Elena of Avalor, Disney's first princess "inspired by diverse Latin cultures," is the next royal to join Disney World's costumed character cohort. The company announced that Elena will begin roaming the park this August during its Awaken Summer presentation today.
Elena, whom Disney first revealed in January, will also star in her own cartoon on Disney Junior, a cable network for preschoolers. A show bearing her name will begin sometime this summer, according to the company. The 16-year-old's series will find her growing into her crown as Avalor's newest, youngest royal.
Elena exists in the same universe as Princess Sofia, who has her own Disney Junior cartoon. She'll make her debut in a series of episodes of Sofia the First airing later this year, an arc that has Sofia freeing Elena of the magical amulet that imprisoned her for decades — and that Sofia herself is wearing.
Sofia and Elena have something else in common, beyond similar taste in jewelry: When Disney announced Sofia the First in the fall of 2012, the company referred to her as its first Latina princess. Disney executives later backtracked on that, however, instead saying, "All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures."
The Facebook post explaining this difference has since been removed from Disney's page. As for Elena, press materials have stayed away from outright referring to her as Latina. A cultural advisory board for the cartoon, however, features a handful of Latin-American scholars, and Disney noted in its original announcement that Elena of Avalor is "influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families."