The camera pans to a large leather-bound book. It has gold leaf edges complete with a hand-painted scene on the cover. It depicts a beautiful maiden in the arms of a handsome Prince. The music swells as the cover of the book is opened to reveal the immortal fairy tale words: ‘Once upon a time, in a Kingdom far, far, away, lived…’
You know the rest. Snow White; Sleeping Beauty (above); Cinderella; they all got their start this way. Along with just about every other cartoon soon-to-be Princess! But this storybook opening isn’t the only constant to be found in feature-length animated fairy tales.
The other constant is the minimal role of the Prince himself. Usually he is a handsome young man (unmarried, this is very important) who just wants to find true love. He happens upon a peasant girl who sings beautifully, talks to animals, and is drop-dead gorgeous! Oh, and some very powerful person hates her and is bent on destroying her. If I was a Prince looking for my lady fair, I’d want to know this going in, but that’s just me.
Next comes the duet (how do they both know the words?) the loss, the chase, the harm/death sequence, all concluding with a kiss. Oh, and a marriage with the obligatory ‘Happily ever after’ tagline! But this entire plot manages to take place with the Prince getting about 10 minutes or less of screen time. When all is said and done, the Princess is in our hearts and the Prince is all but forgotten.
Until Disney decides to include the Princess in a parade or stage show in the Parks. Then she needs some eye-candy on her arm and our Prince is resurrected for a brief cameo. When a new Princess appears, her Prince fairs a little better. He gets to stick around for the Meet-and-Greet, but only for the first few months. Then he is ‘fired’ and sent back to the pages of the storybook he came from.
Why does Disney DO this?!?
I first started to ponder on this when I heard about the ‘firing’ of Flynn Rider from the Rapunzel meet-and-greet. When that happened, I tried to remember if there were any real Prince meet-and-greets. Answer: None. Nada. Zip. Not even one.
Well, Aladdin manages to hang on over at EPCOT, but usually on the arm of Jasmine. So we’ll call him Mr. Exception for now (but that’s still Prince Ali A Bu Bu whatever-whatever to you).
With the popularity of the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique and it’s propensity for pumping out little Princesses by the carriage-load, am I the only one who sees the marketing and photo-op potential of a Prince meet-and-greet right next to the exit? And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that a few of the little Princesses’ mommies would get a kick out of snuggling up to Prince Eric or Prince Charming themselves = Girls Day Out at the Prince Meet-and-Greet!
Come on Disney! Give the old Princes a new lease on life. Let them have their day in the sun. After all, some of them had to fight long and hard to get their lady fair (albeit, mostly off-screen), so the least you could do is give them some face time! OK, it’s true the ladies can find some beefcake to pose with while running the Princess Half Marathon, but making women run for miles until they’re hot and sweaty before you let them pose with gorgeous men might not be as appreciated as you think!
Of course, I’ve never heard a Prince complain about this. Maybe they’re at home in their Man Cave in the basement of the castle enjoying Pay-Per-View wrestling events and drinking mead. Maybe they’re laughing at how their Princess is out there getting mauled by long lineups of strangers for nothing but a ‘Thank You’. Maybe they’re thinking to themselves: “It’s good to be the Prince!”
This article was originally published on Disney Dispatch and has been edited and updated. If you’d like to read more articles of this kind, please visit Disney Dispatch and my column called Why Did Disney DO that?!?