Disney gathers princesses to showcase animation slate

Fans and cosplayers attend the D23 Expo fan convention at the convention center in Anaheim, California on Saturday. - AFP

LOS ANGELES - Disney staged the largest gathering of its princesses in history on Saturday as it delighted thousands of fans with a star-studded preview of its forthcoming animation slate.

The spectacular moment came as John Lasseter, Pixar and Walt Disney animation studios chief, was introducing his filmmakers at the biennial D23 Expo to reveal new details, footage and images from a host of upcoming films.

"I'm so excited about our upcoming movies. They are all hilarious, emotional, beautiful and make you think," Lasseter told a delighted crowd.

"It's a great mix of incredibly creative and surprising new worlds and characters and stories we love returning to. Our filmmakers are putting so much heart into these films - I can't wait for people to see them."

There was a world-first screening of one scene from "Ralph Wrecks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph 2" that deliciously sends up Disney princesses from the studio's history.

Lasseter revealed that directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston had asked the original actresses for each to reprise their roles - and then one by one, they came on stage.

The gathering featured Auli'i Cravalho ("Moana"), Kristen Bell (Anna in "Frozen"), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in "Brave"), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in "Tangled") and Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in "The Princess and the Frog").

Also called on stage were Irene Bedard ("Pocahontas"), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in "Aladdin"), Paige O'Hara (Belle in "Beauty and the Beast") and Jodi Benson (Ariel in "The Little Mermaid.") - AP