Is Ariel A Disney Princess?

by Barbara

Since her debut in Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid” in 1989, Ariel has captivated audiences with her adventurous spirit and memorable songs. However, a common question arises: Is Ariel officially a Disney Princess? This article delves into Ariel’s journey, her status within the Disney franchise, and the characteristics that solidify her as a quintessential Disney Princess.

Ariel’s Origin Story and Cultural Impact

Ariel first swam into our hearts in “The Little Mermaid,” an animated film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. The movie, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, played a pivotal role in reviving Disney’s animation division, marking the beginning of the Disney Renaissance. This era saw the release of several critically acclaimed and commercially successful animated films.


Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, the ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, is known for her curiosity about the human world. Her longing to explore life beyond the sea and her eventual romance with Prince Eric form the central plot of the film. Ariel’s journey from mermaid to human princess resonates with themes of self-discovery, courage, and love.


Disney Princess Criteria

To understand Ariel’s status, it’s essential to define what it means to be a Disney Princess. The Disney Princess franchise, launched in 2000 by then-chairman of Disney Consumer Products Andy Mooney, includes characters who meet specific criteria:


Royal Lineage or Marriage: Characters are typically born into royalty or marry into it.

Central Role in a Disney Animated Feature: The character must be a protagonist or significant figure in a Disney animated film.

Commercial and Cultural Impact: The character should have a significant presence in Disney’s merchandising and cultural landscape.

Ariel’s Royal Lineage and Story Arc

Ariel, as the daughter of King Triton, is a princess by birthright. This royal status is a crucial criterion in the Disney Princess lineup. Moreover, Ariel’s narrative arc includes her transformation from mermaid to human, ultimately marrying Prince Eric, a human prince, thereby fulfilling the requirement of royal marriage as well.

Throughout “The Little Mermaid” and its sequels, Ariel’s story emphasizes bravery, sacrifice, and the pursuit of one’s dreams, qualities that are hallmark traits of a Disney Princess. Her decision to trade her voice for legs to explore the human world and her subsequent adventures underscore her independent spirit and determination.

Central Role in Disney Animation

Ariel’s significance within the Disney animated universe is undeniable. “The Little Mermaid” was not only a box office success but also a critical darling, winning two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”). Ariel’s character, with her red hair, green tail, and adventurous personality, became an iconic figure in animation.

Her popularity led to the creation of additional media, including a prequel television series, direct-to-video sequels, and a Broadway adaptation. These expansions of Ariel’s story have kept her in the public eye, further solidifying her status as a central Disney character.

Cultural and Commercial Impact

The Disney Princess franchise is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and Ariel’s contribution to its success is substantial. From merchandise like dolls, clothing, and accessories to theme park attractions and live shows, Ariel is a prominent figure in Disney’s branding efforts.

Ariel’s appeal spans generations, with her story resonating with both children and adults. Her adventurous spirit, combined with her iconic songs like “Part of Your World,” has made her a beloved character. Ariel’s image and themes from “The Little Mermaid” are consistently featured in Disney parks worldwide, in parades, shows, and meet-and-greet opportunities, ensuring her place in Disney’s cultural tapestry.

See also: What Does Ariel Look Like In Real Life?

The Evolution of Ariel’s Character

Ariel’s character has evolved since her initial appearance. In her original film, she was portrayed as a curious and somewhat rebellious teenager, eager to explore the unknown. This characterization broke away from the more passive princesses of earlier Disney films, such as Snow White and Aurora, who often awaited rescue by a prince.

Over the years, Ariel has been depicted in various media, including books, video games, and television series. These portrayals have added depth to her character, showcasing her as a mother, a queen, and a leader. This evolution reflects changing societal attitudes towards female characters, emphasizing agency, leadership, and independence.

Representation and Criticism

Ariel, like many Disney Princesses, has been the subject of both praise and criticism. Admirers appreciate her independence and determination, viewing her as a role model for young viewers. Critics, however, have pointed out that her story revolves around her desire for a man and her willingness to change herself drastically to be with him, potentially sending mixed messages about self-identity and autonomy.

In recent years, Disney has made efforts to address such criticisms by creating more complex and independent female characters. Nonetheless, Ariel remains a pivotal figure in the Disney Princess lineup, representing a transitional phase in Disney’s portrayal of women.

Ariel’s Place Among Other Disney Princesses

Ariel’s inclusion in the official Disney Princess lineup places her among other iconic characters such as Cinderella, Belle, and Mulan. Each princess brings unique qualities to the franchise, representing diverse cultures, time periods, and personal journeys.

Ariel’s unique identity as a mermaid who becomes human adds a fantastical element to the lineup. Her story, which includes elements of fantasy, romance, and adventure, provides a rich tapestry that distinguishes her from her peers.

The Future of Ariel

The enduring popularity of Ariel suggests that she will continue to be a significant figure in Disney’s future projects. Disney has announced a live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” with Halle Bailey cast as Ariel. This casting decision has sparked conversations about representation and inclusivity, with many praising Disney for embracing diversity.

The live-action adaptation is expected to introduce Ariel to a new generation of viewers while staying true to the original film’s spirit. The involvement of Lin-Manuel Miranda, known for his work on “Hamilton” and Disney’s “Moana,” in the film’s music, promises a fresh yet familiar take on Ariel’s beloved songs.


In conclusion, Ariel is unequivocally a Disney Princess. Her royal lineage, central role in a landmark Disney animated feature, and significant cultural and commercial impact firmly establish her status within the franchise. Ariel’s story of adventure, self-discovery, and love has resonated with audiences for decades, making her an enduring and beloved character.

Ariel’s evolution over the years reflects broader changes in societal attitudes towards female characters, emphasizing independence and complexity. As Disney continues to reimagine and expand its princess lineup, Ariel’s legacy will undoubtedly inspire and captivate future generations.

Whether exploring the ocean depths or walking on land, Ariel embodies the qualities that make a Disney Princess timeless: bravery, curiosity, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. As Disney moves forward with new projects and adaptations, Ariel’s tale will continue to be a vital part of its enchanting storytelling tradition.

Related topics:

What Is The Real Story Of Ariel?

Is Ariel The Youngest Mermaid?

7 Reasons Why Disney Chose Halle As Ariel


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