January 29, 2013 at 05:00 PM EST

It’s reigning Twilight Sparkle!

EW can exclusively reveal that the third season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic will see everyone’s favorite unicorn being named a princess — and gaining a new pair of regal wings in the process. “She was set up from the very beginning to be on an important journey,” explains MLP head writer Meghan McCarthy. “It’s really about her earning this new status by combining all the things that we’ve seen her learn over the course of the series.”

But don’t worry, Pony fans — though Twilight will undergo a physical transformation, her personality will remain the same. “What we didn’t want to do was change who she is as a character, because she’s certainly someone that everyone’s proud to know and love,” McCarthy says. “I don’t think becoming a princess really changes her; I think it’s going to introduce some new challenges for her.”

Those challenges will include living up to that  lofty new title. In MLP‘s Equestria, “princess” is a designation that’s earned, not freely given — and though princesses have specific leadership roles in pony society, being one really means “being a good pony who shares the gifts that they have been given with others,” according to McCarthy. “We’re building a very unique mythology around being a princess,” she continues. “Every little girl wants to be a princess, and not everybody can get to be a princess — but you can live up to the ideals that should come along with being a princess.”

The Hub will celebrate the mane event with a nine-episode MLP marathon on Feb. 16 beginning at 6 a.m. ET, followed by the coronation episode itself at 10:30 a.m. The network is also throwing a Coronation Concert in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, hosted (appropriately enough) by newly crowned Miss America Malory Hagan. Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter will be on hand as well.

Additionally, this fall, Hasbro will release a new line of toys tied to Twilight’s ascension — which EW can exclusively preview on the following pages. Giddyup!

NEXT: Princess Twilight in the flesh… er, plastic

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