Updated on December 10, 2021
This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is “Elena of Avalor,” an animated series that airs on the Disney Channel. “Elena” debuted in 2016.
The series is a spin-off of the Disney Junior series “Sofia the First.” A made-for-TV movie (“Elena and the Secret of Avalor,” involving Sofia) and the series’ first few episodes set up “Elena”‘s premise.
Elena’s the 16-year-old crown princess of the kingdom of Avalor, a land based on various aspects of Latin American culture. Elena and her family were imprisoned magically (and without aging) for 41 years by an evil sorceress that conquered Avalor. (Like many other Disney Princess productions, Elena’s parents are deceased.) Elena’s family was imprisoned in a painting, while Elena was trapped (but conscious) in a magic amulet that eventually became owned by Sofia.
After Sofia freed Elena, the two teamed up to free the rest of Elena’s family and overthrow the sorceress. The series focuses on Elena learning how to rule Avalor, while taking advice from her family and friends.
Being a Disney series, there’s usually a fairly catchy song number in each episode. Unusually (at least to me), it also seems to have a slightly more mature tone than what I’d expect for a “Sofia the First” spin-off. One episode’s story revolves around Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. “Elena””s tone might stem from being considered a Disney Channel series (despite its ties to, and also airing on, Disney Junior).
Other characters include:
- Francisco and Luisa, Elena’s grandparents. Both of them are caring, and give Elena valuable advice. Elena’s grandfather also likes to play the guitar and sing.
- Isabel, Elena’s younger sister. Isabel enjoys creating inventions, usually of a fantastical or steampunk variety, keeping with the series’ fairy tale/pseudo-historical setting.
- Esteban, Elena and Isabel’s cousin. Esteban serves as chancellor, and is often boastful of his skills/experience. Not having been magically imprisoned like the rest of the family, Esteban’s now middle-aged.
- Naomi, a friend of Elena’s; the teenage daughter of a sea captain.
- Mateo, another friend of Elena; a teenage wizard in training.
- Zuzo, a magical “spirit animal” fox that can access the spirit world; he can be summoned by Elena and Mateo. He usually gives advice to Elena.
- Gabe, a teenage friend of Elena and a member of the royal palace guard.
- Armando, an easily-stressed palace servant.
- Several “jaquins,” flying winged jaguars. The jaquins can talk, and serve as the national animals of Avalor.
Aimee Carrero voices Elena. Carrero is an actress who’s appeared in some other Disney-related series, most prominently the Freeform (formerly ABC Family) sitcom “Young & Hungry.”
Here’s the opening credits for the series.