Disney casts its newest princess: Moana

How do you follow up on a generation-defining hit about a magical-but-misunderstood princess who turns the world to ice and snow? By going to the Pacific Islands, of course.

Disney’s upcoming animated feature Moana tells the story of a young woman who uses her navigational know-how to set sail in search of a fabled island, and now we know who will voice the intrepid explorer.

Earlier today, People provided us with our first image of the film, along with some concept art and a featurette (embedded above) on the young lady who will play the eponymous princess: Auli’i Cravalho. A 14-year-old native Hawaiian, Cravalho beat out hundreds of competitors and her reaction to landing the part is adorable enough to melt even the most Frozen hearts.

Kudos to the studio for casting an actual Polynesian and we like that Disney wasn’t afraid to entrust a relative unknown with such an important role. Cravalho will be acting alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (also of Polynesian descent) who will play the legendary demi-god Maui.


While the young actress’ million-dollar smile won’t be seen on screen, her voice seems to be the perfect reflection of her charismatic, positive personality. In looking at Disney’s concept art and the first still from the film, it also seems like she’s a bit of a Moana doppelganger, which never hurts.

The film is set for a November 23, 2016 theatrical release. If that’s a chilly time of year in your neck of the woods, have no fear, this one is sure to feature hot sand, crystal blue water, and palm trees aplenty.

Moana will be the 56th animated feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, with Frozen 2, and Gigantic — a Jack in the Beanstalk re-imagining — set to follow.