Tag Archives: Disney

From Cynic to Convert: How Disney Won Me Over

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Hi Disney. It’s me, Aaron. Can we talk?

Look, I know in the past we said some things that were…unfortunate. OK fine. I said the things. It’s just, you know, sometimes you can be a little overwhelming. The crowds, the price tag, the movies that (until fairly recently) never seem to give a crap about dads, the unyielding amount of merchandising, your SUPER devoted fans who tend to border on overzealous maniacal obsession — it all seemed just a bit, well, MUCH!

So yeah, some things were said in the heat of the moment. Some promises of never bending to your will or succumbing to your charm. Some pointed remarks to Disney-loving friends and family members about how brainwashed they are. And bold assurances that despite not having set foot on Disney property in 30 years, I was never going back.

Sooooo…yeah. I’m sorry about that.

I was recently invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, an invite-only social media conference at Disney World.  I went with my wife and three kids to stay at the Disney Beach Club Resort, mere steps from Epcot, and partake in trips to Disney World’s three other parks — Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

And it was awesome. Like, freaking wonderful. I thought about pretending otherwise so I wouldn’t have to publicly admit how wrong I was, but brutal honesty is my brand. And if I’m being honest, I really loved Disney.

I could talk about a lot of things pertaining to the conference that helped make it great. Things like getting a sneak peek at the first half hour of Finding Dory, getting to watch Alice Through the Looking Glass three weeks before its release, hearing from Disney executives and film producers who gave us peeks behind the curtain as to the inner workings of the park and the movies we love, and the heavily discounted park rates we received as conference attendees.

But that’s not how you won me over, Disney. Wanna know what the turning point was?

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The look on Sam’s face when he saw Mickey Mouse in real life was something that will be gloriously imprinted in my memory until my life fades to black.

Other parents repeatedly told me it was magical, but I ignored them with a sarcastic roll of the eyes. But even if I had believed them, it still wouldn’t have fully prepared me to be in that exact moment. To see his eyes go wide, the realization set in, and watch as he gleefully careened into his favorite character’s arms for a gargantuan hug was a moment for which I was ill-prepared — especially since it was during registration and I had no idea Mickey would even be there. Everyone always prattles on about “Disney Magic,” but let me tell you — it’s real. That moment pictured above? That’s real, tangible magic. It got a little dusty and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little choked up.

Yes, I was a fairly ardent Disney cynic. But I’m also a dad, and the fastest way to my heart is through my kids. You make them deliriously happy, you’re A-OK in my book.

Except for you Rapunzel. You’re suspect.

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Lest you think I’m just caving because I was offered hotel and park discounts, some free products, and behind-the-scenes experiences, there were things I didn’t care for.

The name of the conference, Disney Social Media Moms, is really unfortunate. There were a half dozen or so dads in attendance, and sponsors were generally pretty good about including the fathers (Hanes brought us boxers in addition to bras for the lady folk). But why not just change the name of the conference?

“Disney Social Media Parents Conference” would be perfect. It’s one little word, but the shift toward inclusion from an esteemed organization like Disney would be a HUGE step for involved fatherhood. Amazon just changed the name of its parenting program from “Amazon Mom” to “Amazon Family,” and I’d love to see Disney follow suit.

And as someone with a definite fear of crowds, I did have a hard time navigating the packed Disney parks. Combine that with pushing a double stroller while simultaneously dodging the plethora of people using motorized scooters, and it’s safe to say I was pretty frazzled at the end of each day.

But all of that was outweighed by the good.

The Beach Club Resort was absolutely beautiful, a 5-minute walk from Epcot, and featured a lagoon-like pool the kids could’ve stayed in all damn day.

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Meeting the characters (except for princesses, who Sam seemed to fear like they were the stuff of fiendish nightmares) was phenomenal and even Will (8) was staring at them in wonder and excitement.

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Also, my kids love animals. A lot. Especially Sam, who calls all the animals at the zoo his friends. So imagine his delight when we went on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom, and saw rhinos, giraffes, and hippos!

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Notice the baby elephant nursing!

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And managing to catch heartwarming moments like this one, in which Sam thought his MagicBand (the FitBit-esque wristband you wear at Disney that gets you into your hotel room, onto the rides, etc) was a walkie-talkie that connected him directly to Mickey Mouse.

Yet for a brief idiotic moment, I actually cringed while on this dream vacation specifically because I knew I had been wrong and would have to admit it. I repeat, I was momentarily upset because I was having too good a time.

Being steadfast is generally a good thing, as sticking to your principles is an admirable quality. However, Disney reminded me there’s a marked difference between steadfast and simply stubborn. My stubbornness was preventing me and my family from having a good time, and missing out on some truly remarkable memories we’ll have for the rest of our lives.

Disney isn’t perfect. Nothing is. But I get it now. I understand the “magic” is in watching the looks on your kids’ faces when their minds are blown by meeting their favorite character they’ve only ever seen on TV. And while I’m still not one of those “OMG DISNEY IS THE BEST EVARRRRR!!!!” folks, I understand the draw now.

Part of the magic is the escape Disney provides.

I heard from people who were different growing up and had some pretty hard times, but their brief Disney vacations provided moments of acceptance and true happiness. And for someone like me who talks about gun violence, domestic violence, child negligence, politics, and other controversial and important issues on a daily basis, I realized there’s room for the lighter stuff too. It’s not a cop-out to enjoy a little Disney respite, it’s actually good for the soul. The world’s problems are still there waiting to be tackled, but reconnecting with my family in the “happiest place on Earth” left me refreshed and gave me a severely needed break.

Long story short, sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Especially when wrong is as cute as this.

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I’m sorry, Disney. We cool?

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Frozen Turned My Son Gay

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My son is acting all kinds of gay, and Frozen is to blame!

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m blaming my 5-year-old’s sudden “gayness” on Disney’s mega-hit movie, after reading a little something from a Well-Behaved Mormon Woman. No, really. That’s her blog name. And in her now-viral piece, she opened my eyes to the REAL story of Frozen — furthering the Gay Agenda!

Now, I know you’re thinking “Wait, I saw Frozen and all I saw was a story about two plucky sisters learning about love and sacrifice while singing deliriously catchy songs with a talking snowman in a frozen tundra.” Well that’s what I thought at first too, but remember — that’s just what they want you to think. I’m just a dumbass liberal, which means my tiny mind can barely comprehend the deeper meaning of things. That’s why I’m ever so thankful to religious conservatives like WBMW for showing me the light.

She writes:

“When mainstream society comes to the point where it celebrates that which is contrary to the commandments, taught in a movie presumably made for children, by awarding it the highest accolades within its culture, and good parents don’t perceive it, but rather endorse it unwittingly, we are in serious trouble. And you can bet that those we have to thank are laughing themselves all the way to the bank, while mocking the religious ignorant.”

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“The process of normalizing homosexual behavior in society is going to require more than the liberal media saying it is so – which they do all the time – or activist judges legalizing same-sex marriage in one state after another. It’s going to require the indoctrination of our children, in order to lead their generation to the next, necessary, level of mainstream social acceptance. Remember, that in today’s liberal society allowing almost anything, even legalizing it, in the name of “love” trumps sin – it’s that powerful of an ideology. And that my friends, is exactly what Disney is selling your children, while you unknowingly standby and watch.”

Now, as most of you know, I’m a politically left of center unabashed proponent of gay marriage and equal rights. But, to be fair, that was before I knew I was being indoctrinated. And more importantly, it was before I knew my children were at risk.

Case in point, I took Will to see Frozen about a month ago. He loved it. He started singing all the songs like “Let It Go,” at the top of his lungs. I thought it was adorable — until WBMW peeled back the onion to reveal it as a gay anthem (It’s time to see what I can do / To test the limits and break through / No right, no wrong, no rules for me / I’m free). Might as well throw a headdress on him and make him sing YMCA!

And that’s when I started thinking about the last month.

Will has been prancing around the house singing these gay songs. He’s also started to pay much more attention to fashion. He picks out his mother’s clothes and helped me match a tie to my shirt. I think he even threw in a “Fabulous!” Also, we had a specific conversation about kids with two moms and two dads, and he thinks there’s absolutely nothing weird about it. The words “totally normal” were invoked.

But all of that is circumstantial. The real proof that Frozen turned my son gay arrived in photo evidence form on my wife’s Facebook account today. Will…you see…he was in the kitchen and…well, just see for yourself.

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Yup. That’s right. Not only is my son addicted to cooking, he’s wearing an apron. WITH PINK STRINGS! Clearly the gay agenda has not only been normalized, it’s now in the water supply. Perhaps even airborne. Either way, it’s spreading.

This plague of thoughtfulness, tolerance, equality, respect, and basic human compassion is full on contagious, and our kids are being affected. If I’m not careful, my little boy could end up being the first generation who talks about marriage without having to put the word “gay” or “same-sex” in front of it. He could also become a victim of this redefined, PC version of modern masculinity, which places an emphasis on totally homo things like feelings, communication, and not drawing arbitrary lines in the sand based on things like gender roles and sexual orientation.

I’m sorry son. I’m sorry I’ve failed you as a father. As a parent. I’m sorry you’ve bought the hype from the liberal media that everyone should be equal and enjoy equal rights. I’m sorry you can’t see the abomination that is homosexuality, and the affront gay marriage poses to traditional marriage. I’m sorry I can’t protect you from movies that erode our social values by promoting messages of inclusion.

“How sad would it be, for diligent parents, who teach correct principles in the raising of their children, to find that their children, as they grow up, have developed, through mainstream social acceptance, unchallenged, these negative attitudes toward obedience, respect and moral absolutes.”

Indeed. How sad.

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Gender Matters: My Son Won’t Play with “Girl Toys”

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“Will doesn’t care about Elsa from Frozen. He’s a boy and that’s girl stuff.”

That’s what a dad said to his daughter in front of my 5-year-old son recently. My son who, just a few days earlier, excitedly danced in his seat while watching Frozen in a movie theater accompanied by — gasp! — me. His dad. Yup, that’s right. A father and son trip to see an animated Disney musical about sisters, relationships, love, and sacrifice.

You know, total chick stuff.

Since this is someone we encounter on a fairly regular basis, I suppressed the dad blogger rage and accompanying vehement diatribe on gender equality that was desperately attempting to escape from my mouth. But I saw the confused (and slightly ashamed) look on my son’s face and it broke my heart, so I knew I had to say something.

“Actually, Will and I saw Frozen and we absolutely loved it. That movie is great and it’s for boys just as much as girls,” I said, choking down my anger. “Right buddy?”

But after hearing it labeled a “girl movie” and therefore unacceptable, all Will would offer at that point was a tepid “Well, it was OK.” Just OK. Three days ago it had been deemed “AWESOME!!!!!!”

And then it was my heart that broke.

Continue reading Gender Matters: My Son Won’t Play with “Girl Toys”

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Disney On Ice Review

There are certain things I swore I’d never do when I became a parent. Things like engage in baby talk, dress us all in matching sweaters for family portraits and overdose on all things Disney. Admittedly, I’ve been known to go so far as to say Disney is single-handedly ruining the world.

Looks like I owe some people some apologies.

I received four complimentary tickets to the Dec. 26 Disney on Ice “Treasure Trove” show courtesy of Feld Entertainment, and it was AWESOME! Keep in mind, I’m saying all of this as a snarky and former self-confessed Disney hater. Believe me, I wanted to hate it. I wanted to bitch about it and make fun of it and be the cool blogger who’s so above this tired Disney stuff. And ice skating to boot? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been forced to watch figure skating in the Olympics and been bored to tears, just waiting for one of them to fall so I could laugh. Believe me, I was prepared for all of this.

Until my son started smiling, my toe started tapping and—God help me—suddenly I was singing along.

The Lion King, Peter Pan, Snow White, Tangled, The Incredibles, Aladdin…you name it and this show had it. There’s really no bad seats because the action is constantly moving and you can see everything. The skating is really good, the music is awesome and the characters are flying, taking magic carpet rides and pyrotechnics are going off everywhere. It’s really pretty incredible.

Will’s favorite part was when Tinkerbell was flying and suddenly pyrotechnics went off in the form of “pixie dust.” You should’ve seen his face, he was stunned. That was followed closely by one of Will’s favorite movies, “The Princess and the Frog.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

He was so happy. Seriously. Just ecstatic. And seeing him so happy made me happy. And honestly, it was pretty fun for me too. MJ and I had a blast right there along with Will. Thanks to Feld Entertainment, we even got a special meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie afterwards.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true review if I didn’t have at least SOME criticisms. They’re few and far between though. For instance:

  • As you can imagine, there are hawkers galore trying to get you to buy something. We combated this by bringing cool toys from home. Especially ones that light up, because there are these crazy, spinny, light up toys that kids crave. If you can bring your own you’ll save a ton of money.
  • This is what one fellow blogger called a “princess heavy” show. If you’re against princesses and the like then you’ll probably find this more than a little annoying. I’m OK with it, but I know others harbor some angst when it comes to this.
  • I’m not sure why Disney can’t have Timon & Pumba say the word “fart,” yet they’re fine with playing Kei$ha’s song “Tick Tock” and having the hyenas from Lion King feast on Mufassa’s carcass. Arbitrary lines in the sand always amuse me. But seriously, they show Mufassa dying so be prepared for some sad parts.

My favorite part was during the Lion King (one of Will’s favorites) when Rafiki the monkey started singing “Just Can’t Wait to be King.” I thought Will would love it because it’s one of his favorite songs, but when I looked over he was troubled. I asked him what was the matter and I absolutely LOVED his response.

“Dada, Rafiki doesn’t sing this song with Simba & Nala. Zazoo sings this song. They got it wrong.”

And he was right. As a movie snob and trivia fanatic, he did me proud pointing out the inaccuracy. But other than that snafu and the stuff I mentioned earlier, this is well worth the money and it’s a great time. Click here to find shows and times near you and do yourself a favor and buy a ticket immediately.

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Our Toy Story on Ice Experience

Pixar images and characters ©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I’m not a fan of figure skating or most musicals. As big of a sports fan as I am, I don’t even like hockey since I can’t skate a lick. Basically if it has anything to do with ice I’m probably tuning out.

But on Saturday, the Boston Bruins’ home ice was transformed into a living, breathing, triple-toe-looping rendition of Toy Story 3.  And Will LOVED it.

I had no idea what to expect because I can’t remember attending anything like this as a kid, and certainly not as a parent. First of all I wondered if Will would even sit through a two-hour performance. He’s not even 3 yet and I feared a meltdown halfway through. I also wondered if all the lights and hoopla would scare him. And finally, I wondered if I’d be able to get through such a performance without copious amounts of Sam Adams.

Turns out my worries were moot.

First of all, we took the train into Boston and that was almost as exciting as the show for Will. The kid loves trains and all he kept saying was “Subway train take us to Boston Garden!” As an added bonus, we got to go with our good friends Alicia and Vic, and our godson Vic III. They were absolutely enthralled by the subway and could barely contain themselves.

When we got to the Garden it was a madhouse! There were kids everywhere and the noise dwarfed even the most rowdy Celtics and Bruins crowds. Although the amount of vomit and errant urine on the floor remained the same.

Our seats revealed a spectacular view of the ice, but we still hadn’t told Will exactly what was going on. That’s why what happened next was so cool.

As much as he loves Toy Story, Will’s first love is Mickey Mouse. So when Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy made a surprise appearance on the ice before the show, he was floored. He didn’t like it very much when Mickey went away, and he wasn’t too impressed with Andy figure skating around the ice to open the show. But then the lights dimmed, the music started to crescendo and suddenly the main cast burst out onto the ice with a roar.

But I wasn’t watching that. I wanted to see Will’s reaction. I was hoping for that picture-perfect moment when he sees Ham, Rex, Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Bullseye and flips out with happiness. That didn’t happen though. Instead, he was stunned. Happily stunned, but absolutely overcome with sensory overload. Basically his expression looked like mine would have if the Swedish Bikini Team walked into my house naked while telling me I won the lottery and presenting me with a check for $20 million.

For the next hour he didn’t move. He just stared. The kid who gets distracted by shiny (and even not-so-shiny) objects was GLUED to the action on the ice. The costumes were part of it (did they have midgets skating in the two-man Bullseye and Slinky Dog outfits??) but the other part was the skating. It was like a mini Olympics out there, with some truly skilled performers gliding, leaping and even flying around the ice. I was impressed.

The Woody’s Round-Up segment was a big crowd-pleaser, and I really liked the collection of Green Army Men who displayed some impressive synchronicity. I thought the Barbie and Ken part lasted too long (and was more than a little suggestive), but it probably went over the kids’ heads.

But as great as the show itself was, the second half was ruined by two of the rudest people on the face of the Earth sitting behind us.

Two women and a young boy, about 4, sat behind us after the intermission. I heard them coming a mile away, thanks to their loud and obnoxious entrance. And as the performers came out for the second act, one woman screamed a loud “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” that caused Will to cover his ears and gave us all a whiff of the Bloody Marys she was consuming prior to the show. The next 10 minutes consisted of her and the other woman giving an ignorant running commentary of every single that happened.

“Yeah Barbie, you go girl!”

“Oooh Oooh Oooh, I love this song: I’m walkin’ on sunshine…WOAH OH!”

“Ohmygodohmygod, Potato Head lost his eye. YOUR EYE FELL OFF POTATO HEAD!”

Alicia and Vic were sitting farther down the row and eying them with just as much contempt. But when Alicia turned to give them a stern look, she was floored. Apparently these two women were a couple, which is fine. But what wasn’t fine was the fact that they were inappropriately groping each other’s lady parts during the frickin’ show!

My wife, who hadn’t seen the public display of affection, finally turned around and asked them to quiet down. But because they were quite obviously white trash morons, they started jawing back at us. At which point I turned around and joined in the argument. That’s when they dropped this doozy on us:

“What’s your problem? You have issues with lesbians sitting here and enjoying themselves?”

First of all I hadn’t even realized they were gay. Second, I didn’t give a shit. Which is why I said “I don’t care if you’re gay, straight or have sex with farm animals. Take a cue from your well-behaved kid and shut up and watch the show. Because right now you sound ridiculously dumb.

But they didn’t quiet down. Instead they got a little louder and wouldn’t stop making comments about me and MJ. And then, I heard one of them not-so-quietly whisper “I bet their kid’s a real brat.”

Oh no no no you didn’t.

I turned around and asked them if that was their kid. They said yes. Then I got heated:

“Well I was just wondering, because he seems extraordinarily well-behaved. Certainly better than his ignorant, loud-mouthed parents who are making fools of themselves at a kids’ show. My kid has been covering his ears and turning around to ‘shoosh’ you because even he’s got better manners than you do. So why don’t you do the rest of us a favor and crawl back to the uneducated hole you came from.”

As you can imagine, the rest of the show wasn’t so pleasant. I know I could’ve called security, but their kid was really sweet and he was enjoying himself. Kids shouldn’t be punished because of how stupid their parents are.

Anyways, the show was fantastic despite the distractions. And anyone who lives in New England should make it a point to visit Disney on Ice and check out showtimes. It’s running all this week (school vacation) through Feb. 27. For $25 per ticket you get Lower Loge seats, which are great, but if you want to upgrade you can pay $55 for VIP floor seats or $90 for front row.

Also, I recommend doing what MJ did beforehand. The amount of ridiculously overpriced toys that light up and spin around are endless. And your kid WILL want one. But MJ went out and bought some inexpensive Toy Story toys at the store before the show, so Will already had a new toy to play with. Granted he still wanted the “cool” toys, but we avoided a full-blown meltdown because he already had something to play with.

But it’s definitely worth the money and your kids will flippin’ love it!

DISCLAIMER: Our tickets were provided free of charge by Feld Entertainment. However, as always, my opinions are my own.

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