After following the footsteps of Sofia The First and her adventures in Enchancia, Elena of Avalor revealed her own power and beauty in the new spin-off series that premiered last week on July 22nd. Albeit the targeted Disney Channel audience seems a little too old for the Disney Junior-esque show, it proved to provide a thoroughly meaningful message of relying on family and growing in wisdom in just the first two episodes.
Elena is a lovely, high-energy sixteen year-old crown princess with a passion to lead, and an adorable little sister Isabel. With such role model characters, it was hard not to fall in love at first sight. And not only that, but of course we are all well acquainted with the fact Elena and Isabel represent the first Latina-inspired princesses to be featured by Disney. Sofia The First is truly the first Spanish princess, as her mother is from the Kingdom of Galdiz, a fantasy location inspired by Spain’s culture… but we had yet to see any Latino presence until Elena of Avalor arrived. However, my major qualm with this emerging series is the blur between Spanish and Latino culture Disney creates. Elena appears to be an undefined conglomeration of many backgrounds, not attributed to any one clear people group. And while this works in Disney’s broad “once upon a time” storybook, it does not give due credit to the many Latinos who have been awaiting representation. In either case, it is a beautiful thing to see more minority equality within the Walt Disney World Company as the princesses widen their cultural spectrum to become more inclusive.
My head was spinning by the first commercial break. The first episode, “All Heated Up”, was incredibly fast-paced and brimming with backstory that was never fully addressed. There is a forty year long gap between the previous occurrences and the present time frame tended to in the show, which leaves room for curiosity. Current rumor has it there will be a future movie crossing Sofia The First with Elena of Avalor to smooth out the wrinkles in the fabric of this fictional past.
Walt Disney World has already paved the way for Elena to rise to her rule, as her merchandise already made an appearance days before the premiere release (both within the parks and Disney Store locations). Not to mention, I’ve seen plenty of little girls
traversing the parks as Elena look-alikes only seven days after her initial appearance. And while we’re at the task of defining Elena of Avalor culture, let’s discuss the hunt for Elena in the flesh. Walt Disney World has been looking all summer (beginning in late May) for bilingual ladies to fill her shoes – and that’s ignoring the party princess industry. I know several companies who were overeager to add Elena to their cast before the premiere, and an additional few cosplay designers who’ve already created masterpiece dresses. With all this hype surrounding her, it’s clear to see Elena will quickly amass a following that is sure to endure the span of her Disney Channel presence. It’s questionable though, with her undefined heritage and lacking a feature film, whether a majority of children will attach themselves to her reign. But for now – long live Elena of Avalor.