These Disney Fans – What’s Next?

For those of us who cannot resist our love for all things Disney, planning what we’ll do next (Disney-wise) tends to absorb much of our free time…or maybe it’s just me.  It might be crafts, Disney holiday decorations, upcoming Disney movies on our to-watch list, whipping up a Disney recipe at home, anxiously awaiting the newest episode of The Muppets or our favorite Disney podcast, booking ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) or FastPass+ attractions for our next Walt Disney World vacation…no matter, we just love the anticipation and the planning!  I’m not going to lie…the planning, for me, is almost half the fun.

So what about our family (a.k.a. The Fam)?  What are we cooking up, planning for, and looking forward to in our Disney lives?  I’ll tell you!

These Disney Fans – What’s Next?RM-Megan-and-Grant-Sci-Fi

Now that Megan and Grant (our daughter and son-in-law) are happily married and back from their Disney honeymoon, we can return to our regularly scheduled Disney planning.  Personally, I’ve got a lot on my mind.  It’s October – one of my most favorite months of the year.  I’m working on our Halloween decorations and Junior’s costume (yes, my friends, in the absence of children at home, I still buy Disney Halloween costumes…for our dog.).  My countdown calendar for our next Disney vacation is dutifully ticking off the days and as the weather gets (slightly) cooler, I’m daydreaming about my Disney future.RM-Junior-Captain-America

  1.  Our annual Thanksgiving Day Disney movie will be postponed this year.  Raymond, Megan, Joseph and I have gone to see a Disney movie on Thanksgiving Day for as long as Megan and Joseph have been alive.  This year, embracing our empty-nest status, Raymond and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my sister’s house in Tennessee with my family…without our kids.  Everyone’s okay with this, but the movie thing is bothering me more than eating turkey and dressing apart from my offspring.  Luckily, we’ll make arrangements to see The Good Dinosaur (Pixar; premiers on November 25th) the next weekend.  Star Wars:  The Force Awakens premiers on December 18th – that one we’ll see right before Christmas.  I, for one, am very excited!Christmastime at Walt Disney World
  2. Last Call for Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  Again with the parental independence, we’re leaving the kids behind on December 26th.  Raymond and I are taking a few days at Walt Disney World to relax, take in those awesome Disney holiday decorations, and bid farewell to the Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Will they appear somewhere else in the future?  Nobody seems to know.  Better safe than sorry, we’ll at least get to see them in their current location one last time.Flying Fish Dinner at the Boardwalk
  3. Disney Food!  We may be weird (okay, I’m pretty sure we ARE weird), but we plan our Disney vacations mostly around our dining reservations.  Does anyone else do this?  I mean, we always book Disney dining reservations at the earliest possible time (180 days in advance) then mostly plan our park days so our restaurant choices won’t be a major inconvenience transportation-wise.  Planning meals so far in advance gives us lots of time to look forward to the deliciousness.  The Flying Fish Cafe / Walt Disney World BoardwalkOur December plans include Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), 50’s Prime Time Café (Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Todd English’s bluezoo (WDW Dolphin Hotel), Shula’s Steak House (also the Dolphin), Biergarten (World Showcase in Epcot), Flying Fish Café (Disney’s Boardwalk), Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge), and Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian).  Don’t ask me what we were thinking booking all of that for a 5-day stay, but we’re going to give it our best shot.  Especially since quite a few of those will be new to us and a couple will be repeats from a LONG time ago.  Check back for reviews – I love doing restaurant reviews!RM-Raglan-Road-Dancers
  4. Disney Springs – I realize that a bunch of Disney fans are sad about the Downtown Disney transformation.  We’re not those folks.  Our favorite things are still there and a number of new shops and restaurants have been added since our last visit (February, 2015).  I’ll be so stoked to see the final form of this corner of the World since it’s been under construction forever! RM-Running-Shoes
  5. The Disney Exchange meet-up and Princess Half-Marathon Weekend, 2016 – Sure, I’ve got to run a bunch of miles between now and then to get ready for the Glass Slipper Challenge, but it’ll totally be worth it!  Nick, Dave and I will spend three days bickering discussing our love for Disney in person!  We’ll be having Disney Exchange meet-ups, posting to Facebook, Tweeting live, sharing Periscope and Blab broadcasts, and creating general mayhem as we do what we always do – argue, debate, give each other a hard time, and laugh hysterically.  I cannot WAIT!

Are you making Disney plans?  What are you most looking forward to?


Teeny Tiny Ant-Man Review

Ant-Man-Ticket-StubsDon’t worry – This review is spoiler-free!

After my initial reluctance to embrace some of the Marvel movie premises/characters (Guardians, for example), I’ve seen the error of my ways!  I now look forward to, and embrace, any and all installments in Disney’s Marvel Universe.  Sure, I love some movies more than others, but I did at least like them all and found each of them entertaining in their own way.  Ant-Man was SO far removed from anything that sounded interesting to me, the “Marvel” was what had me running for the theater.

Teeny Tiny Ant-Man Review (see what I did there?)

What a great movie!  Wonderfully entertaining with so many Easter eggs, I was on the edge of my seat trying my best not to miss a single one.  I adored seeing Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym) in a great role being his very best (still sexy) self.  Paul Rudd (as Scott Lang/Ant-Man) was completely endearing.  If you’ve ever faced a situation in life that terrified you but at the same time you knew that if you didn’t overcome those fears and do what must be done, you’d never be able to look yourself in the eye, you’ll love this movie.  I was especially charmed by Paul’s facial expressions throughout the film, which often said so much more than the dialogue.Ant-Man Sign

The casting in this movie was especially well done.  GREAT villain (Corey Stall as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket), wonderfully strong main female characters (specifically Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne and Abby Rider Fortson as Cassie Lang), a supporting cast that was key to the film’s success (goofballs Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, and T.I.).  Yes, it was definitely, unmistakably a Disney Marvel film, but the unique features, the pacing, the insects and special effects made this show a standout on its own.Ant-Man-Pic

I was prepared to have some negative commentary on how the Fire Ants (a.k.a. Red Ants, here in Louisiana) were depicted, but they were portrayed very accurately, based on my unfortunate familiarity with them.

See this movie!  Ant-Man is such a fantastically relatable human being, this Superhero film will hit you close to home.

Have you already seen Ant-Man?  What did you think about it?


Top Five Disney Animated Movie Soundtracks

I’m very happy to say that my good Disney friend Andrew Carrieri is back with a great post on one of my favorite ways to add a little Disney to my day – Disney music!  (Andrew can usually be found as a contributing writer at The Mouse For Less and on Twitter @AndrewCfran)

Top Five Disney Animated Movie Soundtracks

Andrew Carrieri

Disney animation is legendary. Through 2014, the company has released fifty-four full length animated movies, which feature classic characters, unforgettable moments, and amazing music. The latter element is the subject of this post. Below, I will list my top five soundtracks among these animated flicks and provide reasons for my choices. You may very well disagree with my selections. If such is the case, don’t just “let it go”! Sound off with your opinions in the comments! After all, there’s plenty of music to go around.

Fifth-best Soundtrack: Oliver and Company (1988). Huey Lewis’s “Once Upon a Time in New York City” and Billy Joel’s “Why Should I Worry?” are two of my favorite Disney songs, in part because of my New York bias. As a Long Islander, I’ll gravitate towards anything that features Joel, one of our top celebrities.

Fourth-best Soundtrack: Hercules (1997). From a depth standpoint, I think Hercules has the most underrated soundtrack in Disney history. With upbeat Gospel music (“The Gospel Truth”), songs of despair (“I Won’t Say I’m in Love”), and one of the most epic numbers in animation history (“Go the Distance”), Hercules’ soundtrack brings it all. Hercules

As a general note, I typically prefer the popular version of Disney songs to the in-film rendition where applicable. Here, I find Michael Bolton’s rendition of “Go the Distance” during the end credits superior to Robert Bart’s performance in the movie proper.

Third-best Soundtrack: Pinocchio (1940). Disney’s second animated feature may not have as many great songs as some of its counterparts, but it gets bonus points for “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which is undoubtedly my favorite song from any Disney movie. I am known to tear up whenever I hear it played, usually at the start of Disney movies with the “Walt Disney Pictures” logo.Pinocchio

Second-best Soundtrack: Aladdin (1992). “A Whole New World” is one of my favorite Disney songs, and the film’s other numbers are anything but shabby. Whereas some movies feature songs that are solid in the moment but otherwise forgettable, Aladdin has a plethora of memorable numbers. “Arabian Nights,” “Friend Like Me,” and “Prince Ali” are extremely enjoyable tunes in their own right.Aladdin

Best Soundtrack: The Lion King (1994). What is the best song in The Lion King? Now, that is an easy question! It is “Circle of Life.” On second thought, it is “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”! Or, maybe it is “Hakuna Matata”? Umm, maybe this question is not so easy after all.The-Lion-King

Suffice to say, in my opinion, The Lion King features the greatest and most complete soundtrack in Disney history. All the songs are catchy, and they bring different vibes to the table. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “The Circle of Life” are beautiful and sentimental, “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” are whimsical, and “Be Prepared” is foreboding.

As an aside, while I usually prefer the popular versions of Disney movie songs to the in-film versions, I find the in-film rendition of “The Circle of Life” superior to the Elton John version, which is still excellent. The song provides an exhilarating commencement to the film.

Well, that’s my list! Feel free to share your favorite Disney soundtracks in the comments!

Ten Disney Moms and Why They’re Great

Helen Parr and JackJackToday is Mother’s Day – a great time to appreciate your mom and enjoy be appreciated as a mom (as the case may be).  Nearly all of the Disney Facebook and Twitter folks I follow will have mom-related posts in honor of the occasion.  Me?  I’m taking the day off.  And I’m sure it will be great!  Megan and Joseph are certain to put in an appearance and family time is the best time!

Seeing all those mom tributes, though, makes me think about some of my favorite moms of the Disney variety.  Disney movies often have important mom roles – although in a lot of cases, the role is filled by someone other than a character’s biological mother.  Those, unfortunately, often meet with an early demise…what is up with that, anyway?  Whatever kind of mom they are, there’s a group of Disney moms I think deserve to be celebrated.  What better time than Mother’s Day?

Ten Disney Moms and Why They’re Great:

10. Kala:  Yes, she’s an ape, but she rushed to rescue human little Tarzan from certain doom!  Then she loved him as much as any mother possibly could.  She’s absolutely phenomenal as a mom.

9. Mrs. Jumbo:  Back in the days when storks brought babies, Dumbo’s mom was completely and totally smitten with her big-eared arrival.  Who could ask for a better mother than that?  Don’t we all have our moments of feeling the unlovable misfit?Mrs. Jumbo

8. Bambi’s Mother:  Okay – granted, she wasn’t around for long, but made the ultimate sacrifice.  After loving and bonding with her darling baby, she knows what will happen if the hunters find Bambi and makes the ultimate sacrifice.  So sad!

7. Andy’s Mom:  Andy may or may not have had a dad around, but no matter, his mom totally rocks!  She supported Andy’s make-believe world, took him to Pizza Planet, and got him all the latest and greatest toys – what kid could ask for more?

6. Eleanor (Merida’s Mother):  Not sure I could forgive my kid for seeking out a witch, buying a spell with an important piece of jewelry, and turning me into a bear (along with my other children!) – this lady is certainly more woman than I could ever hope to be – seriously, if Merida had been my kid, not so sure she would have gotten off so easily – so, cheers to the forgiving and patient mothers everywhere!

Mrs. Potts and Chip5. Mrs. Potts:  Survives becoming china with all her offspring – Mrs. Potts is just as sweet and motherly as she can be!  Wow!  I’m a little bit jealous of her ability to remain calm under any circumstance.  Oh, and that voice!  Nobody makes you feel more loved than Angela Lansbury!

4. Coral (Nemo’s Mom):  First, points to Coral for even marrying Marlin in the first place – I’m pretty sure his OCD/worry-wart tendencies had to have been evident prior to tying the knot and would have been a deal-breaker for me.  Then…whoa!  Using herself as bait to keep certain death from claiming every one of her children.  That’s a MOM!  Luckily for her, Marlin figures out in the end how to be as great parent as Coral could have hoped for.

3. Frigga:  Thor and Loki’s mom clearly loved both her children (in all their imperfect beauty, arrogance and vulnerability) exactly the same – she was the epitome of maternal adoration to the very end – her end.  Managing to save virtually everyone else.  Excellent demonstration of maternal goddess-ness!

2. Nani Pelekai:  After losing both of her parents, Nani takes on the upbringing of both Lelo AND Stitch.  She could easily have played the “I’m too young for so much responsibility” card and opted out.  But no, Nani’s willing to do whatever it takes to honor her parents and keep Lelo by her side – even when things get really tough.

1. Helen Parr:  Tough, loving, caring, and, above all, flexible (ha!), this mom to Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack is the very best sort of mom – always rooting for her family, even when they seem determined to let her down.  Of all the Disney moms mentioned here today, Helen is the closest to who I’d like to be if I could be a Disney mom.

Well, there you have it – Living a Disney Life’s salute to Disney mothers everywhere!

Who made your top ten list?