Disney to Make Big Changes to Cinderella’s Look Later This Year

Cinderella - New Look Feature Image
Credit: Disney

Cinderella is one of Disney’s most iconic princesses, and with her castle being the focal point of the Magic Kingdom, her story really is an important part of what makes a Walt Disney World vacation so special.

This beloved princess made her debut in Disney’s retelling of the original fairytale in the animated film, Cinderella (1950), and while she has remained a favorite character over the years her appearance has changed drastically. In fact, Cinderella has likely undergone more changes to her dress, hair, and accessories than any other Disney character over the years. And while some of these updates have improved her look, especially as she appears in the Parks, other updates have not been well received by fans.

Cinderella‘s look will once again receive enhancements this summer, but before we get to that, lets take a look back at how we got to the character and the film’s current style.

Cinderella 1980s vs. 2015

Cinderella at the Magic Kingdom in the early 1980s vs. 2015. Credit: Retro Disney World (left), Disney (right)

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Cinderella made her theatrical debut 21 years before the first Guests would see her castle at Walt Disney World, and her namesake film was well-received as both a critical and box office success. In terms of the film’s appearance, Cinderella was known for its line work, backgrounds, and use of color and shadows, with much of the concept art for the film created by Disney Legend Mary Blair.

Suppose you’ve seen Cinderella on its first line of VHS releases (or perhaps even at an early theatrical release). In that case, you have likely seen the film in its original form, which highlights the style of animation and character design the movie was originally known for. Unfortunately, if your only viewings of Cinderella have been later remastered versions, including the version currently available on Disney+ you may be missing a lot of what made the character so iconic when the film was released.

Cinderella original animation vs. remastered

Credit: @stephen_duignan

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When Disney began remastering many of its animated films, especially as many were released on DVD, viewers ended up losing many of the details that made the artwork in the original versions so special. And while many fans prefer to view animated films as they originally looked when they were released anyway, the appearance of Cinderella was particularly botched.

So much of Cinderella‘s look depends on the details, whether it be on the title character herself or the film as a whole, with many of the shadows, linework, and colors lost in the remastering process. For Cinderella specifically, her ball gown is one of the most iconic images from the film (that, of course, inspired how her character looks at Disney Parks), and the difference in the photos above with the original on the left and the remaster on the right is startling. Sparkles and lines are noticeably missing in the remastered version. The first re-releases are also when we see Cinderella’s hair turn blonder than it was initially shown.

In 2013, Disney took its remastering of some of its animated films to what many fans considered to be a step (or several steps) too far, when the company launched a redesign of its official Disney Princesses. (We mean “official Disney Princesses” in the sense of the “Disney Princess” brand, which could be a topic for a separate post entirely, especially as many fans were not thrilled with the ’13 redesign.)

Cinderella 2013 vs 2023

Cinderella’s 2013 redesign (left), Cinderella in 2023 (right), Credit: Disney

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The redesign created a domino effect with new looks debuting for most of the Disney Princesses Guests can see in the Parks, and while Cinderella’s look remains close to her original, there have still been some noticeable updates over the years, particularly in the color of her dress and the way her hair is style.

This year, however, Disney is once again remastering Cinderella, and the first images shown from the new version of the animated film look very promising. @Animated_Antic took to Twitter to share side-by-side shots of the last version of Cinderella alongside a 4K remaster set to be released on Blu-ray this summer:

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The next version of the film will restore many of the details lost in previous remasterings, adding sparkle back into Cinderella’s dress, greater depth to the shadows, and even her original hair color. In Disney Parks, Cinderella’s look has been toned down slightly since the 2013 makeover, but she still appears far from how the character originally debuted in 1950. (If you’ve met her at Princess Fairytale Hall or Cinderella’s Royal Table, or even if you have spotted her from a distance in Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, you may have seen some of the 2013 details that remain, particularly in terms of her dress.)

With a new remastering coming, we have to wonder if the princess is in for a new look at the theme parks, too. As of this writing, however, the next remastering of Cinderella will be released on Blu-ray this summer, and Disney has not confirmed whether or not the update will be available to stream or if we will see a new look for the character at Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."