Sunday, September 24, 2017

Moana is Missing...

Anyone who knows our family knows of our love of Walt Disney World. I wrote a post last year on how incredibly magical it is there and right now our family is in the throes of entering the home stretch to our next trip. I just spent 2.5 hours of my evening fine-tuning our dining reservations (or "ADRs" for those that use the lingo) and plotting out our desires for our "FastPass+" preferences. As I was going through our list of desires for lines we wanted to shorten the time we waited in, I heard these little voices in the back of my head asking me "Mom, when we go to Disney World can we meet Moana? And Maui?"

With the popularity of this movie, one would assume that the answer to this question would be "Sure, why not. Let's wait the 20 minutes in that line for a 1 minute meeting because gosh-darn-it, it will make you happy." However: there isn't a spot anywhere in Walt Disney World that you can meet Moana.

There was a brief period of time when the movie was released for home viewing that you could meet Moana at the "One Man's Dream" attraction/Walt Disney Shrine at Disney's Hollywood Studios. That stint ended in April 2017 when Disney stopped promoting the Moana release and started promoting "Guardians of the Galaxy 2", inserting a meet with Starlord and Baby Groot in place of the headstrong teenager turned wayfinder (sorry... guess I should have warned you about that spoiler). And so, the star of the movie that was the source of the biggest earworm since "Let It Go" was left with nowhere to meet her - that is unless you are heading to Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

Source unknown: But source is a genius.

So I look at my sweet children and give them the disappointment that no, they will not be able to meet Moana or Maui and instead will have to be content with just swinging their pretend hooks around and flying like pretend hawks around my kitchen only to end up standing in front of me while swinging their hooks again to turn back into a pretend demi-god and ask if I want to meet them.

This may or may not have happened a few times. And they may or may not have been absolutely content with this answer because it's fun to say "I'm Maui! I'm not going on your boat" and making your sister scream because she's Moana.

I digress.

Disney - I think you've got to make this happen. Let's face it: you like making money and Moana... Moana can make you some serious bank. Set up that meet & greet space, put up a Moana gift shop beside it, and sit back and watch the money roll in.

Where? Where on your obscene amount of acreage should you put this meet & greet? Well... I have a few ideas for you.

Will is sad because this is Stitch and not Hei-Hei. 
1. 'Ohana (Disney's Polynesian Resort): This one is probably the most obvious. Right now, the only character meal at 'Ohana is Lilo & Stitch (with Mickey & Pluto) at breakfast. While this makes sense to have this duo as a primary character draw ("Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind" - I get it), why not further bank on the Moana Mercantile that you've already set up next door? Character meals are a great way to meet characters without needing to wait in lines - you've gotta eat anyways, right? - and a wonderful way for Disney to make more cash since these meals always cost more money. In this scenario, I would carry over Lilo & Stitch and I would add in Moana and Maui (or Hei Hei). In fact while we're at it, let's remove Mickey & Pluto from the breakfast and just make all 3 meals Lilo & Stitch and Moana & Maui. It keeps with the theme of the resort and gives guests a place where they can meet these popular characters. Plus - who wouldn't want to drink some of that time-honored Disney POG juice out of a souvenir Kokamura cup? AMIRIGHT?

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
2. The Outpost (Epcot): For as long as Steve and I have been going to Epcot together, we have yet to figure out what this area is besides a place for small children to bang on Bongo drums and to buy a floppy hat if you forgot yours at home or the hotel. Oh - and to buy a Coke (for those who haven't been, there is/was a "Coca-Cola Outpost" sign somewhere in this area). Why not revamp this a bit? Toss in a Kidcot stop, learn about Oceania a little, set up a Moana gift shop, and make an area with a backdrop setup that looks like something from the movie where you meet Moana and/or Maui. For that matter, if you look at the satellite of The Outpost area, there's a "beach" with "boats" across from it already - just replace the canoes that are there with Moana's boat. This could be a simple refurbishment of an area of World Showcase that not many people understand and an easy way to add an area of the world that's not really represented back there either. Since Disney seems to be in the business of renovating areas of World Showcase to fit whatever movies are popular at the movie anyways (I'm looking at you, Norway turned Arendelle and soon-to-be updated France for "Ratatouille") - why not make a better use of The Outpost. I'm just sayin'.

No idea who took this screenshot, but I'm pretty sure it's
from Google Maps. This is the space I'm talking about.
3. Between/Behind the Rafiki's Planet Watch train station & the Maharajah Jungle Trek (Animal Kingdom): If you look at a map of Animal Kingdom, there seems to be a fair amount of dead space kind of along the tracks/path heading up to Rafiki's Planet Watch and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Maybe I'm wrong and this is some sort of animal training area or extra parking/staging for props or parade equipment - but on the satellite view it looks like a poorly groomed semi-grassy/semi-dirt area. We've got Africa, Asia, prehistoric times, and the fantastical world of Pandora represented at Animal Kingdom - why not use this space to represent the Oceanic part of the world? This could easily be tied into the existing Finding Nemo: The Musical (why not build it a new theater and put a new show in the Finding Nemo space?), maybe a "Return the Heart to Te Fiti" ride, followed by a meet & greet area to meet various characters from Moana (OK... just Moana and Maui), and you know what - since we're all about cultural learning at Animal Kingdom - an area where there's an interactive hula performance at various times throughout the day. And a Dole Whip stand. Because Dole Whips.

While I am sure there are lots of other places you could just stick a booth and a kiosk and let kids meet Moana - I've heard rumors of "somewhere" in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom, for example - why not make this something a little more. Use your imaginations and use the wave (pardon the pun) that Moana is riding on, invite Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho to come to the opening and make a big deal out of it. And you know what, if it's in one of these spots invite me along too because I suggested it in the first place - heck,  you can even give me a free Dole Whip.

By the way, Disney. For these ideas of how to showcase Moana in your flagship resort & theme parks...

(Also, you totally knew I was going to do that last bit there. Admit it.)