once upon a name

New Study Shares The Top Ten Disney Character Baby Names

One Disney princess name dominates almost the entire country and it’s hard to guess!

A recent analysis of the Social Security Administration’s baby names data set examined how Disney ha...
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Popular baby name lists have continually shown that people tend to name their kids after pop culture phenomenons (i.e., the year Twilight was released — there were so many Bellas!), so it’s no surprise that the ever-popular world of Disney has charted a time or two. Parents have named their kids after princesses, pirates, and even animated foxes.

A recent analysis of the Social Security Administration’s baby names data set examined how Disney characters have actually impacted baby naming trends in the US, revealing some surprising and magical outcomes.

The analysis highlighted the top ten Disney character names nationally, ranked by their percent change from the 5-year average. These names taken from beloved characters in animated Disney films like The Little Mermaid and Encanto, show just how much Disney means to us millennial parents.

1. Merida

Merida, the Disney name with the most growth, hails from the 2012 Pixar film, Brave. Merida the strong-willed and adventurous princess, stars in a film about courage, self-discovery, and the importance of family. The name must have resonated with parents, leading to a significant rise (1150%) in the popularity. According to the study, the name was not very popular until the release of Brave.

2. Koda

Koda, the young and spirited bear cub from Disney’s 2003 animated film, Brother Bear, clearly had a huge impact. There was a 937% spike in the name in 2004, and although the popularity of the name declined until 2013, it remained more than double its 2003 level. However, since then, the name has increased exponentially in popularity such that it stood at more than four times its 2004 level by 2023.

3. Moana

After the hit Disney movie, Moana, made waves in 2016, the name rose in popularity by 488%. The study suggests that there was a sharp spike in the year the movie was released and an even larger one afterward.

4. Finnick

In 2016, Disney released the film, Zootopia, featuring Finnick, the sly fennec fox. Clearly, his name caught the attention of expecting parents. The name jumped up 408% after the film’s release. According to the analysis, Finnick was nowhere to be found before 2012, but the name soared in 2016, due to the movie’s March release date, and has remained elevated since.

5. Mirabel

Everyone who saw the hit 2021 Disney film, Encanto, fell in love with quirky and curious, Mirabel. So much so, that several parents decided to make that name part of their family. Though the name was somewhat prevalent before the film's release, in 2022, there was a 271% increase over its 5-year average, showing the effect that “Encanto” had on the name’s popularity.

6. Ariel

Don’t count out a classic Disney princess! Her long-lasting legacy shows that she’s just getting better with age. Released in 1989, The Little Mermaid clearly remains a Disney fan favorite with the name Ariel and is more popular than the rest of the Disney princesses.

The main character’s name saw a 253% increase in the year after the movie’s release and grew by around 50% again in 1991. Although her popularity fell afterward, it has remained very popular, staying above its 1989 level until 2023.

7. Flynn

Flynn Rider, the charming prince-like character from the 2011 Disney film, Tangled, has become a popular name choice for boys with a 166% increase in popularity.

According to the study, the name’s prevalence was slowly rising until 2011, where it grew by 166% and increased again by more than 50% the following year.

8. Raya

Raya, the main character the 2021 Disney film, Raya and the Last Dragon, has an interesting trend. Its naming frequency grew from 45 to 276 names from 1998 to 2020. Then, in 2021, there was a 161% increase of the name’s usage, shooting the name up even higher on the list.

9. Camilo

The shape-shifting member of the Madrigal family in Encanto, the name Camilo has gained popularity following the film’s release with an increase of 142% in popularity. Similar to the name Raya, the name was already trending prior to the release of the film.

In the year of the film’s release, the name’s popularity increased by 142% and continued to increase in 2022, but declined somewhat last year.

10. Elsa

No surprise here that the ultra-popular, hit Disney movie, Frozen, led to some trending baby names. Elsa, the film’s complicated and loving ice queen, rose in popularity by 126% after the film’s 2013 release.

The names Sebastian, Violet, Esmerelda, and Tiana also rose in popularity after their respective film releases.

The name study also analyzed which U.S. states are more likely to name their kids after Disney characters (and which ones they’re using!).

Based on the number of babies given one of the top 14 Disney names per 100,000 births during the films’ peak years, the top 10 Disney-influenced states include Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, California, Colorado, Utah, New York, and Texas.