The Making of Moana and Behind the Scenes with Polynesian Dancers

Disney Moana

Until I started going to press junkets I never realized the amount of time and work that goes into the incredible movies we see on the big screen. During my Beauty and the Beast press trip, all of us bloggers got a very special Moana style treat.

Disney Moana

At the Walt Disney Studios Animation Building we headed to the screening room where we were greeted with Polynesian dancers and a special drum presentation by Moana dance curator/choreographer Tiana Liufau. Then we watched a bonus features showcase for the new Moana Blu-Ray including a Q+A session with Directors Ron Clements & John Musker, Producer Osnat Shurer and Costume Designer Neysa Bove, and “Mini Mau” 2D Animation Supervisor Eric Goldberg. To end the night we got a lesson in Polynesian dancing from Tiana Liufau and a special Polynesian-themed dinner.

Directors Ron Clements & John Musker, wearing Polynesian-themed shirts, first introduced the special presentation of Moana bonus features. They brought so much laughter and fun to the room. The Moana journey started five years ago for the directors. John said he had never been to the Pacific Islands but was so fascinated with it from the books he had read. He learned a lot from Polynesian mythology and how Maui (Dwayne Johnson)was a great shape shifting demigod.

Disney Moana

Ron and John set off to the islands in the South Pacific including Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti where they dug deep in to the Polynesian culture. They got to meet with so many incredible people and learned so much from archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, villagers, sailors and navigators on their life changing trip. The movie was inspired by that trip and many trips to come. You will see a lot of this in the beautiful documentary, Voice of the Islands, included with the Moana Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack that includes a long list of bonus features.

Disney Moana

The people of the Pacific Islands give a big emphasis on connection. They have a real respect for their ancestors in the past which is something we could definitely take a cue from in moving forward. They are very much about connecting to the people around you, the people that were before you, and the people who will come after you. Also, being connected to nature and how the ocean doesn’t divide people, it connects people. Moana celebrates a culture that we don’t necessarily know a lot about.

Disney Moana

The people of the Pacific Islands also have many traditions like ceremonies and sharing meals. Nothing in the meals is manufactured or shipped from another country. Everything is local. The Directors said they had too much to fit in their minivan when heading to the airport and the guys helping them pulled down some sinnet from the coconut tree to make a rope to tie their stuff onto the minivan. They use what they have and are very self-sufficient.

Disney Moana

Neysa Bove, the costume designer, said they have to make many different versions before one is selected for each design. For example, she said they went through twenty different designs for the necklace before one was selected. When you see young girls standing in a Moana costume they are standing strong like warriors which the filmmakers absolutely love.

Disney Moana

The character, Maui, is covered in tattoos. Tattoos aren’t just for looks in this culture. They tell a story about the person. It is very interesting to learn about this on the bonus features included with the Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. In the movie the tattos actually come alive to help tell the story. Costume Designer Neysa Bove helped with so much texture and detailing so they could get the richness of the costumes using CG animation.

Disney Moana

Ron and John introduced “Mini Mau” 2D Animation Supervisor Eric Goldberg who wore the most amazing yellow Mickey Mouse shirt. I loved it and instantly brought out his fun personality! His first Disney film was Aladdin. Have you heard of it? haha! In Moana, the animated tattoo character they came to know as mini-Maui, presented them with the opportunity to combine 2-D and CG animation in a way that had never been done before.

Disney Moana

In the bonus feature included with the Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack you’ll see a featurette called the Elements Of that explores what went into bringing Maui’s moving tattoo to life.

Disney’s Moana now available on Blu-Ray and DVD

There was many deleted scenes in Moana, including the scene “Warrior Face” which also happens to include a deleted song. The song is a duet between Maui and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) which you’ll get to enjoy on the DVD by the cast of the musical Hamilton. They actually did eight different versions of the movie so there are a lot of fabulous deleted scenes.

Disney Moana

After we enjoyed watching the bonus features and the Q+A session, we enjoyed more Polynesian dancing from dance curator/choreographer Tiana Liufau. It is so inspiring how they are able to tell stories through dance.

Disney Moana

To end the night we were spoiled with a heavenly Polynesian-themed dinner. Our menu included:

  • assorted Vietnames spring rolls including chicken, bbq beef, and avocado with a coriander aioli.
  • bacon wrapped dates with almonds and chevre
  • mixed green salad with citrus segments, candied pecans, and chevre with a fruit viniagrette
  • chicken panko sliced with an orange chile plum sauce
  • thai noodle salad with cilantro, scallions carrots and julienned peppers

For dessert we enjoyed assorted bar cookies and tropical fruit skewers for dessert.

Disney Moana

Learning about the culture of the Pacific Islanders is inspiring and very eye-opening to what I wish we embraced more. If you haven’t gotten the DVD yet, be sure you get it with all the bonus features.


Moana is now available on Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack with loads of bonus features. Get yours here!

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Disney Moana Now Available on BluRay- DVD


Melanie Kampman

Melanie Kampman is a web designer, developer and owner of Giveaway Bandit and Farm News for Kids. She lives in Northwest Missouri on a large family farm with her husband and eight year old son, the Giveaway Bandit. They raise cattle with a variety of pets including horses, chickens, ducks, and a slew of cats. By Melanie Kampman If you are interested in writing a sponsored post on Giveaway Bandit please email me at melanie (at) giveawaybandit (dot) com.

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