Tiana, Rapunzel, Jasmine, Mulan and Moana (Disney)

A Complete Guide to the Disney Princess Movies

Want to follow the journey of each individual Disney Princess? (The “official” ones only—no Kida here, sorry.) Then you need look no further! I’ve watched ALL the princess movies, even the very bad direct-to-video ones, and arranged them into viewing order for you. Are you ready? We start all the way back in the 1930s, when Disney decided to adapt an old fairytale for the silver screen…

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Snow White

Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney)
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

You can say a lot of things about Walt Disney (a LOT) but you can’t say he didn’t know where there were big bucks to be made. The first-ever Disney feature-length animation was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, making it also the first-ever Disney Princess flick. There’s now a live-action version starring Rachel Zegler due in 2024.

Cinderella

Cinderella's dress transforming in Cinderella
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella is a great film, even if the rather passive heroine doesn’t have a whole lot to offer modern-day audiences. And, for a while, Disney just couldn’t let go of this old fairytale; during the company’s dubious direct-to-video era, we got not one but two sequels.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002)

Here, Cinderella’s mouse friends tell the story of what happened to her after she married the prince. Not much really happens though, apart from Cinderella repairing her relationship with Ugly Stepsister Anastasia.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)

This direct-to-video sequel was a lot more fun! It’s a time travel adventure that gives all the characters from the original a bit more character development, and it’s generally considered one of the best-animated sequels Disney put out during this period.

Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella was the first Disney Princess movie to get a live-action remake. It dropped in 2015 and proved to be very successful, so, in a way, the current explosion of Disney remakes is partly Cinderella’s fault. Dammit, Cindy. But the movie itself, starring Lily James as the title character, is actually quite sweet and charming even if it doesn’t have many new things to say.

Aurora

Aurora in Sleeping Beauty
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

The last of the Disney Princess flicks that Walt Disney personally oversaw, Sleeping Beauty is a gorgeous film that is very much female-led: not only do you have Aurora, but you also have the villain Maleficent and my personal favorite characters, the Three Good Fairies.

Maleficent (2014)

Okay, let’s get one thing out of the way: Aurora is not the main character of the Maleficent movies! That would be, well, Maleficent. But she plays a very big role in them, so it seems only fair to list them here. Elle Fanning plays the young princess and imbues her with a bit more zest than the animated version.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Fanning played Aurora again in this sequel to the very well-received Maleficent and, by the end, she’s not only the wife of Prince Philip but a powerful ruler in her own right. As she should be.

Ariel

Ariel in The Little Mermaid
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008)

Sorry, Disney made a prequel to The Little Mermaid? WHAT? Yep, Ariel’s Beginning dropped on home video in 2008 and it tells the story of Ariel’s mother’s death. So if you’re a diehard Little Mermaid-head you should probably watch this one before the original animated movie! Safe to say it didn’t really grab audiences the way that one did, though…

The Little Mermaid (1989)

The original Little Mermaid Disney movie that made kids the world over fall in love with Ariel. She was a new beginning for the Disney princesses: a brave, determined, and smart young woman who just so happened to have a fishy tail she was willing to get rid of for the sake of living in the human world.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)

This movie made Ariel the first ever Disney princess to become a mother. Alas, she makes the same mistake her father did and cuts her daughter off from a world she wants to explore—in this case under the sea rather than on the land. But it’s a Disney movie, so everyone gets a happy ending!

The Little Mermaid (2023)

Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel for this live-action remake and a million racists felt their heads explode. Never mind. Bailey turned out to be the perfect little mermaid and critics raved about her performance.

Belle

Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast continued Disney’s ’90s run of strong and intelligent princesses. Belle is a bookworm who values brains over beauty, making her the perfect match for the Beast, a spoiled human beast who’s been cursed by a sorceress for his bad behavior. The Beast is a bit of a dick to Belle, but true love wins out in the end because this is Disney and of course it does.

Belle’s Magical World (1998)

So when it came time to mine Beauty and the Beast for direct-to-video movies, Disney didn’t do sequels, they did … mid-quels. So, a story set in the middle of the movie that we hadn’t seen before. First chronologically, as far as I can tell, is this one! Which is … actually a bunch of what were supposed to be TV episodes strung together, set before the Beast turns back into a human.

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

Although this was actually the first Beauty and the Beast sequel, the fact that the Beast is a human in the framing story sets it after Belle’s Magical World! After the curse on the castle is broken, Mrs. Potts tells a story about how Belle “saved Christmas” for them in the past and that story is the bulk of the movie.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Emma Watson played Belle in this remake of the original film. It had its charms, and gave Belle a bit more backstory, which was nice, but on the whole, it’s rather forgettable compared to the original movie. The “first gay Disney character” controversy didn’t help matters either.

Jasmine

Jasmine in Aladdin
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Aladdin (1992)

Jasmine is the only Disney princess to not be the main or title character of her movie, but she’s the main character in my heart, okay? She’s the love interest to Aladdin, sure, but she’s also a total badass and deservedly one of the most beloved Disney princesses to this day!

The Return of Jafar (1994)

Jasmine and Aladdin and a rather different-sounding Genie (Robin Williams chose not to reprise the iconic role) reunited in this direct-to-video sequel. It doesn’t have the stunning animation of the original but it’s still quite fun.

Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)

Jasmine continues to be the coolest princess ever (sorry, I’m biased) in this second sequel, which also sees Aladdin reunite with his Certified Hot Dad. Oh, and Robin Williams came back as well! Yeah, I watched this movie practically every damn day as a kid.

Aladdin (2019)

Jasmine is pretty well-served by the 2019 Aladdin remake where she’s played by Naomi Scott. She’s aged up, for a start, which is good because knowing she’s 15 in the original renders her kiss with Jafar incredibly creepy. She also gets a new song, “Speechless”, which is an absolute banger.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas in the 1995 Disney movie of the same name (Disney)
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Pocahontas (1995)

Hooo boy. Yep, despite the frequent backlash Disney still keeps Pocahontas on as a Disney princess, despite the fact that the real Pocahontas was a child exploited by colonizers. Disney’s 1995 movie about her presented her as an adult woman, and one who proceeds to fall in love with a hunky young John Smith, one of said colonizers who may have heavily embellished the stories about Pocahontas that got passed into record. Anyway … the songs are nice?

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)

Disney attempted to bring Pocahontas back to some semblance of historical reality in this direct-to-video sequel. Thinking John Smith is dead, she falls in love with John Rolfe, the eventual husband of the real-life Pocahontas, and makes a new life for herself. It’s not one of the more popular direct-to-video sequels, which is really saying something.

Mulan

Mulan in Disney's Mulan
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Mulan (1998)

Interestingly, Mulan isn’t an actual princess, seeing as how she is neither born into nor marries royalty. But who cares about that? She’s one of Disney’s best heroines, a brave young woman who goes to war to save her father and finds herself along the way.

Mulan II (2004)

The plot of Mulan II is rather slight, and mostly revolves around Mulan being opposed to an arranged marriage that will prevent two countries going to war. (Uh, what?) In truth, the movie is really more about Mushu, who isn’t even voiced by Eddie Murphy in this version.

Mulan (2020)

Disney’s attempts to capitalize on the original Mulan continued with their live-action era. Unfortunately, the live-action version of Mulan was different to the original in all sorts of bad ways, and it was dogged by controversy from the word go.

Tiana

Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) in The Princess and the Frog
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Tiana debuted in this movie and became Disney’s first-ever Black princess. The Princess and the Frog was also the last princess movie to be traditionally animated, and thus it has a timeless beauty to it. And here’s some good news for fans: Tiana is getting her own TV show and her own theme park ride soon!

Rapunzel

Mandy Moore as Rapunzel in Tangled
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Tangled (2010)

Disney’s version of the classic fairytale character Rapunzel debuted in Tangled, and everyone instantly fell in love with her. She had a compelling arc: in order to find her way in life and eventually her true love, she must first escape the abuse of her adoptive “mother,” Gothel. The scene where she finally stands up to her is a real punch-the-air moment.

Tangled: Before Ever After (2017) and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure (2017-2020)

So after Tangled the movie, Rapunzel’s timeline gets a little more complicated! Next in chronological order is the TV movie Tangled: Before Ever After, which came out in 2017 and saw Rapunzel’s long blonde hair mysteriously growing back. That movie led on to Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, a very well-animated TV show that ran from 2017-2020 and was essentially a long sequel to the original Tangled. But everyone knew going in what the ending would be, because they’d already seen…

Tangled Ever After (2012)

Disney released this six-minute short in 2012, but it’s confirmed it takes place after the events of the TV show! It shows us the wedding of Rapunzel and Eugene, something that was talked about at the end of Tangled but never shown. Awww.

Merida

Merida in Brave
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Brave (2012)

Brave gave us the very first Disney Princess to [drumroll] not have a love interest! Yep, Merida’s quest is actually all about her relationship with her mother and the land she’ll one day rule over. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t hook up with a man in any sequel that might materialize, either.

Elsa and Anna

Elsa and Anna hugging in Frozen (Disney)
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Frozen (2013)

Why didn’t anyone think of putting two princesses (well, one princess, one queen) in a Disney movie before?! Frozen was an absolute runaway hit for Disney and you still can’t go to a toy store without falling over piles of Frozen merch.

Frozen Fever (2015)

This little short debuted in front of the live-action Cinderella and featured a new song for the Arendelle sisters. Nothing important to the overall plot of the Frozen series happens, though, so you’re free to skip it!

Frozen II (2019)

In 2019 (after the next princess on our list, Moana, already had her first movie) Disney released the long-awaited sequel to Frozen. In this one, Elsa and Anna go on a journey to find the source of Elsa’s powers and uncover the long-buried secrets of their kingdom.

Moana

Moana
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Moana (2016)

Moana was the first Polynesian Disney Princess and one of the few to never have a love interest in her movie. She also made a star out of the unknown actress cast to play her, Auli’i Cravalho. Her movie was a big success (yay!) and Disney is already remaking it in live-action (nay!).

Raya

Raya and the Last Dragon
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Unfortunately, Raya and the Last Dragon was a flop for Disney, despite it being critically acclaimed. Still, Kelly Marie Tran’s Raya, the first Southeast Asian Disney Princess, was a great character so perhaps she’ll get more attention as time goes on.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.