Walt Disney World this morning officially crowned Merida from Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” as the 11th Disney Princess. Her coronation ceremony fittingly took place in front of Cinderella Castle, just steps away from her own Magic Kingdom meet-and-greet spot.
Just after the theme park opened, Princess Merida was joined for the first time by all ten of her fellow royals, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana, and Rapunzel, welcoming her to the group. And for the first time ever, Merida’s mother Queen Elinor made a theme park appearance, just in time for Mother’s Day.
The group was also joined on stage by U.S.A. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas and her mother, introducing the event.
Video: Full Merida coronation ceremony as 11th Disney Princess
Before the ceremony began, child stars Sophie Grace and Rosie (of “The Ellen Show” fame) performed a rap song on stage, charming the crowd with their cuteness.
Video: Sophia Grace and Rosie rap in front of Cinderella Castle
Here’s the segment Sophia Grace and Rosie were taping at Walt Disney World for “The Ellen Show”:
Then Gabby Douglas and her mom said a few words about the important relationship between mothers and daughters before the attention was turned to the Disney Princess Royal Court.
Each Disney Princess was introduced individually, taking a moment to pose for pictures before the star of today’s coronation showed up.
Then Merida arrived in style on horseback, leading a Scottish procession of drummers, bagpipers, and dancers.
Video: Merida processional for coronation at Walt Disney World
Once on stage, Queen Elinor came out from Cinderella Castle and placed the crown atop Merida’s head and giving her a warm motherly embrace.
After that, Merida showed off her outspoken personality, exclaiming “I am Merida and I am a princess!”
Following the coronation ceremony, Elinor brought Merida her bow and all 11 Disney Princesses gathered for the first time together on stage for a once-in-a-lifetime photo moment - or at least until the 12th princess comes along.
Video: All 11 Disney Princesses gather together for the first time
The event was put on by Disney Consumer Products as Merida joins the Disney Princess merchandise line. At the Disney Social Media Moms conference also taking place this weekend, DCP showed off a variety of “Brave” related toys and other kids’ products.
Much controversy has surrounded Merida’s crowning since we first revealed the plans along with her new Disney Princess look. Many people have become outraged at Merida’s new 2D look that Disney Consumer Products has developed to use on packaging and advertising for select merchandise in the Disney Princess line.
Some have cited the new look’s seemingly higher cheekbones, heavier makeup, better groomed hair, thinner waistline, and exposed shoulders as an unnecessary makeover for Merida, making her conform to society’s view on beauty.
And Merida own creator “Brave” co-director Brenda Chapman has taken issue, calling the makeover “atrocious,” saying Disney “should be ashamed of themselves.”
UPDATE (5/15/13): Disney has reached out to officially comment on the Merida controversy, stating the 2D new look was intended for a “limited” use only.
But Merida is Pixar’s first princess. As such, others defended the new look, simply noting that it’s designed to match the look of the other Disney Princess characters - to make them all appear as if they stepped out of the same world instead of differing across decades of artistic styles. Snow White animated in the ’30s certainly has a very different look than computer-generated Merida and Rapunzel of today’s films.
Regardless of her new Princess packaging look, Merida remains a feisty Scottish tomboy in Disney’s theme parks, her appearance at today’s coronation no different than when she first debuted in the parks more than a year ago.
Guests visiting Walt Disney World can now look forward to meeting Princess Merida, officially part of the small - but growing - group of Disney royalty.
More photos from Merida’s coronation at Walt Disney World: