Category: character meet and greets

OUR TRIPLE CROWN PREDICTIONS AND THE HISTORY BEHIND A VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF RACE

Nachos, Deviled Eggs, or a spoonful of sugar? 

While some are celebrating the Mexican Army’s difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, others are preparing for the 144th Annual Kentucky Derby – still others are  obsessed with a very different kind of race: 

Would you rather watch the Derby? Or Mary Poppins magically bringing carousel horses to life for the race of a lifetime. 

For those that choose Mary Poppins, here are a few fun facts to think about while you watch the wooden horses make a break for it:

  • Some carousel advertisements in early nineteenth century America stated that the ride was highly recommended by physicians as an aid in circulating the blood.
  • Reputedly, one of the C.W. Parker Company’s most notable former employees was Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of D-Day in World War II and later U.S. President, who, as a young lad, was said to have sanded carousel horses at the Parker factory located near his home in Abilene, Kansas.
  • The St. Bernard is one of the carousel’s most rare menagerie figures (animals other than horses).
  • Between 2,000 and 3,000 carousels were produced in the U.S. during its golden age of wooden carousels (early 1880’s to early 1930’s); today, there are less than 150 still left operating.
  • The earliest known use of the term merry-go-round is found in a poem written by Englishman George Alexander Stevens in 1729.
  • Contrary to popular belief, golden age carousel figures were not carved out of a single piece of wood; instead, several body panels were connected using wooden blocks, the whole of which was then worked over to create a basic (hollow) body; the head, legs, and tail were then attached, having been crafted by the manufacturer’s most talented carvers since the detail of these elements was essential in defining the figure’s personality.
  • To relax before taking off on what became the first successful solo nonstop trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, American aviator Charles Lindbergh ventured down to Coney Island to ride the carousel.
  • Carvers from the golden age would sometimes craft the mane of a horse figure so as to create a pocket where the hand could grasp it to help swing the rider into the saddle.
  • The oldest operating platform carousel in the United States, named the Flying Horses, dates from 1876 and is located on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
  • Carousels have been featured in such popular Broadway musicals as Carousel and such famous movies as Mary Poppins and The Sting.
  • The town of Mansfield, Ohio, may be the only one in America to have initiated its downtown revitalization efforts with a brand new wooden carousel, completed and unveiled in 1991.
  • All carousels manufactured by Peter Petz Productions of Germany are pre-dated by 100 years (thus 1998 becomes 1898) to give his period pieces an even greater nineteenth century feel.
  • Figures on America’s golden age carousels were typically arranged by size according to their concentric row, with the largest situated on the outer edge progressing to the smallest in by the center pole.
  • There are less than ten carousels with operating brass ring machines left in the U.S.
  • At its annual conventions in the late 1920’s, IAAPA held carving contests entered by a number of America’s premier carousel manufacturers.
  • Measuring 80 feet wide, weighing 35 tons, and containing 269 hand-crafted animals, the carousel at The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, USA, is the world’s largest.
  • In the early 1940’s, Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that Britain’s carousels be reopened, despite widespread material shortages, in an effort to boost morale during World War II.
  • The original entrance sign to the shop of one of America’s earliest carousel pioneers, Gustav Dentzel, is on display at the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio, USA, and dates from around 1867.
  • Patriotic trappings such as flags and eagles were often incorporated into figures crafted by the many immigrant carvers who helped create America’s golden age of wooden carousels.
  • Many amusement parks and attractions around the world employ a carousel theme in one section of their facility with names like Carousel Kingdom or Square or Cove or Circle.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has twice issued commemerative stamps honoring the carousel, in 1988 and in 1995.
  • Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Horsin’ Around is one of America’s few carousel figure carving schools.
  • Golden age carvers in the United States occasionally inscribed their initials in a figure and, even more rarely, their full name.
  • Along with roller coasters, carousels are the oldest amusement ride still in use.
  • The only operating steam-powered carousel left in the U.S. is hard at work every Labor Day weekend at the annual Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minnesota.
  • Germany’s Peter Petz Productions makes both hand-cranked and solar-powered carousels.
  • Menagerie figures are enjoying a current resurgence in popularity, a trend no doubt benefiting from the labors of The Carousel Works in Mansfield, Ohio, USA, which makes a carousel whose figures consist entirely of endangered species.
  • America’s earliest known carousel seems to have appeared in 1799 in Salem, Massachusetts, and was advertised as a wooden horse circus ride.
  • Carousel chariots from the golden age typically had two seats to accommodate ladies and small children, as the customs of that era precluded women from sitting astride the machine’s horses; chariots allowed them the thrill of a carousel ride without sacrificing their dignity.
  • The smooth galloping motion so familiar to today’s riders actually had quite a few competitors in its early days: some figures rocked, either forwards and back or from side to side, while others used a grasshopper mechanism (attached to the platform at the rear of each figure) to spring forward.
  • In the early 1900’s, Euclid Beach Park in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, possessed quite a unique carousel: it tilted at a 10-degree angle. The aim, one would assume, was to create a more thrilling ride, yet no other versions of this machine are known to have been built.
  • Some golden age carvers like John Zalar and Daniel C. Muller received formal instruction in fine arts and sculpture either before or during their carousel careers.
  • Spurred by a surge of patriotism following the Boer War (1899-1902), centaurs appeared on several British-made carousels; these double-seater horses replaced their usual heads with lifelike, waist-up carvings of domestic political or military heroes.
  • Some horses produced during the golden age were originally outfitted with a mane and/or tail made of real horsehair.

 

For those who pick today’s Kentucky Derby: 

I’m going with one of the following two (stats are taken from THE COURIER): 

6. GOOD MAGIC
Why he can win:
The third start of his 2-year-old campaign was the Breeders’ CupJuvenile, which Good Magic won and parlayed into the Eclipse Award for top juvenile male. The Derby will be his third start as a 3-year-old, and he looks to be on a similarpath.
Why he won’t:
His Beyer Speed Figure numbers this year are a cut below the best in the field. The Blue Grass victory was nice, but how strong was that field?
Morning-line odds:
 12-1.
Last time out:
Won the Grade 2 Blue Grass by 1 ½ lengths over Flameaway on April 7 atKeeneland.
Running style:
Has some early speed but generally a middle-of-the pack runner.
Owners:
 e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Bob, Kristine, Cassidy, Riley and DelaneyEdwards) and Stonestreet Stables (Barbara Banke).
Trainer:
 Chad Brown.
Jockey:
Jose Ortiz
11. BOLT D’ORO
Why he can win:
 There’s little question he’s one of the most talented 3-year-olds in the country, and he already has two Grade 1 victories and a Grade 2 win. He’s a battle-test colt who has been through the wars.
Why he won’t:
 What does he have left after a pair of grueling battles at Santa Anita duringthe prep season? He was placed first after McKinzie was disqualified in the San Felipe,which may have been the most exciting prep race of the year. And as hard as he tried, he couldn’t catch Justify in the Santa Anita.
Morning-line odds:
 8-1.
Last time out:
Second place — 3 lengths behind Justify — in Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Running style:
Likes to be near the front early, though not on the lead. A stalker.
Owner:
Mick Ruis.
Trainer:
 Mick Ruis.
Jockey:
 Victor Espinoza

 

Check out the race yourself, today at 6:46pm ET. Or else let me know if I picked correctly!

As far as food selections, we may try all three – it is supposed to be a triple kind of day, isn’t it? 

 

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? And has Pluto ever flown to his namesake planet?

If you weigh 150 pounds here on earth than you would just weigh a mere 9 pounds on the planet Pluto! It’s a fact. Before we all jump into our spacecraft with a tub of ice cream, let’s decide if the trip would really be worth it. 

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3.6 miles from the sun, the planet Pluto is in an area of space called the Kuiper, surrounded by 5 moons. The planet’s reddish color is caused by hydrocarbon molecules. First discovered as a “planet” in 1930, Pluto was relegated to “dwarf-planet” status in 2006 because it does not have a clear path around its orbit. We are hoping that Pluto is officially declared to be a planet again.
Back on our planet, there is nothing “dwarfish”” about our friend Pluto the dog, who is one of the “sensational six” in Disney’s universe. Pluto was yellow-orange at birth, and is the only member of the sensational six who does not wear human clothes.


Did you know that it took a while to settle on the name Pluto? He was originally a nameless bloodhound in his first film, “The Chain Gang. He then played the role of “Rover”, Minnie’s dog in “The Picnic”.
On March 24, 1930, the ninth planet in our solar system was given the name “Pluto”. Pluto the dog then appeared in “The Moose Hunt” and the name stuck.
Given the celestial nature of his roots, has Pluto the dog ever been to outer space, perhaps to try out his weight on the planet Pluto?
Click here to see the results of that question.
We were lucky enough to meet Pluto at his home in the Disney Junior section of Hollywood Studios. If you happen to get there just at opening, you might even be lucky enough to be asked to walk Pluto to his home. You can’t ask him if he has ever been to outer space because he is a dog, he doesn’t speak. But I think he has.
No fast pass required for this meet and greet at Disney Junior. Lines are set up to accommodate even the most frustrated toddler, they move quickly and stay open most of the day.

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH OLAF. DON’T WORRY HE WON’T MELT WHEN YOU GIVE HIM WARM HUGS!!!

You won’t have to climb a mountain of snow to find Olaf. In fact, you won’t have to even layer up. He is surrounded by special powers, remember? So he won’t ever melt! Not even if you throw a bucket of water on him.


When Elsa left Arendelle, she started playing with the very magic she had been forced to hide, she “let it go”. The magic she created had to do with happy memories – and one of those involved childhood activities with her sister and a snowman who loved warm hugs. Her favorite memories were of the fun games she used to play as a child.


Seasons came and changed the time. But thankfully, Elsa and Anna came along and protected Olaf from his otherwise “wet” fate. He permanently resides in Elsa and Anna’s castle.
Olaf’s lair can be found in Hollywood Studios, to the left of the Frozen Spectacular. We were a bit worried, because when we walked in, there was a huge puddle in front of the doorway. And it had not been raining that day!!
Because Olaf is not a human character, he does not speak. He also cannot sign his autograph because his arms and hands are made of sticks. So you can’t really ask him questions and you can’t get his autograph. But what can you do? Hug him. He won’t melt.

 

JUST ALWAYS BE WAITING FOR ME

Think you may never run into Peter Pan? Well, NEVER is an awfully long time. 

We had faith.. and pixie dust.. and finally spotted Peter Pan in Epcot.  He was just standing by the English tea garden. What was he doing? Was he looking to see if there were any new lost boys there? 

He told us he was looking for Tinkerbell. But we know he likes to have his tea before his adventures. And he was outside the English Tea Garden. So you do the math! He is a free spirited boy who can fly. He doesn’t grow up. Doesn’t want to grow up. Why would he admit to stopping his adventure through Epcot and having tea? 

There’s not much time to think about the start or the end. But how did it all begin again? Where did Peter come from?   The author of Peter Pan lost his older brother in an ice skating accident, and thought of him as forever young. He then created Peter Pan, who ran away from his parents at a young age when he saw a new baby in the house, thinking his parents did not want him anymore. Any other new baby who falls out of their strollers and isn’t claimed in seven days gets shipped away to Neverland. Does that sound unbelievable to you? Believe it! You have to believe to be able to fly.

Don’t worry, all of this happened before, and it will all happen again.

Peter Pan’s flight is in Fantasyland of the Magic Kingdom. Really popular, because you actually fly through Neverland. The best way to get onto the ride, if you can’t get a FastPass, is to try and get an early breakfast reservation in the Magic Kingdom and then wait in front of the ride right before the park opens. Going through the line is well worth it because you will surely see tinkerbell hopping around – but be careful not to lose your shadow in the process!

You can also meet Peter Pan in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and on the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage. This is a boat cruise that departs from The Contemporary and takes you on the Seven Seas Lagoon to sing songs and have fun with your captain. You will then watch Happily Ever After from the boat. 

Searching for questions for Peter should you be lucky enough to run into him? Try these: 

  • Do you need help finding your shadow? 
  • What’s your favorite story?
  • Would you like me to tell you a story?
  • Do you have any pixie dust? 
  • Have you looked in any windows today?
  • Can you teach me how to crow? 
  • Can you crow for me? 
  • Can you teach me how to fight? 
  • Where’s your next adventure?

 

 

 

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MARY POPPINS. EVEN A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR WON’T GET ME TO WATCH THIS SEQUEL

Mary Poppins may not be on many kids top five wish lists in terms of who to see at Disney, but she is a mainstay. She can be seen strolling around the Magic Kingdom with her white dress and parasol, and can also be found along with Alice and the Mad Hatter at 1900 Park Fare

Does she deserve her own meet and greet or even her own ride? Definitely. Wouldn’t a spot where you can have tea on the ceiling with Uncle Albert be a nice idea??? Or how about a walk through an English Countryside? Or some sort of adventure where you “tidy up” in a magical fashion?

Mary Poppins has her own style. A sense of fashion. It took twenty years for Walt Disney to secure the rights to P.L Travers’ book. The movie itself is practically perfect in every way. So why make a sequel? Why make us see Jane and Michael Banks “all grown up?”

The sequel, set to air in December of 2018 has Emily Blunt taking on the role originally played by Julie Andrews.  

Emily Mortimer and Ben Winshaw play the grown up Jane and Michael Banks.  As per Disney, Mary Poppins Returns, will be set 20 years after the events of the original 1964 film. The official synopsis reads: “In the story, Michael and Jane are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen, living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack, uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.”

Michael Garber, who played Michael Banks died of pancreatitis at the age of 21, so sadly will not even make a cameo appearance. There is a small possibility that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke may make an appearance, and supposedly Ms. Andrews gave the movie a “seal of approval”. 

I will watch it but I hope that nothing takes anything away from the original feature film!!

Some questions for Mary Poppins if you see her walking around the magic kingdom: 

What do you have in your bag today?

Can you help me tidy up?

Where’s Bert? 

Can we have some tea?

Can you measure my height?

What does it feel like to fly?

How many times have you shaken hands with a chimney sweep?

Have you jumped into any paintings at the Magic Kingdom? If so, which ones?

*** Be aware, there are no fastpasses or photographers for Mary Poppins. According to a source, royalties were demanded by the original Mary Poppins and Disney refuses to give them out. 

 

 

 

 

GADGETS AND GIZMOS AND THINGAMABOBS, OH MY!

You are in a large cavern with a huge stone covering the entrance. Inside are hollowed out shells. It’s cold. Damp. You’re not in Kansas anymore. 

You look around and see a statue of someone that looks slightly familiar. Something slippery slides past your ear. Wet and cold. You hear a whisper… can’t understand it. It’s small… is it..

No, not “oil can”. 

The whisper says “welcome to my grotto”.  The slippery slimy feeling you felt earlier? That was a fin, swimming past your ear. 

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You’re actually in the water, but somehow you can breathe without any trouble at all, even without fins and gills. Here is a list of some of the greatest treasure collection ever found in the sea: 

Dinglehopper – best piece of the collection, otherwise known as a fork that combs hair

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Snarfblatt – otherwise known as a tobacco pipe that somehow plays a melody

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Gizmos and Gadgets – Things you wear around your neck

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Candelabra – what else would you use to hang your gizmos and dinglehoppers? a candle would just fizzle out underwater anyway. 

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Thingamabobs – also perfect to keep that bottle of wine from leaking

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Bubbles… they just seem to be everywhere. 

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How did you get there? It’s in the Magic Kingdom, just to the right of the Under the Sea Ride. You may have gotten a Fast Pass.. it’s quite possible. 

 

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH PRINCESS TIANA: OTHERWISE ENTITLED, IT AIN’T EASY BEING GREEN

Can Frogs cook? Just ask the ninth official Disney princess, Princess Tiana.

Disney’s first African American Disney Princess can tell you all about being green because she has actually spent life as a frog. Her Disney character is based loosely on The Brother’s Grimm “Frog Prince” and another story, “The Frog Princess” by E.D. Baker. 

Tiana can be found at the Magic Kingdom in Princess Fairytale Hall and at Tiana’s Riverboat Ride, an ice cream social which we still haven’t tried. 

At roughly $50 for adults and $30 for children the ride seems kind of pricey to meet the princess and have ice cream(three different types of Edys ice cream), cupcakes, and cookie sandwiches. (The ride does not take the Disney Dining Plan). 

Princess Fairytale Hall is a fast pass must. Tiana can be found directly across from the carousel. While she is couples with Rapunzel, we are hoping they give her her own New Orleans style meet and greet real soon. 

Now, we’ve never stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans resort.

Without knowing exactly what is there, I really think that Disney should add more of a New Orleans style restaurant to the Magic Kingdom.  New Orleans food is amazing!!! Why stick Princess Tiana with an ice cream social when New Orleans is so famous for its cuisine? And Princess Tiana came from a family with a restaurant? Does this make sense to anyone else? 

There are so many real life New Orleans locations in The Princess and The Frog that could be capitalized on: The French Quarter, Cafe du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral, Steamboat Natchez, the riverfront, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, the Bywater, Marigny, and Treme neighborhoods, the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery number one, Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, Bayou St. John and City Park. 

New Orleans has always been on our bucket list. If Disney could create more of a world for Tiana I would consider checking it off.

Louisiana’s culture, music and food are something to be celebrated. 

While we can’t all visit Louisiana,  here are some questions you should consider asking Princess Tiana if you run into her in the Magic Kingdom: 

  1. How high did you jump as a frog? 
  2. What was it like being a frog? 
  3. What did you like to eat as a frog? 
  4. What was your favorite part of being a frog?(you get the idea..)
  5. What’s your favorite food to cook as a princess?
  6. What was your family’s favorite food to eat? 
  7. Was it hard being a waitress? 
  8. Who was the president of the United States when you were a frog? (I believe it’s Wilson)
  9. Would you like to dance? 
  10. Do you cook as a princess? 

 

ENJOY!!!

 

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE GIRL WHO NEVER SEEMS TO HAVE KNOTS IN HER HAIR: OTHERWISE KNOWN AS RAPUNZEL

What do 23 mailboxes, 10 African Elephants, 3 noses on Mount Rushmore, 2 yellow school buses, and The White House all have in common?

I’ll answer that question later. For now, have you ever heard of the salad plant rampion?

rapunzel

Rapunzel is the German name for the plant above.   The Brother’s Grimm had “Dame Gothel” name Rapunzel after the plant that Rapunzel’s mom stole from the witch’s garden. 

Do not confuse rampion with ramps Hip trendsetters go “ramping” and then make the ramps.

In the Brother’s Grimm fairy tale, Rapunzel’s birth mother wasn’t hip. She was poor. Her desperate husband, wanting to make her happy, climbed a neighbor’s wall and stole the leafy vegetable with a crunchy stem. 

Disney’s Rapunzel comes from wealthy parents, a king and queen – otherwise she wouldn’t be a princess. 

Where can she be found? Princess FairyTale Hall in the Magic Kingdom (Fast Pass permitted) and the new Bon Voyage breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno on the Boardwalk. 

So why do you think that Disney called the movie Tangled? None of the original fairy tales weave a tale of a maiden tangled up in so much hair that she can hardly walk. 

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We’re not talking about people who are tangled in a web of lies

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According to Disney, “In order to market the film to both sexes and additional age groups, Disney changed the film’s name from Rapunzel to Tangled while also emphasizing Flynn Rider, the film’s prominent male character, showing that his story is just as important as Rapunzel’s”.  

I guess Flynn Rider and Rapunzel are tangled hearts in love, the largest age gap of any of the Disney couples (8 years). What drew her to him was her large pair of eyes – largest of any of the other Disney princesses. 

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Whatever the reason for the title, Rapunzel is definitely a great addition to the Disney princesses. 

Remember my question earlier? What do 23 mailboxes, 10 African Elephants, 3 noses on Mount Rushmore, 2 yellow school buses, and The White House all have in common? – The answer: at 70 feet long, they are all as long as Rapunzel’s hair. 

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Hair that never seems to get knotted. Never seems to get tangled. Hair I would love to have myself, if it never needed to be washed, because that has gotta be a ton of work.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IF ALL THE PRINCESSES HAD TO COMPETE FOR A FIGURE SKATING GOLD MEDAL? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE THE GLARE OF DISNEY’S MAIN STREET

I just had to stop Aurora from snipping off Rapunzel’s hair in her sleep. I told her it’s not worth it – that her fans would stay her fans, even without having magical hair. And then, while walking to the main kitchen of the castle, I had to tackle Cinderella, who was pounced in the shadows with her broom.  After questioning her, I found out she was trying to wack Belle on the knee with it so she wouldn’t be able to have her final dance with HER Beast.  She had told Mulan where Belle would be dancing that night, but Mulan refused to help.

These are the princesses outside of the limelight. They’re competitive, not all smiles.  Tiana has the castle exterminated because she never wants to see another frog but a certain lady likes to slip frogs in her bedroom closet.

Snow White sleeps with her bow and arrow under her pillow and Cinderella’s glass slippers are buried in the backyard in a location secret to even the prince because she is terrified that all of her magical splendor will disappear. Ariel often uses her swimming skills to jump into the castle moat and hides her friends’ crowns deep, where nobody else dares to dive.  Those who want their crowns back have to entice Pocahontas out there in her canoe, with an extra long hook to pull them out.

Trust noone.  Because while these girls have perfected their picture perfect Disney lifestyles, nothing is what it seems.

 

Absolutely nothing is what it seems.  I don’t know if Tonya Harding helped plan the famous attack that ruined her career or not. It doesn’t really matter to me at this point, the entire chain of events was an addictive disaster. I was a 13 year old glued to the television because I admired each and every one of those beautiful competitors.

Are the princes involved in any of these escapades too? Are we going to see a prince bash his head into the main gates of Disney’s Mine Train Ride in an idiotic attempt to escape without being caught?

We know absolutely nothing about the true personality behind Disney’s famous princes. They seem to be mostly in the shadows, so easily could be made to do whatever their heart’s desire desires. 

 The next time you visit Cinderella’s castle be sure to watch your back. These princesses sometimes forget that they are admired by most – and lose their cool  – and there are no longer any fairy godmothers to get them out of messes.

To answer my own question-  if they all had to compete for a gold medal it would be a nightmare for the US Figure Skating Team.  They are already so competitive as it is – plus as far as I know there is no Disney Princess that knows how to figure skate, right?

 

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MERIDA: SHE DOESN’T SING BUT HAS PLENTY TO SAY…

Does no leading man or love interest make you weak? Not if you’re the first Scottish Princess in the Disney franchise! As the 11th Disney Princess, headstrong Merida also has no singing part in her own movie Brave. 

She can be found in the Magic Kingdom, located in a cave on the way to Cinderella’s Castle. She is sort of hidden, and often you can be lucky enough to find that there is no real wait to see her.  I believe she is there most of the day, dancing to Scottish music and showing off her free spirit. 

She has no leading man to talk about when you see her, and doesn’t need one. 

Her vibrant red, curly hair and strong personality make her a great role model.  I haven’t seen her use her bow and arrow yet, and I’m kind of glad I haven’t. Also, try not to bring your mother with you – just in case 🙂

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