Learn more about Disney Princess Cinderella, whose very identity inspired Disney landmarks such as Cinderella Castle and countless reimagined versions of the popular Disney classic film.
Cinderella. She’s as lovely as her name, as the old song croons in its soft, dreamy ballad in the film’s prologue.
Across the globe, Cinderella is the most iconic Disney Princess– and one of the most well-known characters in literature. Her rags-to-riches fairy tale has stood the test of time, with versions of the story dating as far back as sixth-century BC.
Even in 2021, there are new, reimagined works of Cinderella being produced as we speak (just announced on Disney+ Day in November 2021, there will be a new spin on the story in Disney’s new, original movie, Sneakerella, coming to Disney Plus+ next February).
In honor of the Ultimate Princess Celebration, we’ve been looking beyond the magic mirrors and glass slippers with our deep-dive series on who our favorite Disney Princesses really are.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World and our 100th issue of WDW Magazine next month, we’re shining the spotlight on Cinderella, the Disney Princess who inspired the magnificent castle at Magic Kingdom.
In this profile, we’ll examine the history and character of Cinderella from Disney’s classic 1950 fairy tale of the same name. Let’s bibbidi bobbidi begin!
The History of Cinderella
To dig into the history of this tale, we have to travel all the way back to ancient Greece. The Greek historian and philosopher, Strabo, penned Rhodopis, the story of a maiden who loses her sandal, which lands square on a king’s head, and his subsequent determination to find its owner and wed her.
It wasn’t until the late 1600s that the version of Cinderella that is most widely known was first published. In 1697, Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon (French for Cinderella) included story elements such as the pumpkin coach, the fairy godmother, and those swoon-worthy, dainty glass slippers.
Cinderella was Disney’s 12 full-length animated feature, and our heroine of the same name is the second official Disney Princess. What many don’t know is, this film was practically a fairy godmother itself to Walt Disney Productions.
Before Cinderella debuted, the studio was suffering devastating financial losses, to the point that Walt Disney Productions nearly declared bankruptcy. Disney had gone years without a true hit and began to develop Cinderella in the mid to late 1940s.
Upon its cinematic release in 1950, the film was met with the highest critical acclaim, and its success helped reverse the financial debt of the studio.
I think for us Disney fans who’ve made countless memories watching films across the decades, and living the magic with loved ones in the Disney Parks, we owe a huge amount of thanks to Cinderella for this turning point.
Cinderella: Disney Princess Strengths
The classic princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora) have oftentimes come under scrutiny, being perceived as passive, meek, and one-dimensional. This is the reason I love writing these deep-dive princess profiles.
When you take a closer and more in-depth look, you see that there’s so much more to these women, and I would argue that for the time this movie was made (remember, this film was written in the 1940s), Cinderella is actually one of the most confident and strong female role models we have.
Cinderella has astounding resilience. For a little girl who loses her mother, and shortly after, loses her father, becoming essentially an orphan, then grows up a servant in her own home, Cinderella maintains her composure and does everything with her head held high.
That being said, she doesn’t back down when taunted and jeered at by her stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. She calmly and confidently explains that she also matters.
When her stepsisters mock Cinderella for her excitement at the thought of attending the ball, Cinderella firmly challenges back, “Well, why not? After all, I’m still a member of the family.” She also confides to her mice, “They can’t order me to stop dreaming.”
Knowing that the slightest insubordination could set her stepmother off, causing her to pile more chores onto Cinderella’s mile-high daily task list, or send her to bed without supper, Cinderella still stands up for herself.
She knows how to find the good in every situation, and even the humor sometimes too, regardless of being forced into servitude as a scullery maid. She amusedly quips to her sweet pup, Bruno, how there must be something good about Lucifer (Lady Tremaine’s discourteous and haughty cat).
Despite her poor treatment, Cinderella’s courage sees her through, and she never gives up hoping on her dreams of a happier life.
Cinderella is also incredibly kindhearted. She treats everyone (including all her animal friends) with respect and generosity, whether it’s her stepfamily, Fairy Godmother, or her mice and birds.
Cinderella loves her animal friends so much that she somehow finds the time to make clothing for them. Even when she’s working from dawn until dusk, she still thinks of and does things for the ones in her life that she cares about.
Cinderella is confident and stands firm in her belief of treating others how you wish to be treated. Her stepmother and stepsisters ostracize and torment her. What does Cinderella do in return? She treats them kindly, whether it’s a cheerful “Good morning!” as she delivers their breakfast in bed or simply being her sincerest self.
Cinderella: Disney Princess Motivations
Though it’s not explicitly stated by her in the films, I truly believe that Cinderella’s loyalty to her family is one of her biggest motivations. Now, I am not speaking of Cinderella’s uncaring stepfamily; I’m talking about her parents, whom she lost at a young age.
If you think about it (and as shown in the examples laid out above), Cinderella is a strong girl who is not afraid to stand up for herself, so why does she endure the constant torment from Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella? Why doesn’t she just leave?
Despite being forced to work as a servant, Cinderella’s home is the only tangible piece left of her childhood, the happiest time in her life. That chateau is what keeps her late mother and father alive.
Not to mention, as a woman in that time without any status, wealth, or marriage prospects, there wouldn’t have been many other options for her if she left.
So she chooses to stay in the home in which she grew up and can still reminisce on happier times. She also continues to clean and upkeep her childhood home, not just because her stepmother orders her to, but because it’s her home, the only home she’s ever known, and she is proud of it.
While it’s a massive undertaking for just one person, upkeeping the chateau so that her childhood memories stay alive is of great significance to Cinderella.
Cinderella is also motivated by hope and by her dreams. Let me be clear on this: Cinderella never says that she dreams of having a prince come to save her, and not once does she ask to be rescued.
In fact, Cinderella didn’t even realize that Prince Charming was the prince that night at the ball. Take a look at these screen grabs below.
When Prince Charming asks Cinderella why she must whisk herself away so soon upon the stroke of midnight, she gives the excuse that she’s not yet met the prince.
Post midnight when the magic has dwindled away, Cinderella, back to her rags, fondly tells her animal friends about the magical evening she had, mentioning her mystery dance partner, and says, “Oh I’m sure even the prince himself couldn’t have been more …” (she doesn’t continue the thought as the mice then point out that she’s still wearing one of her glass slippers).
This proves that she really has no idea who she had just danced with.
The next morning, when every girl in the kingdom is magically trying to will their feet to be smaller so they fit the tiny glass slipper, Lady Tremaine awakens her stepdaughters, telling them the prince is searching far and wide for the maiden he danced with, who left her slipper at the ball.
That’s when Cinderella finally realizes she had actually waltzed the night away and fallen for none other than Prince Charming.
So, as you can see, Cinderella’s motivations are not set upon looking for a prince. What Cinderella wants is to wear a dress, get one night off, and enjoy an evening of dancing. (Gosh, I think we can all relate to all of that.)
What’s more, Cinderella is motivated by the hope that someday she’ll have autonomy to make her own choices and find a happier life for herself.
Cinderella in the Disney Parks and at Sea
Finding Cinderella at Disney Parks and at sea is not hard; she is still one of the most popular Disney Princesses. You can go plenty of places throughout Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (as well as every other Disney Park across the globe and on Disney Cruise Line) to find her and still be home by midnight.
For starters, it’d be hard to walk into Magic Kingdom without seeing Cinderella Castle. It is literally the icon of the park.
Nothing makes you feel more like Cinderella herself than gazing upon that castle for the first time.
We’ve been catching glimpses of Cinderella recently at Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland, one of the spots that has started to offer character meets again.
You can also find Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table, posing for photographs (although the restaurant has not yet brought back character meets) and the princess’ theming runs through Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and Cinderella Fountain, both in Fantasyland.
On Main Street, U.S.A., you will see Cinderella throughout the day in the Royal Princess Processional, one of the Magic Kingdom Cavalcades.
If you have a ticket to Disney Very Merriest After Hours, you can celebrate in the snow with Cinderella (and Fairy Godmother) appearing on a float in the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
And if you’re really, and I mean really really, extra super duper lucky, there is one very special, Cinderella-themed spot in Magic Kingdom that is reserved usually only for contest winners.
I’m of course talking about the ultra-exclusive, very elusive Cinderella Castle Suite, the only place in all of WDW where you can stay overnight inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Staying here is at the very top of my personal, ultimate Disney bucket list, as it is for many a Disney fan. I could wax poetic about Cinderella Castle Suite forever, but to hear from someone who’s actually been inside, grab our Once Upon a Time issue right here to read more!
Just outside Magic Kingdom at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Cinderella, her prince, and her stepsisters meet during Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare. 1900 Park Fare remains closed at the time of publication, but we hope to see the magic return to this sweet character dining spot very soon.
While you can find the lovely Cinderella throughout all the other Disney Parks, the only other park that features Cinderella Castle is Tokyo Disneyland.
On Disney Cruise Line, most notably, Disney’s newest ship in the fleet, the Disney Wish, will heavily feature Cinderella theming, including a jaw-dropping golden statue of the princess herself, right in the atrium.
And join our waitlist to be among the first to get your hands on our brand-new DCL Magazine, with a maiden voyage in early 2023.
Disney Princess Cinderella: 7 Fast Facts
- Rumor has it that Walt Disney told Ilene Woods (the voice actress for Cinderella) that Cinderella was his favorite princess, and it has also been said that his favorite moment in a Disney movie was Cinderella’s legendary ball gown transformation.
- Take a good look at Cinderella’s dress the next time you see her at the parks. Her iconic ball gown has immaculate and poignant details to her story. The beautiful silver pattern on her blue dress features glass slippers, hearts, and the letter “C,” both standing for Cinderella and for (Prince) Charming.
- Cinderella’s shoe size is a 4 ½. No wonder the slipper didn’t fit any other eligible maiden in the kingdom!
- The runtime of Cinderella is 76 minutes. The film features songs such as “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo,” and “So This is Love.”
- Disney has done several remakes of Cinderella, with new twists on the tale (my personal favorite being the 1997 live-action Cinderella with Brandy and Whitney Houston).
- Cinderella has a sequel, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, and a threequel, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. While they didn’t quite make our list of the best Disney direct-to-video sequels, they’re both so great!
- Do you recognize any of the voices in the film? Verna Felton, our beloved Fairy Godmother, has lent her voice to countless Disney characters, including Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and Flora the good fairy in Sleeping Beauty. Does wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine’s voice ring a bell? That’s because Eleanor Audley’s rich vocal talent also voiced another iconic Disney Villain, none other than the evil Maleficent.
What Do You Love About Cinderella?
What are your favorite qualities about this kindhearted dreamer? Tell us in the comments on our Facebook page, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, so you can be sure to catch the next Princess Profile!
Also in the Disney Princess profile series:
Who’s YOUR favorite Disney Princess? Tell us over on our Facebook page!