From Ariel in The Little Mermaid to Zazu in The Lion King, the Walt Disney Company has been coming up with creative names of colorful characters for as long as many of us can remember. While animated royalty is always a good place to start, we’re reaching beyond the likes of Disney Princesses into a fantasy realm inspired by the genius whose legacy is equal in the American landscape to purple mountains and fruited plains.
Disney-inspired baby names range merrily from classics like Belle, Jasmine, Nala and Tiana to the lesser-known and equally captivating Eudora, Atina, Ortensia, and Tremaine or even the simple single syllable, Snow.
Inspiration may come in many forms, from films to television, and even the names of original Mickey Mouse Club members, like Annette (Funicello) or Frankie (Avalon). Some of Disney’s most famous characters have alternate names worth a second look: Sleeping Beauty also goes by Briar Rose, a unique and beautiful combination evoking the light-and-dark duality found in all fascinating characters and–as any new parent will tell you–in most babies as well.
Farther afield, names can be borrowed from the unlikely source of civil litigation: when Disney couldn’t use Moana overseas due to a trademark conflict, they gamely chose Vaiana instead. Lest the little girls have all the Disney fun, we can’t overlook viable boys names including Flynn, Finnick and Kristoff, explained below. And, of note for those who want to be on the leading edge of Disney with a nod toward a famous recording artist, too: Disney is currently developing a fairy tale film about an African princess named Sade (pronounced Sha-DAY), meaning “honor earns a crown.”
Here are some of the best Disney-inspired baby names:
Ariel — Leading the pack alphabetically is our Little Mermaid, Ariel — a biblical name derived from the Hebrew word associated with the phrase ‘lion of God.’
Avalon – We’re choosing the last name of original Mouseketeer Frankie Avalon. Avalon is of Welsh origin, meaning isle of fruit.
Briar – Do you remember that Sleeping Beauty’s other name is Briar Rose? Briar means a thorny stick.
Cameron – Inspired by the maiden name of later-day Mickey Mouse Club member Candace Cameron Burre. Cameron is of a Gaelic origin, meaning crooked or bent nose.
Dallas – Original Mickey Mouse Club member Dallas Johann was one of the few Mouseketeers in those early days with relatively unusual names. Dallas is an Old English combination of the words meadow and dwelling.
Dante – Not only the Italian poet and author of Inferno, Dante is — more recently — the faithful dog in Coco.
Ella – A lovely classic name that can be considered the diminutive from the classic tale Cinderella. Originally Ella means light.
Eudora – The name of Princess Tiana’s mother in The Princess and the Frog, Eudora is said to be from the Greek, meaning good gift.
Finnick – He’s the hot-tempered fox from Zootopia. Finnick is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning marshland farm.
Flynn – Tangled’s one-time thief who undergoes a change of heart, Flynn is an Irish last name meaning descendant of Flann, red or ruddy.
Justin – We can’t resist including this one as a tip of the hat to former Mouseketeer, now pop sensation Justin Timberlake. Justin comes from the Latin word meaning just or fair.
Kristoff – Despite his essential desire to be on his own, he helps Princess Anna find her sister in Frozen. Kristoff is of Scandanavian or Greek origin and means bearing Christ.
Lillian – Not to be overlooked, Lillian Disney was Walt Disney’s wife and mother of his two children. Lillian is of Latin origin, the word for the flower lily.
Matilda – From the movie of the same name about a young genius with psychokinetic abilities, Matilda is of German origin, meaning might and battle.
Megara – The love interest of Hercules in the movie of the same name, the origin of Megara is the Greek word for clouds.
Melody – Reaching into a Disney character family tree, one of Minnie Mouse’s cousins is Melody Mouse. Melody is from the Latin word for song.
Millie – Yet another of Minnie’s cousins, the name Millie is prevalent in multiple languages and is said to be derived from words meaning industrious.
Nala – Simple and elegant, from The Lion King, the origin of Nala is African — from a word meaning water in desert.
Naveen – The frog prince from Princess and the Frog, Naveen is taken from a Sanskrit word meaning new or young.
Pepper – One of the original 15 puppies in 101 Dalmations, the word and name Pepper has an English origin, meaning berry.
Sade – With a Disney movie in development of the same name, and a famous singer/songwriter association, Sade is an African word meaning ‘honor earns a crown.’
Tiana – Always fresh and lovely, the title royalty from Princess and the Frog, Tiana has a Russian and Latin origin and means, fittingly, princess.
Vaiana – The name Disney used overseas when Moana was a copyright conflict, Vaiana is of Polynesian origin, and means ‘the girl from the water.’
Willow – Borrowed in this instance from the Disney film Pocahontas, Willow is derived from the Middle English word for the flexible and graceful tree.
Zazu — Most likely taken from the Swahili word for movement, Zazi is King Mufasa’s right hand bird and reluctant caretaker of Simba in the Lion King. Reminiscent of the silent film star ZaSu Pitts (born Eliza Susan), the more contemporary Zazu is just the right combination of familiar and obscure to make a name as memorable as the Magic Kingdom itself.
While nine out of ten Disney-inspired names are a perfect fit for nearly any bundle of baby, there are always those troublesome monikers that will want to be avoided, including Cruella, Malificent and Mowgli (though musician Pete Wentz would beg to differ, having named his son Bronx Mowgli Wentz). And if these names still haven’t given you the warm fuzzies one would expect from being Disney-fied — we have one last suggestion for you to consider: Elias. As in, Walter Elias Disney.
Kellie Flanagan (she/her) is a writer and producer for print, broadcast and web, with credits in all media. Kellie has written and directed for major television and cable networks television shows including The Wild West, A&E’s Biography and The Civil War Journal.
As a child actor Kellie had a lead role on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and appeared in the original Star Trek, The Andy Griffith Show, and the cult classic film Wild In The Streets. Kellie is currently a staff writer at the Mariposa Gazette.