Showing posts with label Disney+. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney+. Show all posts

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Clip Reaction

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to hit theaters on December 20, 2019 and excited fans are counting down the days until we once again can travel into galaxy far, far away.  I've been enjoying rewatching the whole saga on Disney+ these past few weeks with my oldest son as we count down the days until the final chapter in the Skywalker saga is revealed.  I was so excited to hear a new movie clip was released and couldn't wait to get home from work and watch it with Brody.  Check out our reaction!

When we combine this with the trailers we have already seen and the special look from D23 Expo this summer, it's easy to see that we are in for an epic finale.  In this latest clip I'm less confused then in the footage from D23 where Dark Rey threw all of us for a loop.  So what do you think?  Who else is excited by this clip?

In the meantime, make sure you are following all things Star Wars on social media for the latest news and updates!

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The Call of the Wild Trailer Reaction

The first trailer for The Call of the Wild dropped and it offers us a glimpse into this latest interpretation of Jack London's classic story.  Honestly, this movie wasn't even on my radar screen, so I didn't know what to expect when I viewed the trailer today.  As soon as I saw the poster and the trailer began, I knew that having Harrison Ford involved in this project meant that it was going to be something that would pique my interest.  But will kids be interested?  Let's watch it together.

I'm excited to hear more about this film in the weeks and months ahead.  This first look at the trailer gives me a lot of hope for this film.  Harrison Ford seems poised to deliver a strong performance as always and the scenery has me wanting to plan my own trek into the Yukon.  My husband will enjoy the fact that it's set during the Gold Rush and my kids will fall instantly in love with Buck.  I hope that it delivers as a family friendly movie that elementary and up will enjoy when it releases in February 2020.

About The Call of the Wild

Adapted from the beloved literary classic, 20th Century Fox’s THE CALL OF THE WILD vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team--and later its leader--Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master. 
As a live-action/animation hybrid, THE CALL OF THE WILD employs cutting edge visual effects and animation technology in order to render the animals in the film as fully photorealistic--and emotionally authentic--characters. Directed by Chris Sanders from a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the novel by Jack London, the film was produced by Erwin Stoff, with Diana Pokorny serving as executive producer and Ryan Stafford as co-producer and visual effects producer. THE CALL OF THE WILD stars Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Colin Woodell.

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Give the Gift of a Family Vacation!

This holiday season, why not give the gift of a family vacation to the ones you love?  What better way is there to celebrate the season then creating family memories that will last a lifetime?? You've heard me share about the specials my friends at Get Away Today have had in the past, but Black Friday deals keep getting better and better!  Check out information below on specials for not only California, but Florida travel too.

Disneyland Travel - Get Away Today still has Adult's at Kid's prices on 3 day or longer tickets for Disneyland.  This is good on a variety of tickets including park hoppers or one park per day and can be used with or without MaxPass.  There are no blackout dates and they are good through the end of 2020!  Purchase your discount tickets to Disneyland Resort here.

Southern California Combo Ticket - Looking to plan a longer visit to Southern California?  You can combine the above Disneyland ticket deal with savings on other popular SoCal attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood and LEGOLAND, plus get an EXTRA combo discount to save even more on these tickets.  No promo code is required - you'll see the savings pile up in your cart! Check out the Southern California Combo savings here.

And For The East Coast - No need to fear!  We get included on the fun with this Black Friday Sale!  You can save an extra $10 off tickets for Florida attractions like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando off of the already discounted prices offered through Get Away Today.  Use code BLACKFRIDAYFL to access this savings.  For more on Florida deals, click here.

Don't forget to use my special code PIXIEDUST to save even more when you book a vacation package including tickets and hotel stay.  Visit soon though!  There is limited availability on some of these deals and they ALL expire on December 2nd!  Happy traveling my friends!

I'm an affiliate partner with Get Away Today.  That means that while you're saving money on some amazing vacations, I may also earn a small commission.

Growing Up: A Look at Olaf in Frozen 2

As Olaf told us all in Frozen, "some people are worth melting for" and it's certainly true that one little snowman melted hearts all over the world in the original Frozen.  From his delightful song to his charming sense of humor to his deep love and loyalty to Anna and Elsa, Olaf captivated audiences and became a star.  Olaf fans have nothing to worry about in Frozen 2 as he is once again back and, in some ways, steals the show.  But, like some of the other characters, our favorite snowman has done some growing up since we last left him in Arendelle.

In Frozen, we meet Olaf - the snowman lovingly created by Anna and Elsa as children when they played in the castle.  When Elsa's powers are unleashed, Olaf becomes real and befriends Anna and Elsa in adulthood.  However, we meet a very naive Olaf in the original film.  His song, "In Summer," tells of a snowman longing to spend days relaxing in the summer sun, oblivious to the danger that would pose to him.  Throughout the film he is equal parts lovable and goofy.  While his character is certainly dedicated to his friends and can clearly articulate love, he seems blind to what's going on in the world around him.

Josh Gad (Olaf) discusses his character's
growth at the Frozen 2 press junket.
Then we meet Olaf in Frozen 2.  Olaf has become older and wiser and is now questioning the world around him.  I attended  the Frozen 2 press junket with The Geekly Retreat where Josh Gad jokingly talked about Olaf getting "a license" and taking out "an insurance policy" as the moderator mentioned his permafrost and new found ability to read.  But Gad turned serious when he shared Olaf's fears about change and growing up.  He shared a story of his own daughter at about 5 years old suddenly crying and asking "what if I don't want to grow up?"  Olaf is going through that same journey in the film.  He questions why things have to change and even his song, "When I Am Older" hints at the fact that kids question the world around them and recognize that they don't have all of the answers.  Gad described it as that moment you "realize that maybe the world isn't just raindrops and lollipops and roses."

Olaf will definitely be a relatable character for kids trying to figure out the world around them.  He reminds me of my own son who at 7 notices everything and questions "why" when he sees things that are difficult for him to understand.  Gad again delivers a memorable performance that will leave an impression on your heart even after the movie ends.  Olaf will once again we worth melting for when your family sees Frozen 2!

About Frozen 2

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she'll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

Looking for more Frozen 2 fun?  Check out my experience on the red carpet, download FREE activities for the family to enjoy, learn about the music of Frozen 2, and read a full review of the film

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Meet the Villains of Lady and The Tramp

Following our screening of Disney's new live action remake of Lady and The Tramp, I had the opportunity with my fellow attendees of The Geekly Retreat to sit down with Yvette Nicole Brown (Aunt Sarah) and Adrian Martinez (Elliott) to talk about working with the furry stars of the film, their characters, and diversity in the film. These two were delightful and full of enthusiasm to share their perspective on a reimagining of this classic Disney film.

About Working with the Dogs

Both Brown and Martinez had nothing but wonderful things to say about working with their four-legged co-stars.  They each talked about the difficulty of being the "villain" to these sweet dogs.  Because their characters had to be so mean to the animals during filming, they spent some extra quality time playing with the dogs when the cameras weren't rolling so they knew not to really be fearful of Brown and Martinez.  Brown in fact was so moved during the film, that she adopted a dog herself to bring some of that puppy love home!

Their Characters

It may seem that a villain is a one-dimensional "bad guy" character that is just out to ruin lives.  However, the conversation we had with Brown and Martinez shed a different light on the villains from Lady and The Tramp.  Martinez talked about his character being "misunderstood."  He was a dutiful civil servant who truly felt like he was doing what needed to be done to keep the citizens of the city safe from wild and dangerous animals.  Brown also talked about the complexity of Aunt Sarah.  On the outside, it's easy to write her off as a cruel, cold woman, but when you look closer you see her doting on her niece and genuinely enthusiastic about the new arrival.  One of the lines that humanizes Aunt Sarah most was actually an ad lib by Brown.  In this version of the film, Jim Dear and Darling actually take Lulu with them when Aunt Sarah comes to housesit.  You can clearly see the hurt and disappointment in Aunt Sarah's eyes as the young couple races out of the door with their baby as soon as she arrives when Brown says "I didn't even get to hold her."  Looking at her through the lens of someone who is lonely and hurting, it becomes easier to relate to her character.  Those cats in the film though. . .they're just mean and manipulative if you want my opinion!
Photo From Walt Disney Studios

Diversity in the Film

One of the things that stands out about this film is the diverse casting.  As Disney has been re-imagining films for a live action reboot, this seems to be a trend. . .and it is very welcome and refreshing to see.  Both Martinez and Brown talked about the film's obligation to represent the world we live in and hopefully seeing this as a step towards the new normal.  Brown shares that "I think every child, no matter their race, or their sexual orientation. . .deserves to see someone that looks like them."  When asked how critics may respond to re-imagining some favorite Disney films, Brown points out that "there's enough love in our hearts to enjoy the 1955 classic and the 2019 classic" and notes that they don't need to cancel each other out.

Want to know more about Disney's Lady and The Tramp which is streaming on Disney+?  Check out my review and then tune in for yourself to see Yvette Nicole Brown, Adrian Martinez, and other terrific actors - both on two legs and four! - light up the screen in this remake of a film that has been delighting viewers for over 60 years.

About The Film

In Disney+'s "Lady and the Tramp," a timeless re-telling of the 1955 animated classic, a pampered house dog and a tough but lovable stray embark on an unexpected adventure and, despite their differences, grow closer and come to understand the value of home.  Life is good for Lady, an overachieving American Cocker Spaniel who resides in an upscale suburban neighborhood.  Her owners, Jim Dear and Darling, spoil her daily and her neighbors, Jock, an outspoken Scottish Terrier and Trusty, a world-weary Bloodhound, are always within barking distance.  But when a baby enters the picture, Lady is no longer the center of attention, and the arrival of cat-loving Aunt Sarah only complicates matters.  Lady soon finds herself alone on the streets in an unwelcoming part of town.  Fortunately, Tramp steps in, and the streetwise mongrel is quick to teach her the ways of the world.  Before long, the prim and proper pure bred and the fast-talking mutt are partaking in moonlit strolls in the park and romantic spaghetti dinners by candlelight.  Tramp savors the independence of a world without leashes or fences alongside his roguish friends Peg and Bull, but Lady misses the comfort and safety of a family, and soon both must decide where - and with whom - they belong.  A heartwarming romantic adventure that seamlessly combines live action and photorealism animation, "Lady and the Tramp" stars: Tessa Thompson as the voice of Lady and Justin Theroux as the voice of Tramp; Kiersey Clemons as Darling; Thomas Mann as Jim Dear; Janelle Monae as the voice of Peg; Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah; and Sam Elliott as the voice of Trusty.  The film is directed by Charlie Bean from a screenplay by Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund, and is produced by Brigham Taylor with Diane L. Sabatini serving as executive producer.

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The Music of Frozen 2 - My Favorite Songs from the Film

Reviews are pouring in for Frozen 2 as it gets ready to open everywhere on November 22.  But you don't have to wait until then to start enjoying this magical journey in your own home!  The soundtrack just released and it is a force to be reckoned with. Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who were also the songwriters for Frozen and Coco, really come through on this film with a soundtrack that is as memorable as the first.  I had some favorite musical moments that stood out from the film, but listening to the soundtrack (over and over again!), brings that whole flood of emotions back and I once again find myself in the woods with our favorite Frozen friends.  As an animated movie musical, the songs enhance the story so listening to the soundtrack may give you a few details about the plot itself, but no major spoilers to be found in the music or in this post!  Take a look at my top 3 songs from the film.

#3 - Some Things Never Change

This song comes early in the movie as we are catching up with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf.  I think part of what I like about this song is it features all of our lead characters singing to and about each other.  It's a cute song to watch as you see those close relationships the between each of the characters and the perfect way to bring them all back to us on the big screen.  Listening to the song again after seeing the movie, I enjoy the message of the song even more.  The world is constantly changing around us and sometimes it feels like things are spiraling beyond our control.  It's in these times that we look for the constants in our lives.  Who are the people that are always there for us no matter what?  When life gets scary, lean on those around you and take comfort knowing that "some things never change."

#2 - Into the Unknown

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez,
songwriters for Frozen 2.
Much like it's predecessor, Frozen 2 turns to Idina Menzel to deliver a powerful and memorable musical performance as the rising action in the story climbs and our characters embark on their daring journey.  I mean, as if there were any doubt, this song is a technical masterpiece.  Menzel is spectacular.  It's mystical, beautiful, and powerful - all at the same time.  But don't overlook the alternative version of the song performed by Panic at the Disco during the closing credits and also available on the soundtrack.  It takes a totally different spin on the song which is equally delightful for listeners.  Whether your journey into the unknown is a new job, a new beginning, or venturing into the North Woods, you'll find all the courage you need to face the unknown with confidence in this song.

#1 - Lost in the Woods

Ok, ok. . .hear me out on this one.  If you are just listening to the soundtrack, I hope that you're enjoying this song like I do, but this is also one that you have to "see it to believe it" when I tell you this is simply the best musical moment of the film.  As you can tell from the lyrics, we find Kristoff at a bit of a crossroads emotionally and in a true 1980s power ballad way, he delivers a heartfelt song where he puts all of his feelings on the table.  He is in love and not afraid to say it.  The way he loves Anna during this film will leave people talking about how every man should treat his Disney princess.  I really fell in love with Kristoff during this movie and this number is a big reason why.  I have listened to it on repeat and each time can't help but feel my heart smile.  The delivery of this song in the movie is a highlight which will leave you feeling all the feels with Kristoff and also laughing out loud at the creative minds of the animators.  Hands down #1, I don't care what anyone else says!

If you haven't downloaded the music yet, what are you waiting for??  This is the perfect way to pass the time until the film opens and to relive all of your favorite parts once you've seen it.  Looking for more Frozen posts?  Check out what it was like to walk the red carpet and attend the Frozen 2 after party, read my review, and download FREE printable activities for the family to enjoy all here at Running on Pixie Dust!

About Frozen 2

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she'll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

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Frozen 2 Takes Us Into the Unknown

Are you ready to go "into the unknown" and "let it go" when Frozen 2 hits the big screen on November 22?  I had the chance to walk the red carpet and attend the Hollywood world premiere as part of The Geekly Retreat and it was an amazing way to experience this film! Get ready to fall in love all over again with your favorite characters and meet incredible new faces along the way.

Review of Frozen 2

We find Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff living their best lives in Arendelle as the movie opens.  However, Elsa quickly begins to question what is happening as she hears a strange voice calling to her.  She tries to shake it off, but the sound keeps coming back.  When the full force of nature seems to unleash on Arendelle, the queen and princess lead their subjects into the mountains surrounding the city to seek safety.  Grand Pabbie appears and fills Anna and Elsa into the mystical happenings taking place around them.  It becomes clear that to get the answers she seeks and to save her kingdom, Elsa must leave Arendelle.  Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff begin their journey northward to find out what is happening.

My thoughts on the film?  The story is as good as the first - if not a bit better.  All of the characters have more depth this time around - even little Olaf!  The trailers show a "darker" and "scarier" story than we saw in the original film, but I don't think this should deter young families from seeing the movie.  It's a more serious story at times, but also has many moments of heart, humor, and song that all everyone with find a connection with as they watch.  I will say that I thought the story is a bit more complex than the original and I feel like the first 20-30 minutes are a bit slow, but stick with it and pay attention because the information they go over at the start of the movie is crucial and the action picks up quickly once they arrive in the woods.  And then there is the music!  The songs from this film are their own version of iconic.  While I *think* I enjoyed the original soundtrack more on a standalone basis, I'm excited to listen to the music again when the soundtrack releases and when I see it with my kids to see if that changes.  Regardless, the songs are PERFECT for the film.  The powerhouse team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez certainly deliver again.  There is one song that may go down as my favorite Disney "music video" of all time. . .but I'll let you discover that one one your own!

After all of the years watching and re-watching Frozen, I was left with a number of plot questions.  And when I heard a Frozen 2 was in the works, I found myself hoping that these questions would get answers.  This is a spoiler-free zone, so while we're talking about what questions that will be answered - no answers will be actually be given!

What happened to Anna and Elsa's parents?

In Frozen, we get a brief few scenes with Anna and Elsa's parents before they embark on a journey by boat.  We see the boat thrown around the ocean and then Arendelle receives news that the King and Queen have died.  While it appears clear that they perished at sea, I always wanted to know where they were going and more about what happened on that fateful day that changed the lives of both Anna and Elsa forever.  You WILL find out more about the death of their parents in this film.  Apparently Anna and Elsa, like me, have been asking this same question.

Where do Elsa's powers come from?

Anyone else find it strange that Elsa is the only one in her family that turns the world to ice when she touches things?  Grand Pabbie asks Elsa's parents early on in Frozen if she was born with the powers or cursed and her dad reveals that she was born with the powers.  How does that happen?  My academic brain thinks back to Punnett Squares and I'm fascinated that she has these icy powers while mom, dad, and Anna don't.  Well, rest assured that you WILL find out why Elsa has these magical powers as the story unwinds.

What's Kristoff's backstory?

Can we talk about Kristoff for a moment?  Here is this rugged mountain man who lives with his reindeer best friend and falls in love with a princess.  What happened to his parents?  Why does he live with a bunch of trolls?  I love me some Kristoff and want to know more!! So in this movie, Kristoff plays a more prominent role and we learn more about him for sure (in fact, some of my favorite moments from this film involve Kristoff) - but I did not get ALL of my questions answered.  Maybe this is Frozen 3 territory?  Or a Disney+ series?  One can hope!

About Frozen 2

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she'll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

Looking for more Frozen 2 fun?  Check out this trailer preview post including FREE downloads of activities for the whole family to enjoy!  Follow the Frozen fun on their social media channels!

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Get in the Christmas Spirit with Noelle

Who doesn't love a family friendly Christmas movie that gives us a glimpse of what it's like to be a Kringle?  For generations, movies have been made that pull back the curtain on the mystery of Santa Claus and his family, and Disney's Noelle puts an original twist on the family life of St. Nick.  Warning - I both laughed out loud and ugly cried in this movie far more than I expected which is the sign of an outstanding movie in my opinion!  Seriously, you'll want to keep reading this and then grab your yogurt pants (you'll get it when you see the movie!) and your hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and peppermint to watch this with the whole family.

Recap of the Movie

The movie begins introducing us to Santa's kids, Noelle and Nick.  When Santa passes away, it's everyone's expectation that Nick (Bill Hader) take over for his father.  Noelle (Anna Kendrick) is there to support her brother every step of the way as her Christmas cheer is infectious.  As his first Christmas nears, Nick is overwhelmed and questions his ability to handle the job.  Noelle encourages him to take a weekend getaway to clear his mind, but when Nick doesn't return, the North Pole goes into panic mode.  What happens when Santa goes missing and Christmas is just around the corner?  Panic sets in and Noelle's tech-savvy cousin, Gabriel (Billy Eichner), is named as the replacement Santa.  Realizing her duty to her brother, and really the world, to bring the real Santa back home, Noelle leaves the North Pole for the first time with her nanny, Elf Polly (Shirley MacLaine), and heads to Phoenix, Arizona.  What follows is a series of hilarious events that teach Noelle more about the true meaning of Christmas than she can even imagine.  Seriously, Anna Kendrick is delightfully jolly as Noelle Kringle and her enthusiasm for the holiday season will easily come across the screen to everyone who watches.

Why Families Will Love It

Where do I even begin with this?  Let's first talk about messages that you'll walk away with from the film.  There is a big overarching look at expectations - both from society and from your family.  Nick is expected to become Santa because he's Santa's son.  No one stops to ask Nick if that's what he wants.  I don't want to give any spoilers here, but I'll just throw it out there that Nick isn't the only one struggling with this battle of what he wants and what is expected of him.  Learning to stand up for what you want and what you believe is a hard thing for all of us.

Noelle also grapples with the fact that the holidays can be a hard time for some kids.  As an educator, I loved that a Christmas movie shows that the holiday season isn't always perfection and lots of gifts and big families gathered under the tree singing carols together.  In the film we follow a young boy going through his first Christmas following the divorce of his parents as well as a young girl is living in shelter with her mom over the holiday season because they've lost their house.  I'm a big proponent of movies that show kids they are not alone is struggling with hard things at home and I think this is also a great reminder for kids who may be tied up in wanting the latest and greatest gadgets to be reminded what some of these kids in the movie wish for as their "present" this Christmas.  The idea of Christmas traditions changing as families evolve is also present throughout the film.  Most of my ugly crying happened during these scenes by the way.

At the end of the day, this is a family holiday movie that will leave you feeling all the feels.  It's certainly one that kids of all ages can enjoy right alongside of their parents.  Even young children who would miss most of these bigger themes I've been talking about will delight in the bright colors, fun music, and jolly holiday spirit.  Thank garland that Disney+ has brought us this film for the holidays!!

About Disney's Noelle

In Disney+'s holiday comedy, "Noelle," Kris Kringle's daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something "important" like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over for their father this Christmas.  When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away. . .but when he doesn't return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas.  The sudden disappearance of the new Santa (Bill Vader) leads to chaos in the North Pole, so Mrs. Kringle (Julie Hagerty) must step up to rein in the hi-tech replacement Santa, Cousin Gabs (Billy Eichner).  Meanwhile, Noelle and Elf Polly (Shirley MacLaine), the family's acerbic but good-hearted nanny, are down South on a search-and-recover mission, during which Noelle (Anna Kendrick) comes to realize she has much in common with her father and begins to understand the true meaning of Christmas.  Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, "Noelle" stars Anna Kendrick, Bill Vader, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty and Shirley MacLaine.  The film is produced by Suzanne Todd with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer.

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Get in the holiday spirit as Disney's Noelle begin's streaming on Disney+ when the service goes live November 12, 2019!


Marvel Hero Project Celebrates Everyday Kid Heroes

So, you may notice a theme in my posts from The Geekly Retreat that talk about Disney+ shows and movies - and it's crying.  Seriously, by the end of Disney+ Day on the retreat, my face was puffy and my makeup had been completely washed off my face.  Many shows and movies will leave you feeling big emotions, and Marvel Hero Project is no different.

The Premise

During our screening, we had a chance to have the show introduced by Dan Silver, Disney+ Vice President of Non-Fiction Content.  The "origin story" of this series is just as sweet as the show itself.  The idea came from Silver's son while they were walking to see Spiderman: Homecoming.  His son was talking about kids that he knows as everyday heroes which brought the idea to Silver, who was working at Marvel at the time.  From there, the idea began taking shape.  The series selects a different kid in each episode who is doing incredible things.

This is definitely a show to watch with the whole family.  It's a perfect conversation starter on a number of topics - namely, to quote Walt himself, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible!" In the episode we saw, and others that I'm aware of, kids and their families have some definite challenges facing them, but they choose to not let anything hold them down.  Others highlight kids in tremendous acts of service to others.  They are stories of heart and perseverance with life lessons for all of us.  We have the ability to make the world a better place, one small act at a time!

At our screening, we were shown one of the episodes.  I'm not going to tell you which one or ruin any "plot points" for you so you can enjoy it with your family, but I will say to bring the tissues.  Maybe I'm just a big softie, or maybe it's being a mom, or maybe it's being an educator, but I love stories of incredible kids doing incredible things!  I cried along with the mom as she talked about coming to terms with her son's struggles and as she talked about his courage to overcome EVERY obstacle in front of him.  I cried with his coach as he talked about the inspiration he has been for the team.  And I cried as the gifted artists at Marvel turned his story into a one-of-a-kind comic book.  That's something cool they are doing for each story they feature on the series and families can read the comics online after watching each episode!

I can't wait to watch this with my kids.  While I think my 7 year old will enjoy it more than my 4 year old, I will certainly watch it with both of them so they can see the amazing stories of other kids!  Regardless of whether you are a Marvel fan or not, this is something you won't want to miss.

About Marvel Hero Project

In life, it doesn't take wearing a suit of iron, carrying a mythical hammer or swinging from spider webs to be a real hero.  Sometimes the person who can make a positive difference in the world is the person who simply sees a problem and has the passion to find a creative solution.  And in Marvel's Hero Project, the new Disney+ series, those people are kids.  Like the girl who helps loved ones  with Alzheimer's make connections through puzzles or a boy who grows an urban garden to feed the hungry, despite his family financial hardships.  The first non-scripted reality series from Marvel Entertainment takes an up close and personal look at the lives of twenty amazing kids from across the country, each of whom is doing remarkable things to help his or her community.  Each week, Marvel surprises these young heroes, who have dedicated themselves to performing selfless acts of bravery, kindness, and betterment, by welcoming them into Marvel's Hero Project, inspiring viewers of all ages.

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Marvel Hero Project springs into action on November 12th!  Don't miss an episode of this inspiring series!!

Lady and The Tramp Review

Disney+ is just about to make it's debut and already it has gone to the dogs!  We all know that Disney's live action remakes have been knocking it out of the park (check out my reviews of Disney's Aladdin and The Lion King which also released in 2019), and with the release of Disney+ we find yet another live action remake that is set to rekindle our love of these classics!

Disney's animated Lady and the Tramp was released in 1955 - long before many of us were even born!  But the iconic story of two dogs from opposite sides of the city who find love over a meatball and some spaghetti is a timeless story that has been entertaining audiences for decades. Fans of the original will be happy to know that there are few changes to the storyline, and those changes only add to the storyline.  Let's take a look. . .

How it Compares to Original

There are many scenes in this remake that pull directly from the original and will tug at your heartstrings as you see them recreated with actual dogs.  I felt a deeper connection with the dogs during this film - in both times of joy and times of sadness.  When you watch Lady climb the steps and hop in Jim Dear and Darling's bed, you can almost feel her wet nose and soft fun snuggling up against you.  And as you watch the dog catcher chase Tramp through the streets, you're heart will race with nervous worry - even though you know how it ends!  There are a few small "tweaks" to some of the scenes as Lady and Tramp explore the city together, but they really don't add or detract from the original storyline in my opinion.

Besides the obvious change of creating the movie in a live action rendition, viewers will also find a more diverse cast in this remake.  As Disney continues to reimagine their classics, we have seen this trend and I think it's wonderful for casting to be more representative of all fans and viewers.  We'll dive into this topic, along with others in my post recapping the interview with Yvette Nicole Brown and Adrian Martinez who play Aunt Sarah and the Dog Catcher respectively.

Overall, I had much stronger emotions during this remake than I had with the classic animation and found myself crying at a few points during the film.  I think fans of the original will enjoy this movie and those of you who maybe didn't enjoy the classic should also give this one a chance too - it's worth the watch!

Kid Friendliness

While there is certainly nothing inappropriate about Lady and the Tramp, I think it's meant to be enjoyed by a slightly older audience.  My 4 year old has grown up with a mom who loves Disney movies and has watched a lot of live action and animation Disney films in his short life.  He would probably enjoy the film, but I don't know that it would hold the attention of all young kids the same way.

The only other caution I would give to parents with young children about the movie is that emotional connection I felt was stronger in this film.  I think it's easier in a cartoon to distance yourselves from the characters and the situations, but it is much harder when you're watching a live action movie.  When Aunt Sarah takes Lady to get a muzzle, it's heartbreaking to watch as is the scene at the dog pound when you see the dogs locked in cages and sad.  Those very raw emotions can be a lot to process for some kids.  In fact, I think my 7 year old may have a harder time watching this film for that reason than my 4 year old who may not fully process what is happening with the animals.

About The Film

In Disney+'s "Lady and the Tramp," a timeless re-telling of the 1955 animated classic, a pampered house dog and a tough but lovable stray embark on an unexpected adventure and, despite their differences, grow closer and come to understand the value of home.  Life is good for Lady, an overachieving American Cocker Spaniel who resides in an upscale suburban neighborhood.  Her owners, Jim Dear and Darling, spoil her daily and her neighbors, Jock, an outspoken Scottish Terrier and Trusty, a world-weary Bloodhound, are always within barking distance.  But when a baby enters the picture, Lady is no longer the center of attention, and the arrival of cat-loving Aunt Sarah only complicates matters.  Lady soon finds herself alone on the streets in an unwelcoming part of town.  Fortunately, Tramp steps in, and the streetwise mongrel is quick to teach her the ways of the world.  Before long, the prim and proper pure bred and the fast-talking mutt are partaking in moonlit strolls in the park and romantic spaghetti dinners by candlelight.  Tramp savors the independence of a world without leashes or fences alongside his roguish friends Peg and Bull, but Lady misses the comfort and safety of a family, and soon both must decide where - and with whom - they belong.  A heartwarming romantic adventure that seamlessly combines live action and photorealism animation, "Lady and the Tramp" stars: Tessa Thompson as the voice of Lady and Justin Theroux as the voice of Tramp; Kiersey Clemons as Darling; Thomas Mann as Jim Dear; Janelle Monae as the voice of Peg; Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah; and Sam Elliott as the voice of Trusty.  The film is directed by Charlie Bean from a screenplay by Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund, and is produced by Brigham Taylor with Diane L. Sabatini serving as executive producer.

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Disney's Lady and the Tramp begins streaming on Disney+ November 12, 2019!  Be sure to check it out!

Attending the Frozen 2 Red Carpet Premiere

Alright, somebody is really going to need to pinch me because I'm still in a fog wrapping my head around the fact that I was able to attend the Hollywood Premiere of Disney's Frozen 2 as part of The Geekly Retreat.  Seriously, y'all. . .as both a self-proclaimed DisNerd and blogger, this experience is one that will take a long time to top.  Let's start from the beginning and walk you through the night!

Prepping a Red Carpet Look

Deciding what to wear to the premiere was more stressful than I thought.  Never having been to an event like this before, I leaned heavily on the advice of my friends who had experienced a red carpet and after party before.  Blending comfort with style can sometimes be tricky, but I was able to find something that was truly me and also paid tribute to Frozen 2.  I'm definitely more of a short dress girl so I opted for a short dress with capped sleeves.  Since warm colors are more my thing, I went with a navy blue dress that had a bit of shimmer at the top - like the glitter you may expect from our favorite ice queen.  I paired the look with a silver bag and silver shoes to contrast the dark dress and trigger thoughts of snow and ice.  When I went shoe shopping, my youngest insisted that I buy the most shimmering pair of shoes they had - and I happily obligied!  I also added a snowflake broach to the dress which had extra special meaning.  The pin belonged to my grandmother who passed away nearly 5 years ago.  We were incredibly close in a number of ways, but especially in our love for Disney!  Grammie was with my on my first visit to Walt Disney World Resort in 1989 and I have vivid memories of singing, dancing, and acting out scenes from our favorite Disney films when I would spend time at her house. Having her with me on the red carpet meant a lot to me!

Walking the Red Carpet

The red carpet experience is every bit as insanely amazing as it looks on TV.  Lights, cameras, and celebrities are all around and there's a bunch of staff who are keeping the chaos as organized as possible.  We were behind where the stars walked the carpet so no one asked me who I was wearing (haha!), but I was able to watch all of that happening.  There were also plenty of photo opportunities along the carpet celebrating the premiere.  As you would expect the theming was spot on - from the colors, to the characters, to the fall leaves along the way. . .everywhere you looked it was Frozen fever!  I had my red carpet buddy, fellow Mid-Atlantic Mom-On-The-Go Rachel from Pretty in Baby Food, and we took turns snapping pictures of one another along the way.

After finishing our time on the carpet, we headed inside the Dolby Theater. . .yup, the same one that is used to host the Oscars.  I can't be sure, but I may have sat in a seat where Chris Hemsworth has sat.  Just that thought makes me a little happy!  I had an incredible seat - orchestra right, row C.  That's every bit as close as it sounds being just 3 rows from the stage.  I would have taken pictures inside the theater to share this incredible building, but phones go into a locked pouch during premiere events to keep anyone from sharing any part of the film early.  Prior to the movie starting, the live stream of the red carpet is playing for those inside to watch.

Before the movie started, the talented cast and crew took the stage for introductions.  Familiar Frozen talents like Indina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff were joined by new cast members for this film including Sterling Brown, Jason Ritter, and Evan Rachel Wood.  Everyone on stage was simply glowing as they celebrated their big night!  When the cast was taking their seats, one of my friends gave Sterling Brown a "We love you!" shout out and he commented back "I love you too!"

The After Party

Once the movie ended, we headed upstairs to The Ray Dolby Ballroom for the after party.  What a whirlwind experience!! Before even entering the ballroom, you can tell this event is all about families and fun.  There were areas for photos outside the ballroom, a dance video game, and. . .get this. . .McDonald's Happy Meals!  The family friendly food continued inside with hot dogs and mac and cheese joining more sophisticated winter squash lasagna and carrots on the buffet.  Over at the dessert station, frozen themed cupcakes, cookies, and treats delighted both kids and adults!

Speaking of kids, it was clear from the start that Disney's Frozen 2 Premiere had kids and families in mind.  There were so many games and fun activities around the ballroom - very different than what I expected in a Hollywood After Party but also WAY more fun for the kid in me!  Throughout the evening they had charades at the Build-A-Bear table, build your own Olaf with Lego, cartoon drawing instruction, and much, much more.  One of my highlights of the night - hanging with Olaf.  I mean, I've met the snowman at Walt Disney World before, but being able to congratulate him on his big night in person was a pretty cool experience.

One of the highlights of the evening though was having a chance to say "hi" and celebrate this fabulous film with some of the talented actors that lend their voice talents to the cast.  First off, I had met up with Josh Gad, voice of Olaf in both the original Frozen and Frozen 2.  He couldn't have been nicer in person and carries just as big of warm smile as his character in the movie.  Later on, I ran into Sterling K. Brown as well.  You probably recognize him most for his lovable character Randall in This is Us, but you will also fall just as quickly in love with his character, Lieutenant Mattias in Frozen 2 and he is a wonderful addition to the Frozen 2 family.  As the night was winding down, I also had a chance to chat with Jason Ritter who voices another new character, Ryder, in Frozen 2.  I LOVED him as Mr. Cyr in the television series, Parenthood, and he was wonderful to talk with.  He shared his excitement about being part of this film and had a smile that echoed that feeling!

We closed down the after party, literally staying until the lights were back on full force in the ballroom as I wanted to soak in every last minute of this magical evening.  There were truly too many pictures and moments to share from the evening, so check out the YouTube video above for a quick recap of the night!

About Frozen 2

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she'll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

Looking for more Frozen 2 fun?  Check out this trailer preview post including FREE downloads of activities for the whole family to enjoy!  And you can find my review posted now to find out what questions you'll have answered during this sequel!

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My Kid Threw Up on a Walt Disney World Bus

So, this one time, in Disney World, my kid threw up on the bus to Hollywood Studios. (You're supposed to see Alyson Hannigan there. . .did you??)


Yeah, you read that right.  Here's a little context.  My first child (actually, my only at the time of this incident) was just 17 months old and wrapping up a whirlwind 10 day vacation where we sailed for a week on the Disney Fantasy and then spent three days in Walt Disney World.  It was supposed to be a magical time, and, for the most part, was that ideal first visit.  But on the last night of the trip, my son was particularly fussy overnight.  I thought the July heat and long vacation may have just been getting to him and knew we were heading home the next day so he'd be getting back to his normal routine in no time.  The next morning, we left our room at the Contemporary Resort and had breakfast inside the hotel at Chef Mickey's.  I expected this to be an incredible time for my little guy, but he seemed disconnected and refused to eat almost anything.  C'est la vie, right?  Well, we had a few hours to go explore Disney's Hollywood Studios before heading to the airport.  We took advantage of Disney's Airline Check-In service and sent our bags over to MCO from the hotel leaving just our carry on at the hotel and heading to the park with our stroller and diaper bag.  I had my son on my lap on the bus to the park, and about halfway through the journey, he began vomitting. Let me tell you - this is not a fun experience.

He's covered. I'm covered. My diaper bag is covered.  It smells.  Everyone is watching.

My husband is in the seat across the aisle and staring in a paralyzed horror.  After what seems like an eternity, but was probably more like 15 seconds, he sprang into action and alerted the bus driver who handled the whole experience like the calmest person on the planet.  Does this happen often on Disney transportation?  I don't know, but he certainly wasn't fazed. We cleaned up what we could with paper towels as the bus continued towards it's destination.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios, we quickly exited and took the clothes off of my son and threw them in the nearest trashcan.  Fortunately, the diaper bag was zipped during this ordeal so the spare change of clothes I had in the bag were safe and I was able to throw him in a onesie.  What I didn't pack was extra socks and shoes - and those items were clearly destroyed.  You want to know how much a pair of baby socks costs inside a Disney park?  Well, I can't remember exactly but it was a lot more than at Wal-Mart.  And we just decided to bypass shoes the rest of the day. . .I mean he's only 1 1/2 right? Fortunately, he didn't get sick any more that day, but he did scream like a madman during the plane right on our descent into Baltimore.  What caused all of this?  Well, we found out the next day when we went to the doctor that he had a pretty bad double ear infection.

Why am I sharing this with you?

So you can learn like I did from my travel experiences.  As a relatively new mom on our first major vacation with a little one, I had some important takeaway moments from this that changed how I traveled with kids in the future.  First things first, always have a change of clothes with you.  I don't care if they are 5 months old or 6 years old - accidents happen and a spare change of clothes can go a long way in a crisis situation while also saving you money on buying expensive items in a theme park.  Next thing was always traveling with a few key medicines for the kids - Advil, Tylenol, and Benadryl - as well as a thermometer and band-aids. In this case, I could tell my son wasn't feeling well, but didn't have anything readily available to help him out.  Maybe a dose of Advil would have helped the fever he had (which I didn't really realize he had until much later) and made him more comfortable during the flight home.  Kids medicine isn't as readily available as it may seem too sometimes when you're on vacation so this can be really helpful!  Looking for help with a little one in the park?  Check out my Guide to Baby Care Centers located inside each Walt Disney World theme park where you can find medicine, quiet respite, changing areas, feeding areas, and much more!

The final reason I'm sharing this with you is so that you know you're not alone.  As parents, we can easily become overwhelmed and stressed and feel very alone when things go wrong - especially in public places.  So next time your child gets sick on a theme park bus, or screams on an airplane ride, or throws a tantrum in the grocery store - know that you are not alone.  We've been there too.  It's not always easy, but this journey of parenthood is the best adventure out there!

Maleficent Mistress of Evil Movie Review

Images from Walt Disney Studios
Hello, Beastie.  If you thought meeting your in-laws was tough, just wait until you get a load of what happens in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil!  But, I'm jumping ahead.  Remember when Disney's Maleficent originally ended we found that it was Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) herself that had delivered true love's kiss to wake the sleeping Aurora (Elle Fanning) - not some dashing prince like we had all been led to believe.  Maleficent and Aurora were all set to live "happily ever after" with Aurora being named the new Queen of the Moors.  But, she still has her eyes on that dashing young prince and at the beginning of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) drops to one knee and pops the question to young Aurora who eagerly accepts.  There's just one problem - they have to tell their parents.

Prince Philip's dad is excited about the new union as he sees it like the young star-crossed lovers - a union of not only two people, but of two kingdoms.  However, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) is fearful of the Moors and distrusts Maleficent.  Maleficent is also less than thrilled at the idea of this marriage, but reluctantly agrees to dinner with the royal family of Ulstead to celebrate the engagement and attempt peace between the two.  The night turns uncomfortable quickly as Queen Ingrith and Maleficent trade barbs with each other, despite attempts by the King, Prince Phillip, and Aurora to move back to small talk.  Maleficent is finally pushed to her breaking point and goes, well, "Maleficent" on everyone - which confirms the fears that the kingdom held.  When tragedy befalls the King, Aurora even begins to question whether Maleficent can be trusted.  Heartbroken by this, Maleficent leaves the castle in Ulstead and, through her own unfortunate turn of events, discovers she is not as alone in this world as she thought.

When the day of Aurora and Phillip's wedding arrives, Aurora begins to put pieces together that something seems amiss around the castle.  Will Phillip and Aurora find their happily ever after or will the differences between their families lead to a war that will tear them apart??

Overall, I enjoyed this film much more than the original.  I enjoy both Maleficent films for the fact that they tell a classic Disney story from a totally different perspective, but I feel like all of the characters develop more depth in this second chapter of Maleficent.  However, it's a bit darker and more violent than the first so this may not be totally appropriate for your young kids, even with the PG rating.  I went alone to see the movie, and while there wasn't anything terribly objectionable for my 7 year old, I don't think he would be "into" the story much and the fighting scenes definitely push my boundary to the edge of what I would say is OK as a mom.

Angelina Jolie once again nails the part of Maleficent - perfectly complex as the "villain" you can't help but love.  I think though Michelle Pfeiffer rivals Jolie on camera though as a dynamic force that you won't soon forget.  They both deliver perfectly timed one liners during the "meet the parents" dinner scene which adds more wit to Maleficent 2 that was missing a bit in the first.  This movie is all about strong females as they wrestle with the battle of good versus evil inside of them.  Even Aurora steps out of her comfort zone as the pretty young princess to stand up for her beliefs - whatever the cost.  If you enjoyed to original Maleficent, you will certainly want to check out how the story continues!

Want more Maleficent?  Check out the family press kit which includes coloring pages, games, and activities that you can download here!  And don't forget to follow #Maleficent2 on social media!


Don't Miss Disney - Holiday Edition!

We all know that there are several things that are "don't miss" items on any Walt Disney World Resort vacation and the holiday season brings it's own list of must-see attractions, events, and entertainment.  In fact, I talked about what makes the holidays a bit more magical during my Disney Parks Moms Panel Application video when I applied for the 2019 panel.  Even though I didn't make the panel, I think my video sums up a bit of what makes the holiday season extra special when vacationing in Walt Disney World.  Take a look at my video here:

Excited to learn more?  Check out my top 5 things you won't want to miss to put a little extra jingle in your bells this holiday season!

2014 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - This is a special ticketed event on select nights at Magic Kingdom Park.  Similar to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you'll find all the magic of the season at this party!  From top notch decorations to put the jingle in any bells to free hot chocolate and cookies throughout the park, you'll feel holly jolly as soon as you enter the park.  Don't miss the parade during this event which features a very special guest at the end!  The holiday fireworks are also an amazing end to the evening.  You will need to purchase a separate ticket for this, but that ticket gets you entrance at 4PM even though the party doesn't begin until 7PM.

Epcot's Candlelight Processional - Included with your ticket to Epcot is the chance to take part in this spiritually mesmerizing event.  Join celebrity narrators, an orchestra, and a enormous choir to hear the Biblical tale of Christmas as never before.  There are several performances each evening of this show and it is incredibly popular.  If you want to guarantee your seat, you can book a dining package at one of Epcot's restaurants with a special reservation on My Disney Experience.  For those of you choosing to attend without that dining reservation, plan to arrive early and wait in line in order to secure your spot!

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail - We all know Disney Springs is a premiere shopping, dining, and entertainment destination, but it gets even more spirited during the holidays.  With themed Christmas trees from Star Wars to Pixar to Disney classics, you'll quickly find yourself lost in a maze of color and merriment.  One extra perk of this particular holiday attraction?  It's located outside of theme park so if you're in the Orlando area for work, fun, or as a resident - you don't have to pay park admission to enjoy with your family!

Hotel Decor and Experiences - The holiday festivities and decor aren't just limited to the parks around the Walt Disney World Resort, but can also be found in hotels on property as well.  A great way to spend a low-key afternoon or evening is by taking some time to visit different resort properties and enjoy all they have to offer.  For example, the giant gingerbread house display at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is not to be missed.  Feeling a bit more rustic?  Make a visit to Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground where you can find special horse-drawn holiday sleigh rides around the property.
2017 Dinner at Minnie's Holiday Dine

Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine - Looking for a festive dining experience with some of your favorite characters?  Look no further than Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios!  This dining option is available for lunch and dinner and provides guests with a wide buffet selection and memorable character interactions.  You can find something for everyone at this restaurant and can even grab a special dining package to get reserved seating for Fantasmic later on in the evening!

This is just a sampling of some of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays at the Walt Disney World Resort!  You'll find holiday magic around every corner and the decorations, costumes, and special events around the resort will help you create memories that will last much longer than those gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate on Main Street, U.S.A!


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

At the D23 Expo a few weeks ago, the newest Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker footage was released to excited crowds.  I was one of the many anxiously awaiting the next look at this upcoming film releasing in December 2019, but little could prepare me for some of my own big reactions and unanswered questions.  Take a look at the trailer here and then let's look at 3 questions I'm waiting to have answered on this next journey to a galaxy far, far away.

Why is this film called "The Rise of Skywalker"? - OK.  So I guess this question didn't come EXACTLY from this footage as it's been on my mind for a while, but I find myself still speculating about all the things "The Rise of Skywalker" could mean.  Do we finally find out more about Rey's parents?  Is Kylo Ren as Anakin's grandson rising to power and creating an even larger Dark Side Empire?  Are we looking back to look forward?  This special look does incorporate footage from past films, as well as throwbacks to the Empire and Darth Vader and JJ Abrams has commented on seeing this as not only the final film in this trilogy, but a conclusion to all nine.  I'm not sure what it all means yet, but I'm sure that Star Wars fans everywhere will flock to theaters to find out!

Movie images from Walt Disney Studios
What will Leia's role be in this film? - With the passing of Carrie Fisher before the filming of Episode IX was completed, the production team had to get creative with how to use previously recorded footage of Leia to work into the film.  Leia has been a strong figure in both Episode VII and VIII, so we'll have to see how she factors into this newest chapter.  The footage here shows here in an area where it also looks like Rey is training in another clip.  Is Leia training Rey?  Preparing her for the rise of girl power on the Light Side?  Maybe to take over as a new general for the resistance?  I have to admit, I get a little teary eyed each time I watch this special look, but we know that her impact is strongly felt.

What's up with Dark Side Rey? - There is just that fleeting moment, but it's intense, where we see Rey donning the black robe and that switchblade red lightsaber.  I don't know about you, but I immediately had flashbacks to Darth Maul.  With the Emperor's voice, Darth Vader's breath, and clear channeling of the Dark Side, there is so much speculation.  Did Rey actually fall to the Dark Side? Is this a clone? A vision?  I can't wait to find out!  And, confession, I don't know what I actually WANT it to mean.  Could we really go through nine episodes of good vs. evil to find out evil wins the day?  Wouldn't that be a plot twist?!?

I'm not sure what the answers to any of these questions are, but I do know that I am anxiously awaiting the release of this film to complete the Skywalker saga.  Make sure you are following Star Wars on all of the social media channels to keep up with the latest news and releases!


Ultimate Walt Disney World Planning Guide

Planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth can be overwhelming for those who are new to the experience - and sometimes even to those of us veteran mouseketeers!  There's so much to think about when planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation, let's break it down to what you should be doing before, during, and after the all important 180 day mark.

More Than 180 Days Before Your Trip

  • Book Your Resort Reservation - It's never too early to plan your next Walt Disney World Resort vacation! In fact, there are some great specials you can find before checking out of your current WDW resort.  These deals, called bounce back offers, allow you to grab great percentage off rates or even something like free dining.  Regardless of whether your booking a bounce back offer or planning your vacation from your couch, booking your hotel is a great place to start.  You have choices when you book as to whether you are booking room only or adding a ticket and/or dining package.  Sometimes booking as a package will allow you to take advantage of even deeper discounts.  There are a number of properties to choose from when staying at Walt Disney World Resort, and you can find a guide to understanding those categories here!  By booking your WDW resort BEFORE the 180 day mark, you can take advantage of a little bit of a head start on your dining reservations as resort guests can book their dining reservations for their entire stay beginning at the 180 day mark.  Not sure if a Disney Resort stay is right for your family?  There are many choices around the Orlando area for all of your vacation needs! Here's a look at what to consider when staying off property.
  • Plan a Tentative Itinerary - Are you someone who wants to park hop 'til you drop or are you someone looking to relax more on your WDW vacation?  Looking to see and experience the newest attractions?  Want to book gourmet dining experience?  Need three days in Magic Kingdom or just one?  You can start answering these questions and lay out a tentative itinerary. My plan changes probably fifty times or more from when I start planning, so you don't have to set anything in stone.  However, having an idea of what you want to do on each day of your vacation will help you starting looking ahead to those dining and FastPass+ reservations.  I use a simple table in Word to layout my plans and track changes I make, but there's lots of ways to keep your itinerary organized.  
    With so many unique dining options, where will you eat?

180 Days To Go!

  • 180 days is a big milestone in your Disney planning timeline!  This is the time when reservations for many of the activities you are interested in become available for booking - namely, dining reservations!  Using the plans you made prior to this point, you can begin thinking making dining reservations to go with your trip.  Did you book the Disney dining plan?  You'll want to make sure you're using your credits and booking one or two table service meals per day depending on the plan you booked. Most days I like booking one meal per day as a reservation.  That gives us an opportunity to sit down together and take a break from the rush of the day without feeling tied down with too many dining reservations to make the day our own while we're there in the moment.  If you don't get those reservations you wanted at the 180 day mark, keep trying!  Guests are constantly changing and updating plans so days and times may become available that weren't before.  Other reservations also open up at this point including recreation activities, makeovers, and much more! Looking for dining ideas?  Check out my restaurant reviews and also other options to try when you can't get the dining reservations you were hoping to grab.
  • Update your itinerary - Now that you have some dining reservations you may want to switch park days around or change up your plans.  This is a great time to start utilizing the My Disney Experience app.  Here you can track all of your reservations and plans in one place.  Find out more about this helpful planning tool here.

It's The Final Countdown

  • 60 Days to Go! - If you're staying at a Walt Disney World Resort or a Good Neighbor Hotel, you can begin booking your FastPass+ reservations at 60 days out.  Each ticketed guest can book up to three FP+ reservations per day.  You need to have purchased your tickets in order to reserve FP+ so make sure you have that taken care of prior to this date.  
  • Confirm information in My Disney Experience - Double check your MagicBands order on the My Disney Experience website.  You are able to customize your MagicBands by selecting a color option and can even upgrade to a character design now!  This is also the perfect time to make sure your flight information is added to reservation so that your Magical Express transportation to and from Orlando International Airport can be confirmed.  There is also a spot in the website to add specific room requests for your Walt Disney World Resort hotel stay.
  • 30 Days to Go! - This is when the FastPass+ booking window opens for guests staying off-site.  History as shown that some new times come available when this window hits to allow off-site guests a chance to still get FP+ for popular attractions.  Like with dining reservations, if you don't get what you want on the first try, keep checking back.  Guests continue to change their plans right up until the day of their trip and you can sometimes find great options at the last minute.
  • FastPass+ helps you experience more
    rides with less of a wait!
  • Finalize your itinerary - As you get closer to "D-Day" (That's Disney Day in this context!), it becomes more and more difficult to change your plans because you likely have more and more reservations booked.  With that said, it's not impossible.  Most of Disney's reservations have a very liberal cancellation policy of only 24-48 hours notice.  Just be sure to check the fine print, when booking your reservations so you know what to expect!  
While some bemoan the work that goes into planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation, it is really a fun way to get your family excited about the trip as your countdown to creating your own magical memories!  If you are using a travel agent, they can help you manage all of this at no additional charge - just make sure they have adequate knowledge of Walt Disney World vacations.  Have specific questions?  Why not visit my friends over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel where you can ask your own questions and get answers from expert moms, dads, and Disney fans!  Happy Planning!