December 9, 2010
by Kathleen M. Reilly
If there's one word tightly intertwined with Disney, it's "magic." You feel it the minute you cross over from the outside world onto park property. It's there when you see the castle rising up in front of you, and when you push the key into the lock at your resort. It's intangible, undeniable…and you feel it calling you "home" when you've been away too long.
But what happens when you (sniff!) leave the parks behind or when you don't have another trip planned for a while? When you return to your everyday life and realize the most magical thing in it is hitting all green lights on the way to work? Some days, it can feel like you're living in a grainy black-and-white flick, knowing there's a Technicolor feature film somewhere out there.
Good news: Walt and his battalion of Imagineers aren't the only ones who can create a little magic in your life (but you knew that, right?). You can add a burst of that Disney pixie dust right at home. Here's how to bring the Disney-esque sparkle into your everyday life.
Many families have game night. Couples have romantic "home date" nights. And folks living solo have special pampering-at-home evenings. Add the Disney touch to your home events by creating magical "Disney nights."
Over on the DIS discussion boards, members have dreamed up some fantastic "Disney theme nights" to keep the magic alive at home with their families. From lavish, all out events complete with games, prizes, and themes galore to low-key dinner-and-a-movie, it's all good. In a nutshell, you choose a Disney theme—usually based around a movie—and expand from there. Here's how:
Choose a theme. Are your kids Toy Story crazy, or your sweetie can't get enough Tron? Plan your theme around those elements. That's the good thing about Disney—you'll probably never run out of themes. You could do a specific movie (Tangled, Pirates of the Caribbean), a general theme (classic movies, Adventureland, World Showcase countries), or character-based (Kim Possible, Donald Duck).
Plan the chow. Admittedly, this can be easy (Finding Nemo: fish sticks, goldfish crackers, and hot dog "octopi") or a bit tougher (Pollyanna: uh…smiling potato fries?). Make it easy on yourself by starting with the obvious: Were there certain foods that played a major role in your theme? Snow White's apple could be transformed to apple pie or candy-coated apples, for instance.
Expand on ideas with plays on words ("motor oil" pudding for Cars) or creative foods (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: miniature hamburgers, drinks served in shot glasses, tiny corn). Try Oriental food for Mulan, or a tea party for Alice in Wonderland.
Deck the halls. Immerse yourself in an undersea world by hanging strips of blue crepe paper from the ceiling to enjoy an underwater theme, create a tropical paradise with inflatable dollar store palm trees, or travel to Mexico by dangling a piñata and hanging that old sombrero from college on the wall. Serve food in clever containers (why stick to boring bowls?) and anchor your table with a dozen balloons to kick off your Up night. You can find Disney-themed table cloths easily, or head to the party store for themed cups and plates.
Get hands-on. Take your themed night a step further with some themed activities. Over on the DIS, the Queen of Disney Theme Nights, PrincessTigerLily, can get your creative juices flowing with activity ideas. For a Brother Bear night, she suggests carving totem poles from soap (to accompany the meal of Salmon Run Dinner and Canadian Maple Rice Pudding); and for Morocco night, learning to belly dance!
Whether you're on the dining plan or not, Disney is no doubt an edible experience. It's not just about hamburgers and hot dogs (although you can certainly find those, too). You can sample foods from far away places, stuff yourself with pastries and fancy desserts, or try whimsical edible creations. And guess what? That's right. You can certainly "Disney up" your cuisine at home, too.
Mickey everywhere. Mickey waffles, Mickey-shaped sprinkles on your ice cream, the ubiquitous Mickey ice cream bar…it's all about the mouse in every edible variation. You can find Mickey-shaped waffle makers, cake pans, chocolate molds, pancake makers…you name it. Not into gadgets? The iconic three circle Mickey ear logo can easily be replicated in pancakes, cookies, sliced cheese, and stuffed pizzas.
Food from the parks. So, you're not a top chef, and you're not sure about whipping up sweet potato hash with poached eggs topped with arugula. That's okay—the good folks over on the DISboards have you covered. Scroll around and find that creamy lobster soup from Coral Reef, or Banana Bread Pudding from Boma. Mmm-mmmm.
"Eat your Splash Mountain, dear." And if you're just itchin' to go a step further? (You know Walt would!) Why not create Disney images and attractions from food? Crazy, sure, but also a lot of fun. Whip up the Jungle Cruise for dessert, carve a Doombuggy from an apple (and put Mickey crackers inside as riders), or go California Screamin' with pretzels .
Part of the magic at Disney is wrapped up in the details. If you're not caught up in the rushing crowd to get in line for Dumbo, you can stop and marvel at the neatly trimmed topiaries or enjoy the dancing fountains. You don't need to have a Ph.D. in Imagineering to make some magic come to life in your own home.
Garden fun. Even if you're not van Gogh, you can still create a decent topiary. Start with a simple shape (save the scene from Lion King for later), follow basic directions , and have patience! If your green thumb is looking a bit purple, try making a faux topiary—attach three foam balls together and use hot glue to cover them with artificial greenery.
It's in the details. As Mousekeepers know, sometimes all you need to create magic and whimsy is a clean towel.
Dream on. Whether you go big or small, "magic" is all about imagination. Walt himself believed if you dream it, you can do it. So whether it's that backyard monorail, a small pond shaped like a Mickey head, or serving Mickey head hamburgers…you can capture that magic at home. Tap into your inner Imagineer, go forth, and spread pixie dust!