Though Disney has received criticism for some of their Disney princess characters of the past—exaggerated in dimension, with tiny waists and huge eyes, they didn’t represent “real women” in shape. Despite this talk, however, I never looked down on these characters or their stories. Then again, you can find me on any given day flipping through pages of numerous fashion magazines, feeling inspired and proud of my gender, not angered at the logistics of airbrushing.
We were so excited to get the FIRST taste of the summer trends by celebrity stylist Lara Backmender whose clients include—wait for it—Demi Lovato, Hayden Panetiere, Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Lucy Hale, Miley Cyrus, Naomi Watts, Nina Debrev, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlet Johannson, Taylor Swift, Whitney Port and Zoey Deschanel. Seriously, I had to list them all.
What we want from summer style is easy, fresh, and versatile (mix-and-match is a must). Lara styled five outfits for attendees of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and used key, comfy pieces from Hanes to complete the outfits. And they meet all of our criteria.
Gate 52 at YVR was decorated with care as face painters, entertainers, Disney princesses and a magician wandered through the crowd. Children beamed and a few parents let a tear trickle down their face before wiping it away and smiling broadly at their kids. This day was about joy, not illness.
It’s shocking, but we are almost done! Day 11 of our 12 Days of Christmas Gift Guides focuses on gifts that fascinate and enlighten. In case you missed any, we’ve done a round-up of all of our guides, along with a chance to win $250 in Visa gift cards.
One highlight of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration this year was not only posing with Maleficent (while protecting my son!) and seeing the first 9 minutes of the film Maleficent which is classified as PG and opens on May 30, 2014, but hearing Elle Fanning speak about her first starring role opposite Angelina Jolie. To Fanning, “Aurora exudes lightness and it’s so great in our movie that we have the dark and the light, total opposites, because they work so well together, like opposites attract in a way.”
“Elle is Aurora,” comments Jolie. “From the moment I met her, she is just sunshine. She’s a wonderful, sweet, intelligent young woman. Elle’s such a capable actress and a very strong person, which is nice because this Aurora is not just in love with the flowers; she is elegant and beautiful and delicate and loving, but she’s centered and she’s quite
an impressive young woman. Elle is bringing all of that and a great deal of emotional depth and her talent, as an actress, has really surprised me.”
Fanning described the experience as surreal and rich, and it was clear from the trailer that the pair has the true chemistry that makes Disney films addictive. With her favourite colour being pink and longing for long hair as a girl, her favourite Disney princess was always Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.
Tom Staggs, Chairman of Disney Parks talked of the legendary Sleeping Beauty story. Walt himself made Sleeping Beauty’s castle the centerpoint of the world’s first theme park. The film of Sleeping Beauty was released as an animated film in 1959 and Maleficent has been a villain in our minds ever since. It is not until now that we will perhaps realize the full complexity of the story. Some of the finest actors on the planet will show us the history of the sleeping beauty story and I strongly suspect that not all is as it first appears.
I will be first in line. And I won’t be waiting with a spinning wheel.
Here’s a featurette entitled ‘Light and Dark’. Enjoy!
Every time I enter DisneyLand, Walt Disney World or one of the Disney cruises, pixie dust fills my lungs, families get giddy and stress is stomped like a marshmallow. This year I have been showered with love and good fortune and yet I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t always recognize the blessings around me. I allow myself to get stampeded by work and *gasp*, complain sometimes. In travels to California and Florida, Disney has taught me several things, and my goal for 2014 is to incorporate as many of the lessons into my own life as I can. Here are my 12 Disney-inspired New Year’s resolutions.
1. It’s good to be scared sometimes. A little push to boost the adrenaline can remind you that you always survive risks. At times we forget to truly ‘live’ and ‘feel’ when we get bogged down with the day-to-day. The Radiator Springs Racers in Disney’s California Adventure, Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom and the Test Track presented by Chevrolet at Epcot will all get your heart going again.
2. Even if you can’t travel you can still explore cultures. Epcot features countries from around the world and the people working at each pavilion are actually from the countries represented. You can create cultures and experiences with your kids at home by exploring foods, languages and styles of dress – even if you can’t hop a jet to China.
3. Stimulate all of your senses. My favourite ride in both parks is ‘Soarin’. The magic happens when you soar over California in a simulated hang glider and odours pumped into the air correspond to the images you are seeing on-screen. Orange orchards,the pacific ocean and cedar forests bring all of your senses to life.
4. Learn from the animals. Of all of the experiences I have had with Disney, the Animal Kingdom is still a favourite. I like to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a room that allows me to watch the animals in the Savannah all night long. The kids are given special checklists so they can find and learn about the animals during breaks from the parks. Giraffes rarely sleep and the interactions between the antelopes and other animals is mesmerizing. On the Kilimanjaro Safari in the Animal Kingdom you learn about habitats of the animals and see something different every time.
5. Don’t complain. One of the joys of being at Disney is that the staff are smiling and happy all the time. Even after long days and hot hours they treat each person like it’s the vacation of a lifetime. I’m going to try and do this every time I get gas, have a parking spot nabbed or am in the grocery checkout line.
7. It’s ok to make mistakes. Whether it is the Beast being nasty to Belle, Ariel agreeing to give up her voice or Woody being jealous of Buzz – we all make mistakes. Realize them, apologize, sing a song or two and move on. You’ll be much more fulfilled in life.
6. Dance often and spontaneously. The parades and dancing never stop at Disney and even the least co-ordinated visitors find their feet tapping. Every time there’s a show a whole community is created through the arts. Everyone is equal and experiencing something together.
8. Lighten your plate. Disney has taken a strong stance on healthy eating over the past year with their Mickey Check icon on nutritious menu choices and they even have healthy downloadable recipes to try. And squirt the ketchup in a Mickey shape once in a while.
9. Be a kid. Go ahead – pose with a princess, try to win a stuffed toy and go to Cinderella’s Castle for brunch. It’s ok to have fun and recreate the innocence and playfulness of childhood.
10. Go all in. If you’re going to do it, give it everything you’ve got. As an actor playing a role I’d have the proper coins in my pocket even when the audience would never know. But going all in made me more authentic. This is what Disney does at every turn.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post though UrbanMommies has been invited to Disney Parks in the past. All of our opinions are our own.
You know you feel special when a cruise line picks your hometown as a departure port. We luckily got to tour the Disney Wonder prior to her first Vancouver – Alaska sailing. The ship, like the Disney Fantasy was elegant, filled with mystique and the first class service Disney always provides. Here are our top 10 favourite tips when heading to Alaska on the Disney Wonder.
2. Crew members announce each family via microphone, making your little princesses, pirates (and Mom and Dad) feel special from the moment you step aboard.
3. Servers follow your family to each of the 3 dining rooms. This is a revolutionary concept in cruising, and ensures that your personal staff know your menu requirements. Knowing that you liked the dark beer last night, they may suggest a fun alternative. Being aware of kids allergies or gluten-free preferences adds an extra layer of safety to Disney’s already allergy-friendly alternatives
5. Before 9pm kids are allowed in the nightclubs so they can experience a taste of the adult spaces on the ship. Awesome for teaching.
6. Palo is an adults-only restaurant and brunch is over the top. Reservations are required and we’d recommend you make one as soon as u get on the ship!
7. Unlike the other Disney cruise destinations, there are no fireworks on the Alaska itinerary in order to honour the environment.
8. The Spa sells a limited number of passes for the Rainforest Relaxation Room. With water features, lounges and soft music our family will certainly nab a pass for our next cruise. Services in the spa include barber services for men and teeth whitening for women. You may become the 12th Disney princess.
9. Personal training is available as well as boot camps and body sculpting in the gym. The experts in the spa also offer footprint analysis.
11. ‘Ionithermie’ is a special treatment that flushes toxins out of the body and you could lose up to 8 inches during the cruise.
12. The child activity areas are incredible and while on the Fantasy, my kids never wanted to leave. Children are not only outfitted with a GPS so their location in the facilities can be determined immediately, but parents are constantly reachable via wave phone that is provided in the stateroom.
13. The Nursery is for kids from 12 weeks to 3 years and requires an extra fee ($6 per hour, per child). The Oceaneers Club hosts 3-12 year olds.
So head to Vancouver, grab an ocean-view cabin (you don’t want to miss the stunning views) and let the Disney Wonder sweep you off your feet. Your kids will be transfixed by Northwest culture, and you may lost up to 8 inches (if you can resist the glorious food).
Her mother Queen Elinor placed the crown atop her head as she yelled – “I am Strong. I am Brave. I am Merida and I am a Princess!” Tears, tingles and cries of joy from the crowd as we gathered to see Merida’s coronation as the 11th Disney Princess on May 11, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort.
Celebrity gymnast Gabby Douglas graced the stage, and Sophie Grace and Rosie from Ellen sang before Merida entered on horseback, bow in hand. My two boys (who usually hide around princesses “They are so beautiful Mommy!”) were in awe at her stature, her smile, but mostly the poise and strength she exuded.
There has been controversy on Disney’s decision to give Merida a lovely, Princess-worthy outfit for the most important day of her life. That Merida looked beautiful on this day does not say that she is less outdoorsy, strong or courageous. She dressed for the occasion and in my view is no less a role model for girls everywhere. Disney has given us our 11th role model for girls and boys alike, and I was proud to have my boys and my own mother by my side for the coronation.
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
— A.A. Milne
I get a ton of PR pitches and therefore a staggering number of flash drives. Incidentally, I also receive a ton of CD roms filled with information I can’t access with my MacBook Air. (PR People please take note). I thought I’d follow through with Kelby Carr’s ingenious ‘Marketers Who Understand Blogger Outreach‘ post with something fun before the long weekend. So I emptied my USB Drawer and found my ultimate favourites from Public Relations teams who know their brand and respect me as a writer enough to make me want to grin. Here are my favourites:
1. McCafe, who engraved my Twitter handle ‘@urbanmommies‘ on the back.
2. Honda – A clever car key (that I could make into a necklace a la Tiffany & Co and take my data with.)
3. Disney Fantasy. Rubber (waterproof I think), fun for kids to play with and very chic.
4. Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. Gorgeous wood. Refined and symmetrical.
5. Dole. Because who doesn’t want to carry a banana-shaped flash drive in their purse?
6. Disney Cars Land – in the shape of a race announcer’s microphone.
7. Store Brand Formula.com in the shape of a formula bottle. Because I laughed out loud, as no Canadian PR company would ever attempt this given the volatile and judgmental Canadian nursing climate, and the most popular articles on UrbanMommies are breastfeeding-related.
8. The Victorinox 4GB super-secure flashdrive which cannot be broken into if you’re a PC user. And because it is made by Victorionox and stores information on it’s own brand, which is smart and somehow ironic. And I love the spy-like nature of it’s security.
9. The ultimate: The G. Marquis Winery flashdrive in a branded wine cork. Because it floats, it’s durable, cool, on-brand, and, well.. they did their homework.
I had never been to Walt’s first theme park. ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ is certainly a fitting name, and with the addition of Cars Land and extra attractions in Disney California Adventure Park, my family was continuously grinning. It is absolutely certain that Disneyland just got happier. Much smaller than Disney World, the original California location was intimate and incredibly accessible. Popping back to the room for nap time was easy and using my park-hopper pass to make the best of each day was a breeze.
Downtown Disney was smack dab in the middle of everything and featured amazing shopping, food and evening childcare. On one side of the Downtown section there are the 2 parks (Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park) and on the other, the Disneyland Hotel, with incredible waterslides, character meals and beds that [had a headboard that had fireworks carved within that lit up and played music] as the kids drifted off to sleep. No buses were needed to get around, and the shopping and dining options were as plentiful as princesses.
I spent many a meal at Catal wine bar. Not only did it have great food, and an amazing patio, but it was super kid-friendly. (Plus it was right beside Sephora, which aided in my Lightening McQueen-inspired manicure.) When my feet got a bit tired, I grabbed some shoes at Sanuk, I watched the Stanley Cup final at the ESPN Sports Bar and saw the handmade signature quilts within the House of Blues. (With all of these great places you can skip the parks for a day or two!) One of my favourite spots was Wonderground Gallery, which featured reasonably-priced Disney-inspired original works by up-and-coming artists.
When the kids needed some down time, the Lego Imagination Centre was the place to be. With giant Lego sculptures and a kid’s (and parent…) play area, we were able to transition beautifully from the excitement of the parks to some quiet time.
Divided into Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown, the iconic and original park remains the stuff of dreams. Just like in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, no alcohol is served at this park, which places a huge focus on the family experience and holds true to Walt Disney’s original vision.
As a huge fan of New Orleans, the authenticity of the buildings, food and rides in New Orleans Square kept me going back to this park again and again. I just wish I could have played some jazz with the bands or strolled across the square in a Mardi-gras gown. In green silk. Because I’m kind of odd like that. (Note to self: apply to be a Disney cast member).
1. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is also available out at sea on the the Disney Fantasy). Have your little princess get styled, coiffed and sparkled by the beauty experts in this popular Fantasyland salon. And if you’ve brought a little pirate with you? There is a hairstyle package for boys too.
2. The Mad Hatter’s Teacups: “Again! Again!’ Was all my 4 year old would say.
3. Star Tours: with 60 possible scenarios, you become a passenger on a space flight piloted by C3PO. Different landing sites include Coruscant and Naboo. You are chased by stormtroopers, spoken to by Yoda and some scenarios even include a pod race. Yes. I did it at least 7 times with my boys and we had a new story every time.
4. Jedi Training: Kids are picked from the audience, unlike Disney World where you get there early and sign up. Different than Disney World, however, the young Jedis fight against both Darth Maul and Darth Vader. My kids were enthralled just to watch!
5. Space Mountain continues to be one of my favourite attractions, and unlike Disney World, where riders sit alone, this Space Mountain allowed for 2 people side by side, which made my son much more comfortable.
6. The fireworks above Sleeping Beauty Castle brought me to happy tears. Even with small children, they shouldn’t be missed. And keep your eyes peeled for Tinkerbell and Dumbo, who fly in at a special time. Depending on the age of your kids, I would recommend a stroller in case sleep comes calling. (You can rent a double or singe at the entrance gates).
7. Jungle Cruise: This 7-minute Jungle Cruise was one of the opening day attractions when Disneyland Park opened in July, 1955. The animals you see along this trek of water engage the whole family.
Disney California Adventure Park
Being in town for the grand re-opening of the park was an honour and will be a lifelong memory. The day of the opening, the line snaked all the way through Downtown Disney as customer service experts entertained the buzzing crowd. I have never seen such excitement. Broadcasters interviewed the public and a huge TV screen gave people hints of what was to come. Not only was this the first day that Cars Land was open to the public, but California Adventure Park had been revamped and upgraded with the addition of Buena Vista Street – a re-enactment of the Los Angeles Walt Disney would have discovered when he arrived in 1923. Carthay Circle is a bustling focal point with a 1920’s-30’s vibe, where talented Disney cast members perform swing and tap numbers. The Red Car Trolley carries passengers from the gate to the Circle, and newspapers are distributed as fast as your kids ask to grab penny candy at the Five and Dime.
2. Soarin’ over California: The sensation of hang gliding over different parts of the state but you’re actually sitting, as smells are pumped into the room to correspond with the imagery. Hint: take off your shoes – it’s even better with bare feet.
3. California Screamer: this classic rollercoaster takes you for a loop. And make sure you smile as you come to the end so you can grab the photo of yourself at the Disney Photopass kiosk at the exit.
4. Goofy’s Sky School: I was fine on the Screamer, but this ride (geared for smaller kids) scared me! It was a gas, as you ride in a buggy over 4 levels of railings, twisting, turning and going down slopes. A must.
5. Silly Symphony Swings: The boys couldn’t stop grinning as we ventured on this old-fashioned carnival-style swing ride. It also gave me a chance to explain centrifugal force, which they fully ignored.
6. The Tower of Terror: Pretty scary as you drop several stories, but you may save some money on food if you lose your appetite like I did.
7. The Pixar Play Parade is incredible and even the clumsiest of readers will feel like dancing! A great venue to watch is right outside the Tower of Terror. You can get great photos of the familiar Pixar characters dancing and on elaborate floats.
8. World of Color: This nighttime water spectacular incorporates water, color, fire and light. With more than 1,000 jets of water forming incredible shapes in time to the music, kids are mesmerized. Hint: (Pre-order a World of Color picnic with reserved viewing).
I felt as if I could go to Disneyland once a week. Actually maybe I should just move to California! I’m hooked, and I haven’t stopped swing dancing or saying Ka-Chow since my return. And when you go? (Insert Tow Mater voice)… You’ll be happier than a tornado in a trailer park. I couldn’t resist.
Disclosure: UrbanMommies was hosted for the grand re-opening of Disney’s California Adventure Park. As always, our opinions are our own.