Disney Princess Enchanted Tales and Why It Failed

In 2007, Disney decided to create a direct-to-DVD animated series to supplement their Disney Princess brand called Disney Princess Enchanted Tales. The series was supposed to include two new half-hour princess stories per volume with original animation, songs, and stories. They initially planned three volumes with stories about Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, and Cinderella. The series immediately got the shaft after the first volume, "Follow Your Dreams" was released, causing other stories that had already released teasers of clips and songs to never reach completion. Why was it such a massive failure? There are a number of factors that play into this.

I don't consider Enchanted Tales to be a series of sequels because it was not marketed as part two of anything, but I also don't exactly consider it an animated series either because it wasn't on TV and does not follow a continuing storyline. Instead, it is a bunch of random one-off specials meant to teach kids heavy-handed lessons about being good and following the rules. That was part of the problem. Even though it is possible to learn morals from princess stories, they are not necessary in order to enjoy them. The plot and characters come first. Anything else is a byproduct. Designing a series around moral lessons takes away from the princesses' individuality as well as the excitement of experiencing a new story. Disney Princess Enchanted Tales didn't even try to tell good stories. It was completely unnecessary and only existed for Disney to get supplemental income.

Though the series had better animation than some of the lower quality sequels, it failed in just about every other way. The stories were forced, the songs were awful, and the new voice they got for Aurora did not match the original at all. Take a look at this preview for an episode from "A Kingdom of Kindness" that was never released about Aurora planning a surprise birthday party for Prince Phillip. It looks nice, but it feels forced and artificial. This song from the Belle episode of "A Kingdom of Kindness" it is pleasing to the eyes and ears but does not have a deeper meaning outside of the cliché themes that princesses offer. You could probably replace the princesses and kingdoms in any of these stories with any other one, and no one would notice.

It stands out that they had no known plans for an Ariel episode, despite the popularity of the character. This is most likely because Ariel already had her own series that did the same thing they were trying to do with Enchanted Tales, but handled it exponentially better. The Little Mermaid series told new stories with Ariel as the heroine while taking the time to develop her character and world. Enchanted Tales would not have been able to do this because it did not have a central focus. Almost every story followed a new princess in a different kingdom. The ability to have recurring characters and building worlds was virtually nonexistent due to the constant jumping around between kingdoms. Of course, developing princesses' worlds was not the purpose of the series, but that is also why it failed where The Little Mermaid series succeeded.

"But wait," you might say. "If they didn't include Ariel because she had her own series, why is Jasmine in the first volume? She had a series too." That may be true, but the series from 1994 was called Aladdin and focused on him as the main character. There were some episodes that featured Jasmine more, but this was different from what Disney wanted to do with Enchanted Tales because Aladdin was still an asset to those episodes. Watching the first and only volume of Enchanted Tales makes it clear that all of these stories take place when the princes are away, leaving the princesses to take charge of the situation. Even though modern princesses don't need a prince, the this series is about princesses who are either engaged or married, which makes the lack of their partners in their life seem forced and artificial. That's another reason this series failed. You can't expand upon a character's life if you leave out the most important person in it.

Disney Princess Enchanted Tales is a good idea on paper, but no so much in practice. The animated series for The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Aladdin expand upon their worlds and the characters in them because they are each focused on a specific universe. Enchanted Tales had no direction other than preaching morals at everyone, which is something that older princess fans would not appreciate. Though it had decent animation and new songs, the stories were not exciting or interesting enough to sustain it as a full series. If you'd like to know more about what ended up on the cutting room floor from this series, Mulan's song, "Working for a Dream" and Cinderella's song, "Happiness Was Made to Share" are on YouTube along with other teasers for episodes that never saw the light of day.


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