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Say Aloha to Moana! 5 Things to LOVE about this movie!

I was fortunate to attend an advanced screening of Disney's latest film, Moana, last week.  After falling in love with recent hits like Zootopia and Finding Dory, I was prepared to be disappointed thinking that Disney couldn't roll out yet another blockbuster animation film in 2016.  I was wrong.  Moana did not disappoint on any level.  Here are 5 things you are going to love about this film.

The Scenery - Let's start with the breathtaking setting for the film.  Taking place throughout the beautiful Pacific islands, anyone who loves island views will fall in love with these lush tropical paradises and life on the Ocean.  Moana's ancestors were experts in the ancient skill of wayfinding.  As voyagers, they used the ocean currents and the stars to explore the ocean and discover new islands.  The ocean calls to Moana the same way it did to those in her family before her.

Moana - Since we've already started talking about her, let's take a look at the newest Disney heroine.  Moana (voice of Auli'i Cravalho) is the daughter of the island chief and is being raised to one day lead her people.  She feels torn between her obligation to lead and her desire to be on the water.  When difficult times fall upon her island, Moana decides it's time to take to the ocean to seek answers and find the help that her people need to survive.  During the journey, she finds out just how strong she is and discovers her true identity.  

Maui - Throughout the movie, Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) moves from someone who seems to be a self-absorbed Demigod to a complex character who faced difficult times as a child and is rediscovering his own courage through Moana.  His dancing tattoos and musical introduction engage audiences and keep kids laughing.  Here is a clip from the song "You're Welcome" to show you what I mean.

The Messages - Walking out of the theatre, there were plenty of things to talk about with my son.  One of the biggest takeaways he saw in the movie was the importance of working with nature.  Moana's journey is about restoring the balance in the Pacific, something that was upset years before.  The movie also reminds us to be true to ourselves and never ignore that little voice in our heads.  No matter how many times Moana's father told her that her place was on the island leading her people, she knew she was destined for more.  By following her heart, she did more than she ever knew she could.

The Music - The songs in the movie connect both the history of the Pacific with some modern fun.  There is plenty of chances to sing along for the whole family to the beautiful music.  It shouldn't be any surprise that the original music is amazing with the team that created these memorable songs including Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton"), Mark Mancina ("The Lion King"), and Opetaia Foa'i (founder and lead singer of Te Vaka). 

I attended the screening with my 4 year old son who loved every minute of the movie.  He thought Maui was funny, Moana was brave, and the chicken was funny (just wait. . .you'll see!)  Disney's Moana opens in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

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Disclosure:  I attended a free screening of the film to share a review with my readers.  Opinions and thoughts are always my own!

New Moana Clips and Free Printables

The anticipation around Walt Disney's Animation Studios newest film, Moana, continues to build.  Today, I'm excited to share with you not one, but two new clips as well as some free printable activities for your family.  And If you love the great music that adds to the magic of a Disney movie, you can look forward to the release of Moana's original motion picture soundtrack on November 18.  Enjoy and get ready to say "aloha" to Moana when she and Maui sail into theaters on November 23!!

Free Printable - Moana Maze
Free Printable - Moana Memory Game
Free Printable - Moana Coloring Page #1
Free Printable - Moana Coloring Page #2
Free Printable - Moana Coloring Page #3


New Moana Trailer Released

Have you checked out the new trailer for Moana?  I can't wait to see the latest animated adventure from Walt Disney Animation Studios.  Moana tells the tale of a spirited teenager who, with the help of the demigod Maui, sets out to save her people and find her true identity.  In the film, viewers will find the familiar voice of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson while also being introduced to Auli'i Carvalho, the voice of Moana.  Moana is set for release this Thanksgiving!


Hamilton Coming to Disney+: See the New Trailer!

Hamilton - Image from Disney+

Hamilton fans can rejoice as one of the most popular shows to ever hit Broadway is heading straight to your living room this summer!  I never made it to a theater to see Hamilton so I can't wait to tune in on July 3rd and check out this theatrical masterpiece as song and story come together in the most magical of ways.  Even better, subscribers of Disney+ can ditch the lofty ticket prices for this show and enjoy it streaming on this service as part of your subscription. . .yay!!

Find more to enjoy on Disney+ here!

The "movie" is actually a 2016 filmed version of the original Broadway production starring Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton and Leslie Odom, Jr as Aaron Burr.  Another familiar face you'll see is Jonathan Groff. . .although his voice may even be more famous as that of Kristoff in Frozen 2. As fans of the show have attested, the original cast that is featured in this filming are phenomenal and present a memorable performance.  Of course, one of the most popular things about Hamilton is the music - a unique blend of hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway.  

Love Lin-Manuel Miranda?  Did you know he is the mind behind the memorable music of Moana?

I can't wait to FINALLY get to see Hamilton on July 3rd and bring a full review here.  The history teacher in me has always loved learning about Alexander Hamilton as his role in founding our country was immense and I've been curious to see how his story is portrayed on stage.  Who else is with me in celebrating Independence Day this year as Hamilton comes to life for us to enjoy?

"Hamilton" - Image from Disney+

About Hamilton (From Disney+)

An unforgettable cinematic stage performance, the filmed version of the original Broadway production of “Hamilton” combines the best elements of live theater, film and streaming to bring the cultural phenomenon to homes around the world for a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Hamilton” is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, “Hamilton” has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, the film transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and direction by Thomas Kail, “Hamilton” is inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow and produced by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller, with Sander Jacobs and Jill Furman serving as executive producers. The 11-time-Tony Award®-, GRAMMY Award®-, Olivier Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage musical stars: Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler; Jonathan Groff as King George; Christopher Jackson as George Washington; Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds; Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton; Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr; Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison; Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton; and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton.

“Hamilton” premieres on July 3, 2020 around the world, streaming only on Disney+.


2016 Disney Animated Movies Preview

Taking time to relax with the family and enjoy a good movie is a rare treat in our busy lives.  However, we will definitely be making time for a few family movies this year when we check out what's being released by Walt Disney Studios.  2016 promises to be an exciting year for Walt Disney Studios as a great slate of movies for the entire family await their big debuts!

As a mom with two very young boys, my interest is immediately drawn to the animated releases.  Zootopia will open to an eager public on March 4.  The trailer promises a funny adventure as an unlikely pair team up to solve a conspiracy in town.  My preschooler loves any movie with animals and he has really enjoyed seeing commercials and previews for this latest Disney hit!

The summertime brings the release of the long awaited sequel to Finding Nemo. . .Finding Dory!  Ellen is back to voice this hysterical character who is now on an adventure to reunite with her own family.  I can't believe it's been 13 years since the release of Finding Nemo - one of my favorite Disney / Pixar films yet and I look forward to sharing this with the next generation of Disney fans in my house.

If those two weren't enough, Disney is bringing one more exciting animated film this year - Moana.  In this film will be introduced to the latest Disney heroine who will be embarking on an adventure across the South Pacific.  My husband and I have taken a few trips to Hawaii over the years and I'm sure this movie will spark a love of the islands in our boys.

Of these upcoming Disney animated films, which ones are you most excited to check out?

Coming in 2017!

Walt Disney Studios had a phenomenal year in 2016.  Zootopia, Finding Dory, Moana, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story all were big successes for Walt Disney Studios - just to name a few.  And 2017 seems to be setting up for another exciting year! Below are some quick previews from Walt Disney Studios.  I highlighted the ones that are on the "don't miss" list for my family this year!

March 17, 2017 - Beauty and the Beast


The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within.

May 26, 2017 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales


Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.

June 16, 2017 - Cars 3


Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

November 22, 2017 - Coco


Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.

December 15, 2017 - Star Wars: Episode VIII