Ariel, The Little Mermaid

(© Acento Creativo - stock.adobe.com)

We all have that one Disney princess we secretly want to be (or not so secretly, no judgment here). Whether you’re channeling your inner Ariel with impromptu shower concerts or feeling a kinship with Mulan’s fierce determination, the world of Disney royalty offers a princess for every personality. Get ready to dive into a royal lineup as we rank the best Disney princesses, from the classic charmers to the modern trailblazers, because let’s face it, being a princess is hard work—but somebody’s gotta do it!

But taking all the leading ladies into consideration, we looked at 12 existing expert lists to come away with the consensus five best Disney Princesses. Who is the fairest of them all? Read on to find out if your favorite royal made the cut! And make sure to leave us a comment with your top choice. We want to know if you agree with the Princess line-up below.

1. Mulan

A favorite Princess since 1998, we’ve had almost 25 years to enjoy Mulan as a leading lady. “She saved China. When the army is calling for men from each family, she pretends to be a man so her father doesn’t have to go. When her duty is done, she went and was sent home, she continues to battle for her country. Then, it’s her actions that save the country. She’s the only Disney Princess to not hold a royal title by birth or marriage. She is the epitome of a Disney Princess by an act of heroism,” What’s On Disney Plus writes. 

This princess is much more than just tiaras and ball gowns. “As if her saving China weren’t enough, what makes Mulan the ultimate Disney Princess is the many admirable qualities she possesses as an ideal role model. These include her quick wit, tenacity, and bravery, as well as her dedication to her family and culture. Her story (in which love comes last) is much bigger than her, and the way she accomplishes her goals and takes life lessons to heart makes her a protagonist for the ages,” raves Gold Derby

Paste Magazine chimes in: “Mulan is not literally a princess; even the shoddy direct-to-video sequel Mulan II, which involves her getting married, doesn’t hitch her wagon to an actual prince. But her loyalty to her family, and the way she fights her way through national conflict in order to protect that family, even as she has conflicted feelings over the expectations placed on her as a young woman, make 1998’s Mulan classic Disney Princess material.” 

2. Belle

Making ordinary extraordinary is why The Digital Fix thinks so highly of Belle: “Belle from the Academy Award-winning movie Beauty and the Beast is hands down one of the smartest Princesses from the Magical Kingdom. She is also self-assured, self-sacrificing, and knows how to shut down toxic masculinity with a snap of her fingers. In short, she is the perfect heroine. She is essentially an ordinary woman who proves that anyone can do extraordinary things.” 

“While she has many of her ambitions and desires, she is limited by the options available in her tiny town. Belle is a reasonably liberated woman who refuses to be abused, undermined, humiliated, or dominated by anybody. Beauty and the Beast teaches us that we should never judge someone solely on their looks,” Women In The World writes.

It’s her liberation that WhatNerd also admires: “Belle was Disney’s first truly independent woman. She was somebody who didn’t care what others thought of her and had no time for the macho neediness of men. Belle was wickedly intelligent, having the rare gift of seeing one’s true inner beauty and knowing evil when she saw it. Her time with Beast presented Belle as a savior who took the place of her father, and over time she came to see who Beast was underneath.” 

3. Moana

Buzzfeed highlights Moana’s qualities as what makes her stand out: “Out of all 12 princesses, Moana is … the boldest, most confident one of them all. She trusts herself, but she isn’t arrogant. Plus, she has the most amazing songs and the best character arc! Moana really invented her own ‘Happily Ever After.’” 

ENTOIN ranks her for her independence, writing, “Moana is yet another princess to make it to our list who does not need a man or a prince to save the day for her. She strays from the usual in the sense that she is incredibly strong, independent, and strong-willed as an individual.” 

4. Rapunzel

You can see this luscious-locked beauty in Disney’s “Tangled.” Rapunzel is an underrated princess, according to Reel Rundown: “Not only is she really quirky and very human, she’s also really smart. In this version, she can break out of her tower at any time. But she doesn’t really want to, except to see the lanterns. When she decides that she is going to break out, she tricks her mother into leaving for three days to give her plenty of time and blackmails Flynn into being her guide instead of wandering into unfamiliar territory herself. Also a master of manipulation, Rapunzel sweet-talks a bar full of ruffians into letting her and Flynn go and Maximus into not arresting Flynn.” 

SarahScoop sums up the long-haired lady perfectly: “Rapunzel, Princess of Corona is a young spirited woman. Due to her bright and ambitious personality, Rapunzel is not afraid of going on an adventure.” 

5. Ariel 

The last spot on this list lands under the sea. Toynk describes Ariel’s journey to self-discovery: “We all know Ariel as an adventurous and curious little mermaid who’s always been fascinated with life on land and be part of ‘your’ world. However, she can be reckless and impulsive at times, like giving up her lovely voice to Ursula, the sea witch villain. All for true love, of course. In the end, she learned her lesson, got her voice back, came to a truce with her father, and finally embraced who or what she really is. Oh, and she ended up with Prince Eric, too, by the way.” 

Evie Magazine says Ariel is quite lovable and strong-willed: “The Little Mermaid was both the start of the Disney Renaissance and put Disney Princesses back on the map after a 40-year hiatus, making it an instant classic. Ariel might be young and naïve, but she’s as loveable as she is strong-willed. ‘Part of Your World’ has a special place in any Millennial’s heart, and ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ might be the greatest villain song ever written. Animal side-kicks Sebastian and Flounder only add to the charm.” 

Sources used to find these consensus picks

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Stephanie Vallette

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 Comment

  1. Rayma Price says:

    What happened to Snow White & Ceanderalla