The Brilliance of Moana’s “Shiny”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93lrosBEW-Q

In one scene, Disney accomplishes so much:

  1. A fun and catchy song

  2. A memorable (if minor) villain

  3. A great action sequence with brilliant visuals

  4. A great reminder/introduction to just how vast the supernatural world is: Tamatoa is bigger than any house Moana has seen,  and he lives in a giant clamshell

  5. Tamatoa’s expression of terror when Maui takes hold of his hook for the first time shows just how powerful and feared Maui was back in the day. It proves that “You’re Welcome” wasn’t just puffery and showing off.

  6. Setup for an ongoing difficulty/twist: Maui’s inability to use his hook’s powers like he used to, and his sense that without his hook, he’s nothing.

  7. The sense that Maui isn’t the only one who thinks he’s nothing without his hook: Tamatoa agrees.

  8. Demonstration of Moana’s fear when faced with the supernatural world, then her courage to recover, and her resourcefulness to trick Tamatoa

  9. Revelation the Maui was abandoned at some point, feels alone, and does great deeds for humans mostly to feel wanted and accepted

  10. Moana saves Maui, which elevates her to his level, and puts them on more equal footing.

All in less than four minutes.

As they say on Firefly, “Shiny.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFpgtYJLVW4

Wanna see something else shiny?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knlw6kFP_RU

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Vegan @ Disney: Tusker’s Buffet 

What can I say about Tusker’s that hasn’t already been said? 

Vegan Disney World has a good review and a virtual tour (the tour is from 2014, but not a lot seems to have changed).

Well, I can talk about how much fun my 3 year old daughter had. She’s always been afraid of mascots,  and we thought she wouldn’t want to interact with Donald, Daisy, Mickey & Goofy. But the cast members were so patient and engaging that she opened up to them,  growing more confident with each character.

The food was good, with plenty of vegan options on the buffet. A chef gave me a tour of the buffet to show what was and wasn’t vegan. 

The foods was great, especially the plantains, samosas, and roasted potatoes.

The desserts all had dairy ingredients, so they brought me some vegan cookies at the end of the meal. They were good, but not at the level of the rest of the food. But honestly,  the fried plantains were so yummy I didn’t even need the cookies. 

So, thumbs up for the food and thumbs up for the character experience. 

Vegan @ Disney: Spice Road Table

If you like Mediterranean food at all,  you power it to yourself to stop of in”Morocco” the next time you’re at Epcot. Make reservations at the Spice Road Table. 

I had a great available to me on-menu: delicious hummus and olives for an appetizer, and a wonderful veggie sampler for my entree, including

  • Hummus fries (similar to falafel, but subtly different) That were perfectly crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside,  with just a hint of spice
  • Vegetable dolmas (grape leaf wraps) with a savory and slightly sweety taste from the pine nuts and pumped raisins on top
  • Couscous with a delightfully rich flavor
  • And plenty of warm pita bread

I left feeling quite full,  and I’m a big eater (literally:  I’m 2 meters, or 6’7″, tall).

The mint tea was delicious: very light and refreshing after a warm day of park walking.

Our waiter, Saleem, was amazing, and made sure our 3 year old had familiar food.

Final word:  don’t miss it.  This was the best of the restaurants for service and flavor, and it had some amazing competition.

Vegan @ Disney: Liberty Tree Tavern

Not pictured: the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  I’m really bad at food photography.

We went to the Magic Kingdom two days during our Disney World trip. On the first day, we ate at Cinderella’s Castle. But that’s an expensive, once-per-trip (at most) expedition. We went with something more low-key (and less expensive), The Liberty Tree Tavern.

Like Cinderella’s Castle, Liberty Tree had a few great vegan options on the main menu. We had corn fritters for an appetizer, and I ate the “Vegetarian Proclamation” sandwich. It was amazing, just filled with seasonal vegetables like squash and zucchini and mushrooms. The entire flavor was just too good. I said “I want to just stay here and eat more of these sandwiches all day. I don’t need any more rides.”

Needless to say, we left and did more rides. But the sandwich was just that good.

This isn’t a very expensive meal by Disney standards, but you will need reservations. There just isn’t really any way to get a walk-in.

Vegan @ Disney:  Cinderella’s Castle 

I probably should have taken the picture before I cut into it. 

Cinderella’s Castle is a great experience if you have kids who are into princesses and  want to get closer to them and get their signatures.

Instead of standing in long lines for a meet and greet, we made reservations,  enjoyed a wonderful meal, and let the princesses come to us. We met Cinderella in the entryway, and Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, and Jasmine (in her new, improved outfit, a beautifully embroidered dress) at the meal. 

That said,  it’s an expensive meal,  and it’s very hard to get reservations  (you need to make them months in advance), but it’s a great experience.

I told the check in staff that I had a food restriction, and our waiter asked about it first thing and brought us a special version of the menu that had allergen information listed. 

They didn’t have an on menu vegan appetizer, but they had no problem fixing me a tasty salad to start with. I ate some pickles and olives from my wife’s appetizer,  but I don’t care about cross-contamination. I know most vegans do, and these olives had touched meat. 

They had a great vegan entree on the main menu, the portabella, couscous, and veggie creation above. At first taste, it seemed bland,  but within seconds a bounty of subtle flavors bloomed across my tongue.

They had a great on menu vegan dessert, too: lemon sorbet with the biggest blueberries I’ve ever seen. The sorbet was just tart enough to be refreshing,  just sweet enough to be delicious. 

If you or your kiddos want to meet the princesses, Cinderella’s Castle is well worth the time and money.  The food is great, and the princesses come to your table and take the time to talk to your kids, post for pictures,  and sign autographs.

An Underrated Gem: Atlantis:  the Lost Empire

​https://youtu.be/pZXNBq1AOoc

I think this is by far the most underrated Disney film,  and the best of the “forgotten pantheon” (Treasure Planet,  Hercules,  the Black Cauldron,  etc.) by far. 

It had a diverse cast of memorable characters,  all well-acted, great visuals,  good music, an original storyline, and a visual style unlike anything else I’ve seen from Disney. 

The voice cast included Michael J. Fox, Cree Summer,  Claudia Christian, James Garner,  Jim Varney, and Leonard Nimoy! You can’t go wrong with that kind off talent. 

Seriously,  check it out. It’s on Netflix and YouTube.

Here are some more snippets,  just to whet your appetite: 

Disney Trip Reflections

Just a few things I noticed about taking a week long Disney vacation: 

Either stay at a place with a microwave or commit to spending big for every meal (big by Mississippi standards, at least). 

Disney table service restaurants that take reservations are worth it, especially for vegans. They’re more money, but the food is really good, many have characters for your kids to meet, and they’ll take care of any allergies or restrictions. 

The quick service places are less money,  but the vegan options are often quite meh., and small to boot. If I’m eating a shredded cabbage and edamame sandwich, which had very few calories, doesn’t it stand to reason that I’ll at least need a decent-sized sandwich?

Pack less.

Always bring a portable charger for your cell phones. We used this Moko charger, and it was great. It does passthrough charging and can charge two devices at once. 

Bring good shoes. It won’t be enough to keep the pain away, but it will make it manageable. 

Take a day off in the middle. Swim at the hotel’s pool.  Take in a movie. Sleep late. Heal. This is the one thing we should have file,  but didn’t. 

I’ll write more about this later, I’m sure,  but that’s enough for now.