Why ‘Moana’ Matters

2 Dec

Disney delivered on its latest princess adventure, and box office sales definitely reflect the public’s engagement with the film. Promotional materials promised Moana to be a high-seas adventure for all ages, focusing on a fiercely independent young woman discovering who she was meant to be.

The film’s cast of incredibly gifted vocal actors brings each character to life (even Alan Tudyk’s HeiHei the chicken). The music unifies the film in a way unparalleled since Randy Newman constructed the New Orleans soundscape of Princess and the Frog. Young Auli’i Cravalho elegantly represents an entire people group untouched by Disney (with the exception of Lilo and Stitch).

However, with popular success comes comparison. How did it stack up against Disney’s latest behemoth, Frozen? Does it live up to the hype? Will she be a good role model for young kids?

The one review most unnerving for many is the notion that Moana and other princess of color are the same. “Moana is just Pocahontas with water.” “Moana isn’t anything new.” Anyone who leaves Moana with that understanding missed the entire film.

Sure, teenage Moana shares characteristics with many Disney princesses. She and Pocahontas understand the weight of coming from prominent families and the implications of continuing a legacy for the sake of a community. She, Belle and Mulan know what it’s like to share a bond with their fathers. Moana, Mulan and Pocahontas have tight-knit bonds with their grandmother figures (because, ya know, Grandmother Willow isn’t exactly human…). Pocahontas sang about going just beyond the riverbend, and Moana dreamed of what lies just beyond the ocean’s horizon.

But Moana’s story delivers so much more. 

Moana offers a fresh narrative to the Disney princess line: adventure often comes at a cost. This is something we’ve yet to see a Disney princess struggle with understanding. Adventure to Moana means more than just escaping the palace walls for a stroll around the marketplace. It’s more weighty than wanting to shoot for her own hand in marriage. Moana’s decision to leave her family stems from following the rawest desires a person has, not just an adventure forced upon her by impending conflict. Sure, Moana had to return the stone. However, we all know that Moana would’ve escaped to the ocean eventually, with or without a quest.

This differs from any other princess we’ve seen. Mulan set out to save her father and family’s honor. Anna ventured into the snow to save her sister. Pocahontas defied her father for the sake of knowledge and to experience love.

Moana is the first princess who acted largely for herself. It’s a character arc historically saved for males.

Moana might be the first case of a true female bildungsroman in the Disney canon. 

So, while Moana might have traces of other Disney princesses (as those Disney princesses had traces of others in them), she truly does more for the brand than any other princess before her. Not only does she represent a culture largely ignored by the Disney company, she represents a revolutionary new path for any female Disney lead.

I could go on about the lush scenery, the stellar music, the meaningful dialogue between Moana and Gramma Tala, the detailed and stunning representations of Polynesian culture. However, the biggest recommendation I could make is this: Moana means more for kids than just being another princess movie. Take your daughters, take your sons, take your teenagers, take your grandparents, take everyone you know.

The message is both timeless and timely: take hold of your adventure, look beyond the horizon and you’ll go far. 


The Muppets Rock Hall of Presidents

2 Oct

In a country stressed out over politics, leave it to the Muppets to bring smiles to American history.

They’re no Hamilton, but you won’t have to sell a vital organ to see this show. Can we just keep this show? I don’t want to fathom an animatronic Donald Trump in the sacred Hall of Presidents.

A Disney College Program How-To: The Phone Interview

26 Aug

Congratulations! You made it through the trenches where most dreams die — the web-based interview! However, you’re not out of the woods yet. I’ve met plenty of CP hopefuls who confidently got to the phone interview and had it all fall apart because they weren’t prepared.

This is the first and only time in your application process where a human will talk to you. Keep that in mind. This is the ONLY time you have to express exactly why you want to be part of this program, why Disney means a lot to you, why you deserve to be working for Mickey Mouse. You get one shot. Make it count.

The DCP website keeps a few questions online to ask potential candidates. “Why do you want to work for Disney?” “What do you think you can bring to the program? Why?” “How do you hope this program will impact your future?” Those questions are just a taste of what an interviewer could ask you.

Know the roles. Disney will consider you for ANY (and I mean ANY) role in which you showed interest. For example, I put a 1 (low interest) for parking/transit, but I hate driving. My interviewer asked if I would be comfortable with my list of interests, and I asked her to remove parking from my selections. She said that’s fine, and I continued my interview with four choices: Photopass, Attractions, Merchandise, and Character Attendant. Read over the role descriptions before your interview and MAKE SURE you’re okay with anything listed under each description.

Here are some need-to-know tips for a great phone interview:

Be prepared. Those questions Disney posts online? Yeah, they actually ask you those verbatim. I scribbled out each answer I had to the three questions and read those answers back to my interviewer. She didn’t see the notepad on my lap during the interview, but she probably noticed I’d thought a lot about why I wanted to work for the company.

Smile. Seriously. Smiling will keep you upbeat and in a pretty good mood throughout what can be a stressful interview. Also, I can pretty much guarantee the interviewer on the other end of the line will be smiling just as much as you. With both phone interviews in two programs, I’ve left my interviews feeling confident and happy rather than petrified and nervous. That’s largely because my interviewer was genuinely rooting for me and I could smile throughout the process.

They’re rooting for you. Recruiters know how incredible a program DCP is. They want as many students as possible to experience it. They want you to succeed. Don’t ever feel like they’re out to get you with a trick question. If you don’t understand a question, as your interviewer for further explanation.

Dress to impress. No, the person on the other end won’t see you. You should still treat this opportunity like a business venture and dress in something you’d wear to an in-person interview. Dress in a way that makes you comfortable and confident. I’ve had people swear they’ve worn pajamas to the phone interview and made it. Congrats to them that unprofessionalism bade well for once. I hope they never brag about that to any other employers, as that’s just a really sad accomplishment. You might as well start practicing professionalism now. “The Disney Look” is definitely something you can get a head start on before your DCP begins.

Be personal. Be the best you that you can be. Disney is looking for individuals rather than carbon copies of Mickey Mouse. They want types of people for certain roles, sure, but they want people whose different backgrounds and experiences can contribute to a diverse and thriving work location. Don’t give answers you’d think Walt would love to hear. Give answers you’re comfortable with and honest about. If you’re truly meant to work for Disney, then your answers will align with what the Company looks for in applicants.

A Disney College Program How-To: The Web-Based Interview

25 Aug

You want to apply, so now what? Let’s learn about the web-based interview. 

There are two sections to this part of the interview. There’s a general form that Disney uses to make sure you’re not a serial killer. Once you get through the basic eligibility requirements, you’ll receive an email about a web-based interview.web-based interview

It’s severely tempting to think “Ah, yet another internet quiz. This will be SUPER easy!” Don’t think that. Nope. Don’t do it. MOST DCP applicants are cut HERE.

The web-based interview is where you have to know yourself pretty well. You should be honest in your answers, sure, but most importantly, you should be CONSISTENT in how you present yourself. If you say you’re timely on one question but then say you sometimes run 10-15 minutes late on another, the system will notice that inconsistency.

Five helpful hints to doing well on the web-based interview:

Use STRONG answers. You’ll rate things on a scale for most of the interview. Don’t put neutral; you’re effectively saying “I feel ‘meh’ about this.” Disney doesn’t need “meh;” it needs “yay” or “nay.” You either go a STRONG YAY or a STRONG NAY.

Know what you prioritize. Is it safety of Guests? Is it comfort? Is it making people smile? I’ve yet to discover if there are right or wrong answers with this, but I can assure you (and my fellow DCPers will agree) that SAFETY is the number one key with the Walt Disney Company.


Know yourself “Inside Out”

Know yourself. You don’t have time to debate whether you’re messy or clean (or “dysfunctional yet organized” like myself). They want you to push through the entire interview in about 30 minutes. There are a lot of questions. You have to keep moving.

Be honest. If you make it through the web-based interview, your interviewer in the next step will ask you about what you checked for the web-based portion. Not remembering what you put isn’t a great sign, so being honest and true to self helps. That never changes.

Be confident. You got this.

For an intro about the DCP, check out my last post here.

What questions do you have about the College Program? Leave them in the comments area below! There’s no such thing as a dumb question. 

A Disney College Program How-To: An Overview

24 Aug

It’s that time of year: Disney College Program applications are online and ready for YOU.

Ever considered spending a semester away from the hard desks of college classes and instead working for Mickey Mouse?

I spent a year and a half of my life participating in the Disney College Program. I worked


Just a regular night at Fantastmic!

Fall 2013 in the Magic Kingdom at the Stitch complex in Tomorrowland. I spent Fall 2015 at Disney Springs (then Downtown Disney) at DisneyQuest. And yes, #disneyquestisopen. I extended my program into Spring 2016 where I worked at Rock N Roller Coaster and Fantastmic! While I stayed an attractions cast member for all three programs, each work location had its own benefits and challenges. I had fresh experiences each and every day.

There are three elements to the application process:

  1. General application.
  2. Web-based interview
  3. Phone interview

For the next week, I’ll be going over each part of the application process in detail. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll answer them in the posts!

Here are some basics if you’re interested in applying:

– Must be at least 18 years old.                                         

– Must have finished your first semester of college.

– Must be currently enrolled in college at the time of application.

(The following aren’t must-haves but seriously help if you have them)

– Enjoy dealing with people. You’ll have new roommates with whom you’ll hopefully bond. You’ll more than likely be enrolled in classes with people very different from yourself. Oh, and there’s that little bit where you’ll probably work with thousands of people each day. I’m not saying you have to be extroverted! I’m an introvert myself. However, it really helps if you have patience with the Guests (and sometimes cast members) who frustrate you.

– Experience being away from home. Sure, you might try to plan a visit home for a weekend, but not everyone has that luxury. Fall program participants will spend Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without their families. For some, that’s very difficult. There were several people within two weeks of my Fall ’15 program who quit because they couldn’t handle being away from family/significant others/friends.

– Willing to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. You get out of the program what you put into it. If you never leave your apartment fearing Orlando itself, you will be miserable.

– Know and love the Walt Disney Company. No, it’s not a requirement. It helps enormously. I grew up entranced by Disney movies. I vividly remember my family vacations to Walt Disney World. I know why the magic matters in my life. If you can find that connection, it helps when things get tough. It helps when you have days when Guests yell at you. You find the magic in your memories and it reminds you why you pursued this opportunity in the first place.


Mickey ears are all the cooler when you match your roommates. 

The perks are endless. There’s the whole getting-into-the-parks-free bit. You’ll rub elbows with all sorts of insanely talented people. You have opportunities to learn first-hand from professionals who are the best in the business. You get insane discounts for yourself and your family. You form close bonds with some of the best people you’ll ever meet.

You never know until you try! Apply today!

Applications for Spring 2017 are LIVE! Click here to apply!

A warm welcome back…

24 Aug

…for those of you who made it an entire summer!

I spent my summer roaming about the California mountains, and internet service was essentially nonexistent.

Here’s what I missed blogging about:

    • Moana trailer!
    • Steven Tyler got virtually edited in the Rock N Rollercoaster preshow after 17 YEARS of throwing up “the shocker.”
    • Wreck It Ralph 2
    • Elena of Avalor joined the royal court


I’m headed back to The Most Magical Place on Earth in September. I’ll be sure to blog my yearly Food & Wine Festival recommendations as well as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party adventures. 🙂

Thanks for your loyal readership!


‘Mary Poppins Returns’ Gets Release Date

31 May

Looks like December 2018 will have another jolly holiday.

Disney announced its Mary Poppins revival will hit theaters Christmas Day 2018. They also released the title: Mary Poppins Returns.

Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada, Into the Woods) will star as the practically perfect nanny. Lin-Manuel Miranda, star/creator of the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton” and currently crafting music for Disney’s next animated feature Moana, will star opposite Blunt in a Bert-esque role.

The movie will follow a grown-up Jane and Michael Banks in depression-era London. The nanny will revisit the Banks family after a tragedy that deprives the family of happiness, according to the Company’s announcement.

Keep your calendars clear, as Christmas day releases will no doubt start piling back up as 2018 draws nearer.