She Met Her New Favorite Princess and I Met the People Who Created Her

We just got back from a fast and furious trip to Walt Disney World that was jam packed with all kinds of surprises. One of the biggest ones was my little girl meeting Moana. After years of anticipating this movie she instantly fell in love with the new heroine.

Moana is still in theaters and has dominated the box office three weekends in a row. The movie is now a Golden Globe nominated movie for Best Animated Feature! And now you can meet Moana at Disney World in Disney Hollywood Studios.

Meeting Moana!

Meet Moana at Disney World Hollywood Studios

Meet Moana at Disney World Hollywood Studios

More details on this trip and a fun series to come, but for now I’ll just tell you that my daughter was SO excited to meet her, and talk to her about her adventures with Maui.

I imagine my daughter meeting Moana felt a lot like how I felt meeting the directors of the movie: Ron Clements and John Musker.

Moana is the seventh Disney animated film they’ve directed together the others being: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, The Great Mouse Detective and The Princess and the Frog.

Learning the culture

Knowing this and being obsessed with about half this list, I had to ask them about directing three out of the five Disney films starring princesses of color, and how with Moana they went about respecting the culture yet attempting to share it with the world.

Ron Clements and John Musker Moana Interview

Right from the get go they spent weeks in the Polynesian islands of Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti meeting with cultural ambassadors, linguists, and anthropologists.

One Tahitian representative told them: “For years, we’ve been swallowed by your culture. One time can you be swallowed by our culture?” And the directors said they took that to heart.

“That became sort of our mantra as we did the movie over the course of the years and we kept people involved from the Pacific islands,” John said.

In other blog posts I’ve mentioned how these tips from advisors helped them chance Maui from bald to having a full head of hair, and how The Realm of Monsters fit into the storyline.

The new generation of animators

I just sat in wonderment as they told us about being 60-somethings working along bright eyed and bushy-tailed 20-somethings on this movie.

“It was fun on this movie though because in terms of the CG and the hand-drawn we got to use both. And Eric Goldberg who did The Genie and Aladdin did mini-Maui, this tattoo. So, we were able to incorporate hand-drawn elements. And the younger ones were thrilled to get a chance to work with Eric where they would do the CG Maui and he would do the hand-drawn part and they could kind of learn from Eric and see his techniques in terms of the acting and his timing and his comic sensibilities. And it really, they were thrilled to get a chance to learn from this kind of living legend of animation. It’s been fun for us to learn new things and work with new artists. So, that’s been the really fun part of all this.”


Our interview wound down and all of the burning questions I had before this adventure were answered… I just had one more thing I needed to know.

What’s next?!

“Please tell me you two are doing more movies together!” I begged.

“We don’t know what we’re doing after this. This has been five years in the making. We’re just doing a couple of months of promotion then I think hopefully we get a few weeks off. Who knows what we’re doing,” John said. “There’s a lot of great movies in the Disney pipeline after this from these various directors.”

Yea yea. Wreck it Ralph 2, Gigantic, Coco and Frozen 2. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for those. (Especially at the possibility of actually having a quality sequel by Disney Animation Studios).

At least I asked. Either they’re keeping any plans under wraps or they really are as busy as they say. I’m keeping my ear to the ground for any new announcements and I’ll keep you posted!

Have you seen Moana yet? What did you think?


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  1. Whew what a rough part of the job to have to spend that time in the Polynesian Islands. 😉 I Haven’t seen this movie yet, but we do want to and ti’s still playing.

  2. Moana looks like such a fantastic new film! Oscar (my youngest) is 3 and he keeps asking if we can go to the cinema and see it over Christmas. It looks like you guys had so much fun meeting her 🙂


  3. It is still Moana mania over here. My little guy has to listen to “You’re Welcome” (the Dewayne Johnson version) for at least a full 45 minutes on repeat everyday. We’ve picked up some Moana books and even got Moo a singing Moana doll for Christmas. She’s obsessed with both the movie and Alessia Cara versions of “How Far I’ll Go.” They’ve been trying to talk me into getting them a pet chicken and naming it Heihei.

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