Why I <3 Dumbo

ImageReleased in 1941, Dumbo was the little movie that could at the Disney studio.  Marred by two previous releases that were box office flops (but both would eventually go on to become Classics in their own right), the Disney Studio was in desperate need of a box office success story.  Dumbo was originally intended to be a short.  However, Walt himself realized the only way to do the story justice was to release it as a full length feature. 

Not only was the studio experiencing financial setbacks, but also social in that Dumbo was birthed during the infamous Animators Strike and released a mere month before the attack on Pearl Harbor. However Dumbo soared at the box office and received the distinction of being the number one hit for the Disney Studio in the entire decade of the 40s.  And to this I wonder why?  What was it about Dumbo, who never utters a single word by the way, that made audiences fall in love?

Dumbo to this day remains one of the most popular stories and characters in the Disney vault.  In fact if you ask quite a few visitors to the Magic Kingdom parks what their first ride of the day will be, many will respond “Dumbo’s Flight!”  In the New Fantasyland expansion, Dumbo recently received an upgrade and can service even more guests as well has an interactive queue for young children.  All thanks to his immense popularity as both character and theme park attraction.

The title itself is not one that many of us would gravitate towards in our modern PC society. Is it? The environment in the 1940s towards children with disabilities, developmental or otherwise, was to put them in the care of medical professionals and move on.  I have heard countless stories since our own son was diagnosed of how things have changed in the 60-70 years since the war of how we as a society cope.  And yes, Jumbo Jr. was an outsider, he is an outcast almost from the very beginning once his fellow elephants (A Proud Race) get a full look at his ears. Openly mocked, he is shunned, along with his mother who stands up for her young son.  And this element I feel is what attracts us all to this story.  We’ve all been children, we’ve all felt powerless.  We’ve also all felt rejection from those we seek to gain acceptance.  This is why Dumbo is accessible, even to those of us who are not considered special needs

We’ve come pretty far, and still have further to go.  But, Dumbo to me is a compassionate film.  It’s one of several tear jerking moments, triumphant scenes, and yes, eye grabbing animation and beautiful watercolors that make the film even 70 plus years after it’s release date still grab you with their vibrancy.  It’s overall a beautiful tale, woven on the simple story of taking what life has dealt you and standing on top triumphantly through perseverance.

Eventually in this story comes the scene that I have hated since I was a child, the separation of child and mother because she stands up for her son to the wrong person.  Thought to be mad, she is locked away.  (This scene was the first time I openly became angry during a movie.  My grandmother has told me of how I used to stamp out of the room after this scene, irate.)

Dumbo is alone, in a cruel and cold world.  Or is he?  Dumbo keeps being supplied in the story by those who would help him.  Guide him, believe in him or otherwise look out for him.  His mother, Timothy Mouse, and eventually the Crows on the Hill. And so to in our society today, even from first diagnosis, I feel we find guiding hands.  Divinely supplied or otherwise, I feel our lives have similarly been blessed by so many who take the time to educate our family and help advocate for our son and the many with disabilities.

Dumbo eventually takes the very thing that was the cause of his segregation and what does he do?  He uses it to literally soar above all others.  And this is the lesson, the core root of my position.  Dumbo is the first Disney Special Needs Character.  Temple Grandin recently stated that if she could change her Autism, she wouldn’t.  It’s a part of her, it’s helped her think differently, and that it’s these different thinkers who should be sought out by employers now and in the future.  Those diagnosed with Autism are natural problem solvers, analytical thinkers, designers and are blessed with many talents.

I watched Dumbo often as we were going through the diagnosis of my youngest son.  It was a comfort to over and over see this character whom every one shortchanged take that disability and make it into a talent.  In those days I didn’t truly know where to turn, who to ask for guidance or what future I could help my son achieve.  And on hard days now, Thomas and I will sit and watch Dumbo together.  His story helps us deal with a world that sometimes isn’t quite the nicest environment.  It’s also an inspiration.  You are only limited by yourself. 

Dumbo remains an inspiration to us, and to so many.  His story obviously struck a nerve in a war torn world 70 years ago.  And now his story resonates even further to those of us who always see the potential in every diagnosis.  Who strive every day to make better futures for our children on the spectrum, and also know that the very things that are seen to hold our children down are going to carry them up and up and up!

Ohana Movie Night!

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ALOOOOOOOHAAAAA!

June 26th was an unofficial Disney holiday.  Since Stitch happens to be the former Experiment 626, each June Disney fans around the world celebrate our beloved Stitch with a whole day devoted to just him!  Since Stitch happens to be a favorite in our house, what else would we do for family Ohana Movie Night?

To start we set up our menu for the evening:

Ham and Swiss Sliders on King Hawaiian Rolls with Caramelized Onions

Sweet Potato Fries topped with Brown Sugar

Cooked Apples with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

For dessert? Little more than tasty Popsicles inspired by our favorite parks treat, the Dole Whip.

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We also made a quick playlist for the evening which was a mixture of Hawaiian Steel Guitar music, Ukeleles and of course The KING!

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So, now on to the kitchen! 

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Here are the recipes we used for the evening.  Head’s up, they are all incredibly simple, but immensely tasty.

Ham N Swiss Sliders with Caramelized Onions

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1 Package of King Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

2 Packages of Both Honey Ham and Uncured Ham (1 each)

1 Package of Swiss Cheese, I recommend the Thin Sliced (Quarter Slice 24 slices)

Half of a White Onion, thinly slivered

Directions:  Begin by Caramelizing the onions in a sauce pan.  I use mainly Olive Oil, a little White Wine, Salt (to taste) and then add water once they start to brown.  It should take roughly 45 minutes to really get them where you want them, but keep an eye on them as if they aren’t moved regularly they will burn quickly.

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Next take the Rolls and line them on a Cookie Sheet, slice them in half.  Place 1 slice of each type of Ham on each sandwich topped with two quarter slices of Swiss Cheese.  Once the onions are done, you can place them on the cheese or on top of the bun.  Either honestly tastes great!  Bake in  the oven for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees on until the tops are crispy and the cheese has melted.

Cooked Apples with Brown Sugar

4 Apples of any variety.  Granny Smith is the preferred, but a tart firm apple will work just fine.

3 Tbsp. of Butter

1 tsp of Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. of Brown Sugar.

Clean, core and slice apples and place them in a sauce pan.  Add butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.  cook on low for at least 20 minutes or until apples are tender.  Serve warm

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Dole Whip Pops

1 Can  (20 ounces) of Crushed Pineapple

2/3 C. of Coconut Milk

2 Tbsp of Cream of Coconut

1 Tbsp Honey

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Combine all ingredients and then pour into your favorite Popsicle molds.  Freeze for at least 4 hours or until Frozen thoroughly, serve immediately.PineapplePopsandStitchandAmy

For the sweet potato fries I simply purchased the organic variety Open Nature and lightly sprinkled some brown sugar all over before baking.  image_8image_7

We drank Pineapple juice along with our dinner which was the perfect compliment.

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We then topped off our evening with a quick photo shoot, some #Disneybounding and of course a viewing of Lilo and Stitch.  Our day started ordinary, quite like Lilo and Nani‘s did, but introduce some Stitch and you soon have a party.  What an awesome way to spend time with my Ohana!OhanaShot

Mahalo for reading and let me know, what are some ways you Keep the Magic for your family while not in the parks?

Totally Wicked

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“Well, what are you waiting for?” – Mr. Incredible

“I don’t know.  Something amazing I guess.” – Kid on Tricycle

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Since my family first walked on to Pixar Avenue in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I was overcome by the possibilities.  My mind was further intrigued (nee blown) after experiencing Toy Story Mania.  I mean the veritable success of story telling with that attraction, pushing forward theme park technologies, while furthering the Guest Experience.  It was and remains a success on so many fronts, and it reminded me of what Disney Imagineering could do.

But, why stop there?  I remember meandering further down the Avenue and seeing empty space surrounding both sides of the street and wondering, “Couldn’t they have expanded to more and more attractions in this area?” And yes, I eyed the Backlot Tour area as well.  As much as I get nostalgic for Catastrophe Canyon, you no longer see the Golden Girls house and really wasn’t that a big draw for everyone?

Why couldn’t Pixar Avenue develop further into attractions where we as Guests can immerse ourselves into the many different worlds we find rendered in pixel perfection in a Pixar film.  It’s no secret, my love of Pixar. Imagine what could be done on a theme park level!  The possibilities are endless.

And while I know we have Nemo the Musical, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, It’s Tough To Be A Bug, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, the Pixar Avenue area opens a whole realm of possibilities for fan favorite Pixar films (not just Box Office favorites) that we could see the Imagineers Blue Sky and stretch their creative muscles as much as possible.

Take for instance, The Incredibles.

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I mean what a landscape to dive into as a Guest!   Disney has their own Super Hero Family!  You can go from Jungle to Metropolis in 3.2 seconds as you catapult along with Dash into the Jungle, stretch along with Mrs. Incredible as you try to simultaneously thwart the baddies but also save your family, and  roll along with Violet in your own force fields.  Sounds crazy right?  But, take a look at the technology Disney has already on property in the way of Star Tours.  An immersive environment, tells a story, places you right in the action and how awesome is this: each adventure changes each time you ride.

So, why can’t we do something like this for The Incredibles.

Here’s my scenario:

You are brought in through the queue and there are television monitors showing that the city had been under attack, but the news media is only showing recovery efforts with a thinly veiled hint that something sinister caused the damage. And what’s more something even more mysterious saved the city.  As you are propelled along the line you realize that you are in a holding facility to transport citizens out of the city and to report your eyewitness accounts directly to the people in charge of recovery.  You are shown to your vehicle along with about 30 other guests.  You all sit, and yes buckle in for the ride.  A screen appears in front of you all and you are greeted by none other than Agent Dicker, who informs you that the Agency he is affiliated with has developed new technology in order to scan repressed memories to better get a clear & accurate picture of what everyone saw. In order to take part you are asked to place on your glasses for a retinal scan and your memories of the day will display on the screen in front of you.

That’s where the “tumbler” and ride movement technology comes in.  You are catapulted through the Jungle as you are saved by Mr. Incredible, you feel what that person felt, moving, lifting, running, every different kind of way each person in that vehicle was saved by a Super during the attack on the city.  You fly with Fro-Zone, jump into Violet’s force field, and get carried along at a 100 mph by Dash.  You feel the explosions, the force of heavy footsteps as you are whisked just with nanoseconds to spare away from falling debris by Mrs. Incredible.  A litany of different Supers helping to save the city and it’s citizens in any number of ways.

And finally when Agent Dicker has uncovered the amount of information he deems necessary to go after said “baddie” – which could be anyone in the vehicle, you are asked to look directly at the screen to have your memory of the day’s events wiped clean.  At the last second Edna Mode bumps the laser and tells you to go, skedaddle take your memories and go!

My family loves The Incredibles.  It was the first film I took my oldest child to see in the Theater and ever since if it pops on television we all find ourselves stopping to watch to see what will happen, even though we’ve seen it 100 times before.  And I truly feel that a theme park attraction featuring this family would be an awesome addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, moreover to Pixar Avenue.  What a great venue to show case an Incredible film.

What do I think the response will be?

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