Princess Smackdown: Who is the Best of Them All?

Beauty is only skin deep. Although we’ve all heard that saying, we still appreciate and are attracted to a pretty face. And Walt Disney did little to correct that trend. His first three Princesses were heavy on the looks, light on true depth. But 30 years have passed and the final eight official Princesses have worn a different tiara.

So who would be the best Princess of them all if we added more than beauty into the equation? To find out, we will gauge each Princess on the following criteria: Independence; Judgment; Contribution; Personality; and of course, Physical Appearance.

Let’s start by meeting the contestants:

Snow White (1937) – SW

Cinderella (1950) – CIN

Aurora (1959) – SB

Ariel (1989) – LM

Belle (1991) – BEL

Jasmine (1992) – JAS

Pocahontas (1995) – POC

Mulan (1998) – MUL

Tiana (2009) – TIA

Rapunzel (2010) – RAP

Merida (2012) – MER

Independence

SW, CIN, and SB definitely lose this category. They were little more than bystanders in their own lives. LM, BEL, JAS, MUL, RAP, TIA, RAP, and MER all lived in restrictive times but were able to rise above that to find their own path. But most of them did rely on others to help them do it. In the case of MER, I think she went a little too far! So this round goes to Pocahontas.

This Indian Princess was independent from the get go! She had a strong will and a determination to try new things which ultimately led to bridges being built between two very different cultures.

Runner Up: Mulan

Judgment

Again, our first three Princesses didn’t have many decisions to make. Others did it for them, or to them, in the case of CIN. When she decided to venture out, it was under the protection of her Fairy Godmother. But that’s not enough to win this round.

LM also loses this round because she went to an evil Witch to get what she wanted! RAP also loses for trusting a thief, although no one could blame her considering the situation! TIA was ready to put her dreams in the kiss of a frog. Again, MER made such a bad decision that it turned her loved ones into bears. Perhaps asking for something more specific than ‘change’ would have been a good idea!

So that leaves it to the final four Princesses. JAS snuck out from the safety of her palace, but was in no real danger, as she could always identify herself for protection. POC and MUL both risked a lot and put them themselves in great danger, but it was for a good cause.

But I’m giving this round to Belle. She decided to sacrifice herself, her freedom, and her future, to save her ailing Father. A nobler thing I can’t imagine!

Runner Up: Cinderella

Contribution

SW, CIN, and SB were all good housekeepers. They sang well and were kind to animals. For their times, those were good contributions.

LM, JAS, RAP and TIA were more about their personal journeys. They did touch others along the way, but their stories were more about them.

That leaves BEL, POC, MUL, and MER. BEL eventually left the Beast, although she did return. But I’m disqualifying her for that anyway. MER did finally contribute to her Father’s people by learning to be a peacemaker between the tribes without having to marry anyone. I like that! And although POC did make for peace too, I have to give this round to Mulan. Hey, she helped win a war!

Runner Up: Pocahontas

Personality

All of our contestants have good personalities. But let’s see if we can eliminate some in a lightning round. SW: Too sweet. SB: Not enough to go on. LM: Possibly a bit selfish. BEL: A tad condescending to her ‘provincial’ neighbors? JAS: Spoiled. POC: A bit too intense. MUL: Conflicted. MER: A wee bit bratty (but  read on).

I’m having a hard time placing TIA in this category. She was a feisty frog!

But I’m giving this to Cinderella. No matter how horrid everyone was to her, she just kept singing and working and… loving! Even after her Prince came, she didn’t hold a grudge against her wicked stepfamily. Now that’s character!

Runner Up: Rapunzel/Merida

Physical Appearance

This is purely a matter of taste. Some of the Disney Princesses are more overtly sexual than others, even though that’s not something we’re supposed to notice. But come on, a clamshell bra? Who wouldn’t notice? But for me, Jasmine wins this round!

Runner Up: Aurora

And the winner is:

So if we add up the points, who is the ultimate Princess? The best of the best? Rating each Princess on each of the categories with a 1 for the least and 5 for the most relevant, the winner is:

P o c a h o n t a s

Runner Up: Cinderella. And hoping that both break a heel on the way to the podium: Belle

If you disagree, leave a comment and tell me why! And where do you think Elsa and Anna would fit into this contest? Winners, or would they get the cold shoulder?

Top 5 Cast Members to Talk To at a Disney Park

Of course, we all talk to hundreds of Cast Members during our trips. But I don’t mean ‘talking’ as in asking where the bathrooms are or “Excuse me, is this the FastPass line?” I’m talking about the Top Five Cast Members to actually have a conversation with.

But let’s qualify this a bit more: By conversation, I don’t mean a sit-down one-hour share-your-life-story talk. Cast Members are busy people. However, some of them are available for some brief Guest interaction, and would love to chat it up with you.

         Erin, from DCA

So with that in mind, here are the Top Five Cast Members to talk to during your next trip:

Chat No. 5

Cleaning staff. Very much a thankless job, these CM’s aren’t just there to sweep up and empty garbage cans. Most of them know the Park better than anyone and can give accurate directions to anywhere from anywhere! And I’ve never met one yet who wouldn’t give you the time of day. In my experience, they will even approach you if you look the least bit lost. Taking a few minutes to interact with these great people could just make their day, and yours!

Try asking them: Where would you go in the Park right now if you could?

Chat No. 4

Parade Route wranglers. Before any parade starts, there’s usually a lot of standing around. Many of the Cast Members who are there to keep you behind the ropes will also have time for a brief chat. They may even be wearing a Pin Trading lanyard, which is an indication they want Guest interaction. But these CM’s are busy, so make it quick. Hey, can you spot the Cast Member in the picture below?

  

Find out who their favorite character is in the Parade, and why.

Chat No. 3

Attraction staff. These are the poor unfortunate souls you see standing in front of a ride that is not operating, or the person who operates the same thing over and over, like the Monorail Pilot below. They may get to stand for hours telling disgruntled Guests they can’t ride their favorite attraction today, or just push the same button. Sound like fun? Not much, so they could use a little interaction!

     You can still talk to Monorail Pilots at DLR, but not WDW

Try asking for a piece of unknown trivia about the attraction itself.

Chat No. 2

Merchandise Cart staff. CM’s in stores are usually pretty busy and get lots of Guest interaction throughout the day. But the poor guys and gals stuck on some of the merchandise carts are all but ignored. For example, the ones outside the EPCOT main entrance, or any cart stuck in a deserted corner of a Park. These people are bored, to say the least!

If you really want to make their day, buy something during your conversation!

Chat No. 1

World Showcase staff. This is in the number one spot because it’s the no-brainer of the list. Each Pavilion has CM’s who are from that actual country. So if you’ve ever wanted to meet someone from Morocco or Canada (and who hasn’t fantasized about meeting a Canadian???) then that person is only a few steps away! Again, make sure they’re not too busy first, but then approach them for some nice conversation.

      Nanni, from Norway, loading the Maelstrom (now Frozen Ever After)

Topics: What city are you from? How long have you been here? What’s your favorite Pavilion, and why?

Any Cast Member who is standing around and looking bored is fair game! And part of their job is to interact with you anyway, so why not take advantage of that and have some great conversations. You can learn something new about the Park or Resort you’re visiting, and they can enjoy a Guest experience to make their job more worthwhile.

That’s what they call Win-Win?

Bonus Round

Who might be too busy to talk to you? How about:

     Lightning McQueen Wrangler

Top 5 Mistakes Walt Disney & Company have Made

Did Walt Disney ever make a mistake? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’, but then, who wouldn’t have when taking so many risks to create great entertainment?

So what follows is a list of some of those mistakes, or lost opportunities:

Oopsy Number 1

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The character was a hit. The deal was a dud. Walt failed to retain the rights to a character that his studio created from scratch and so had it taken away from him, along with most of his studio! But never one to stay down, Walt learned from his mistake, and vowed never to repeat it. And with the creation of Mickey Mouse, he built an empire all his own that no one ever took from him! So who had the last laugh, Mr. Mintz?

Of course, long after Walt’s passing, Oswald returned to the Disney family! Last laugh: Disney.

Oopsy Number 2

The Animator’s Strike. May 29, 1941. A day that will live in Disney infamy and that would forever change how Walt interacted with his staff. Said to be over wages and credit, there is obviously more to the story than we will ever know! Would things have turned out differently if Walt had stayed to negotiate instead of heading for South America to gather material for future features? We’ll never know. What we do know is during the strike, Walt called the strikers ‘Communists’ and they burned him in effigy. Yikes!

Following the strike, irreparable damage to the psychology and mood of the studio had been done. Before the strike, the number of employees had been about 1200, but after it ended, it was reduced to 694. One letter of the period quotes Walt as saying, about the strike, that “it cleaned house at our studio” and got rid of “the chip-on-the-shoulder boys and the world-owes-me-a-living lads”. Ouch.

It’s a shame this couldn’t have ended better.

Oopsy Number 3

Doreen as the Patchwork Girl and Bobby as the Scarecrow

Rainbow Road to OZ. Walt had always loved the stories of OZ and eventually bought the rights to the books. He planned to make an animated film but then later decided to do a live-action version using the talented kids from the Mouseketeers. You can see a short clip of what it may have looked like on the Walt Disney Treasures collection entitled Your Host, Walt Disney.

This would have been a great vehicle for the Mouseketeers and a way to thank them for all of their hard work. Also, it would have made a fine companion to movies like Babes in Toyland, also starring a (by then) former Mouseketeer: Annette Funicello.

It may have taken until 2013 to pull it off, but Disney did finally realize Walt’s dream and put Oz on the screen with the major motion picture Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Oopsy Number 4

Zorro/Mickey Mouse Club. Why? That’s all I can say about the cancellation of two of the best and most popular, not to mention watched, programs in Disney history. WHY? The short answer is that Walt got into a bitter series of legal challenges with ABC over the ownership of both series. Unable to come to terms, it was decided to pull both shows from the air. With high ratings and viewer loyalty at all time highs, I think there must have been some way to resolve the dispute. This lost opportunity cost us perhaps years of quality entertainment.

Oopsy Number 5

Not hiring Lee Beatens. OK, I was only about 1-year-old when Walt passed, but that’s no excuse for overlooking great talent!

Bonus Round

Disney’s California Adventure. Not Walt’s fault, but certainly a swing and a miss by the company that bears his name! The concept of a theme park dedicated to California arose from a meeting of Disney executives in 1995. Construction of the park began in 1998, and was completed by early 2001. But the crowds never really came. After all, who’d want to fly to California and pay to enter a Theme Park about… California? Why not just… oh, I don’t know, tour the real California? The other problem that I can see was that the Imagineers filled it with rides that were reminiscent of the rides that Walt rejected for Disneyland! Epic fail.

But now with the re-Imagineering of the Park and the addition of Carsland, it’s finally on the right track, and attendance figures show it.

Disney PhotoPass Stock Photo

So we’ve seen that not all of these mistakes, or lost opportunities, were fixable. But most of them were addressed in some way years later, with a nice resolution.

Top 5 Ways to Chill Out at Disney

In honor of both winter and our new Disney friend, Olaf, I would like to present the Top 5 ways to chill out at any Disney Park or Resort.

Cup Topper from Frozen, the movie

Sometimes we get a little stressed and in too much of a hurry during our Disney vacations. What with rushing to get our FastPasses, running to get in a looooong line-up, or trying to plan hours ahead to get the best Parade viewing spot, we might miss the simple pleasures available to us.

Such as:

Chilly Tip Number 5

Hammocks. Most Resorts that have a beach front also have a hammock or two swinging around somewhere. And even if you’re not staying at that Resort, but just Resort-hopping like I do, no one is going to stop you from relaxing for a few moments while you watch boats go by. And if you pick the right hammock in the evening, you may even be able to watch the Electrical Water Pageant.

Stock Photo of the Electrical Water Pageant

Want to know some of the best places to watch the Pageant across the Walt Disney World Resort? Locations include:

  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Beginning at 9:00 PM
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (including Narcoossee’s) – Beginning at 9:15 PM
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Beginning at 9:30 PM
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground – Beginning at 9:45 PM
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Beginning at 10:10 PM; in instances when Wishes Nighttime Spectacular takes place at 10:00 PM, the Electrical Water Pageant will begin shortly following its conclusion
  • Right outside the entrance of Magic Kingdom park – Beginning at 10:35 PM, during Extended Theme Park Hours only

Chilly Tip Number 4

Dole Whip or Mickey Bars. Most of us can’t resist a frosty treat and these two (among others) are WDWorld-renowned for helping weary and hot Guests chill! Rather than bore you with details here, I’ll let my fellow blogger over at Disney Musings thrill you (or should I say ‘chill you’?) with details at this link.

Picture from Disney Musings

Chilly Tip Number 3

Water. Not just for drinking anymore! If you’re like me, and who isn’t, you likely seek out free chill opportunities wherever they can be found. Well, let me recommend getting a little damp as a great way to chill!

Here are a few places to get a free splash of water: World of Disney at DTD (Stitch will ‘spit’ on you for free); Splash Pad also at DTD (just outside the Disney Design-a-Tee store); Outside Star Tours in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (an Imperial Walker will ‘shoot’ you for free); Test Track Cool Wash at Epcot (see pic below).

Stand and prepare to be misted!

There is simply no end of places where you can get misted, squirted, sprayed, or ‘spit’ on for free at WDW!

Chilly Tip Number 2

Beverages. Sometimes you need to chill from the inside and so only an ice-cold drink will do it! Again, there is no end to the places that serve frosty beverages, but Club Cool is perhaps one of the most fun! Located at the Innovations Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot, this store features Coca-Cola merchandise as well as several fountain drink stations where you can sample some of the world’s more unique flavors of Coca-Cola products, such as:

  • Krest Ginger Ale from Mozambique
  • Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica
  • Beverly from Italy
  • Vegeta Beta from Japan
  • Kinley Lemon from Israel
  • Lift Apple from Mexico
  • Smart Watermelon from China
  • Mezzo Mix from Germany

Of course, flavors may change from year to year or visit to visit. Not adventurous with your sipping? Then find your drinking comfort zone just over the bridge in World Showcase. Pick your country and enjoy a regional beverage of your choice!

Chilly Tip Number 1

Water Attractions. OK, no more fooling around! If you really want to chill out then it’s time to get WET. Hit the Kali River Rapids or Splash Mountain and leave the rain poncho in the stroller! The only rules here are no hiding behind another body and never wear white. Other than that: Bring on the Chill!

The temperature was 50 degrees and we got soaked = CHILLED OUT

Bonus Round

Water Parks. This is a no-brainer so… water parks.

Ice Gator from Blizzard Beach

Of course, my wife found another way to chill out during one of our visits to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. Simply get caught in one of Florida’s sudden thunder showers:

Each to her own, I guess.