Who Reigns Supreme? The Case for Moana, Disney Princess

Who’s the best Disney princess? Everyone has their pick for their reasons. No wonder — all of them are so great. We’re doing a special miniseries, or possibly maxi-series, here at the Your WDW Store blog. We’ll describe what makes each royal a great candidate for the title, starting with Moana, the Disney princess of Motunui.

The Case Against Moana, Disney Princess

For the sake of fair debate, let’s start with why some may claim that Moana isn’t the best Disney princess. For starters, she would insist that she’s not a princess. Despite wearing a dress and having an animal sidekick — Maui’s criteria for the title — she holds strong to being the “daughter of a chief.”

Some may also find her actions rather selfish and arrogant. Her solution for ending the blight threatening Motunui’s culture just happens to involve fulfilling her dream of venturing into the ocean, against her father’s wishes? What a coincidence! Plus, she sets sail and abandons her family and people the very night her grandmother dies. Her dad is left to not only grieve for his known loss but also worry about the possible loss of his child. It’s never addressed.

Taking Action

Of course, the choice to go beyond the reef is the right one. Moana is more of an active leader than practically all her fellow monarchal successors. Perhaps the most important evidence for her being the best Disney princess is that she trains for the role. We see her directing her people in carrying out their duties. We see her solving problems around the island.

To that end, Moana kicks way more butt than most. She’s written as a straight-up action heroine, holding her own even when paired with the muscular demigod champion Maui. Thrilling sequences have her navigating calamitous seas, outsmarting powerful foes, and ziplining through chaotic environments. It’s her compassion, though, that helps her realize the truth of Te Ka and save the world.

Chosen One?

A seemingly compelling argument in Moana’s favor is that she’s not powerful simply because her parents are chieftains. The ocean, the literal ocean, deemed her worthy of its grace when she was just a tot. She also befriends Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, and hero of men and women. She’s even prophesied to save the world, at least according to her spiritually attuned grandmother.

After some serious setbacks, though, Moana realizes that she’s not a chosen one. She’s just a child, pushed into that role without concern for whether she was ready or willing. Her grandmother’s spirit has to apologize and let her know that she’ll be loved no matter what course she takes. Facing your limits is always tough, and Moana does it with grace.

Who You Are

Then, she realizes that she must do what she wants. And what she wants is to restore the heart of Te Fiti, with or without Maui, prophecy or no prophecy. She wants to follow in the wake of her voyager ancestors, leading her people out to sea. She wants to be the leader her people need. When Auli’l Cravalho’s gorgeous voice belts out “I am Moana!”, who couldn’t help but shed a tear?

Being a Disney princess, in recent decades, is about more than wearing dresses and having animal sidekicks. It’s about finding who you are as a person — hence all the “I Want” songs. Moana is all in on that theme. Moana can only save the day after affirming what she wants, what she will do, and what defines her as an individual. She only wavers long enough to find her way again.

Moana Gifts at Your WDW Store

Whether or not your favorite is Moana, Disney princess gifts can be yours today at Your WDW Store. Fans of Motunui’s next chief can find plenty of great merchandise based on the character and her story. Browse our selection and see how far we go.