Disney’s next big movie, Moana, is about to flood theaters on November 23rd. I was thrilled to be invited to an early VIP screening of it with my family. Let me tell you, Moana, is a stunning, moving movie about a young lady finding her true self.

Before you begin the movie…

You are going to see a clever Disney-Pixar short called, INNER WORKINGS. The message is timely and appropriate – Live your life, it’s up to you to mix it up with some fun, even if your brain is telling you otherwise; listen your heart, your heart KNOWS what your body NEEDS. I thought this short with Moana was a perfect pairing.

REMEMBER WHEN? -- Inspired by the transparent human anatomy pages in his childhood encyclopedia set, Leo Matsuda, director of Walt Disney Animation Studios' new short "Inner Workings," showcases the internal struggle between one's pragmatic, logical self and the free-spirited, adventurous self. Created in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, "Inner Workings" opens on Nov. 23, 2016, in front of Disney's "Moana." ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

REMEMBER WHEN? — Inspired by the transparent human anatomy pages in his childhood encyclopedia set, Leo Matsuda, director of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new short “Inner Workings,” showcases the internal struggle between one’s pragmatic, logical self and the free-spirited, adventurous self. Created in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, “Inner Workings” opens on Nov. 23, 2016, in front of Disney’s “Moana.” ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.



“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania.

But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.”

“From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”) and produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.”



“You may hear a voice inside. And if that voice starts to whisper to follow the farthest star … Moana, that voice inside you, is who you are.” – Gramma Tala, “Moana”

Get ready, friends, Moana will immerse you in gorgeous music, fill you with laughter, awaken your sense of adventure, and prepare your mind to ask yourself questions about who YOU are?

This film will also invite you to see how rich the Polynesian culture is. How brilliant the art of WAYFINDING is!!! In fact, because of this film, now when I look up at the stars, I think of wayfinding and feel somewhat connected and a great respect for their culture.






So what will you get with some of the Characters in Moana? Let’s start with the (sea)star …

Moana – she is no princess, well technically she is, but in Disney terms, she is not. Think Merida with her. She is brave, adventurous, curious, strong, lovable, and about to be the next role model for so many of our Littles soon, well not just Littles, us adults too! You know that saying, the ocean is calling and I must go… that’s Moana! (Auli’i Cravalhois is behind this leading lady’s voice.)

Maui – he is a demigod (half god + half human = super funny guy with massive ego) Because of his demigod-ness, he has a super cool fishhook with special powers. (Dwayne Johnson voices this character)

Mini Maui – this is Maui’s mini tattoo that is his judgement guide (aka his mini Jiminy Cricket).

Gramma Tala – is the keeper of the ancient stories. She dances to her own beat. Moana & Gramma Tala ride the same wave, they get each other, they are both drawn to the sea. She encourages Moana to find her way and to listen to her inner voice. (Rachel House is the gem who voices this wild Gramma)

HeiHei – only the coolest rooster ever with the mind of ummmm, well? He’s just precious. (Alan Tudyk is the voice of this nutty one)


In Moana, we are lucky to have beautiful music throughout. The songs are powerful and catchy. I found myself listening to the words purposefully, and then looking and my littles’ to see their reactions. The music powerhouse team includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancini, & Opetaia Foa’i.

2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“You’ll do great things but first you must learn where you’re meant to be.” – Papa, “Moana”


The relationship between Maui and Moana is one of balance. Moana is trying to find herself, she is tough at times but also shows some weakness (don’t we all growing up?) and we see her other friend (the ocean help her when needed). Maui is this tough guy and quite funny, although he learns to give a bit with the help of Moana and his “Mini Me”. Their friendship goes through some growing pains and lessons.

“I am a girl who loves the sea, it calls to me.” – Moana

^ Me too, Moana, me too.

Are any of you star-gazers out there? You will fall in love will the wayfinding part! My son is following my husband’s footsteps with being a bit obsessed with astronomy; I love it. I caught him using the same hand motion technique Maui teaches Moana during her wayfinding lessons.

Happy Mama moment!



Can your Wilderness Explorers see this movie?Russell

Yes! Moana is Gorgeous! I took both of our Littles to this screening a and they both loved it. I recall one jump scare scene in it, but nothing too big. They understood the messages in the movie and loved it all. In fact, they have been playing out many scenes from the movie. We have a Maui vacation coming UP! Our adventure begins when Moana hits theaters, so we are thrilled to be on the island and hear all the buzz there!


We can’t wait to incorporate Moana & UP on our adventures in Maui!

You can follow our family Maui adventure on IG @uphouse with #MauiAdventures  #UPhouse

I give Moana

5 out of 5 Balloons

🎈 🎈 🎈 🎈 🎈


Visit the official MOANA website Here:

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MOANA arrives in theaters everywhere on November 23rd!