Much to the delight of little girls (and often the chagrin of their parents), Disneyland features what might charitably be called a lot of Princess content. There’s the Castle, of course, with its walkthrough attraction. Several shops focus exclusively on Princess merchandise from dolls to costumes to stationery sets, the Princess movies are favorites for abridging into stage shows, every parade has a Princess unit, and the Princess character meet-and-greets eventually got so popular that an entire sub-district of Fantasyland was built around them.
But you know what the Disney Princesses don’t get very many of? Actual rides. And this is true not just of the Disneyland Resort but of Disney theme parks as a whole. Seriously, how many rides centered on a Princess character can you think of? Like, three, right?
This may be because for all their popularity and grandeur, the Princess movies are not ideal for conversion into rides. Remember the cardinal rule of good attraction design: Put the Guests in the Center of the Action. Most of Disney's Princess films actually don't have a lot of action per se, focusing more on an internal journey (falling in love, discovering self-worth, etc.) than an external one. Show someone a movie, letting them spend upwards of an hour getting to know the main character, and you can usually get them to go along with an internal journey. But a theme park ride rarely affords its participants more than about ten minutes to absorb its content—nowhere near enough time to develop a sympathetic bond with a character, even if they weren't distracted by the physical presence of it all.
Nowhere is this clearer than in comparing the two Princess rides that can be found in the Disneyland Resort. One the one hand, we have Snow White's Scary Adventures, the classic that does it all right, bizarre points and all. On the other, we have The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure,* the newcomer that falls flat in so many ways.