When my family watched Moana in theaters, I knew it was going to become one of my kids’ favorites. There was something for everyone. Whether it was the music (which we play the soundtrack on Youtube repeatedly), the characters (my two year old loves to shout “MAUI!” every time we see a toy version of him in the store), or the storyline, there really is something for everyone in your family to fall in love with. In fact, the next day, my four year old son and I were talking about the movie, and he said he really liked the girl. To which I responded, “Moana? Yeah, she was pretty cool.” He then corrected me and said, “No. The volcano girl. I only liked her.” Fair enough. After all, my son has always loved volcanoes. So like I said… something for everyone.
I also knew right away that I wanted to plan some kind of Disney Family Movie Night. Personally, I love Family Movie Nights. And I try to make it a little more interesting by trying to cook (somewhat) on theme, as well as provide other hands-on activities or games for us to do together as a family. True… it kinda turns into an all afternoon and evening affair (so it’s probably best to do this on a Friday or sometime during the weekend when you have more free time as opposed to a school night), but for us, it’s a way to come together and have some quality time and family fun…. All while sharing our love of Disney! Disney Diva Tip: Can’t squeeze everything you want to do in one evening or even one day? When Moana came out on dvd, I was 38 weeks pregnant and getting over a cold. Not really a good combination when trying to plan an activity on a school night… so I tried something new: Instead of one night (or day), we had a Moana themed week. There are so many great activities you can do and recipes you can try, that it was nice to do a little bit throughout the week and build up the hype until Friday when we finished and watched our movie after dinner. I really liked going this route (because who doesn’t love to have a Disney themed week?) and it’s a great way to show off your Disney side at home.
Food- I always try to come up with some kind of meal that (at least loosely) ties itself to the movie. Plus this can be a great way to introduce foods that your family may or may not normally eat, and if nothing else, you get to show off your creative side. But first, I had to figure out what culture Moana most closely represented.
While many assume Moana is Hawaiian (after all, there is a character named Maui), the more I researched, the more I learned she the island of Motunui was inspired off of several islands in the South Pacific, one of them being Samoa. Now honestly, other than having a Samoan family who lived down the street from us growing up who would occasionally housesit for us or babysit my sisters and I, I didn’t really know anything Samoans or their culture, particularly their food.
But through the beauty of Google and internet research, I was able to find this recipe for Keke fa’i or banana cake. (Because really, we all know dessert is always the best part of a meal.) This sounded much more appealing (and less of a fire hazard) than trying to test my kitchen skills while trying to recreate and flambé Ohana’s bread pudding or some other Polynesian cuisine you might find at Ohana’s or the Spirit of Aloha. Plus, I knew my family loved banana bread, so figured it had to taste fairly similar… which is always good when you’re dealing with picky eaters. Disney Diva Tip: As you can see in the picture below, this cake doesn’t rise much, but it is very good and does indeed, taste just like banana bread. The original recipe says you can use either chocolate frosting or whipped cream for the topping and filling. I was going to use both, but even with it on my shopping list, I forgot the whipped cream (I blame the pregnancy brain). Needless to say, it still tasted delicious with the chocolate frosting for filling and as a topping.
Another thing I waited to tie in were coconuts… after all, not only do you see them countless times in the movie, but they’re also included in a couple of the songs. Unfortunately, while I knew my kids liked toasted coconuts sprinkled on cookies or donuts or something, I knew they probably wouldn’t go for coconut milk. (My daughter did try it and said it tasted like her shampoo… swell.) Soarin’ Diva came up with a great suggestion to make coconut milkshakes, but in the end, I chose to go with coconut rice (because really, my family could be a little more adventurous when it comes to our menu, and I figured that’d be an easy way to sneak something new in). The recipe I used can be found here.
For our main course, I opted to go with grilled chicken and pineapple rings… one of my personal favorite dishes (and so easy to make!), but still possessing a little Polynesian flair. (Yes, it’s probably not the most authentic, but hey, I bet when Maui was thinking about eating Heihei, this is how he was planning on cooking him too). I also figured this would go nicely with the coconut rice. And just to add some extra flavor (and something I knew my kids would eat), I broke away from the Polynesian menu and added some baked beans. I know… not authentic at all, but it worked for us.
Lastly, I made one more dessert, mainly for the sake of the kids and so they could have something fun to decorate… We recreated an ocean scene, complete with Moana’s sailboat. While everything on our menu was really easy to make and can be done with assistance from your kiddos, this one obviously had the most “fun” factor if you’re trying to get your kids to help you in the kitchen. We used blue jello to make the ocean, smashed up graham crackers for the sand, pretzel rods for the bottom of Moana’s boat, graham crackers with white frosting and a pull and peel twizzler (thin licorice stick) to make the sail, and stuck a couple of figures on top. Of course, you can add a lot more depending on how creative you want to be… whipped cream can help give the illusion of waves, tootsie rolls can be used for trees or coconuts (you can also use malt balls for coconuts) you can pull out Runts banana candies for added rations on the boats or trees… you can even add goldfish crackers… Really, you’re limited only by your imagination (and how long you and your family want to spend decorating). Disney Diva Tip: If you are going to do everything in one night, I recommend making this the night before…. You’re going to have enough to fix the day of, so you might as well relax and take a break… plus this will give you more time for the jello to set. Also, in hindsight, I found the pretzel rods rather large… if I had to do it again, I’d probably just use pretzel sticks and maybe Moana Lego figures or smaller clipart images.
Activities- Oh there are so many to choose from! So many great aspects of the movie… But after careful consideration, here is what I came up with for our family movie night:
Building Sailboats & Wayfinding- Sailing was such a big factor in the movie, I knew I wanted to do something with them… My kids also really wanted to build their own boats, and I thought, if you’re going to build a boat, you might as well race it around.
Now just because my kiddos are younger and I wanted something that could be made quickly and easily, I opted to make boats out of dowels that my husband had cut in half, tape (originally I was going to use glue, but my kids had much more luck with tape), cardstock, toothpicks, and a little Moana (or Maui) figure. Disney Diva Tip: Depending on your budget and what you have lying around the house, you can either use toy figurines or print some clipart images onto cardstock and anchor them onto a toothpick as well. If the weather is nice, you can take the kids outside and let the boats move in the breeze in a tupperware dish or swimming pool. If not, you can always use a tupperware dish or bathtub inside your house, and if they’re not moving, you can have your kids blow on them (either directly or through a straw) or even use a fan to help give them a little extra push.
Kakamoras- My kids love the kakamoras… and as Moana mentioned when she first saw them, “They’re kinda cute”. We decided to make some kakamoras for our Moana theme. Now let me tell you… there are a million and one ways to make kakamoras, and maybe down the road I will cover all of the different ways I thought of making kakamoras. But for the simplicity of our activity (not to mention trying to do something cheaply and quickly), I opted for a couple versions.
The first one I made was a simple figure I decorated using cardstock, crayons, a gluestick, and a pair of scissors. But then I decided it might be nice to add some mobility to it, so I took some brass fasteners and added them to another one to make the arms and legs be able to move. I then asked my kids which one they thought they would want to make. Both of them chose to make one with the brass fasteners and I think they turned out pretty cute. Plus my kids loved them and were so proud of their work, which is really all that matters.
Stargazing- As we know from the song, “We Know the Way”, Moana’s people were originally voyagers who used the stars as a means of guiding them. What better way to tie in something educational (and free) by having your kids go outside and look at the stars?
Lego Building- My daughter LOVES Legos. And she loves using her imagination to build all kinds of projects. While buying Moana Legos is on her wishlist, we don’t actually own any. But was that going to stop my daughter? Nope. She wanted to create her own Lego scene of Motunui, and of course anything she wants to do, her brother wants to do too. Does it look like Motunui? Not really. But to my kids, their creations do, and they were so proud of their work, which is ultimately all that matters. Disney Diva Tip: If you’re looking to actually buy a Moana Lego set, Disney and Lego currently offers two: Moana’s Ocean Voyage and Moana’s Island Adventure.
Honorable Mentions That Didn’t Get Used-
Shiny Shells- “I’d rather be shiny…” Oh come on, you know you’re singing it too. In the movie, Tamatoa is a giant crustacean who is obsessed with making himself as shiny as possible and collecting anything of value. If you’re looking for an easy craft to do, just head over to your local craft department or store, and pick up a bag of seashells, some sequins, glitter, rhinestones or other self-adhesive jewels, and well, you get the idea… anything to make it look shiny! You can also paint the shells with a base coat of gold paint to save time (and make sure you’re shell is completely shiny).
The Heart of Tafiti- Originally, I was going to use clay, toothpicks and green acrylic paint to have my kids design their own Heart of Tafiti. Unfortunately, our week was so busy, that even with spreading out the activities, we just ran out of time. However, this would be a very easy project to do, and I highly recommend it.
Kakamora Croquet- In her battle with the Kakamora, Moana uses her oar like a bat or club to take out several Kakamora. Using decorated coconuts (or even crumpled up brown paper sacks that have been decorated to look like Kakamora can be a fun way to get out some energy and re-create a game where you take turns knocking some Kakamora around to save the day?
Volcano- I was really bummed that we didn’t get around to doing this activity, mainly because my four year old is obsessed with volcanoes. Whether you use a store bought one, make one of out clay, paper mache or some other materials, you can definitely come up with some unique designs to represent Te Ka, the volcano monster whom Moana and Maui battle.
So these are some of the many ideas I had for our Moana Family Movie Night (which my son now wants to use for his next birthday party). What are some of the ideas you’ve come up with? Let us know in the comments below!
Can’t get enough of Moana? Read about meeting her at Disneyland. And if you’re looking for more great Family Movie Night Ideas, check out some of our ideas below! Have fun!