Actors Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho arrive at the premiere of Disney's 'Moana' at the El Capitan Theatre on Nov. 14, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

The best Disney princess movie of all time isn't 'Frozen,' according to data. See the top 10.

Written by:
March 28, 2023
Amanda Edwards // WireImage

Best Disney princess movies

Disney's iconic animated film "Beauty and the Beast" turned 30 Sept. 29. The milestone invites happy reflection of how evolved the Disney princess archetype has become—and, in some cases, how far it still has to go.

With more than 80 years of work to draw on, Stacker ranked every stand-alone movie released by Disney that features a princess character or is in the princess canon, from 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to 2019's "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"—a sequel to a modern spin-off revisionist take on the classic "Sleeping Beauty." Using data from IMDb user scores, with the number of votes breaking any ties, this list also includes the sequels, prequels, and spin-offs that came from the success of the originals.

Early princess stories like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty" established a formula that later princess stories would reference and reject. Starting in 1937 with "Snow White," Disney's first feature-length animated film and a cultural phenomenon, the Mouse House has drawn on princesses in every era of its storied history. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty joined Snow White to form a group of critically acclaimed, artistically stunning princess movies in the 1950s. Princesses contributed mightily to Disney's revival—"The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "Pocahontas," and "Mulan" helped fuel the studio's triumphant return to box office domination starting in 1989.

The 21st century saw the rise of the meta-princess, with 2007's "Enchanted," 2009's "The Princess and the Frog," and 2010's "Tangled" featuring heroines rejecting the traditional princess narrative and charting their lives with much more agency than those of past princesses, sometimes without a prince at all. The trend reached a pinnacle with 2013's "Frozen," which some say eschewed the princess narrative to enormous box office ends and became as much of a cultural force as the most successful princess movies of the past.

But those earlier princesses left such an indelible mark on the culture that Disney went back to the well with a series of live-action remakes, starting with 2015's "Cinderella," followed by "Beauty and the Beast," "Mulan," and, coming full circle, "Snow White" is also scheduled to receive the live-action treatment.

This ranking goes beyond what might be considered the animated and classic princess-sphere, and includes movies like "Into the Woods" and "The Princess Diaries," which also feature royalty and are Disney creations, but are not Disney princesses in the traditional sense. On the flip side, Mulan is not a princess—she is not the daughter or a king, nor does she marry a prince—but is included in Disney's princess franchise, and is included on this list.

Keep reading to see where your favorite falls in the rankings.

#10. Cinderella (1950)

- Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 142,179
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 74 minutes

Mistreated stepdaughter Cinderella is able to get to the Royal Ball, despite her stepmother's objections, thanks to the help of her animal friends and fairy godmother. The film was a turning point for Walt Disney Studios; it hadn't had such a critical commercial success since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was released in 1937. In a way, it was the studio's very own rags-to-riches story, as it enabled production on a slate of other projects and to break ground for Disneyland within the decade. It was also the first film to be worked on by all nine of the so-called "Nine Old Men" of the Disney animation department.

#9. Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

- Directors: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs, John Ripa
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 114,000
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 107 minutes

We meet the first-ever Southeast Asian Disney princess with Raya, an 18-year-old with trust issues who's far more warrior than princess. She's the third Disney princess (after Moana and Merida) not to have a love interest, building on a much more inspired plotline than more traditional incarnations.

#8. Frozen (2013)

- Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 560,586
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 102 minutes

After the Disney revival of 1989 and 1990s petered out, "Frozen" once again revived Disney as an animation juggernaut. It was the first full-length Disney (non-Pixar) film to win the Golden Globe (and later the Oscar) for Best Animated Feature Film in 2013 since Tarzan in 1999. The movie's signature song "Let It Go," sung by Elsa (Idina Menzel) and written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, broke pop music records and became popular with toddlers and children (and plenty of adults) all over the world. Sisters Anna and Elsa and their story of finding true love as a family was so popular, it was later made into a Broadway musical.

#7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

- Directors: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 177,165
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 83 minutes

Snow White was the first Disney princess movie and the studio's first full-length animated feature film, as well as the highest-grossing animated film of all time (adjusted for inflation). Any fan of fairy tales knows the story of Snow White's adventures with seven dwarfs (all based on real people). At the age of 14, Snow White is the youngest Disney princess.

#6. The Little Mermaid (1989)

- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 231,660
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 83 minutes

"The Little Mermaid" kicked off Disney's revival, also called the "Disney Renaissance." Princess Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, makes a deal with an evil sea-witch in exchange for the chance to meet a human prince on land. The film won two Oscars: Best Original Song ("Under the Sea") and Best Original Score.

#5. Mulan (1998)

- Directors: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 244,537
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Mulan is Disney's first gender-bending princess, dressing as a man to take her father's place in the army and becoming a heroine to the Chinese people in the process. Harvey Fierstein, Eddie Murphy, Lea Salonga, and Ming-Na Wen were some of the famous voices featured in the film.

#4. Moana (2016)

- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 260,892
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Polynesian princess Moana sets out to make things right with the ancient demigod Maui, whose curse threatens her island. The action-adventure tale features a score by Lin-Manuel Miranda of "Hamilton" fame. "Moana" was the first Disney film to feature a cast primarily of Polynesian descent, including Dwayne Johnson.

#3. Tangled (2010)

- Directors: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 396,090
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 100 minutes

In this take on "Rapunzel," a damsel in distress (Mandy Moore) escapes her tower and goes on an adventure with a thief, discovering herself and her world for the first time. It was the first animated Disney princess film to receive a PG rating by the MPAA rather than a G rating.

#2. Aladdin (1992)

- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 363,781
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 90 minutes

Aladdin, another thief, falls in love with Princess Jasmine. In order to win over her father, he passes himself off as a prince. The two-time Oscar winner, for Best Original Song ("A Whole New World") and Best Original Score, enjoyed a second life on Broadway.

#1. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 410,507
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 84 minutes

This "tale as old as time" tells the story of Belle, a young Frenchwoman imprisoned by a fearsome prince-turned-beast. Can she break the spell in time to turn him (and the rest of the castle) back into their human forms? This beloved 1991 film wasn't the first to draw on the 1757 story "La Belle et la Bête," nor was it the last. It's preceded by French filmmaker Jean Cocteau's fantasy film of 1946, and was followed by a live-action remake in 2017.

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