A New Disney Princess?

This summer, the folks at Disney’s Pixar studios introduced a new film set to rival all the Disney princess movies that have come before: Brave. Set in Tenth Century Scotland, the movie Brave stars the spirited Merida who defies her parents’ wishes for her marriage by placing a spell on her mother. The spell causes all sorts of upheaval in her father’s kingdom and she has to set things right.

What makes Merida, this new princess, so special? Well, not since Mulan have we seen such a strong, adventurous female heroine. In fact, Merida is Pixar’s very first female protagonist. For many viewers, this will be a breath of fresh air. Another difference between Brave and the other Disney princess movies is the story’s centrality of her relationship with her mother. In most of the Disney movies, mothers are either absent (as in the movie Beauty and the Beast) or one of the antagonists (as in Cinderella).

In the movie Brave, we see the internal battle that Merida fights between her own desires and how they affect her family. Pride vs. duty. In the end, Merida and her family reach a compromise. And her relationship with her mother survives the harrowing adventure.

Brave is receiving good reviews and promises to set itself up as the next favorite for young Disney and Pixar fans across the country. Merida has already made her appearance at Disney World and Disney has begun producing Brave merchandise. It will be interesting to see how Pixar’s new star compares to their other fan favorites like Cars and Toy Story (Check out some Cars and Toy Story merchandise here and here.)!



July heat brings August… ice?

Disney on Ice, that is. Obviously.

As if the Disney on Ice phenomenon wasn’t already an empire unto itself, the latest incarnation is hitting the country next month with all-new bells and whistles:

Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy takes flight this fall as Feld Entertainment’s newest ice spectacular, featuring four fun-filled classic and current Disney stories. Set to launch on a 70 city, two-year tour in August 2008, Worlds of Fantasy showcases beloved characters from Disney/Pixar’s Cars, Disney’s The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, as well as a live debut of the magical cast of new Fairies from the highly anticipated October 28th DVD and Blu-ray(TM) release of Walt Disney Pictures Tinker Bell.

In a captivating “fairy tale” segment, audiences will enter into the wondrous world of Pixie Hollow and meet the Disney Fairies from Tinker Bell. The entire ice floor will transform into springtime, as the fairies’ magical role in the mysteries of nature is finally revealed. For the tour’s first nine cities, Worlds of Fantasy performs before the movie releases in the U.S., serving as a sneak preview of the enchantment to come.

The piece details the other new features of this upcoming tour, including:

A bonus experience, complimentary with ticket purchase, the Disney Princess Pre-Show will tour nationally for the first time in Feld Entertainment history. Prior to each Worlds of Fantasy performance, families will be treated to an exclusive collection of enchanting ball gowns and mementos from the Disney Princess stories. The exhibit features beautiful settings for photo opportunities.

Do you have a little girl who’s a Disney Princess fan? I think this Pre-Show may well blow her little mind. Just sayin’.

You can learn more, check the schedule, and purchase tickets through the official Disney site. Hey, consider it a simple way to cool off in the summer heat, thinking about your favorite characters on ice. Heh.

Get ready for Black Friday at Ty’s Toy Box

Let me ask you a very simple question. I know—we all know—that you love your kids and want to get them the things they love. Of course. And naturally you’d like to save a little money in the process, too. But just let me ask you something:

Is there some reason you’d rather head out on the busiest shopping day of the year at o’dark thirty just so that you can fight the crowds and the traffic, vs. staying in and ordering cool stuff online from the comfort of your own home (and possibly while still in your jammies)?

That’s right.

For the first time, Ty’s Toy Box is making their Black Friday specials known a few days in advance so that you can plan your day accordingly. (I recommend a cup of coffee while you finish your shopping online, followed by something like a cinnamon roll as a reward for having gotten it all done early and under budget.) Read through; bookmark what you need; and then get ready to rock on Friday, November 23rd, 2007.

Read on for the full list of Ty’s Toy Box Black Friday specials: Continue reading

Will the newest Disney Princess pass muster?

It was announced last month that Disney will be releasing The Frog Princess in 2009. If you haven’t been paying attention to this sort of thing, you may be thinking, “Oh, another Disney princess. Ho hum.” But this was notable news because for the first time in Disney history, the film will feature an African-American princess.

You’ve sort of got to love a company that can make an announcement about something that’s going to happen two years out and still manage to spark a controversy. I mean, that does take a certain measure of talent.

And at first blush, you’d think this would be something to celebrate, period. It’s about time, no? Save for Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan, Disney princesses have given us a sea of whiteness in a multi-colored world, and a black heroine is long past due.

But the course of true movie popularity never did run smooth, even for a giant like Disney. A recent article about the film points out what is (already!) being perceived as shortcomings about the upcoming picture:

Disney unveiled Maddy at its annual shareholders’ meeting in March, even summoning Randy Newman’s Dirty Dozen Brass Band for a performance. [...]

Information about “The Frog Princess,” including a list of characters put forth in a voice-actor casting call, quickly spread across the Internet.

It appears that the prince in the story is not black, which has raised dissatisfaction. There are also people criticizing the creation of yet another cartoon princess whose story, they contend, undermines a modern message of individual empowerment.

Hey, I love the Disney princesses as much as the next mom (which is to say… I have a daughter who idolized them for many years), but here’s a little secret in case you haven’t noticed: The princesses aren’t exactly one-woman islands. No matter how much of a feminist spin Disney tries to put on these stories, in the end there’s always a prince. (Even for Mulan, which bugged me more than any of the others.) My point is, I think the time to complain to Disney about the ubiquitousness of the prince in these stories is long past. We all know there’s going to be a prince involved. Remind your daughters that they don’t need a man to be complete, and move on.

The fact that the princess is black and the prince is not, however, is another matter entirely. While I’m all for relationships that are blind to skin color—even in an animated film—wouldn’t you think that when Disney finally features a black princess they might allow for a black prince, as well?

Did Disney miss the boat on this one, do you think?

The Little Mermaid headed to Broadway

making The Little Mermaid into a musical. A few years ago I probably would’ve rolled my eyes at this—how could they possibly make that into a stage production?—but I am now older and wiser and have come to believe that Disney knows what it’s doing, whether on the big screen or the big stage. Ahem.

Once you stop and take it all in, it makes such perfect sense I almost wonder what took them so long. Little girls everywhere are still clamoring for all things Disney Princess. Here’s a way to please both the kids and the parents, and if other Disney stage extravaganzas have taught us anything, it’s that audiences will eat this stuff up with a spoon.

I’m torn, because on the one hand I have to maintain just a smidge of righteous indignation over the typical Disney heroine treatment; the story has been vastly changed from the original, and the girl can’t be happy until she lands a man. It’s hard for me to see past that, as prevalent as it is in Disney folklore. On the other hand, when I’m able to set that aside? I have to confess that The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies. The music is great (and will lend itself well to a stage production), the characters are lovable (even Ariel, poor man-seeking girl that she is), and what’s not to dig about a villain who’s part octopus?

If your interest is piqued, keep your eye on the Broadway production’s blog for news and updates (hat tip: Animated News). I was particularly intrigued by this post on different puppetry styles employed in various Disney stage productions (The Lion King and Finding Nemo are both discussed). The creativity and sheer amount of manpower that goes into these productions astounds me!