The Comprehensive D23 Expo Princess Announcement Post!

If you're a Disney fan, you are probably aware that this weekend is the D23 Expo, a massive fan convention that happens once every two years where they make the biggest announcements and reveals of upcoming Disney content for the next couple of years. This was the first Expo in three years, so Disney made sure to pull out all the stops to celebrate their upcoming 100-year anniversary. As usual, I am here to fill you in on everything princess that happened at the expo. Get your tiaras ready because this is going to be a big one!

Disenchanted

Friday afternoon was the biggest panel of the event, and no announcement since then has come close to the level of excitement I felt for these upcoming films. First up was Disenchanted, the sequel to Enchanted that will launch on Disney+ in November, which dropped not only a new poster but also the movie's very first trailer! I had been curious about this movie for a while as I'm sure many other fans were, and this trailer did not let us down. It confirmed many plot details that had already been revealed, such as Giselle getting fed up with the real world (Aren't we all?) and wishing her life could be more like a fairy tale again as well as a fun reunion with Edward and Nancy, who were last seen getting hitched in Andalasia.


The trailer went into a few more specifics regarding how the spell Giselle cast turned her run-down rural home into an enchanted Storybrooke-like town. The catch is that the spell also turned Giselle into an evil stepmother, which wouldn't have been too difficult since marrying Robert made her a stepmother to Morgan. Morgan, who is played by a different actress in this movie, takes on the Disney Princess archetype and gets locked in her room by Giselle just like Cinderella. There is also a delicious throwback to the original in which Giselle pushes Morgan into a well just like Queen Narissa did to her at the beginning of her own movie, launching the main storyline. This leads us to wonder where the well will go from the real world if that was already the exit point from Andalasia. Perhaps she is using it to send Morgan back to the fairy tale world, which doesn't seem like such a bad punishment at all.

The Little Mermaid

This was the announcement that I personally was the most excited about, and the Expo did not let me down. For the first time since the casting was announced in 2019, Disney has finally given fans of The Little Mermaid their first official look at Halle Bailey as Ariel. Lucky Expo attendees were treated to a full clip of Halle performing "Part of Your World," which faithfully recreated all of the choreography and effects from the animated movie. Just like Ariel, Halle swims around her grotto showing off all of her gadgets and gizmos, lies in the sand, and reaches up through an opening at the top lit by angelic sunlight. Shortly after the reveal at the panel, Disney released a short teaser online, which shows quick flashes of the film's underwater sequences and the final few notes of "Part of Your World." This trailer gave me goosebumps as the music and animation were so reminiscent of my memories of the film from childhood.


I have mixed feelings about Halle's costume as Ariel. She looks amazing in it and was perfectly cast for the part, but I think Disney should have had the budget to make her a real tail like the ones used in H2O: Just Add Water and Mako Mermaids. The CGI tail is reminiscent of the ones the mermaids had in Once Upon a Time, but with more extravagant details such as the shimmery effect and the extra set of transparent fins attached to her tail that flutter like a chiffon gown with every swish. As beautiful as it looks, it's obvious that it was created by a computer. Her purple top looks similar to the one in the film at first glance, but it is made of a softer and more delicate material than clamshells, which sets it apart from the Ariel costumes worn in the theme parks. It was an absolute thrill to hear Halle's lovely voice performing this iconic song and to see her passionate acting that perfectly matched the look and feel of the original film.

Wish

Of the original movies announced at the Friday afternoon panel, I am the most excited about Wish, a movie created specifically to celebrate Disney's 100th anniversary. In it, a new princess named Asha goes on a quest to discover the truth behind the wishing star that so many Disney characters (including many princesses) have wished upon the past. The movie was described as "taking easter eggs to the next level," and the IMDB summary claims that Asha will travel "through various worlds" on her quest. Between these two descriptions, it sounds like the film might have some callbacks to Kingdom Hearts with a character traveling through various Disney movies and befriending their protagonists. The panel concluded with a beautiful performance of a song from the film called "More Than Us," which was performed by Asha's award-winning voice actress, Ariana DeBose.

Asha, the main character in Disney's upcoming film, Wish

Limited Edition Dolls

The D23 Expo is traditionally the place where you can find all the best Limited Edition Disney Princess designer dolls, and this year was no exception. There were four lovely princesses on display in a Limited Edition shopping area--Merida, Giselle, Jasmine, and Snow White. The Snow White Doll is by far the most gorgeous one I have ever seen of this character. I loved the elegant details of the cascading curls behind her head, the understated veil, and the wedding dress that combined gorgeous new floral accents with hints of her original costume. The new Jasmine doll looks much nicer than the first one that was released for the Ultimate Princess Celebration. Purple is definitely more her color than red, and the little magic lamp adds just the right touch. Giselle gave us a faithful recreation of her iconic wedding dress from the film, which hasn't been portrayed on a doll since its release, and the Merida doll is the first designer release for this character, so that was exciting. Megara also had some extravagant new golden accents on her costume alongside Hercules to celebrate the film's anniversary.

Theme Parks

The show floor at the event had several new princess theme park attractions on display, including Tiana's Bayou Adventure, the new revamp of Splash Mountain. While I wasn't a huge fan of the industrialized look of barrels of food shipments and unfinished signage, I was very excited for the announcement that Tiana's Palace, the restaurant featured at the end of The Princess and the Frogis coming to New Orlean Square in Disneyland! This seems like the perfect addition for our hard-working restaurateur princess with the potential to allow guests to step right into the animated film!

Another display contained a scale model of a 16-foot tall Te Fiti statue that will be set up near the front gate of Epcot in Walt Disney World for a new fountain display called Journey of Water, which will greet guests entering the park. This attraction will replace the park's previous entrance fountain display that did not have any distinctive Disney theming.

Finally, the Tangled and Frozen rides that were announced all the way back in 2018 for Tokyo DisneySea are finally coming to fruition. The cars for each ride were on display at the Expo's show floor. They look like traditional dark ride vehicles with subtle details from their respective films.

Other

If that's not enough princess content for one weekend, there were several smaller announcements a the D23 Expo as well. The Friday afternoon panel included a spot for Disney's Snow White, but no footage from that was released to the public. The costumes were described as "traditional," meaning the leak from a few months ago was likely Rachel Zegler's actual costume from the film. They are pushing that the movie will have a "modern twist" when it comes to the story, but that's already been done countless times before, so it probably won't be anything we haven't seen already.

Some new cast members were announced for the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live special on ABC. It was already revealed that R&B performer H.E.R. would be starring as Belle, but the Expo panel added to the list Josh Groban as the Beast, Rita Moreno as the narrator, and Joshua Henry as Gaston. Some smaller princess references included a new Simpsons short released on Disney+ the day before the Expo called "Welcome to the Club," in which Lisa Simpson wants to become a Disney Princess but ends up joining the villains instead. The short featured an awkward musical number performed by all the Disney Princes in which they sang about how they have no personality and only care about their wives pushing out heirs, so it's better to be a villain. Needless to say, I wasn't a fan. Finally, a brief clip from Saturday's panel revealed an upcoming episode of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder in which the leading ladies throw a princess party and dress up in various Disney Princesses costumes. Oh, and there was also an expo-exclusive performance of Disney Princess: The Concert. Whew, that was a lot!

I had a lot of fun attending the D23 Expo virtually this year as the process seems to have gotten more complicated than it has in the past, making it even more difficult to attend panels in person. The hype and announcements for these new movies are very exciting whether you are sitting in the room with everyone or not. Are you as overwhelmed by all of this news as I am?  Which announcement are you the most excited about? Have you ever attended the D23 Expo or plan to in the future? Let me know in the comments! 

Comments

Sugar said…
I find all the ads very interesting! I especially love the idea that Giselle ends up being forced to be an evil stepmother as it happens in the Five Hundred Kingdoms books by Mercedes Lackey with "The tradition" the magic that dominates that world.
To be honest? Wish's idea sounds good but the image makes me think that she will be a princess similar to Moana: strong, adventurous with a pet and no love story. I'm more excited about the little mermaid... I understand that this is the era of single princesses and I'm sure many girls love them but I miss love stories.
Lisa Dawn said…
I'm more excited about The Little Mermaid too! Being strong, adventurous, and not having a love interest is the standard rule for all modern-day heroines. I saw a great YouTube video about it recently on a channel called The Take that was titled "How We Overcorrected the Damsel in Distress Trope." You should look it up when you get a chance! It's one of the best YouTube videos I've ever seen.

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