A wee bit of fairy dust #1: Disney Princess tales

During our recent visit to Disneyworld, I decided (privately) that going to character meet-and-greets would be very low down on our priority list.

I mean, there are people who are willing to queue for hours at the Disney parks in order to take photos and obtain autographs from their favourite characters. The longest of these queues, of course, belongs to the Disney Princesses.

The Disney Princess franchise is a Big Deal, and there are people who buy into it hook, line and sinker. From the minute you step into the parks, every single Disney cast member will begin greeting all the little girls as ‘Princess’ and all the little boys as ‘Little Prince’. And the kids love it. They really do.

You can even bring your children to a special beauty parlour where fairy godmothers (with wands and everything) will transform them into miniature princesses or knights complete with hairstyling, makeup, nail art and accessories!

Fortunately for me, Little E, although she does love all things princess-y and had a lot of fun identifying all the different mini-princesses flouncing around the parks, is completely disinterested in dressing up in the costumes herself. (She did have the opportunity to try on an official Disney princess dress once at a friend’s birthday party. Although she thoroughly enjoyed posing in that sparkly, spangly thing for the duration of the group photo taking , she immediately afterwards requested to change back into her party dress as she found the costume “too spiky”. Since then, she’s never shown interest in store-bought princess dresses.)

We did manage to meet with all the Disney Princesses in the end, much to Little E’s delight. This is all due to some beautifully done wrangling on the part of A Becky Lee.

Firstly, A Becky Lee chose to celebrate her birthday at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot Center, which boasts not only a wonderful Norwegian buffet spread, but also the opportunity to dine in the company of several Princesses.

Secondly, A Becky Lee managed to wrangle us some extra Fastpasses (yay), which meant that we could use some of our Fastpasses at the Magic Kingdom to skip the queues and visit with the more sought after princesses at the Princess Fairytale Hall. Woohoo!

Little E is so happy!

Little E is so happy to see all the princesses! Look at that smile!

I have to say, the princesses really work SO hard to make every child feel absolutely special. Honestly, the way they look at you and talk to you, you really do feel like they have come out of their castles just to meet you, and only you.

Goodness knows how they maintain their composure, tirelessly smiling and trilling in sweet voices, whilst being pawed at all day long by hundreds of children with their sticky, sticky little jam hands. The most amazing thing to me was that each of those princesses politely asked Little E for a hug (sometimes two!) before saying goodbye, even though she was happy to leave them alone.

Oh yes, they were so charming that even J decided that he wasn’t going to stand by quietly and watch Little E chatting with these lovely girls all by herself. Oh, he got right in there and asked to be part of the picture – eventually screwing up the courage to ask his favourite princess if she would take a picture with him!

Guess which princess is J's favourite?

Guess which princess is J’s favourite?

Visiting the princesses at the Princess Fairytale Hall was a different experience, because there were Princess Wranglers present who helped to keep things nice and orderly so that the ladies could concentrate on being sweet and charming (and not have to deal with pushy parents or children who wanted to hog their time). Additionally, it means waiting in the cool, cool air-conditioning and it was very obvious that the princesses are clearly much more comfortable in the hall than outdoors.

I am very thankful that we managed to use our Fastpasses for this because the regular queues were absolutely horrendous. The line to see Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from the movie ‘Frozen’ was 3 hours long when we visited – and we were told by the Princess Wranglers that during peak holiday periods, the waiting time can go up to 5 and a half hours! Incredible! Hats off to any parent who has queued for that long for anything at Disneyworld!

It is during this trip that I found out that Rapunzel is Little E’s favourite princess. I was quite surprised by this revelation – Little E has talked about nobody but ‘Ice Girl’ ever since she watched ‘Frozen’ – so I was shocked when I took her to the pin-trading store at Epcot Center and she passed over all the Elsa pins in their glittery glory for a simple Rapunzel pin hidden in a corner.

Little E with Rapunzel

Little E with the highly esteemed Rapunzel

Needless to say, Little E was excited beyond all reason when she saw Rapunzel. She started dancing in the queue and didn’t stop until Rapunzel waved to her. Then, she was utterly star struck and immobile as the princess walked towards her to take her hand. I still have no idea what they talked about during their meet and Little E is keeping their conversation a secret. The two of them were whispering to each other and in the end, Rapunzel gave her a very close cuddle before posing for pictures.

Now if you ask Little E what her favourite part of the trip was, she’ll tell you that it was meeting the Disney Princesses. So, I’m very glad that we made time for that in the end. It was worth seeing the big smiles on both J and Little E’s faces!

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A Spoiler-free Movie Review of Disney’s FROZEN (2013)

Frozen-movie-poster-disneyThis past week, my family and I were invited to watch a preview of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s 53rd feature, FROZEN, this year’s highly anticipated animated film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairytale The Snow Queen and brought to life under the watchful eye of directors Jennifer Lee (the first female director in Disney Animation feature history and screenwriter of “Wreck-It Ralph“) and Chris Buck (Disney Animation veteran).

I initially had my reservations about the film, as I thought that this might be a throwaway cartoon wholly dependent on its wintry environment (and TWO new Disney princesses who both resembled Rapunzel from ‘Tangled’) to carry it through the Christmas holiday season…but I am pleased to say that I was wrong wrong wrong and THIS. MOVIE. IS. AWESOME[1]! There’s something in it for everyone: boys and girls and even jaded grownups too.

The Story and Characters

I'm not Rapunzel, no, I'm entirely a Different Girl.

I’m not Rapunzel, no, I’m entirely a Different Girl.

Frozen tells the story of Elsa (voiced by Tony award-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel) who is blessed/cursed with awesome cryokinetic powers, and her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) who are heirs to the fictional Norwegian kingdom of Arendelle. Princess Anna is adventurous and carefree but immature, whilst Queen Elsa’s[2] life is complicated by her magical powers, forcing her into miserable isolation.

The relationship between the two leading ladies is the crux of the film and as their two personalities are complete opposites, this leaves room for the audience to relate to one or the other. It’s wonderful watching the emotional journey of both girls, who break free from the traditional Disney Princess stereotypes.

Kristoff

He’s a bit of a Fixer-Upper

Hans and Kristoff, the ‘Prince Charming’ characters, are both strong male leads and it was intriguing to see their behaviour and motivations change and unfold throughout the film.

The rest of the supporting cast are extremely well-developed, funny and like-able, without taking anything away from the main cast. I particularly liked Alan Tudyk’s hilarious portrayal of the devious Duke of Weselton [3] who has what I consider to be the funniest line in the film:

I dance, like a chicken with a face of a monkey! – Duke of Weselton

Ah, that Alan Tudyk. He cracks me up every time.

I even (reluctantly) became rather fond of the animated snowclownman, Olaf (Josh Gad). Although he is featured heavily in the trailers, this is not his film and he is around just enough to keep things lighthearted without becoming trite. The little ones in the audience will love this sweet little guy who loves warm hugs (and summer!).

Love me love me say that you love me

Love me love me say that you love me

Mommy Warning: There are a couple of very tense moments, and some scary chase scenes, so if you have sensitive children, you might want to prep them for the film by showing them the movie trailer first.

My personal favourite character (also J and Little E’s favourite [4]) is Queen Elsa, but this might be because she has the prettiest dress I’ve ever seen onscreen – a glamorous, glittering creation inspired by traditional Norwegian rosemaling, crowned with a 12-foot cape of ice crystals. Yes, that must be it. I’m shallow like that.

Vogue!

Lady with an attitude.

Seriously, though, Queen Elsa has the distinction of not only having the best song in the film, but also the most spectacular visual set piece. Which leads me to…

The Music and Visuals

I don’t often say this about films, but Frozen is DEFINITELY one of those movies that you will want to see in Glorious, Glorious 3-D!

The visuals in this movie are truly stunning and it’s obvious that the art direction was geared towards making full use of 3D special effects when rendering the film’s shots in both the intimate interior moments to the spectacular sweeping landscapes. There were so many moments when both my children stretched out their hands to try and touch the snowflakes! The keen attention to detail really makes the whole movie just beautiful to look at. You can really tell that the artists did a lot of research on Scandinavian architecture and aesthetics to create a unique look for the setting of the film.

Pack an extra jumper

Pack an extra jumper – you’ll need it.

The snow and ice was a great challenge for the animation team, who had to invent new software technology (appropriately called ‘Matterhorn‘) in order to create the varied textures of snow, frost and ice. The result? Absolutely breathtaking.

But what really sets the tone for the movie is the soundtrack. The music for Frozen is composed by Christophe Beck who incorporated Norwegian folk music (like kulning, a Scandinavian herding call similar to the Alpine yodel) into the soundtrack.

The eight original songs in the score are written by award-winning Broadway composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the latter being the genius behind “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon“, so the songs have that very big, dynamic, stage-musical feel. In fact, The Husband predicts that the movie will be made into a Broadway musical within a year, and I won’t be at all surprised if the power ballad ‘Let It Go‘ wins an award next year.

Apart from some weak moments in the dialogue and a few cringe-worthy cheap jokes, the movie as a whole is dazzling and strongly appealing. It was a real hit with my whole family!

Debs G rates Frozen: 9 out of 10 stars!

Oh, and if you catch the movie in theatres, you’ll have the added benefit of watching the new Mickey Mouse short ‘Get a Horse!‘, which absolutely MUST be viewed in 3D! It even features Walt Disney’s own voice (painstakingly assembled from archival voice track recordings) and is a brilliant hybrid of different animation styles.

P.S. Don’t forget to catch the Disney’s Princess Film Festival which is on now until the premiere of FROZEN on 28 November 2013. 

P.P.S. Check out Princess Dana’s Diaries for some Frozen-inspired activities, printables and crafts!


1.Honestly, I should have had more faith – after all, the Executive Producer of the film is the Pixar Genius, John Lasseter! ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY JOHN LASSETER.

2.FINALLY, a Disney Queen that is young, beautiful and GOOD.

3.Not pronounced ‘Weasel-town’. Of course not. I would never.

4.J likes her because she has superpowers. Little E likes her because she gets to wear that awesome gown.

Disney’s Princess Film Festival Preview

Last weekend, my family and I were very privileged to be invited to a preview of Disney’s Princess Film Festival at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard.

Disney’s Princess Film Festival will be taking place from 16 – 27 November 2013 at Cathay Cineplex Cineleisure Orchard and AMK Hub. The film festival will showcase five classic Disney Princess movies and culminating in the release of Disney’s latest animated feature, FROZEN, on the 28th November 2013.

As part of the Film Festival, we attended a screening of Disney’s first full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Little E and J were very excited as they had not watched this movie before, so it was a real treat for them! There was also a fancy dress competition at the preview, so both the children were very busy the day before putting together their costumes.

disney-snow-white-tangled-rapunzel-flynn-cosplay

Little E and J are all dressed up

Can you guess who J and Little E were dressed as?

(Hint: J is carrying the movie weapon of choice – a frying pan!)

rapunzel-flynn-rider-eugene-cosplay-kids

Our current favourite Disney movie, Tangled

Yes! They were dressed as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the movie, Tangled (which will also be shown during the Film Festival)!

If you are wondering why both J and Little E are clutching fresh apples in all the pictures, it is because they were each given an apple as a token of welcome from the lovely Snow White, who was waiting to greet all the children.

disney-princess-film-festival-frozen

Who’s the fairest of them all?

Both J and Little E were kept happily busy – munching on their apples – so when the good folks from Caricuturist came by, they were both standing quite still and made for great models. Adam, the caricature artist, was able to capture both J and Little E on paper within minutes, deftly sketching their smiling faces and adding details from their costumes. Watching him work was like magic! I think I shall be framing those pictures for their bedroom wall.

snow-white-rapunzel-ariel-cinderella-girls

Caricatures, Princesses and Prizes

It was such fun to see so many little children decked out in all their finery. Some of the little girls even wore official Disney Princess costumes! In the picture above, you can see Sophie from A Juggling Mom dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and Anya from Life in the Wee Hours as Cinderella.

All the girls we saw at the Film Festival looked so pretty in their spangly dresses, so we were all absolutely bowled over when Little E won a small prize for her Rapunzel outfit! Yay, Little E!

Little E was absolutely thrilled to be called up to receive her prize -a Snow White Dress Up Kit – from Snow White herself. She couldn’t stop looking at it! I had to pry the box from her little hands once the movie started.

Both J and Little E LOVED watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Little E was so moved by Snow White’s treble singing voice, that she started to cry. Watching this classic film on the big screen brought back so many childhood memories for me! There’s so much detail in the film that I missed as a child, and it was amazing to watch it again with my own little girl sitting next to me.

Before the movie started, we were shown the FROZEN trailer, which you can see below:

I gotta say that it is looking pretty good! J and Little E were intrigued by the palace of ice and snow, and they laughed when Olaf the snowman appeared. Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I am really looking forward to the release of the new Disney film on 28th November 2013!

Disney Princess Film Festival 2013

Tickets to Disney’s Princess Film Festival are now on sale at Cathay Cineplexes and you can also buy them online here. Tickets are priced at $9 ($8 for Maybank Cardmembers) and every pair of tickets entitles you to a limited edition FROZEN sticker sheet.

What’s more, if you buy 6 tickets in a single transaction, you get to bring home a special Sparkling Princess Doll from Mattel. Cool, right?

I’m thinking of taking the kids to see Sleeping Beauty, or maybe Beauty and the Beast.

The Husband’s favourite Disney film is Aladdin – because of the Genie played by Robin Williams of course! It has nothing to do with Jasmine’s midriff baring outfit.

Or so I’m told.