Tag Archives: #DisneyAnimation

From Tikis to Princesses – the Latest News from Her Universe

While my latest article from San Diego Comic-Con was just published on LaughingPlace.com, here is a look back at our WonderCon update from her Universe …

What are the newest creations from the winners of last year’s Her Universe Fashion Show? We gathered at WonderCon 2018 to find out. For the first time, they announced the theme of the new fashion line: Disney Princesses, to be sold exclusively at Hot Topic stores.  It was worth the wait.

But first, a little background. To say that Ashley Eckstein – founder of Her Universe – has a devoted fan following is an understatement. This fangirl-turned-entrepreneur has worked tirelessly to be inclusive. And generate opportunities for others.

From creating endless wardrobe options for fangirls around the world, to giving designers a chance to bring their dreams from ‘runway to retail’ – Ashley Eckstein has justly earned her massive fanbase.  And now she gets to share her story.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com. 

Dreams Really Do Come True

Ashley has worked tirelessly to make her dreams come true.  From actress to self-made entrepreneur – she could not have imagined that she would be working with Disney and Hot Topic, while helping others along the way.  She created the Her Universe Fashion Show – now an annual event at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) – to give designers a platform to showcase their intricate cosplay designs. 

“If you can dream it, you can do it,” is what she learned from Disney.  And reality grew to be even bigger than the dream. 

Ashley just completed her book: It’s Your Universe – You Have the Power to Make it Happen, releasing on May 8, 2018.  She also announced her nationwide book signing tour, spanning cities from Orlando to Anaheim. 

Our ‘Ultimate Fangirl’ wanted to share her story, to “give back what Disney gave to me.”  She hopes that her story will inspire others to be “Dream warriors…To believe in yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you no.”  Ashley’s message: “Yes I Can.”

She really practices what she preaches, as the rest of the Hot Topic team attested to.  It’s really hard to tell Ashley ‘no.’  But she is all about working together. “It takes teamwork to make the dream work!”

Ashley’s Hot Topic Team

Introducing: Our Universe

After the huge success of Her Universe, guys felt a little left out of the fan-fashion trend.  Now, Ashley has included everyone in the family with Our Universe.  This newest line features lifestyle clothing in fun themes. 

At the Disney Store launch last month, Our Universe featured activewear for kids and tweens with Black Panther and Princess themes.  Pictured below are new Star Wars lightsaber-themed activewear pieces for the whole family. (Although, “this is not my family,” Ashley remarks with a smile). 

Behind this Our Universe Star Wars line is the mantra: “The Young are often underestimated. But when destiny calls, the chosen have no choice. Believe in yourself or no one else will. You are a Force in training.” ~ quotes from Star Wars: Clone Wars.

We have also seen a few Our Universe men’s items at Hot Topic-owned Box Lunch stores. 

Saying Aloha to a new Disney Tiki Line

photo from Hot Topic website

Her Universe introduced their Disney tiki-inspired line, just released on March 24th at Hot Topic stores and online.  These come in four prints: Moana, Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Minnie, and Peter Pan’s Mermaid Lagoon.  Ashley is wearing the red Lilo and Stitch tiki dress in her photo above.

For the first time, the collection will include coordinating men’s Our Universe aloha wear, as well as matching shoes, handbags, and accessories!  Ashley admitted that she squealed with joy when she saw the Lilo and Stitch heels.  

Avengers Infinity War Lifestyle Collection

Are you excited about Avengers Infinity War?  I can’t imagine combining that many characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe all together in one film.  We’ll finally see what they’ve been teasing with each of the Infinity Stones, and Thanos’ gauntlet. 

Well, designing a fashion line around Avengers Infinity War was difficult, because of the very fact that there are “thirty relevant characters.”  Someone will be disappointed that their favorite character was not represented. 

That is why the collection is designed around each of the Infinity Stones, and not around individual characters.  Here are the six Infinity Stone colors, and their meanings.

  • Purple: Power
  • Blue: Space
  • Red: Reality
  • Yellow: Mind
  • Green: Time
  • Orange: Soul

And to tie them all together: the gold (reversible) jacket representing Thanos’ gauntlet.  Ashley is also wearing an Avengers logo tee that has symbols of the individual characters.

Fashion Show winners create new Disney Princess line

Remember our SDCC Her Universe Fashion Show winners from last year?  Relive the moment here in the announcement video:

Well, Grace Duval, Rose Ivy, and Lindsay Orndorff (from left) have been hard at work creating not just fashions, but also accessories in a head-to-toe Princess line for Hot Topic.

The new line is titled “destination Disney.”  As Ed Labay (VP GMM, Hot Topic) explained, the Disney Princesses have a deep emotional connection for many people… that ‘ahhh’ factor.  They take you back to a special place – a destination where you want to go.

This Disney Princess line will allow guests to ‘take cosplay into the real world,’ and ‘embrace Disney in their everyday life.’

Each of the Fashion Show winners chose two Princesses.  The panel revealed a concept drawing (by artist Ashley Taylor) of three creations.  Designers then described their projects, although no other visuals were provided. 

Ashley introduced us to Symantha Perrera (originally from Think Geek), lead fashion designer at Her Universe / Hot Topic.  Have you fallen in love with the Disney Dress Shop Collection at the Disney Parks?  Thank Symantha.

She described her creative process in constructing new fashions, as she brought Grace, Rose, and Lindsay to meet the Hot Topic and Disney licensing teams.  It’s a complicated balance, involving intellectual property and fashion research. 

It was remarkable, hearing each designer talk about their music choices, and sources of inspiration for each of their designs.  Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect.

Ariel and Jasmine

Grace Duval chose Ariel and Jasmine. Ariel’s theme is “Ready to Stand.”  The collection features jeans with fish scale details and Ariel’s castle in a holographic print.  The scalloped top has purple shell details. Holographic print shoes embossed with Ariel’s castle complete the look.

Grace also designed an dinglehopper makeup brush set for Ariel’s collection.

Jasmine’s design includes a crave-worthy flying carpet suede purse, with metal handle details. 

Rapunzel and Tiana

Rose Ivy chose Rapunzel and Tiana.  Rapunzel’s theme is “Live your dream.”  Rose incorporated the sun emblem around the dress neckline, since light was such a strong motif in the film.  Rapunzel chased the light, but ultimately found that the light was within her, she explained. The dress features a lace-up back for perfect fit and ombré shading from purple to pink.

Pascal earrings (that look like Pascal is sitting in your ears) and a Flynn Rider bag complete the look.

Tiana’s theme is “Make it Happen.”  Rose admired her focused, hard-working drive.  The collection will include ‘super cute flats.’

Mulan and Moana

Lindsay Orndorff chose Mulan and Moana.  Mulan’s theme, “Warrior Reflection,” will come complete with “Mu-shoes” – Mushu high-top sneakers. It is a Ping-inspired leisure outfit, mixing both masculine and feminine elements.  The sleeveless top has a hood, with armor and sword details.

Mulan’s collection includes a sword-shaped makeup brush.

Like Mulan, Moana also set off on an adventure to discover who she really was.  Her collection will include perfume, and a Hei Hei bag with wacky eyes.

Release date for Princess Collection

The design task included creating clothing, shoes, make-up, and even perfume.  Since each of these manufacturing processes work on a different time table, the complete Princess collection is scheduled to land a week before San Diego Comic-Con in July. 

Fifth Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

Meanwhile, the team is busy planning for the 5th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show at SDCC, hosted by Hot Topic.  Submissions for design entries will be opening up online “soon.” 

Since there has been so much interest from junior designers, Ashley hosted a junior design workshop at WonderCon. 

For the first time, there will also be a Junior design contest during intermission at the Fashion Show, hosted by Cartoon Network. 

Calling all dreamers and doers out there.  Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Her Universe’s new fashions. Get your designs ready for the Her Universe Fashion Show coming this July! We’ll see you there!

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on March 30, 2018.  See this article and more on my author page at https://www.laughingplace.com/w/author/gloria_hasler/



Step Aboard Hōkūleʻa: How this Real-Life Voyaging Canoe Inspired Moana


Moana has been such an inspirational force for so many people around the world.  The film has touched not only Polynesians, but people from every walk of life.  So, what inspired Disney filmmakers to send a teenager on a wayfinding quest in a voyaging canoe?

In their research for Moana, Ron Clements, John Musker and Osnat Shurer gathered an “Oceanic Story Trust:” a collection of cultural elders and expert advisors.  One of these experts was Nainoa Thompson, Pwo (master) Navigator of Hōkūleʻa: Hawaii’s real-life voyaging canoe.

Nainoa consulted on wayfinding techniques, and must have also shared experiences from sailing Hōkūleʻa.  Here is a painting of Hōkūleʻa by artist and founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), Herb Kawainui Kāne.

Hōkūleʻa painting by Herb Kane

See any similarities with the bigger voyaging canoes in Moana?

Mālama Honua – a Voyage of Goodwill and Stewardship

Hōkūleʻa has just returned from an epic world-wide voyage: Mālama Honua (‘Caring for Island Earth’) from 2014-2017.  During that voyage, Hōkūleʻa sailed 40,300 nautical miles, visiting 23 countries and more than 150 ports of call.

245 crew members worked tirelessly as a team to accomplish this goal.  Overarching was a message of living sustainably on the earth and sharing the Polynesian culture.

Ko Olina Welcomes Hōkūleʻa

Hōkūleʻa was welcomed in Ko Olina Harbor – on the West side of Oahu – on January 3, 2018.  This was part of her mission to thank Hawaiians for their support (Mālama Hawaii), and for public education about their voyages.  Crew members were greeted with flower and Ti leaf lei in an official ceremony.

Guests even brought extra-long plumeria lei as gifts for Hōkūleʻa.

Nainoa was interviewed by television crew.

A Tour of Hōkūleʻa: Layout of the Canoe

Crew members of Hōkūleʻa were so gracious in hosting free impromptu tours for anyone who wanted to visit.  Just drive up to Ko Olina marina, climb aboard, and talk story.

First impression: she is not very big.  As someone who loves ocean cruising, I enjoy having my own cabin comforts.  But even more so, I’ve been on some rough seas. And even on a large ocean liner, you can occasionally feel the motion of the ocean.

This voyaging canoe is made of two floating hulls, with flat deck planks across them.  As I walk across the deck, I notice that there is little to no shade covering.  If I look carefully between the planks, I can see the open water below.

Steering is accomplished with a large rudder paddle at the aft. The rudder (hoe – pronounced ‘HOYee’) is so large, that four crew members at a time may be needed to move it.  (The Hawaiian word pahoehoe (‘pah-HOYee-hoyee’) describing swirled / rippled lava derives from the word hoe – since this type of lava resembles paddle ripples in the water).

Honoring kūpuna

It is said that you can feel the mana, or life energy, of Hōkūleʻa when you sail onboard.  On one of the hulls, there is a plaque acknowledging the kūpuna (elders / ancestors) that have come before.

First is Pele – goddess of fire and volcanoes.  According to legend, Pele sailed across the seas from Tahiti in a canoe, searching for a home.  After a long voyage, she discovered Hawaii, (and now resides in Kilauea volcano on the Big Island).  Next, the plaque honors artist and PVS founder Herb Kāne.

There is a special memorial for Eddie Aikau.  Eddie was a lifeguard and big wave surfer who was lost at sea in 1978, trying to save the crew of Hōkūleʻa after the canoe capsized off of Molokai.

Sailing and Navigating

Hōkūleʻa has two strong masts with sails.  One flies the Hawaiian flag.

There are two Navigator seats towards the aft of the ship.  If you look closely, this one has Nainoa’s name carved into the wood rail on the side.

Culinary Magic

How do you feed a crew of twelve – and keep them happy – for weeks at a time?  Here is the Galley on the open deck, with a propane-powered stove.  The ship’s chef is an expert at cooking everything from seafood to baking cakes on this stove.

Where does the food come from?  Fish are caught on fishing lines, as crew member Mariah is holding up for us.  These are long lines that are trailed behind Hōkūleʻa as she sails through the seas.  Crew members attend to these lines, and wind them back up when a fish is caught.

Mariah is also modeling a life vest used aboard Hōkūleʻa.  Behind her, you can see solar panels on the far aft of the ship.  These are to power satellite phones for emergency communications, and charge camera / video equipment to document their journey.  Nothing else is powered on the ship, as everything is completely manual.

Living Aboard Hōkūleʻa

If you’ve ever been on a boat, the marine head ‘toilet’ takes some getting used to.  Imagine not having a physical toilet on the ship.  How do you go to the bathroom?  This is a question that astronauts often encounter.  Crew members were kind enough to share.

The ‘toilet’ area is at the rear hull, behind the navigator’s seat, near the ship’s name.  There’s a procedure to follow before you can go.  You must alert at least one crew member.  You put on a lifejacket and harness yourself to the boat.  You close the curtain, climb up on the ledge, lean overboard, and aim your ‘okole downwind.

The ‘shower’ is also in this area, as crew members use buckets of sea water to rinse off.  Mariah explained that warm tropical rains allow for welcome fresh water ‘showers’ on deck.

After a long day, you may be looking forward to bedtime.  There are ten bunks placed on boards, each measuring six feet long. Five are arranged end-to-end atop each of the two hulls, covered only by canvas tent material.

If you are taller than 5’10”, things get uncomfortable trying to sleep in these quarters.  If it is raining, or when seas are rough, water soaks through the tent covering.  For a crew of twelve, there are only ten bunks, so people sleep in shifts.  Someone must continuously sail the canoe.

Bunks are laid on flat boards across access openings into the hull.  Mariah showed us an open access port below a bunk, with an artistically-decorated cover.  I peered down, and found it remarkably deep inside the hull.  This is where drinking water, shelf-stable food, and medical supplies go to stay dry.

Safety on the High Seas

What happens if someone falls overboard?  (It’s happened!)  Sailboats don’t exactly have brakes, and can’t turn very easily.  Crew members throw a floatation buoy towards the person and try to pull them in.

Hōkūleʻa always voyages with her sister support ship, the Hikianalia – a modern Polynesian voyaging canoe which has solar and wind energy, and satellite communications technology.  The crew of Hikianalia are there to observe, but do not interfere or assist with the navigation of Hōkūleʻa.

Satellite tracking from Hikianalia allowed the world to follow Hōkūleʻa’s GPS coordinates on the Mālama Honua worldwide voyage in real time.

Herb Kane painting of Hokule’a_2006

What did you think of this quick glimpse into life on a real voyaging canoe?  It’s remarkable that Hōkūleʻa’s voyages may have inspired some of Moana’s story!


Interested in more?  See How Far We’ll Go – Wayfinding Like Moana on Hawaii’s Hōkūleʻa, a revival of the lost Polynesian navigational culture.  Join us as we ‘Talk story’ with Women of Hōkūleʻa, as real-life Moanas share their adventures.  There are excellent resources and teaching guides on the Hōkūleʻa website.


This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com .  See more articles on my Author Page here!

Talk Story with Women of Hōkūleʻa – Real-Life Moanas Share Their Adventures


Did you know that sailing across the ocean in a voyaging canoe isn’t just something Moana did in a Disney animated feature?  And that some of Maui’s Wayfinding teachings are inspired by real-life Polynesian navigational techniques?

It’s true. All of it.

Welcome to true stories of Hōkūleʻa – Hawaii’s voyaging canoe – as told by her crew, our real-life Moanas.  Traditional wayfinding had gone extinct in Polynesia until Hōkūleʻa was built by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in 1973.

With hard work and sacrifice, Hōkūleʻa and her crew became the first to navigate across the seas as their ancestors did over 600 years ago, using only traditional wayfinding techniques.  Read more about Wayfinding like Moana here.

This was their latest achievement – a worldwide voyage. Continue reading Talk Story with Women of Hōkūleʻa – Real-Life Moanas Share Their Adventures

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Dreams Come True at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

Thanks to Her Universe founder, Ashley Eckstein, showing off geek couture is now a much-anticipated event at San Diego Comic-Con.  Ashley dreamed of providing a runway for young designers to showcase their fandom-driven fashions.  Her dream is now a reality, as she makes designers’ dreams come true at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show at San Diego Comic-Con.

The stakes are high: winners of the Fashion Show get to design a clothing line for Her Universe and pop-culture retailer Hot Topic.  Last year’s Fashion Show winners Hannah Lee Kent, Camille Falciola, and Jesse Thaxton created the immensely popular Wonder Woman collection, breaking Hot Topic sales records as the most successful line in store history.

[This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 27, 2017.]

 Ashley Eckstein: from Dreamer to Dream-maker

Ashley Eckstein’s gown: “Wish Upon a Star”

Ashley has always dreamed big, and loved Disney.  Her credits include both screen acting (“Muffy” on Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) and voice acting roles.  Perhaps Ashley is best known for originating the role of Ahsoka Tano in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Over time, Ahsoka has become one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars galaxy.

Young Ashley had dreamed big. But reality became even bigger than she had dared to dream.  “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” Continue reading Dreams Come True at the 4th Annual Her Universe Fashion Show

D23 Expo Celebrates Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Films


From a deep-seated love of the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland (now celebrating its 50th Anniversary) came the Pirates film empire that we know today.  For many younger guests, Captain Jack Sparrow was their first Disney pirate.  If you long for the open seas…and ye come seekin’ adventure: ye be in the right place.

Come with us as we explore the Pirates films through props and costumes straight out of the Disney Archives.

A Tribute to Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Disney pirates have only grown in popularity, thanks in part to the incredibly successful film franchise.  D23 Expo celebrated all Disney pirates in a special exhibit, showcasing treasures from the Parks and films.  Here, we will highlight the film memorabilia from “A Pirates Life for Me: Disney’s Rascals, Scoundrels, and Really Bad Eggs.”

For more details of the D23 Expo exhibit featuring the history of Disney pirate lore, and Pirates attractions from around the world, see our other article here.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com. 

Bruckheimer’s Pirates: Bigger Than Life

Jerry Bruckheimer is known for making blockbuster films.  When he signed on for the first Pirates film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), he likely didn’t realize how big this franchise would become.

ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 15, 2015: (L-R) Actor Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and producer Jerry Bruckheimer of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES with President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey took part today in “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios” presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Johnny Depp; Sean Bailey; Jerry Bruckheimer

Fast forward fourteen years, and Bruckheimer has produced four more “Pirates” films:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – Pirates Lords of the Brethren Court
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – Angelica, Blackbeard
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) – Captain Salazar, Henry and Carina

Here, we celebrate the films, as we tour screen-used (‘hero’) props from Disney Archives. Continue reading D23 Expo Celebrates Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Films

Yo Ho! Celebrating Over 50 Years of Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

How many of you love Pirates of the Caribbean?  Was your first memory of Pirates from Disneyland? Or perhaps Disney World?  For younger generations, their first Disney pirate may have been Captain Jack Sparrow from the blockbuster films.  Well, if ye come seekin’ adventure, keep a weather eye open.  There be pirates in these waters as we explore their history through Disney Archives.

This article was originally published on Laughingplace.com after D23 Expo.

A Tribute to Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Pirates have been such an integral part of Disney history, even before the landmark attraction at Disneyland (now commemorating its 50th year).  D23 Expo celebrated Disney pirates in a special exhibit, showcasing treasures from the Disney Archives.  These are highlights from the D23 Expo and “A Pirates Life for Me: Disney’s Rascals, Scoundrels, and Really Bad Eggs.”

The queues snaked on and on for this exhibit.  The mood was set with music of Disney’s pirates – from X Atencio’s classic ‘Yo Ho! Yo Ho!’ to the Hans Zimmer film soundtracks, to songs from Muppet Treasure Island and Hook’s solo “Revenge! Revenge!” from Once Upon a Time.

Jail Scene photo op

Before entering the exhibit, many guests stopped for a photo op in the classic ‘Jail Scene.’ Continue reading Yo Ho! Celebrating Over 50 Years of Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Reflections: 6 Pearls We Learned from the Creators of Disney’s Mulan

When the creative team of a Disney animated classic shows up and shares stories of how a film was made….it’s an unforgettable experience.  As an unadvertised treat, the creators of Disney’s Mulan surprised movie-goers at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood with an impromptu pre-screening panel discussion on January 26, 2017.

“Throwback Thursday” at the El Capitan offers the chance to see a Disney classic on the silver screen.  And in honor of Chinese New Year, the film was Mulan (1998).  Our ‘inside source’ for the panel discussion was director Tony Bancroft (@pumbaaguy1 on Twitter).

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Continue reading Reflections: 6 Pearls We Learned from the Creators of Disney’s Mulan

Floyd Norman: A Disney Legend’s Animated Life

What would you give to spend an evening with a Disney Legend – an animator, a story artist who was hand-picked by Walt Disney himself, a creative mastermind and self-dubbed ‘troublemaker’?  Floyd Norman is all of these.  He was also the first African-American artist to work at Walt Disney Productions.

We gathered at nine in the evening during Comic-Con to celebrate the amazing story of Floyd Norman’s career.  His many adventures are featured in the new documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, co-directed by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey (opens August 26, 2016).  Fiore and Sharkey were the acclaimed team behind the Drew Struzan documentary (Drew: The Man Behind the Poster,2013).

(This article was originally published on August 18, 2016 after San Diego Comic-Con, on LaughingPlace.com. )

Distinguished Panel Members – Contributors in the Documentary

The panel member list read like a list of “Who’s Who” in entertainment.

Front Row: Adrienne Norman, Leo Sullivan, Leonard Maltin, Gary Trousdale, Don Hahn, Jane Baer

Back Row: Floyd Norman, Nirali Somaia, Ryan Shore, Erik Sharkey, Michael Fiore, Ken Mitchroney

Floyd Norman – as himself.

Adrienne Norman – Art director at Disney. Senior artist, digital paint for Disney Publishing group. Photographer. Disney consumer products.  Married to Floyd Norman.

Leo Sullivan – Layout artist, collaborator and partner with Floyd Norman in their independent production studio, Vignette Films, in addition to other animation credits (Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert, Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures).

Leonard Maltin – legendary film critic and historian, reviewed films for 30 years on Entertainment Tonight, creative force behind the Walt Disney Treasures series.  Teaches in the School of Cinema at the University of Southern California.

Continue reading Floyd Norman: A Disney Legend’s Animated Life

Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic-Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 2)

Moana is the first Polynesian Princess to join the Disney ohana.  Director and Producer team Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) were joined by screenwriter Jared Bush (Zootopia), co-head of Animation Amy Smeed (Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6), and producer Osnat Shurer (Pixar shorts) on the “Moana: Art of Story” panel July 21, 2016 at San Diego Comic Con.

Moana Panel at SDCC 2016
Moana Panel at SDCC 2016

In Part One of this article, we learned about the story of Moana, as she set off on an epic journey to save her people from the darkness caused by Maui.  We also learned about the research that directors Ron and John did to create an authentic Polynesian story.

In this article, we will explore the main characters in depth, as well as the authentic Polynesian details that truly distinguish this film.

(This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 28, 2016).  

Demi-God Maui

Maui is the demi-god of the wind and the sea, self-dubbed the “greatest demi-god in all the Pacific Islands” and the “hero of man.”

DWAYNE JOHNSON (“Central Intelligence”) voices MAUI—half god, half mortal, all awesome. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
DWAYNE JOHNSON (“Central Intelligence”) voices MAUI—half god, half mortal, all awesome. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Maui is a shape shifter, and wields his magical fishhook: ‘he slowed down the sun, pulled islands out of the sea, battled monsters.’ He has a bit of an ego too, carving his autograph on canoe paddles with a heart and a hook.

All this does not impress Moana, as she is on a quest to get Maui to restore the heart of ‘Te Fiki.’  Maui is surprised to find that he is inadvertently the ‘bad guy.’  By stealing the heart of ‘Te Fiki,’ he had caused a darkness to spread across the seas.

Maui goes shirtless through the film, which made modeling accurate muscle movements an important aspect of his character development.  He sports tribal tattoos all over his body that “tell of his exploits.”  He literally can “give you his backstory” says producer Shurer.

Continue reading Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic-Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 2)

Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)


Moana is the first Polynesian Princess to join the Disney ohana.  Director and Producer team Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) were joined by screenwriter Jared Bush (Zootopia), co-head of Animation Amy Smeed (Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6), and producer Osnat Shurer (Pixar shorts) on the “Moana: Art of Story” panel July 21, 2016 at San Diego Comic-Con.

Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con
Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con

We were lucky to get a closer glimpse into the next Disney Animated Feature, Moana.

(This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 27, 2016 as part of our Comic-Con coverage)

The Story of Moana

“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.”

This is a tale of how Polynesians came to navigate across the seas again, and how one person made a difference.

AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Princess Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) is the 16-year old daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison, Jango Fett, Star Wars).  She is strong, independent-minded, “spitting vinegar” and a bit of a “Bada$$” as described by our panel.

TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Once Were Warriors,” “Six Days, Seven Nights”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI, the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End's "Cats") voices Moana’s mother, SINA, who always has her daughter’s back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina appreciates Moana’s longing to be on the water, but also wants to protect her daughter from the fabled dangers beyond the reef. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI.  NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End’s “Cats”) voices Moana’s mother, SINA.  ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

With generations of sea-faring ancestry, Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean, despite her father’s decree that “no one goes beyond the reef.”

Continue reading Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)

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