ByLy Velez, writer at
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Ly Velez

This year's 4th annual D23 introduced us to a plethora of sneak peeks into the future of Disney, including a whole new look at the latest young lady to join the Disney royal family! Moana, which will officially be Disney's 56th Animated Classic and has a November 23, 2016 release date, will feature Disney's first Polynesian princess. The film will tell the story of a young but spirited girl determined to complete her ancestors' unfinished quest. She will have to traverse the waters of Oceania with the help of new friends and face foes head on. Co-director John Musker explains:

"Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself. She's the kind of character we all root for, and we can't wait to introduce her to audiences."

While the synopsis for the newest Disney animation has been known for almost a year now, very few other details had been released. However, the weekend-long Disney convention gave us extra juicy details about the origin of the film concept and a long awaited sneak peek at the gorgeous concept art of Moana!

Above you'll see Maui, a mythical oceanic demi-god who boasts moving tattoos and a fish hook. The shape-shifting character will be voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who is part Samoan and the only official cast member to date.

While that's all good and dandy, what everyone really wants to know about is Moana! What does she look like and where did she even come from?

Moana, whose name comes from the Hawaiian and Maori word for "ocean," has a rich story that originates from the beautiful, ancient culture of the Pacific islands. According to legend, 3,000 years ago, some of the greatest sailors in history traversed the waves of the South Pacific, but the adventures suddenly stopped. Moana's story starts up during that mysterious hiatus as she picks up where her ancestors left off.

During their research of Pacific Island culture, the team behind Moana quickly discovered the importance of the ocean to the people of the Pacific. It is considered a living being and a friend, inspiring animators and story writers to very literally include the ocean as part of the cast.

Moana says hello to her friend the Ocean
Moana says hello to her friend the Ocean

Throughout the film, Moana will become one with the ocean she has loved since infancy, together facing mythical foes and extraordinary adventures! The Moana team explains:

"We went to the islands and met people who were connected to the ancient culture and to the things that really made them unique. The whole idea of voyaging wasn’t in our initial story. And then we learned what a source of pride it was for them, that they were the world’s first great navigators, using dead reckoning to find their way across the ocean. We wanted to celebrate that. We came away from the trip knowing that we wanted to set a story in the world of voyaging and wayfinding. So for the story we were trying to tell, this 16-year-old heroine seemed like the right character to tell that story."

The early clips shown at D23 were unsurprisingly met with overwhelmingly positive reactions. Although we still have a little over a year left, Moana seems like it'll be well worth the wait! But in the mean time, check out the rest of the gorgeous concept art below to satisfy your Disney craving!

Sailing into the Night

The Worrisome Father

The Homeland

The Trusty Sidekick

The Comical Friend

The Fearsome Enemy



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