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Recently seeing a special on The Princess and the Frog, Disney's latest princess movie, got me to thinking about the progression of the Disney Princesses and when the costumes became so popular. Growing up we had princess costumes and the fairy tale stories like Cinderella, but costumes at that time were not pushed specifically by Disney. Now everywhere you look Disney Princesses are being advertised for costume choices
for birthday parties, costume parties and Halloween.
The concept behind Disney Princesses can from Andy Mooney in 2000, when he was hired to help Disney's Consumer Products division. They were severely loosing sales and it was essential to find a means to help the companies survive. Mooney went to his first Disney on Ice show where girls attending the performances were dressed in generic princess costumes to honor the Disney princesses in the show. This gave Mooney his idea to market stuffed toys, cups, plates, and of course the costumes.
Mooney did not have to look far to find enough princesses to make product lines from in 2000. Beginning in
1937 Disney provided us with the first princess- Snow White. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released as the first animated film and placed this princess in all of our hearts. It took another 13 years before Disney would off us a new princess. Cinderella was another character that could warm our hearts with her struggle to survive her step family and become the love of the prince.
Citizens did not have to wait as long for the next princess to appear, as in 1959 Princess Aurora of Sleeping Beauty arrived. However, it would be thirty years before we would see a new princess, this time with a quibble of two worlds. This next princess really brought a new concept to film goers because it was no longer about the fairest, unjust family, or evil trying to win. No the new princess had to deal with loving the mortal world and belonging first in an underwater wonderland. Princess Ariel had her own struggle with family and evil, but managed to come out with the prince in 1989.
Luckily Disney began to offer princesses at a quicker rate after the Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast came on the scene in 1991, with a tale of superiority turning the prince into a monster that only Belle could love. When Belle was first introduced she was not a princess unlike Snow White, Ariel, and Aurora. She was a commoner with plenty of beauty and heart. It was her love and subsequent marriage to Beast that made her a princess.
The shortest wait we have ever had for a princess came when Aladdin appeared in 1992. Princess Jasmine was another step in evolving. We were not looking at a European descendant or mythical creature this time. Instead we were given a new heritage to admire from Arabia. Three years passed after Jasmine before Pocahontas would appear. Now we were taken into the past of North America to a time where Europeans, white settlers, were fearful of Native Americans. Again Disney offered a new culture and heritage to show us a colorful world.
It was difficult to see where Disney might go after 1995, after all they had already offered the mythical, the Middle Ages, Arabia, and now the history of North America. Disney did not disappoint with their eighth princess. In 1998 Mulan was released in theatres and our hearts were warmed again with the tale of a young girl who defied her family, country, and cultural restraints to save her people, her country, and her father. Some will argue that Mulan is not a princess, and by right's she is not. She was not born to a noble family nor did she marry a noble that could be considered a prince. However, Disney felt Mulan should be an honorary princess.
On December 11, 2009 the ninth and newest Disney princess arrived. Tiana is the latest princess from the Princess and the Frog. It is an old tale with a new twist. Instead of being set in Ireland or any number of other places as it has been before, this movie is in the heart of New Orleans. It offers us a look at the Creole heritage and culture. Tiana is also the first African American princess in the long line of Disney princesses.
Disney is not going to stop here with the new movie. Already there are plans for a tenth princess. The tenth princess is Rapunzel. The animated film will be released on November 24th, 2010 with Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi as the main characters. Rapunzel is another Germanic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. Disney is keeping the plot close to the vests. They stated the movie's original plot will be modified to speak to a modern audience in which the story will have a moral of each person needs to be set free to be their own person. We will just have to wait a little longer to find out more about the plot. For now though we can begin imagining what Rapunzel costumes might be released.
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