are meant to symbolize tears that Kida had at the loss of her mother.

According to Milo's Journal, "Kida explained that the ritual branding of complex inked designs was an integral part of Atlantean culture. As among the tribes native to New Zealand, the number and arrangement of these permanent skin decorations was determined by physical, intellectual, artistic or cultural achievement. The hierarchy and explication of these emblematic citations appeared rich and complex."

The respect and affection between Kida and Milo continues to grow as she tours him through the industrious city including the bustling marketplace. They hesitantly share information about each other's lives and it is clear that an emotional bond has been created during this colorful journey.

Concerned Kida hopes that this pre-occupied scholar can help unlock the mysteries of Atlantis' past and perhaps save its future. Having Milo translate a sunken mural is the key to revealing the long lost secret.

As Kida and Milo unashamedly peel off their clothing to swim to the sunken mural, the film's directors stated that the characters are at the same time symbolically peeling off emotional layers that make them more vulnerable to each other. Producer Don Hahn claims that this pivotal moment in the film not only reveals important information but firmly establishes the relationship.

Hahn pointed out that "When they are in the underwater dome air pocket, it forces the two of them together so that we just see two faces next to each other and the lighting gives it a nice romantic quality."

"The exploration of the mural not only satisfies the necessary exposition of the Atlantean history but there is also an element of a sub-textual romance as they solve a mystery together," added Director Kirk Wise.

Amusingly, when Kida appeared as a walk-around character in the Disney theme parks, she was clad in her elaborate queen costume because it was felt that her skimpy and revealing princess outfit would be controversial to some guests.

Disney fans have lobbied for Kida to be included in the Disney Princess franchise, but the Walt Disney Company hems and haws, suggesting the film was not successful and that Kida is a supporting character like the mercenaries in the film. They now state the character does not fit into the "Disney Princess mythology".

Princess Eilonwy

Taran: "What does a girl know about swords, anyway?"

Eilonwy: "Girl"? "Girl"? If it wasn't for this girl, you would still be in the Horned King's dungeon!"

Princess Eilonwy and Taran prepare to go in search of The Black Cauldron.

Princess Eilonwy is a character created by author Lloyd Alexander for his series of novels The Chronicles of Prydain. She appears in four of the five novels and in Disney's 1985 animated film adaptation entitled The Black Cauldron.

She is voiced by Susan Sheridan, who was 34 years old at the time, but the part was originally intended to be played by actress Hayley Mills, who had done some pre-production voice recording as early as 1982.

In the books, the character was rather unpleasantly class conscious and often a shrew to Taran, who is just an assistant pig keeper. Disney made the character more lovable for the film, but she is still somewhat snippy in her interaction with Taran (although she drops her defenses by the end of the film).

Eilonwy is not just a princess but apparently an enchantress-in-training, although that is not utilized in the Disney film. Despite being a princess, she wears simple clothes like a commoner. The Horned King refers to her as just a scullery maid.

She has a similar blonde hair style and body type as Princess Aurora, though she is much younger in age. In the novels her parents are dead, but there is no mention of them in the film.

Over twelve to fifteen minutes were cut from the final film before its release because of violence and dark tone upsetting audiences in test screenings, including shots of Eilonwy in ripped clothing hanging in the dungeon with Taran before their escape, suggesting that she had been recently tortured.

Of course, since the Walt Disney Company wanted to forget this film that it considered a failure critically and financially, it also forgot about Eilonwy, although she is the major female character in the film.



  1. By worldlover71

    Also Princess Calla from the Gummi Bears!

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