The Greatest Showman: Interview with Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya and more

Accommodations were provided by 20th Century Fox 

In the works for seven years, The Greatest Showman, is the story that captures the essence of P.T. Barnum and his legacy as a showbusiness trailblazer. In what was one of the most engaging press junkets I’ve participated in yet, I was enchanted by the entire cast and creators behind this film. Though my review of the film is embargoed until tomorrow, I will say, however, that I have not stopped thinking about or singing The Greatest Showman. 

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Hugh Jackman and Following Your Passion

Larger than life, much like the character whom he portrays, Hugh Jackman was the first actor who arrived to our junket. Sharply dressed for the evening’s events, Jackman started off by telling the group how the journey to creating The Greatest Showman began seven years ago.

Jackman was approached by producers, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, to do an original movie musical. “And they had idea of P.T. Barnum, which I thought was perfect for a musical.  I do think when you have a character who’s in the world of show biz, who’s larger than life, it lends itself to a musical.”

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The face of the film, Jackman takes on what is, quite possibly, one of the roles of his lifetime. He showcased his vocal chops, strength as a dancer, range as an actor and solidified his role as a versatile entertainer while portraying the unstoppable P.T. Barnum.

He shared how his passion for dance and the stage has a parallel to one of the messages of the film: 

“Actually owning up to the things that you love, the music that you like, the food you want to eat, who your friends are, the things you want to do whether it’s cool or not, that is where the joy of life is.  And really should be your marker for your path.  And I can speak, unfortunately from experience, of not always listening to that.

When I was 11, a teacher told me I had talent as an dancer.  You should dance.  I told my dad and he told me to go and get dance lessons. My brother overheard and said, “Ah, you sissy.  You sissy.”  And I was 10 or 11 at the time.  And so, I didn’t do dancing.  And then when I went to see 42nd Street with my dad and my brother, I was 18.  And at interval, my brother came up to me and said, “I said something really stupid to you years ago.  You belong on the stage and you should go and get dancing lessons.”  

 

 

The Different Dimensions of Zac

Zac Efron, who most recently starred in comedies such as Neighbors, Neighbors 2 and Baywatch, rose to fame portraying Troy Bolton in Disney’s High School Musical series in 2006-2008. Efron secured his triple threat status in the revival of Hairspray in 2007.

 

During the junket for The Greatest Showman, Efron’s casual entrance shifted the tone for the interview. His laid back and warm demeanor was a contrast to the privileged, yet unhappy Phillip Carlyle. Efron was attracted to The Greatest Showman because it was a “merging of worlds”…that evokes a “modern sensibility and it’s about issues that mean a lot to us today.”

 

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When asked if he was looking to star in a musical, Efron answered: I’m always looking “where can I find the next way to integrate music and that sort of song and dance side of me into my work and where will it be effective.”

“And in Hugh’s portrayal of P.T. Barnum, I felt like it would be effective.  It could work through–Phillip could be a conduit to help show the magic of what P.T. Barnum did as a showman.

And really, what Hugh does as a person in real life, and I’m here at a standing testament to it, he’s, like, one of the best teachers and, like, showmen in the world, literally.  He quite literally is the most versatile probably actor alive—.”

Truly a wise talent and a multi-dimensional actor, Efron’s portrayal of Carlyle is engaging and showcases his broad vocal range and dance capabilities. Truth be told, I was caught off guard by how much I enjoyed Efron in The Greatest Showman. I not only adored his character’s trajectory, but felt that this role showcased his vocal talent and strength as a dancer. 

 

Zendaya: Strong, Poised and Vocal

Zendaya is one of the young actors that I’ve been admiring from afar over the years. As a Disney loving family, we’ve probably watched every episode of Shake it Up and K.C. Undercover. The strong, sassy and diverse characters that she’s portrayed on Disney have helped her to catapult onto the big screen. 

The Greatest Showman is her second film, but you would’ve never known it by the way she takes on aerialist Anne Wheeler. 

Zendaya says she was attracted to playing Anne because she is the natural leader of the so-called Oddities. “To me, Anne is very confident, very poised and very comfortable in her own skin.”

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It’s important to note that the 20-year old Zendaya has used her platform to voice her stance on important issues such as equality, diversity and helping the less fortunate.

As a true fan of this rising star who embraces her responsibility as an influential person who also happens to be biracial, I was so disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to personally ask Zendaya a question. However, when a question came up about what the actors hope that young people would take away from the film, I loved what Zendaya had to say:

“As a millennial or someone that young people look to, it’s a lot of responsibility.  And I try to take it that way.  Some people like to look at it as a pressure and a negative thing, and I think it’s positive thing.  It means 40 million people that I can positively affect, you know?

And I think that what I think my message is and what aligns with this movie is it’s not telling you to be a certain way, right?  We’re not saying this is how you should be.

It’s saying we want you to be the best version of yourself.”

Undeterred by boundaries, Zendaya, quite literally, reached for the stars as aerialist Anne Wheeler. In their duet “Rewrite the Stars” Zendaya and Efron worked beautifully to harmonize vocally and physically. The duo complemented each other well and did their own stunts. Zendaya emphasized, “I think that was the cool part about it, is we kind of had the freedom to just kind of go for it and just have some fun.”

  

Pasek and Paul: Songwriting Masterminds

Though the film takes place in the 19th century, the design music and choreography helped to make this period piece into a relevant movie musical.

At the genesis of the film, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul were up and coming songwriters. They had yet to hit it big when they signed on with The Greatest Showman. Pasek and Paul have since added quite a few more songs to their portfolio, not to mention an Academy Award and Golden Globe for “City of Stars” from La La Land and a Tony for the Best Original Score for Dear Evan Hansen.

The songwriting duo do not disappoint with the original music for The Greatest Showman. The musical features 10 original songs with varying tempos, but retain fluidity within the storyline. From the opening scene that introduces the anthem and title song, “The Greatest Show,” the lyrics help to unveil the story, where stacatto vocals articulate the grandeur, and the chorus leads to a transition and a melodic foreshadowing. 

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Since I’m one of the last people on Earth who has yet to see La La Land or Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman was my first experience to fully enjoy Pasek and Paul’s songwriting. Immediately downloading the soundtrack the night after screening the film and before our junket, I was hooked!Truly smitten by Pasek and Paul’s work in The Greatest Showman, I didn’t hesitate when it came to asking about their musical influences. The original music in The Greatest Showman is influenced by so many genres and artists. The song, “The Greatest Show” is the only song that they co-wrote with someone else; they wrote it with Ryan Lewis of Macklemore and Lewis fame. Director Michael Gracey insisted upon an anthem type feel, much like a Queen song, where the crowd would stomp and clap their hands to the beat.

Though all of the songs evoke their own style, it’s clear that they were influenced by many contemporary artists. Pasek and Paul said that influence in their original music came from artists like Ingrid Michaelson, Imagine Dragons, Billy Joel, among others.

 

Keala Settle’s Film Debut in The Greatest Showman

One of the many shining stars of the film, Keala Settle plays Lettie Lutz, also known as the bearded lady. Settle, who makes her film debut in The Greatest Showman is no stranger to the stage. Settle is an accomplished actor on Broadway, playing Becky in the stage musical “Waitress,” among other notable roles. One of the most important themes of The Greatest Showman is acceptance and inclusion despite your differences. 

Settle, who revealed her fears about the role: “I was so petrified because this is my first major motion picture in a role that I didn’t know was going to be what it is.  I had no idea.  It changed over the course of how it was created as we were creating, you know, in rehearsals and stuff like that before we started initial photography.  And the bigger that it got for me, the scarier that it got because I wanted to hide even more.  And I am still, even sitting here in front of you, fighting that right now.”

The entire cast is phenomenal in their own rite, Settle nailed her first film. Her song, “This is Me,” is a relatable ballad for anyone who’s ever felt different or had to overcome a hardship. Her performance is one of the most memorable moments of the film. She is one of the breakout stars of the film; “Look out because here I come…”

 

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From the music, to talent of the ensemble cast to the choreography to the relevant and relatable themes, The Greatest Showman is undoubtedly a film like no other. The positive undertones and  dreamer mentality make The Greatest Showman a fun film for people of all ages.

Though this film has been in the works for seven years, The Greatest Showman embraces so many important themes that are more relevant than ever: inclusion, diversity, dream big, among other topical issues.

When asked what was his biggest takeaway from the film, Jackman said it best:

“I love the message of this movie, of accepting ourselves for who we are and what we love and the things that really make us feel passionate and not worry about what anyone else thinks.”  

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to be enchanted by the magic of showbusiness. The Greatest Showman is in theaters December 20th.

 

 

This Christmas, dare to dream anything. The #GreatestShowman opens a world of imagination, in theaters December 20. TheGreatestShowmanTickets.com

 

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“The Greatest Showman” is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. “The Greatest Showman” is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) and starring Academy Award nominee Hugh Jackman. Jackman is joined by Zac Efron, Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.

 

Genre: Musical

Directed By: Michael Gracey

Screenplay By: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon

Story By: Jenny Bicks

Produced By: Laurence Mark, p.g.a, Peter Chernin, p.g.a, Jenno Topping, p.g.a

Songs By: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Score By: John Debney & Joseph Trapanese

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya

Full disclosure: I was invited by 20th Century Fox to participate in this press junket. As always, opinions are my own.

The Best Beauty and the Beast Toys and Dolls from Hasbro and Funko

Disney’s latest live action film, Beauty and the Beast, is debuting today with much Disney fanfare. Cue #BeourGuest and sparkly costumes!When the teaser started to show online and on tv, generations were captivated, including the generation that grew up watching the iconic animated version. Today, those kids who watched Belle and Beast’s animated tale are now parents, and of course, the new film’s appeal is reaching a new generation in an epic way.

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In celebration of the film’s release, we’re sharing some of our favorite toys and trinkets that we spotted at the 2017 Toy Fair here in NYC. The various companies that have the Disney license created magical toys to dazzle kids and engage in cool new ways.

Enchanting Melodies Belle Doll

Dressed in her gold ball gown, the Belle doll sings the “Something There” song from Disney’s live-action movie Beauty and the Beast. With one press of Belle’s stomach, she will sing of her budding love for the Beast in this classic song. Requires three A76 batteries, included. ($29.99/Available: Spring 2017)


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Dance and Code Belle

Dance and Code Belle was one of my absolute favorite toys at Toy Fair, and perhaps my most favorite coding doll. This unique and gorgeous doll is inspired by Belle’s brains and graceful dancing. With an app, kids can code Belle’s dances and movements. I thought this was such a unique way to incorporate the tenets of STEAM and introducing coding.
 
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Check out a video of Belle in action, as well as the other Beauty and the Beast dolls from Hasbro’s Toy Fair Showroom
 

Disney Beauty and the Beast Grand Romance

The deluxe duo 2-Pack includes a Belle doll dressed in a removable dress inspired by her yellow ball gown, Beast figure in his ballroom attire featuring a furry textured body, and fashion accessories. ($49.99) Available Spring 2017

 

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Castle Friends Collection Small Doll Set

 Once the human servants of the enchanted castle, the Disney Beauty and the Beast Castle Friends Collection Small Doll Set features five loyal friends to The Beast. The  set features some of the characters from the live-action movie including Lumiere, Cogsworth, Chip, Mrs. Potts and Plumette. ($14.99) Available Spring 2017


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Beauty and the Beast Village Belle Doll

 The Village Belle doll wears the iconic blue dress inspired by the village scene in Disney’s live-action movie Beauty and the Beast. Kids, collectors, and fans of the timeless classic will love reliving their favorite moments and imagining their own stories. Includes Belle doll, outfit, and a pair of removable shoes inspired by her outfit in Disney’s live-action movie, Beauty and the Beast. ($14.99/available Spring 2017)

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 Funko Disney’s Belle, Beast and Gaston

Funko creates an expansive line of licensed vinyl figures, including many beloved Disney characters such as Belle and the Beast. I loved checking out the multiple iterations of these characters from their Pop! line of vinyl figures. With their over exaggerated animated features, these lovable collectibles are ideal for fans and kids alike. Now if only they had a LeFou character!

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Have you seen Beauty and the Beast yet? If so, what did you love about it? More importantly, which toys are on yours and your kids’ wishlist?

Three Years Seizure-Free + Disney Love

Every time it happened, I can remember the way my heart raced out of my body. Instead of panic though, mother’s instinct overpowered the fear, and somehow, I remained calm every single time. 

Three years ago was no different; Josh was sitting in his Svan high chair in the kitchen with his Developmental Therapist when he had his last major seizure. Mid-session as they played, he lost control of his own body and a seizure writhed and zapped him, for what seemed like an eternity. I remember doing something they tell you not to do: I carried my two year old to the couch and hugged him until the seizure ended. Josh’s seizures were never longer than 3 or 4 minutes, but they were long enough.

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Although I knew what they’d say, this time around, I called the paramedics to be safe. They arrived at the postictal state, the part where Josh is physically drained by the events. He sleeps for a good hour and is out of sorts for several hours beyond that.

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When these episodes happen, it’s hard to forget the emotions and details of the day. That day he wore a gray Puma sweatsuit that my brother and sister-in-law gave him for Christmas. I remember scooping him up after the first responders and paramedics examined him and hugged him some more. I declined the ambulance since he wasn’t in danger anymore, and sadly, because I remembered how much it would cost. This is a reality of habitual hospitalization and the state of insurance/medical care.

Josh ended up being admitted to the hospital that day so that the doctors could examine his levels and detect any other seizure activity. Since it was right before a snow storm, we knew things would get tricky and unbelievably complicated. For the first time, Josh and I were separated from Jack and Jeff for two days as we stayed in the hospital during the snow storm.

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Thankfully, Josh remained stable and was well cared for while we were in the pediatric wing. I’ll always remember the nurses who were exhausted, but remained incredibly patient with my boy. I’d always ask if they got in to work ok, and if their families were faring ok in the storm. When you have a chronically ill kid, your respect for those who work in the medical field magnifies.

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In these past three years, thankfully, medicine and close monitoring has permitted my boy to flourish developmentally. I’ve put life on hold at times to be present physically to be a taxi to therapy two times a week, be present for mid-day school pick up and specialists’ appointments multiple times a year.

Josh has grown leaps and bounds, with the help of his educators and therapists. His vocabulary continues to grow as big as his personality and as vibrant as his imagination. He’s so social and makes friends wherever he goes. Language is definitely difficult for him to interact with his peers at times, but he tries so hard. Big bro is always his biggest champion and helps whenever he’s around.

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In the fall, he’s about to embark on a new adventure in Kindergarten. He’ll most likely remain in the special education program for now, but with the (possible?) changes in education, I have fears or the unknown.

Nevertheless, I’m so proud of this hardworking boy who goes to school year-round and endures 8-10 various therapies a week in school and privately.

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When we reunited at the hospital after several days apart, Jack and Jeff gifted Josh a giant Mickey Mouse balloon that they found in the hospital gift shop. Like for so many, Disney and Mickey have always been our happy place. After what our guy has had to endure at such a young age, we always promised a Disney Cruise, or a trip to see Mickey Mouse once he was stable. Disney is our escape from reality and a reason to reunite when life gets full of distractions and complications.

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I may have been invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but our family was celebrating so much more. On this past trip to Disney World and Disney Cruise, we celebrated Josh being seizure-free for THREE YEARS!! This is huge because we get to discuss weaning him off of meds again! Go Josh, go!

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Whether it’s with a giant balloon or a chance set sail with Mickey, I’m grateful we have something to celebrate. Thank goodness for three years.

 

Family Fun: Disney Social Media Moms 2017

After the holidays, I found myself tired and overwhelmed with picking up the remnants of Christmas and trying to look ahead to the new year. Foggy and fragmented, I promised myself a more organized year with more adventures. When the much-coveted invited for Disney Social Media Moms landed in my inbox on the last wave of invitations, the husband and I wavered, but decided that our boys—our family—needed a break from reality. Since our invite came just a month out, we decide to surprise the boys with the trip. It was fun hiding all of the details until this morning when we drive to the airport! And by fun, I mean totally complicated!

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So, here we are back at Disney for another Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Because I’ve been around for about 9 years, I’ve had the great fortune of being invited to this incredible event several times. Just as our family has grown and evolved, we’ve seen DisneySMMC grow from a small intimate affair to this grand production that’s become a highlight in my kids’ childhood. I love interacting with the great sponsors, learning about the Parks firsthand and experiencing unique opps. I don’t take these opportunities for granted one bit. We savor every single second, and I’m so grateful my kids get to experience these special events.

I stayed up until 3am last night finishing projects and woke up at 6am this morning. After traveling all day, I made the family head to the parks so we could take advantage of the small window of downtime I had for the day. Verdict? Totally worth the exhaustion.

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But of course, a little bit of Starbucks on Main Street helped with my delirium. 

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The events staff had a beautiful welcome dinner for us in Animal Kingdom. The food was a delicious array of savory and sweet treats, with plenty of exotic influence. The food never disappoints! After dinner, the group watched a River of Lights, but unfortunately, we were way too tired and left after dinner.

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We’re headed out to Epcot tomorrow, Disney Springs and then Hollywood Studios for some fun! 

Combining the best of the Parks and Disney Cruiseline, this year is the first ever Disney Social Media Land and Sea Celebration. We’re spending Tuesday and Wednesday at the parks getting the latest information on new additions, shows and more. On Thursday – Sunday, we’ll be setting sail aboard the Disney Wonder for a 3-day Bahamian Cruise.

When Josh was sick a few years ago, brighter days and dream trips kept us afloat. A Disney Cruise has always been one of our bucket list trips, simply because it combines everything we love as a family. I can’t wait to share this experience with my guys and to see this dream trip come to fruition.

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Be sure to catch me on Instagram, where I hope to share stories of our #DisneySMMC adventure!

We’re going to #DSMM in May

Blogging has afforded my family and me the most wonderful experiences over the years. But, among all the cool experiences, some of the highlights have been being invited to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMM) multiple times.

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I’ll be the first to tell you: I don’t have the “biggest” blog, I don’t have numbers inflated by giveaways, and I’m almost always overwhelmed by life and how much work needs to get done. Nevertheless, I believe in staying true to myself and to this site I created 8 years ago. I’m proud of having the platform to keep my journalism background at work while creating a site that reaches such a diverse audience. NKT has ebbed and it’s flowed, but through it all, I’m so glad I’ve had an outlet to share all of the cool things for kids that make us happy.

When my littler guy was extremely sick 2/3 years ago, and we had nothing but visits to specialists and procedures on our calendar, I shared a lot of my life on social media as a way to cope. My community rallied and helped me stay sane. Sure, I use social media daily to promote the site and whatever’s the topic du jour, but in the end, it’s truly changed my life.

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At Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I’ve learned how to hone my craft and how to better understand analytics for platforms such as Pinterest. Speakers have inspired us in storybook ways, just as one would expect Disney to showcase. But most importantly, Disney has brought my family together in the toughest times,—when we’ve been financially drained by medical bills, overcome by worries and consumed by what ifs. As my older son is quickly racing to become a teen and my younger son gets stronger every day, it’s the happy times that elevate us as a family.

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Our life is far from storybook, but we’ll always have our Disney memories to lift us up when we need them most. I’m forever grateful for Disney Parks and BSM Media for making those memories that much more magical.

I’m finishing up some video from last year’s Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but for now, I wanted to share this recap video of last year’s event that was created for Disney. 

I can’t wait to share our experiences at DSMM again in May. Until then, I’m sure my Pinterest boards and blog posts will be flooded with Disney crafts and ideas inspired by The Mouse.

Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert at NJPAC on2/19 + Giveaway

We truly can’t get enough of Disney in our house. Combine Disney with the symphony, now we’re talking. We have great accessibility to wonderful performances and shows in our area, including those at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

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On February 19, NJPAC will be featuring Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert. Disney Fantasia is a live performance that combines classical music with two beloved Disney movies. This performance will feature the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ted Sperling, which accompanies scenes from the animated feature films, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.

 To accompany the symphony, clips from Disney’s iconic films will be shown ion the big screen, such as Mickey Mouse as he dabbles in magic in Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the mythical unicorns and winged horses that accompany Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”). 

Bergen County’s Elisabeth Morrow School Orchestra Students will be the opening performers, where students ranging from 11- 14 years old will perform Vivaldi, Beethoven and more as the opening act. Biggie and Littles would, for sure, enjoy the magic of this show, especially seeing student musicians perform as the openers.

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Check out tickets at NJPAC for this fantastic show. And because we love wonderful shows like these, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to Disney Fantasia: Live in Concert!

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Prudential Hall?One Center Street?Newark, NJ ?Friday, February 19, 2016 8:00 PM
Tickets $39.50 – $79.50

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is here!

 

It’s finally here! After much anticipation, we made it to Orlando for the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! As many of you know, DSMMC is an invite-only celebration with top influencers to engage in all things Disney.

 

After little sleep last night, we had an uneventful trip down to Florida. The kids were great on the plane, aside from Jack’s unnecessary need to hold a barf bag to his mouth every time there was turbulence. haha!

 

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I’m just so glad to be here and can’t wait to relax and unwind with my guys in between Disney Social Media Moms. Both boys are older, and so far, it’s a bit easier to manage them while traveling. As for Disney, the magic is as brilliant as ever. We arrived a day early and were able to travel with ease and relax in the amazing beach-bottomed pool. We’ve yet to hit the parks, but are so thankful to have this family-time together, which is something that seems to be so fleeting these days.

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I’ve had the fortune of being invited multiple times, with this trip being my third rodeo. I’ll share information along the way, but I wanted to be totally transparent about this trip. We were not planning on taking a Disney trip this year, but when DSMMC sends an invite, it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and something that’s hard to pass up. We were able to get the stars to align to afford to go on this trip. With that said, Disney is the host for DisneySMMC, however,  we pay a subsidized rate and are treated to several exclusive events, receive samples and experience unique things to share with our audiences.


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We’ll be learning more about Disney’s latest endeavors, so be sure to listen in on the conversation. Check out all the action on #DisneySMMC, and of course, be sure to follow me @jenrab on Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout our trip. Just a few things I’m excited to learn more about: Disney Springs, Avatar World and Frozen-themed attraction in Norway in Epcot! Unbelievable!

 

 

I can’t wait to endure and share the magic in the days to come!

Review: Six Things that Make Big Hero 6 ‘Sick’

“It’s just an expression!” as Hiro Hamada would say.

Big Hero 6, which opens in theaters today, is a modern super “hero” tale that follows the journey of a robotics prodigy and an inflatable nurse bot named Baymax.

 

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As the story begins, though small in stature, a young man enters a competition to battle his RC bot. From the first few minutes of the story, we learn a laundry list of things about the main character and the setting of this story. Hiro, the precocious and brainy 14-year-old who seemed to have lost his way, can hustle tough competitors and still land on his feet, even if that means he needs a little lift from his big brother, Tadashi.

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Set in the not so distant future in San Fransokyo, Hiro and his older brother live with their Aunt Cass in an apartment above her cafe. Like a good big brother, Tadashi guides Hiro by tricking him and then influencing him to love “Nerd School.” Hiro is immediately enamored by his brother’s classmates and their inventions at Robotics Institute of San Fransokyo, he decides that he, too, must go to the school. But in order to get the attention of the program’s professor, Hiro was tasked with creating something memorable that would grant him admission.  Needless to say, Hiro’s creation was life-changing in many ways.

 

There are many reasons why families should see Big Hero 6, and we came up with our top six reasons that make this film sick.

 

1. Animation

Right from the beginning, we learn that Big Hero 6 is a special film. It has a unique story, but it’s the animation that helps elevate the storytelling. Because of the dynamic back drop of San Fransokyo, which is a mash up of the best qualities of both Japan and San Francisco, Disney employed a new technology called Hyperion to deliver a rich look to the animation.

 

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Truly, there were parts in the film where I thought I was looking at a real city, rather than an animated one. 

The animators did thorough research when it came to designing the characters and their movements. For Go Go, the bold, no-nonsense friend who later uses Maglev wheels as discs and weapons, the animators used bike messengers and speeds skaters as inspiration for her character and her movement.

 

2. Brotherhood

Blood is thicker than water; this is a familiar theme we’ve seen in popular disney films before. In Big Hero 6, Brotherhood was a major underlying theme that runs its course from beginning to end. Whether it’s your biological brother or your brother for life, the power of brotherhood will sustain you for life and can get your through your darkest days.

 

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 As a mother of two boys and having been through a number of dark days ourselves, I thought this theme was poignantly conveyed between biological brothers, Tadashi and Hiro; robot and friend, Baymax and Hiro; and of course, Hiro and the whole gang.

 

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These relationships fueled passion, offered perspective on life and did a whole lot of uplifting. These messages were so well told with imagery alone, I remember sobbing at just a plate of food. (I’m a mess, I tell ya!)

 

3. STEM

Big Hero 6 isn’t the first animated movie that features STEM within its storyline, but it is, perhaps, one of the more memorable recent films geared to kids where STEM is present at its very core.  STEM is practically its own character in Big Hero 6, and its prevalence will keep budding tech enthusiasts engaged.

BigHero654243c0a5e8e4 1From Hiro’s bot fighting pursuits to his Microbot creation to upgrading Baymax and his friends, the story effortlessly incorporates science, technology, engineering and math. Hiro’s friends who are just as smart and creative in their own right, all have their own creations that ultimately aids in their friend’s conquest for justice. But it’s Baymax, the healthcare companion engineered by Tadashi, who offers the most heart in this otherwise regimented world. It’s Baymax’s job to care for both physical and emotional ailments, and even though as a robot he can’t have feelings, he is responsible for a lot of the feels—the onset that made me grab for the tissues.

 

4. Superheroes

Big Hero 6 is based on the little known Marvel comic of the same name. One of the best quotes that I read from producer Roy Conli that perfectly captures the essence of Big Hero 6: “It’s a Disney Movie with a Marvel DNA.”  

 

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If you’re familiar with either of these storytelling powerhouses, then you know that they are both epic storytellers, yet can be very different—polar opposites, even. Since Marvel was acquired by Disney in 2009, this was one of the first big features where I felt a true Marvel presence. Though there was more storytelling and mystery unfolding than there was super heroes saving the world, the super hero theme was prevalent throughout. Tadashi, Hiro’s big brother encompassed some of those super hero qualities with his good looks, smarts and can-do-no-wrong character. Baymax and his upgradable features and inflatable presence was an unexpected superhero with his karate chops and robotic fists. Hiro and his friends, GoGo, Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Baymax combined, form the titular group Big Hero 6.

 

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It’s their major endeavor to find the mystery man who stole Hiro’s creation that makes the superhero tale come full circle, complete with mystery being solved with a Scooby Doo-esque plot twist at the end.

 

5. Sounds

Thanks to Big Hero 6, I now have the theme song constantly running in my head. You know the one: it’s that Fall Out Boy anthem that consists of quietly shouting and chanting, the same cadence that little boys tend to expel in excitement.

 

At several points in the movie, I found myself either tapping my foot, bopping my head or mouthing, ‘I love this song!’ The soundtrack and score rounded out the effects of this movie, perfectly evoking the love and loss of this modern super hero. And don’t get me started on the one-liners! Like any good kid film, Big Hero 6 had its fair share of witty one liners that will, no doubt, find their way into daily jargon. “Hairy Baby,” anyone?

 

6. Empowering

There’s a lot going on in Big Hero 6, but one of the most important messages is the empowerment. Thinking outside the box, looking at different angles to get out and most importantly, compassion are the most empowering messages in Big Hero 6.  I love that this film celebrates hard work and imagination, but also embraces geeky culture.

 

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The smartest people in this world are often the most misunderstood, so it’s up to us to bring out the best in them.  In the end, I appreciated forgiveness and compassion. In our world full of intolerance and hate, it was endearing to see Baymax remind Hiro that compassion and forgiveness are powerful tools.

 

 

Who should NOT see this movie? 

If you have a tot who can’t sit still for almost two hours, I’d wait to see this film. Though it can be fast-paced, this is a full feature film, and so it’s long, but well worth it.  Big Hero 6 is rated PG and there are major scenes that involve grief and death. If this is a topic that could cause distress, I’d say wait to watch until you’re ready to discuss.  At quiet moments after one of the major scenes, I heard smaller kids who were quite upset. I have an anxious, super hero-loving 7 year old who absolutely loved Big Hero 6 despite some of the trivial topics. He absolutely loved it.

BigHero654243c09be44fI’m also a super hero fan, who happens to adore Disney AND Marvel, so this film was an all around win for me.  This truly is one of those movies I will go and see over and over again, and will be sure to buy it immediately, as soon as the digital copy is available. Also? There’s a majorly awesome after credit scene that you’ll want to stick around for, especially if you’re a Marvel fan like us.

 

Big Hero 6 is a super special story that transcends a typical superhero story; it’s a heart warming journey about an unlikely bond and their equally admirable crusade.  

 

Hosting a #DisneySide Playdate

After such a brutal winter cooped up indoors, not only for the crazy weather, but also because of the kid’s ongoing medical issues, we were more than happy to host our friends over for a #DisneySide playdate.  

Thanks to the generous party pack provided by Disney, we were decked out with supplies to entertain and enjoy.  It doesn’t take much for me to get excited about parties, but when it involves Mickey-shaped food, I’m all in.  From Mickey chicken to Mickey-shaped fruit, we were totally in magic mode.

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Since we had an after school soiree, the boys played Disney Infinity while the girls did Disney-inspired crafts.  

Untitled Because we’re all about Frozen, we did a fun Olaf project.   After we cut up the Olaf printable, we connected him at the joints with brads and then sang all about summerrrr!

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Thanks to Hanes, we broke out the fabric markers and decorated our own t-shirts.  Everyone’s shirts were beautiful, but Jack’s Spidey-themed tee was one of the faves. Even our littlest guy designed his very own tee!

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From primary colored decor to the awesome HP photo paper to print our favorite photos, our playdate was Disney-fied through and through.  And after so many not-so-easy days this winter, a little magic is just what the doctor ordered.

 

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For more ideas on how to post your own DisneySide party, check out Spoonful.com, DisneySide and DisneySide Celebrations. Thank you to Disney and MomSelect for including us in the #DisneySide Party initiative.  Samples were provided, but all opinions on NKT are my own.

TinkerBell Flutterbye Fairies to Fly onto Shelves

Today, I’m heading to a media event where I’ll get to meet, and perhaps, interview the producer for the new Disney straight to DVD movie, Pirate Fairy.  I’ll have more about this cool flick, but in the meantime, I have fairies on my mind.

So, in honor of the stars of Pirate Fairy, I thought I’d highlight one of Spinmaster’s hottest toys: Flutterbye Fairies.  One of Christmas’ must-have toys, Flutterbye Fairies is set to add a few more fabulous flying friends.  Set to launch this Spring, TinkerBell is just one of the newest fairies to join this cool new line of toys.

 

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Like her fellow Flutterbye Fairy friends, TinkerBell will be able to dance, fly and flutter with the same kid-navigated technology.  The ability to control her flight path by simply hovering your hand underneath the doll is simply amazing!  Tink launches from her display stand and stops with the push of a button. In true Tink fashion, the TinkerBell Flutterbye features that signature green dress with a dash of pixie dust.

 

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For TinkerBell Fans, this new addition to the Flutterbye Fairies line is a magical move. TinkerBell Flutterbye Fairy from Spinmaster launches this Spring and will retail for $39.99

 

Want to hear more about Pirate Fairy, which is set to release on April 1?  Check out the extended sneak peek to see what the Fairies are up to in Pirate Fairy.