I got to visit Toy Story Land on a press junket trip this week and I brought my girls along. While I shared our adventures on Instagram I was so surprised how many people responded not knowing this place existed or where it was. I’m here to break it down for ya today folks and give you some tips on tackling it with little ones.
First off, Toy Story Land is at Walt Disney World, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. If you haven’t been in several years you may remember it’s location being the old home of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground. Disneyland (Disney’s California Adventures to be exact) got Cars Land and Walt Disney World has Toy Story Land, which opened a year ago on June 30th.
First let me break down the rides. There are three.
Toy Story Land Rides
Slinky Dog Dash
A smooth roller coaster for anyone 38in and up. Slinky Dog Dash is great for your shorter kiddos who have been itching for some coaster action. Neither of my big kids wanted to ride it and I wasn’t going to push them. They watched and it looked too high and too fast for their taste. I’m hoping they’ll come around some day. I have ridden it a few times and love it. I’m not a big fan of drops and though it has one it’s not too intense.
Alien Swirling Saucers
A twirling and spinning ride very similar to the Mater’s Junkyard jamboree ride in Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventures. The Alien Swirling Saucers are my daughter’s absolute favorite ride in all of Walt Disney World parks. It’s pretty quick, so I wouldn’t say it’s worth an hour+ wait, so book a FastPass+. Especially if your little one isn’t into coasters.
Toy Story Mania
Still one of my favorite rides in all of Walt Disney World, and one I make sure we do Toy Story Mania every time. Mainly because the whole family can ride (there’s no height limit). We all love the fact that it’s interactive and that we can compete against each other. And no, I don’t go easy on my kids.
Three Toy Story 4 Updates to Toy Story Land
So now that we’re getting our FOURTH installment of Toy Story (review coming Thursday!), what’s new at this namesake park? Here’s the scoop.
A New Toy Story Shop
Right as you’re exiting Toy Story Story Midway Mania and returning your glasses you’ll see a new little shop full of Toy Story merchandise. Including some of your favorite new characters (like Forky). Admittedly, I didn’t realize this store was new as I was leaving or I would have snapped some photos. But trust me, it’s packed with lots of goodies from all four movies. There are also some fun Instagram photo backdrops inside.
Meet Bo Peep in her brand new outfit
Bo Peep has ditched the skirt (and turned it into a cape!) and you can now meet her in Toy Story Land near Woody. Don’t worry, Jesse is still around. You can now meet her near the Alien Swirling Saucers with a decorative wall backdrop.
Look out for Forky
This soon-to-be fan favorite made an appearance at our press night at Toy Story Land with Woody. There’s no official word yet whether or not he will be a regular at Toy Story Land but look out for him just in case. Lil’ J was overjoyed when she saw Woody holding Forkey and just had to get a photo.
Toy Story 4 hits theaters everywhere June 21st! Our review will be up Thursday but hint: You’re going to want to see it. Here’s the trailer to get you pumped:
“Why would you want to take your baby to Walt Disney World? She won’t remember it.”
But does that make the trip any less magical? No. It doesn’t.
I’ve met many parents who think they should wait until their kids are older to make a trip to Walt Disney World. But I’m here to tell you, the magic is very much real even when they’re babies.
You might be trying to figure out the best age to visit Walt Disney World but the truth is, it can be any age. There are plenty of reasons you should go for that trip with your baby, including the fact that they’re free until they’re 3-years-old.
We’ve taken our kiddos to see Mickey several times, and last month we brought Lee Lee, our 7-month-old, to Walt Disney World for inaugural visit as a part of Disney Creator Days!
10 tips for bringing your baby to Walt Disney World
Bringing a baby to Walt Disney World can be fairly easy if you know what to look for and how to prepare. Here are 10 tips for having a magical Disney vacation with your infant, without all the stress.
1. Hit up the Baby Care Centers
Forget diapers? No sweat. You can get everything you need in the Baby Care Centers located in each park. There are high chairs for feeding, and microwaves for warming. It’s a comfy quiet place to sit and nurse your baby, give a diaper change, or just chill out for a minute. There are even TVs you can relax and enjoy until you’re ready to hit the parks again.
Worried your baby is to young to join in on the fun? Think again. Most rides are for all heights and ages. My some of my favorites are Dumbo, Toy Story Mania, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Kilimanjaro Safari. My daughter seemed to love Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel the most.
There are so many to choose from that it would be easier to list the rides your baby can’t ride. There are only a handful.
4. Use Rider Switch
For those aforementioned rides that do have a height restriction, use Disney’s Rider Switch pass so you can take turns riding without the baby, and skip the line the second time around.
5. Go watch a Disney Junior Show
If your baby is teetering on the toddler age and a fan of Disney Junior, you’ll definitely want to check out the Disney Junior live show in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. All of their favorite characters hit the stage for a fun, musical and interactive performance.
6. Bring a cooler for snacks
Outside food is allowed inside Disney Parks so you can stash away some of your little one’s favorite snacks. Bring along a cooler to keep things cold. But don’t sweat it if you forget something. Remember the Baby Care Centers, or even the quick serve restaurants. My daughter enjoyed chowing down on all of the Iconic Disney foods but there’s also fresh fruit and other healthy options available.
7. Rent a stroller
Whether your baby isn’t walking yet, or has been walking for five years, a stroller is a pretty good idea. But instead of lugging your own all the way from home, you can rent one from the Walt Disney World approved stroller companies. Our favorite has been Orlando Stroller Rental through the years. They bring your stroller to your resort hotel and leave it with bell service for you, then pick it up on the day you leave.
This was the first time my big kids didn’t have their own double stroller to share and they definitely got tired. I actually wore my baby in the carrier for most of this trip but the stroller still came in handy to hold some of our other things, or give our big kids a place to sit now and then.
There’s a lot of stroller parking around Disney Parks where you can place your stroller while you visit the attractions in different areas.
8. Take Some Time Outs
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel then hopping on a bus and heading back for a quick nap is a piece of cake. You can break up your day this way doing mornings at the park, take a break after lunch then heading back around dinner time for the nighttime shows. I personally like to stick it out and look for places within the parks to take a break.
My favorite place right now is the Walt Disney Railroad Main Street Train Station. Because of construction on the TRON ride, the train isn’t running, but the station is still open for people to visit, and you can even sit on the train or ask the conductor if you can ring the bell. When it’s running I like to sit and ride the train around the park a few times as a break but chilling out in the station for a short break is also very nice.
9. Request a complimentary travel crib
Don’t worry about lugging your pack n’ play along for the trip. Ask your Walt Disney World Resort for a complimentary travel crib or pack n’ play during your stay. They have a limited amount on hand. We opted for the pack n’ play since our baby was sitting up. It worked perfect for her to sleep in after a long day of fun. She slept all night!
10. Use those FastPasses wisely!
This is probably a given but I thought I’d throw in a little extra something with this tip. Plan your FastPasses in advance and take note of which rides have the longest wait times. For example, Peter Pan’s flight usually has a much longer wait than It’s a Small World or The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Book your FastPass+ for those rides with the longer waits and choose stand-by for the others. Dumbo may have a longer wait but your little ones can play in a playground while you wait so you may opt to save a FastPass+ for another ride and wait that one out. And don’t forget, many character experiences have FastPass+ options as well! Bring those autograph books for a great first souvenir.
Your baby may not remember their first trip to Walt Disney World, but you will. And coming from someone who’s gone with a baby, a two year old and up to an almost 9-year-old, I can say the joy in my baby girl’s face was just as special.
Ok so I braved a movie screening with three kids solo. Including our three month old baby. Thankfully our screening wasn’t jam packed and we came out unscathed. Also, because of the screening time of the movie my kids were the ONLY kids in the theater. So that made for an interesting experience.
Anyway. We all had varying opinions of the movie and today are giving you a spoiler-free review and answering some questions about if it’s scary or intense for little ones.
Are Disney Sequels Making a Comeback?
I owe you a blog post I literally started years ago about my top 10 Disney sequels. I’m not talking Pixar sequels (those are really good) but good ‘ol Disney Animation sequels, most of which were direct to DVD. I was so anxious to see how Ralph Breaks the Internet (essentially Wreck it Ralph 2) would compare. And with Frozen 2 set to come out next year, this could be a Disney comeback trend.
I’m happy to say that Ralph Breaks the Internet is worth the theatrical release, and you should totally see it over the holidays. It’s a great family flick, and if you loved the original, you’ll likely enjoy this one too. As good as the original? Well, keep reading to see what we think.
What I thought
I was a little more distracted than usual at this screening. There are at least three parts of the film that got audience chuckles that went over my head either because my son was asking a question or I was trying to nurse my baby. But there are several other funny parts to laugh at. Especially the Disney Princess scene which you get glimpses of in the previews.
The new characters are great. I loved the new hip gamers, especially Shank. Sergeant Calhoun was my favorite character in the first one, and while we got to see her it isn’t nearly enough for me.
Admittedly Wreck it Ralph isn’t one of my favorite Disney movies to begin with, so I’m not blown away by the sequel. But there are some gems that made the movie for me. From an unexpected song, to so many social media references. It is entertaining and I’ll be looking for all of the easter eggs (hidden characters) for years and years I’m sure.
There were some funny parts, but a lot of the humor is for people who know and understand the internet (social media, ebay, etc) and a lot of that went over my kids’ heads. I feel like the first movie had more silly kid humor they would understand. Still, the film has a sweet message about friendship, insecurities and following your own path.
What makes or breaks movies most for me though are how much my children enjoy them.
Every time I looked over at Lil’ J (8 years) she was grinning from ear to ear. Loving every second. My son (5 years) loved whenever there was racing, and the climax near the end, but he lost interest multiple times and even asked me about three times if the movie was almost over.
Before you ask if it’s his age or personality let me add, he sat through Cars 3 and Incredibles 2 multiple times with barely a peep, so I think that speaks to something. It may seem like a slower or confusing movie for some younger kiddos.
Is it scary?
The only part that may be considered scary, or at least kinda creepy was my son’s favorite part and it involves overcoming the problem in the end. It’s not as scary or as creepy as the bug part with Turbo at the end of the first movie. My daughter gets easily creeped out and she thought the whole movie was great. As usual, use your discretion when taking your kids. Movies in theaters are are usually louder, darker and feel more intense.
What they thought
Did you like Ralph Breaks the Internet?: Yes What was your favorite part?: I liked the BIG Wreck it Ralph! Were you scared?: No Did you think the movie was funny?: No. Do you think the movie was scary?: No. Would your baby sister be scared?: No. What did you like about the movie?: I liked the racing. When they went REALLY fast! Did you like Wreck it Ralph 1 or 2 more?: I liked 2 more because there’s a bigger Wreck it Ralph. Would you friends like Wreck it Ralph 2?: I don’t know. Do you want to see it again?: Yes
What did you think of the movie?: It was very good. It made me think of my friends and how I need to treat them. Did you think it was funny?: Yes! The movie was very funny, one of the funniest movies I’ve watched. What was your favorite part?: I loved when Vanellope met the Disney princesses. What do you think about it compared to the first movie?: They had a new adventure! Did you like it more?: Yes, because they were very different. They plugged in the internet and they explored it. Who were your favorite characters?: Vanellope and Shank Did you think it was scary? (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD, SKIP TO THE NEXT Q IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW): Not at all. A little when they made a big Ralph monster. It wasn’t scary, but maybe for three and under I’d think it’s a little scary. What else did you like about the movie?: It was about friendship being one of the most important things. Would you recommend this movie?: Yes, because I think they’ll like it as much as I did. Were you a big Wreck it Ralph fan?: Yes, it was one of my favorites. Ralph Breaks the internet is my new favorite because it was funny. Do you want to see it again?: Yes! Of course! Why wouldn’t I? What would you like to add?: I think ages 3 months to 100 could watch this. It was one of the best movies in the world.
So there you have it! Our honest review. Ralph Breaks the Internet wrecks into theaters nationwide Wednesday November 21st! We hope you’ll go see it too then come let us know what you think!
My husband and I have been going back and forth on baby names for months. We don’t agree. I’ve rambled off dozens of names and get shot down time and time again.
Just when I thought we may never agree we had a breakthrough. I was telling my husband how inspired I was by Ava DuVernay. How she was the first black female director with a film budget of $100 million. How important and meaningful her films are. And how she’s breaking glass ceilings and lifting others up with her. I told him I will never forget how she made me feel when I gave her a hug and told her how much her work meant to me and our daughter. How she really saw me, and how she spoke about being a light in the darkness (something I’m always telling our children). And how she even said hello to our nameless baby in utero.
“What if we name the baby Ava?” I said.
I waited for his immediate “nope” but he stood silent for a moment. Was he listening? Did he tune me out?
“I like it!” He said. I couldn’t believe it.
“Yes, it sounds good and I like names that have meaning,” he said.
“Ok, but can we add a ‘y’?” I asked. “Maybe A-Y-V-A?”
He wasn’t enthusiastic about the additional letter but he didn’t object. Both of our kids have names containing ‘Y’ so I’d like to carry on the tradition.
Thrilled that we’d finally agreed, I did a quick search to see how popular it is.
Will you believe it’s the 3rd most popular baby name of 2018?
Coming from a Jennifer, I know how this feels. Going by first name, last initial in a class where five other people share your name. Or you get a nickname like Jenn, Jen or Jenny. Gah!
Our name decision is still murky, but something that’s crystal clear is the powerful impression Ava DuVernay left on me. I knew she was an incredible, inspiring, amazing woman. But what I didn’t realize was how genuine, spiritual, and down to earth she is.
In tears she told us about her nervous call to her mother before her first A Wrinkle in Time junket.
“I said ‘mommy, I’m going to the junket. I’m gonna share the movie for the first time with people who are gonna see the movie for the first time. I don’t know what they’re gonna think,'” Ava recalled. “She said ‘Avy, you did your best.’ I was like a little girl again. ‘You did your best, babe and, you know, your best is good enough and so pretty. It’s just like you. You’re the best girl in the world.'”
Well I think Ava’s mom was right. Ava did an incredible job and I think the world is going to be pretty impressed with how pretty it turned out.
The Message She Hopes You Receive
Movies are powerful. They can make an impact on the world, and that’s what Ava hopes to do with hers. She wants everyone to leave feeling full.
“I just want them to be meaningful. I don’t want them to be junk food where you come in, you see the movie and you walk out and you forget about it by the time you get to the car,” Ava said. “I want the images to stick to your ribs like soul food, I want you to think about the stories or get something from the narratives or the way that the camera moves or the way that something looks. You know, just try not to let it be empty calories, you know, a meal and I think, you know, the only way to do that is to put love in every frame.”
Now she’s turned to make another impactful film, this time in a different genre. Ava said her films are her children. After her award-winning films Selma and 13th Ava really wanted to do something for children.
“You know, I put my blood into them. It’s really what has my name on it. It’s what I’ll leave behind in the world and so to be able to make something specifically for kids today, something that I hope endures for kids, you know, for a long time to come was very emotional to me,” Ava said. “I really want it to be a seed that blossoms into something beautiful in young people about the way that we treat each other and the way that we see ourselves and the way that we’re seen and so that’s really what I’m hoping. I mean movies have the power to do that.”
“Yes, kids like to laugh but kids also like to think,” Ava said. “They like to feel”
Without any input from me, my 7-year-old daughter walked away from A Wrinkle in Time making her own connections between the messaging in the movie, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s message.
Ava’s hope was to keep the intention of Madeleine L’Engle’s book the same. She wants to remind people to plant seeds with young people and remind them that they can be a light in a world of darkness.
“It’s like if you could say to kids, if you could understand that you alone, can make a difference just in your world,” Ava said. “You don’t have to be Gandhi, you don’t have to be King. You don’t have to be Malala. In your day, when you go to school, when you see a kid being bullied, and you don’t talk about people, and you behave the right way and you grow up to be empathetic, whole hearted person in the world you have to start right now.”
Ava’s Secret of Daily Gratitude
You’re more than just a number to Ava DuVernay. If she counts you during her day, consider it a big compliment.
“I do this thing all day and I don’t talk to a lot of people about it but I do this thing all day where I count gratitude so throughout the day,” Ava said. “So at the end of the day when I say goodnights to myself and to the universe or to God I’ll say 13 or 47 or whatever. And in that moment I can’t remember all the things they were but like I’ll count them. So today I’m on 19. You all are 20 right, about the things that I’m grateful for in this moment.”
Doesn’t that just give you all the warm and fuzzies? But of course she keeps it real.
“And some days you’re going through the day and you’re like I got three. Good night,” she said.
It’s her prayer and reminds her to be grateful of the little things through the day. From a smile, to someone who lets her in the left turn lane late, or a great parking spot.
“If you just take a second to acknowledge it, it gives you a little jolt of joy,” Ava said.
I’ll Never Forget
Ava DuVernay’s words still reverberate through my soul. I will never forget the way her sincere hug calmed me on one crazy premiere night. Or the way her gaze and gratitude for my compliments made me feel like she saw me for who I am. Like Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya. That’s is another good name. Amaya. A little of both.
Namesake or not, I know we are going to be seeing so much more from Ms. DuVernay. And I imagine the name Ava is going to be one we hear for a long long time.
You guys, A Wrinkle in Time is now playing in theaters everywhere!
I adore a beautiful passion story. That’s exactly what came through during our interview with Gugu Mbatha-Raw during Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. I loved her in the movie “Belle” and I adored her part in Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” as well.
I’ve usually got my emotions locked down pretty tight but maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, or maybe it was just that good, but there’s a scene with Mbatha at the end of the film that has brought me to tears twice in a row.
During our interview we spoke about everything from the film to hobbies to fragrances, and big dreams.
She said something she loved about the film was all of the great lines about being yourself.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Dr. Kate Murry”): via Louise Manning Bishop / MomStart.com
“I think Oprah has the line you know all you have to do is find the right frequency and be who you are,” Mbatha said. “And I was like, that’s the key to life, isn’t it? Just find the right frequency. Find your tribe. Find your purpose. Find the thing that sets you alight and you know your frequency, your vibe and then just do that, do you, be authentic.”
There were some pivotal moments in her childhood that made her realize she really wanted to follow her passions.
“My mom was a nurse,” Mbatha said. “She was a single parent. She worked full-time. She didn’t enjoy her job. I would see her come home from work really tired. And you know I remember thinking quite clearly when I was about 11, I was like ‘okay, I’m going to do a job that I love because I can see that this is wearing on my mom.”
She knew it was a sacrifice on her mom’s part for her, but it inspired her to follow her dreams. “If I get the chance I’m going to do what I love,” she decided. “So I made my hobby my job basically.”
In case you are totally in the dark about A Wrinkle in Time, here’s a bit to get you up to speed:
Visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.
Meg Murry is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who just wants to fit in. The daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace, but she has yet to realize it for herself. Complicating matters is the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Murry, which has left Meg devastated and her mother broken-hearted. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin to three celestial beings (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who) who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they embark on their formidable quest. Traveling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil force. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must face the darkness within herself in order to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness rapidly enveloping the Universe.
Directed by Oscar® nominee Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars: two-time Academy Award® nominee
Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Emmy® nominee Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry, Michael Peňa as Red and introducing Storm Reid as Meg Murry, with two-time Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium and Emmy nominee Chris Pine as Mr. Murry.
“A Wrinkle in Time” opened nationwide on March 9, 2018. [You can read our Wrinkle in Time kid’s review here.]
I woke up about four hours before we were scheduled to leave for our interviews with the cast of A Wrinkle in Time. Four hours before we were to meet and interview The Oprah Winfrey.
I ordered room service so I could have breakfast in bed and gather my thoughts, but I had no appetite for food. It was all getting to me, and I was losing it. I FaceTimed with my husband and talked through my questions for two hours. Yes, two hours of writing and re-writing with a side of sudden crying fits.
“What’s going on?” He’d ask during an episode. “Are you ok?”
“I’m just so nervous,” I told him. “And probably hormonal.”
About two years ago I set a goal to do a Disney movie event. I originally had my sights set on Moana but a month after attending the premiere of The BFG, The Variety announced Oprah was cast for A Wrinkle in Time. I knew this would be my moment.
In actuality I didn’t really know FOR SURE she’d be an interview at this event. My husband guessed she was too big. But I knew I wanted to get in that room.
Let me tell you something. One thing you’ll hear Oprah explain a lot is her belief in “luck”. Luck doesn’t usually just come out of no where. It is the crossroads where preparation meets opportunity. You set a goal and do what you can. You work, prepare, get ready for the moment of opportunity to step in.And then you let go and be ready to receive it.
For two years, I worked toward this goal. I wrote movie reviews, attended specific events and wrote lots and lots of interviews and preview posts about TV shows and movies. It didn’t take over my blog or anything, but if you do a search you can see these sprinkled in here and there.–All with the hope that the chips would fall right where they should. And that I would get invited to this particular event, and that Oprah would decide to be a part of it.
Today was the day preparation was meeting an opportunity. It was all finally coming together. Yet I couldn’t keep my emotions together.
I cried and cried in my hotel room. I’m not really not one to cry much, but I couldn’t seem to turn off the water works. Would this be how it was when Oprah walked in the room?
Fast forward a few hours. We were at the W hotel, waiting for her to come in the room. I’d visualized this moment countless times. From the exact place I’d be sitting (front and center), down to when I’d ask a question.
I about jumped out of my skin when our Disney rep picked me to ask the first question, and at that point all I had to do was let everything come together and be present.
Ok, so I’ve been going on and on about Mama Oprah, but the interview was also with Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. Two additional superstars in their own right. They play the three Mrs. (if you you’re familiar with the book) or guardian-angel-like characters of the film. I framed my question to be addressed to the three of them.
I told them how inspiring they were, and I asked the three of them how they hope this movie and their roles in the film inspires the next generation of girls.
“We’ve grown up watching you–,” I directed the next part of my question toward Oprah.
“I RAISED Ya’ll!” She interjected.
“Yes! You did! You raised us!,” I said. “And my daughter was like ‘You’re meeting Oprah? Cool! Who is she?'” I explained how I had to introduce my 7-year-old to her amazingness. “So how do you hope this movie will inspire the next generation of girls?”
Oprah turned to Reese Witherspoon to answer first.
Reese Witherspoon on Empowering Women
“Well I think that’s a great question,” She said. “Part of what I loved about making the movie that I think is also in the movie, and you really feel it, is the power when women are together.”
She said there’s strength in numbers.–When we are not the only woman in a movie, or the only woman in a board room, or the only woman who’s a manager at her company.
“We’re not against each other. When we get together, we create abundance,” Reese said. “That’s been a driving part of my career. The more I collaborate with women, the more we create for each other. So I think that’s a concept that we need to put into our little girls’ brains.”
We rise by lifting others.
Oprah and Reese both turned to Mindy Kaling to hear her response next.
Mindy Kaling on Representation
“I think just that the cast is so inclusive,” Mindy started. “I’ve never seen anything like that and I think that as a young woman I would have felt so much joy from watching it.”
She said she would have felt so much happiness. And I pictured all the little girls who will feel the same as they see themselves represented.
“And as a dreamer, as I was, I wouldn’t have to dream quite so hard to picture myself on screen,” Mindy said.
Time for Mama Oprah’s response. She looked me dead in the eyes and gave it to me.
Oprah Winfrey on Inspiring the Next Generation
“Well you know, what I do know for sure is that everybody’s goal, whether they can articulate it as such or not, is to live a life that matters and a life that has meaning,” she said.
Photo: Marshall Weinbaum
She said she thinks of her little hand and heart prints all over the Oprah show for all those years is a magnificent purpose.
“But I also knew when we were doing this film that there would be young girls like your daughter” [IMAGINE MY FACE HERE TRYING NOT TO FALL APART] “who would come along and they would see the Mrs., and they would see me and they would say, ‘what do you mean she had a talk show?’ And the imprint, the heart print that you eventually will leave in this world will come from what is said in this movie. And so for your generation that I helped to raise there will be generations to come that will be raised on this story.”
Oprah said our children will get to know her through Ava DuVernay’s vision, and they may only know her through that.
“I could feel that when I was doing it,” she said. “That wow! There’ll be kids who’ll say, ‘What? You used to be on television?’ And pretty soon they’ll be saying ‘what’s that? What’s television?'”
The interview went on for another fifteen minutes or so and the three women had us laughing about everything from conversations about admiration for J Lo’s butt, to sperm, eggs and positions to make an exact person. And then we were near or in tears comparing favorite quotes from the film. You can find more bits of our interview by searching on Twitter or Facebook using the #WrinkleInTimeEvent hashtag. But I wanted to share the moment that really touched me, and give a little more insight to how it all came together.
After the interview we took a group photo and Oprah stayed behind to shake hands, give hugs, and allow us to soak in her aura. She even walked back in during lunch to see what we were eating. For the next several hours I was stuck in a serene reverence. It seriously took me all day to process what had happened. And more than a week later I’m still coming down from that high.
Before, I asked if you’d had a vision board. Now that you’ve (hopefully) made one I hope you’ll look it over and ask yourself how you’re preparing for those opportunities that are coming to you. There’s been more than one occasion this week where I’ve thought or said “I met Oprah, I can do anything.” The opportunity didn’t just fall in my lap. It took action, work, and preparation. And in the moment I felt like the luckiest women alive.
Over the next few days I’ll have more interviews from the cast including Ava DuVernay and Storm Reid, as well as a movie review! Don’t forget A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters everywhere this Friday March 9th!
Wow, this last week was a complete whirlwind. If you were following me on Instagram you got to see my play by play in my stories. But there are so many little details and feelings I didn’t have time to elaborate on.
So for those wondering, here’s how this whole thing works… When Disney releases a new movie whether it’s an animated film, live action, or a Marvel movie, they usually invite and pay for travel favor a group of bloggers (25 to be exact) to come out and cover the event. Coverage includes lots of interviews and reviews about not only the movie but different ABC shows as well (cause ya know, Disney owns them too!). We are asked to write about all of that later (which can add up to anywhere from 5-18 posts), and do some shares during the event as well. I’ll go more into this later in a series of blog posts about blogging (coming soon).
On Sunday we had the opportunity to interview Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Next week I’ll tell you all about this, what I asked Oprah, and why I was crying two hours straight that morning before the interview. But right now, I’m going to relive some of the red (actually it was blue) carpet experience with you.
Although I got to interview Oprah the day before, we aren’t aloud to take photos in that room. So no selfies quick snaps on my phone, or anything like that. I had a once in a lifetime experience meeting and conversing with Oprah, but I didn’t really have visual proof. If there was any chance of that I had to hope and pray I’d see her at the premiere and somehow get a photo.
We’d just had a long day of screenings and interviews for a couple different ABC shows. We had about two hours to get ready for the premiere and I had a feeling it would take me most of that time. I packed a whole bunch of new makeup and a flowy whimsical maternity dress I bought from ASOS. I was too nervous to eat and I knew I’d be standing a lot (a dangerous combo for an anemic pregnant lady). But I sucked it up and put out the absolute best vibes I could in hopes to have a remarkable night.
The Blue Carpet
The blue carpet and backdrops were stunning. I partnered up with friends Dani and Kiwi for photos of the night. I seriously never know how to pose or stand. This is my third red carpet event and I feel like I sorta finally got the hang of it. But goodness, I’ll never remember which is my good side, or exactly where to place my arms. #awkward.
We all funneled into the El Capitan Theatre and watched Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time alongside the people who starred in and created the movie. It’s a sweet film, and I know many of you are wondering how it is, a full review is coming next week.
After the movie we took a short walk in the cold rain with kind Disney cast members ushering us over to the after party under umbrellas. This is where the real fun started.
There were two large rooms and lots to do. Lots of food (which I had none of… Still too nervous). Beautiful backdrops, and so much people watching to be had.
A friend of mine said she saw Kobe Bryant at the premiere so when I saw a tall man who looked like a familiar basketball player I asked her if that was him. “No!” She laughed. “That’s Chris Bosh!” My husband would be so proud.
There were so many celebrities but just one I really wanted to see. I overheard whispers that Oprah was in the next room. I walked over expecting to see her in some kind of roped-off area but there was none of that. She was standing at a rectangular table surrounded by dozens of people. I stood by and watched as she met the eyes of person after person and spoke to them. I could reach my arm out and touch her, yet there were at least 15 other people just as close.
Anthony Anderson came over and told me he was trying to get in to say hi to his friend. I was thinking ‘Ok, yea, get in line…’ but really I just asked him if I could snap a picture with him real quick. Then he made eye contact with Oprah’s bodyguard and made his way through the crazy crowd.
I watched as a little girl came up behind Oprah and Ms. Winfrey gave me (and/or the 5 people around me) the “one minute” signal before turning around, grabbing the little girls face and giving her what looked like the world’s most inspiring pep talk. I looked on in awe as this woman who has inspired me my whole life, instilled some of her passion into the next generation.
I met Martin Lawrence while waiting to talk to Oprah and got a photo with him too. It was actually pretty easy picking off the celebrities that way. EVERYONE wants to talk to her. A-listers are no exception. But I noticed how she spent more time with her ordinary fans than those with celebrity status.
Getting a picture
Her people must have given her some kind of signal that it was time to go because they started to head out. Did that mean she’d walk away and leave immediately, ignoring anyone who got in her way? HA! Not even close. As she made her way to her exit she continued to stop, listen to people’s stories of how she changed their lives and take photo after photo with a smile.
I can’t imagine she doesn’t have five million hours of experience in this exact sort of thing. Her people must buffer an extra hour each way into all of her trips knowing that she will stop and engage with her fans.
Meanwhile, I saw my window to get a photo closing fast. I decided I’d just follow her along and see if an opportunity presented itself. The crowd thinned a little the closer she got to the exit and she’d stop every few steps for a hug, a handshake, or a photo. It was now or never. When I saw an opening I went for it jumped in with my camera rolling, and asked if I could get a quick video/picture/thanked her so much for everything in the entire world/making my dreams come true/being a part of this sweet movie. I seriously tripped over all of my words. If I was smart I would have planned out exactly what I wanted to tell her. But I’d been too anxious to just be in the right place at the right time and that slipped my mind.
It’s ok though, I did it! A couple of my friends bombed the background (not seen in this cleverly edited photo though is in this video) but my husband said that makes it look even more authentic. Like me and Oprah chillin and groupies in the background are just tryna jump in.
I was kicking myself for a little while about my fumbling,. But really, she wasn’t going to remember. And I have an inkling I’ll have an opportunity some day to make up for it later.
Why hello there, Mr. Tall dark and handsome
Ok, so photo with Oprah achievement unlocked. Now what?
I went back into the party scene, which was beginning to die down, or at least had dispersed quite a bit. I really wanted to connect with Ava DuVernay because I was so moved by her the day before during our interviews.
As I waited in line to meet her I glanced around, and standing right next to me was a tall dark and handsome man I immediately recognized from Black Panther. I did a double take then shouted. “Oh my gosh, I LOVE YOU!”
He glanced down at my very pregnant belly and smiled and thanked me and congratulated me.
I’m HORRIBLE with names people. Even celebrity names. So I couldn’t remember his right away, but I’d just read an article about him being from Trinidad and Tobago. My husband served a mission there and my grandmother told me some of our genealogy leads back there, so I brought that up and told him how I hope to visit some day. I couldn’t believe he was waiting in line to meet Ava. Standing behind me.
“This is like waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland,” he joked.
“I guess all things Disney have that effect on people!” I said.
While Ava spoke to another one of her fans Anthony Anderson came over and congratulated Winston (THAT’S his name!) on his new success and asked him how he was handling all of the sudden change.
You guys, I was eavesdropping on a celebrity conversation. Not only that, I recorded the whole thing on my camera.
I “let” Winston Duke go by me to meet Ava first, cause I mean, he probably had a busier agenda than myself, and I woulda felt awkward making him wait. Plus he was SO sweet and humble and that’s just downright cool in my book.
The best part of the night
When Winston walked away Ava greeted me not with a hello, or a handshake. But a bright and shining “HELLO THERE!” directed at my belly. She grabbed me and congratulated me on my baby. It threw me off a little, but also is the exact sort of thing you can expected from this remarkable woman.
I thanked her for all of her work on this film and other films. I explained how this one already meant so much to my daughter and to me. And I thanked her for being such a light, and inspiring me to shine and bring more light to the world. Because the world needs more light!
Ava DuVernay looked me dead in the eyes and thanked ME for saying that. She said it was what she needed to hear today.
How did she do that? Instantly make me feel like a peer. Like she saw me, really saw me. And not as someone smaller than she is, but as an equal.
Ava has said so many inspiring things. She’s created incredible works of art. Some day I may forget some of what she said to me. Or exactly what she did when we met. But I will never, ever forget how she made me feel.
And that was it. My night was complete. I no longer cared that I’d fumbled my words with Mama Oprah. It didn’t matter that my selfie was totally photo bombed. I felt moved to make people feel the way those two women had made me feel the past two days: Heard, understood, and even loved for the glimpse of me they saw and heard.
Hopefully one of these days I’ll edit this whole experience into an epic vlog. Including all of my celebrity eavesdropping. But until then, there’s the highlights for ya.
Other cool moments from the premiere night
Standing next to Storm Reid and congratulating her, then taking a selfie. Same thing with the future teen heartthrob Levi Miller. I said hello to Angela Bassett and complemented her on her beautiful family. But I was too shy to ask her for a photo.
This was an experience of a lifetime that I’d spent YEARS, planning, praying and preparing for. It all culminated to this week. And it was worth it.
How will I ever top this? I have no idea. But one thing I know for sure is I’m about to start dreaming even BIGGER.
A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters everywhere this Friday March 9th!
“What are you doing in California?” My daughter asked me. “You go there a lot, it’s like your other home!”
It’s true. Business does seem to keep taking me to the golden state. But this time, it’ll be for something extra special.
We just finished reading a Wrinkle in Time together. I read it a year and a half ago, and wasn’t sure she’d understand it, but she ate it up. I told her I’m going to Los Angeles to watch the new Disney adaptation and walk the red carpet.
“And I’ll get to interview Oprah,” I told her.
She thought for a moment. “Is that the lady on your dream board where it says ‘MEET?'”
My daughter knows a bit about Oprah, I definitely have a lot more to teach her. But she listens to her Super Soul podcasts with me, and we discuss her new audiobook: The Wisdom of Sundays. But she knows Oprah best as the woman staring at me on my vision board.
“Yep, that’s the one!” I said.
A huge grin spread across her face. “Were you SO excited when you got the text? Did you jump up and down?”
Well, first of all it was an email from Disney, not a text, but… details. Yes, I was thrilled. Completely over the moon excited. But honestly, not surprised. It IS on my vision board after all. And I’m a full believer in their power. I knew it was only a matter of time. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, but I finally got brave enough to put it on my vision board two years ago.
Last month I flew to California for a shoot with the Oprah Winfrey Network (more on that later). I didn’t get to meet her then, but I felt the moment growing close.
(Side note… I put the words “Cherish 365” on my vision board a YEAR before I considered it as a new blog name)
“Who is she acting like?” My daughter asked next.
I told her Mrs. Which and she proceeded to do her best impersonation of the slow speaking character.
If you haven’t read the book yet, put it on your list (here’s my affiliate link to take you straight there). We used it as a part of our fiction curriculum… Well, sorta. We mostly read it for fun, but I printed some 5th grade comprehension questions from Teachers Pay Teachers and we used those to quiz and dive more in depth about the story. She was completely into it. And we read the ending half a dozen times because she loved it so much. It brings me to tears almost every time.
Ok, so back to the trip… Or back to Oprah… I don’t know where to start. She’s one of several people we’ll be interviewing from the cast. Others worth noting: Director Ava DuVernay, as well as actresses Mindy Kaling and Reese Whitherspoon.
I’m also excited to meet Storm Reed who plays Meg in the film. Want to know something that’ll melt your heart? I saw this picture on Instagram and showed it to my daughter. She looked and right away said “Meg looks like ME!” Friends, this doesn’t happen often enough. She loves heroes like Annabeth from Percy Jackson and cute pop stars on the Disney Channel. But very few look like my daughter. Representation matters my friends.
I bought a new top for interview day, a bangin maternity dress for the red carpet, I have a dozen questions I’d love to ask Oprah and Ava that I need to narrow down (if you have questions let me know too and I’ll see if I can squeeze some in) I’m so ready.
We tell our kids to dream big. We tell them they can do anything. Do we believe the same for is possible for us? We may be preoccupied with parenthood but that doesn’t mean we need to give up on dreaming for ourselves.
This weekend I’m heading off on another adventure and I’ll be fulfilling a HUGE dream. Now I’m thinking I may need to add another extension to my board because more and more I’m realizing anything is possible.
Wrinkle in Time will be in theaters everywhere March 9th, 2018. I’ll of course have an honest family-friendly review after I see it, and again once my kids see it.
While in LA the group of bloggers and I will also get a behind the scenes look at multiple ABC shows. Click the link to see their trailers and checkout the image below for their upcoming air dates and hashtags to follow: Alex Inc, Scandal, For the People, Splitting Up Together and Deception.
I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.