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Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness Changes for the Better

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

When I started playing Disney Magic Kingdoms for the second time, it still had the old “happiness” model. A child would get a thought balloon over their head. The balloon featured a character or the attraction icon. The player would click on the thought balloon and allow the child to go to the attraction or find out what action the child wanted to see a character do. If the character was free, the player could assign the character to fulfill the child’s wish. When the character was done with the action, the child’s though balloon would become a smiley face icon representing happiness. For attractions, the child had to merely board the attraction to receive the happiness icon.

The player would have to click on the happiness icon, which would disappear into the happiness meter. This meter was used to show how happy the park was overall. It granted more visitors (which has no value in the game as of yet), and it made tokens drop at a higher rate.

The fact that the child’s happiness was siphoned off, sometimes, even before an attraction had started, seemed like an unintended commentary on the parks in real life. The happiness they generate is fleeting. Players were using the happiness to increase their parks wealth; this left the children unhappy, or at least without happiness. What kind of person would take a child’s happiness for their own gain? And this wasn’t like laughter in “Monsters, Inc.” Laughter is contagious, it generates energy, and it continues beyond the life of the joke told or the energy taken from it. This happiness degraded overtime; it did not generate more happiness.

I always felt a little bad about it, but it’s only a game, so I clicked away the Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness with the best of them.

New Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness

A 2022 update to Disney Magic Kingdoms Happiness has the players colect9ing the happiness from the children as before. Only now, the game counts the happiness in a total that does not dissipate. The wish fulfilled goes on a scoreboard and somehow feels less predatory. It’s not like the players are taking the happiness away. It’s more like they are counting the number of wishes fulfilled. Of course, fulfilling wishes generates more kingdom token wealth, but it doesn’t increase the chances of getting something.

In terms of actual game play, this form of happiness makes it easier to understand the tangible benefits of fulfilling wishes. Instead of some vague promise that token drops are 10 percent better when players siphoned away happiness, players now know exactly what they are getting for their happiness numbers.

What is Disney Magic Kingdoms?

Disney Magic Kingdoms is a time-based, park building simulator with a story line. Players can build attractions from the parks and newly imagineered for game play. They can also collect over 300 classic Disney and Star Wars characters. Currently, the only Marvel characters in the game are from Big Hero 6. Read my first post on Disney Magic Kingdoms.

Support and Disclaimers

We use affiliate links. When a link takes you to Amazon and you buy a product, we get a finder’s fee. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us write more great articles.

If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

If you’d like to support us directly, my wife and I have a Patreon page. Thanks.

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Planning for Disneyland in 2022

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

After COVID shutdown the Happiest Place on Earth, the Disney Company had to make some changes to how people visited in order to reopen. Gone are the days when you could show up to the park like Captain EO – uninvited and unannounced. When planning for Disneyland in 2022, reservations are required along with a valid entry ticket.

Planning for Disneyland 2022

As much as I like planning things (sarcasm), I probably should have left the chore to my friend Lynn Barron at ConciEARS. Lynn is the co-host of The Sweep Spot and he worked as a custodian at Disneyland for a number of years. His co-authored book “Cleaning the Kingdom” explores the way the Disney clean-up crew worked and played at Disneyland. Lynn likely would’ve made the whole thing so much easier. He even says that using him to plan your vacation doesn’t cost you anything extra.

However, if I had gone that route, I would’ve written a different blog post and not experienced the new way of doing things at the park.

A Ticket and a Reservation

Walt may have come to Southern California with a suitcase and a dream, but that won’t get you into Disneyland. You need to purchase a ticket and then make a reservation to the park you want to visit. This takes all the spontaneity out of a trip because you have to know what park you want to visit on what day. The choice during the holiday season may seem pretty obvious if you can’t get into the night party. If Disney California Adventure closes early because of an Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party on Wednesday, you probably should reserve your space at Disneyland, so you can go for the entire time the park should be open, instead of having to leave at 6pm.

On the positive side, it does allow Disney to limit the number of people coming into the park, which should provide smaller crowds and better customer service. We can always wish upon a star, that it holds true.

Restaurants and Reservations

If you want to have a special dining experience, you need to reserve your spot in advance. We were unable to get into the Blue Bayou, the Carthay Circle, or the Plaza Inn for a character breakfast. I suppose something could open up on the morning of our arrival, but I’m not sure we’re going to try to get there. Other experiences that require reservations were also booked full.

Bring the Smartphone

Most people have a smartphone. It’s just assumed that everyone does. I do not. I don’t want one. I don’t like them. And you can get off my lawn! That means that I’m going to miss out on a number of things in the park. I’m decently certain you need a smartphone to take advantage of Genie Service and Lightning Lane. I also think there are games to play in the park using a smartphone. I’d like to keep my flip phone, but this trip has me rethinking my stance on technological cra(p)ck.

A Package Deal

It used to be you could find a cheap hotel and get tickets separately to make the vacation less expensive. That no longer seems to be the case. Five days at the parks is $380 per person. Two people are $760. That made the Good Neighbor Hotel a bargain to stay at.

We’ll have updates as we get closer and after our trip. (Lynn Barron and ConciEARS are not responsible for the content herein. The endorsement is based on my knowledge of him and his past work. No funds or trade was remitted for this article. The link to Sweeping the Kingdom is an Amazon affiliate link.)

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What I Would Do at D23 Expo 2022 if I Could Go?

D23 Expo 2017

By the time I shuttered Lincoln City Archery, D23 Expo 2022 tickets were sold out, which is probably just as well because at the time I didn’t think I could afford much of anything. Still, now that I know what I am doing with my finances, I could have made it to D23. (We’ll just have to settle for a trip to Disneyland.) So, what would I do if I had a ticket to D23? Here is my suggested itinerary. (Note: This was written on August 10, 2022. My ideas about what to do could change based on new announcements or flights of fancy.)

Day One

Most people will gravitate toward the Disney Legends Induction Ceremony, which is understandable. The Legends ceremony features some of the most iconic people involved with the creation of the Disney Company. Personally, I would likely head over to the Archives Stage. At 10, the panel is “Sounds Delightful.” It will focus on vintage recordings with LPs at the heart of the conversation. Music is an underrated part of the Disney experience. This is the panel I would want to be at.

If, for some reason, I couldn’t make that panel, I would head over to the Backlot Stage for an “Inside Look at the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.” I don’t even know what this is, but the description mentions books, and that’s good enough for me. (I should probably do some research; there’s a wiki for everything.)

At 11:45, the Hyperion stage features “traceback,” a look at the women and people of color that worked at the Disney studios. I suspect Floyd Norman would make an appearance, but that’s not guaranteed. This panel seems like a nice way to learn about Disney history from another point of view.

If I couldn’t make that presentation, I would hit up the “Who Has a Window on Main Street, U.S.A.?” panel back on the Archives Stage.

The next panel on the Archives Stage is about the Mickey Mouse Club from 1989. This is the version that launched the careers of Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and Britney Spears. I wasn’t a big fan of this reboot, but the star power is undeniable. It’s also not likely many of them will show up. Still, it would be a good time, especially if everyone came in mouse ears.

There is a very good chance that I would go ahead and skip anything structured at this time. Instead, I would get something to eat and spend an hour or so walking the exhibition hall. It’d be a good time to look at what the Indie Authors and other artists are selling as well as what exhibits have come from the Disney Archives themselves.

It might also give me an edge to get into the next panel at the Archives Stage: Disney Legends in Conversation. We don’t know for sure yet who is going to be inducted as a Disney Legend, but this is the panel, everyone should want to get into. There are few people left with a connection to Walt, and some of them should be on this panel. This would be the one panel of the day I wouldn’t want to miss.

The last panel of the day is a toss up between “Walt’s Plane” on the Archive Stage and “Here for the Laughs” on the Backlot Stage. I would probably opt for Walt’s Plane unless the line seemed overly long. Then I would take my time, adventure through the hall and get to “Here for the Laughs.”

Day Two

People will likely flock to the Studio Showcase in the morning. I don’t know why people like sneak previews of upcoming movies and shows; I’d rather be surprised. Opposite the Studio Showcase will be “the Making of Disney100: The Exhibition” on the Backlot Stage and “A Peek Behind the Curtain at Walt Disney Imagineering’s Illusions and Special Effects Development Lab” with a mention of Yale Gracey and the Haunted Mansion. Since I wrote “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” I’d headed over to the Archives Stage, and if I could, I’d likely stay all day there.

The next presentation at the Archives Stage will be “Uncovering Treasures from the Marty Sklar Collection.” Marty Sklar was an integral part of early Disneyland development and an amazing author in his own right.

After that, the Archives Stage will host “A Century of Storytelling at Walt Disney Animation Studios.” Storytelling is one of the things Disney does best; this panel is one to see to glean pointers on what it takes to be a better storyteller.

At 3:45, the Hyperion Stage will have “ABC’s On The Red Carpet’s Storytellers Spotlight,” and at 4pm, the Archives Stage will have Author Ridley Pearson. Maybe this is the time I try to grab something to eat and check out the floor for today. Either of those presentations would be good, but we got to eat at some point.

The last panel of the day will either be the Premiere Stage’s “The Santa Clauses” or the Archives Stage’s “Building Walt’s Florida Project: Walt Disney World from Dream to Reality.” I’m leaning toward the Santa Clauses, even with Tim Allen’s conservative politics. Allen might not even show up, but it’s a tough call.

Day Three

Hall of D23 is where almost everyone is going to be on Sunday – myself included – for “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.” Disney magic isn’t just about entertainment; it’s also about moving forward. Imagineers have created more than one world changing invention. We could see a whole new world open up during this presentation. It starts at 10:30, but in all likelihood, you’re going to want to be in line early. I would miss out on the Hyperion Stage’s “Revisiting Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century” and the Backlot Stage’s “Back to the Grid: 40 Years of Tron Presented by Enterprise.” Still, “A Boundless Future” is the place to be.

Since the preceding panel ends at noon, it may be difficult to get to the next panel, which starts at 1pm, on the Premiere Stage – “Walt Disney Imagineering: 70 Years of Making the Impossible, Possible.” This is another show stopping panel that I would love to see. Since this panel goes until 2:30, I would miss out on “100 Years of Treasures from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library” on the Backlot Stage.

At 4pm, the Archives Stage will feature “The Disney Parks Through the Decades: A Disney Ambassador Perspective.” I may end with that depending on how I felt. Three days of convention life can be pretty tiring. But there are two other presentations that could convince me to stay to the very end.

The Archives Stage has “Memories of Walt Disney World: Framing A Portrait of 50 Magical Years.” The Premiere Stage hosts “Conversations with Disney Character Voices.”

The Best Things

One of the best things about D23 Expos is the people who attend. There are amazing cosplayers, incredible Disney fans, and if you’re lucky, your family. Standing in line is amazing because you’ll meet people who have the exact same interests as you, who know more about Disney than you, and who love talking about Disney just as much as you. When you’re with your family, you can enjoy the atmosphere and the happiness of everyone who attends. It’s palpable.

This article uses affiliate links. If you click on a link and it takes you to an Amazon page, when you buy something we get a portion of the sale that comes from Amazon, not you or the author/artist.

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Word Game for Disney Fans: Kuzco and Mickeyrdle

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Every once in a while, I’ll head over to Mickeyvisit.com to play their Wordle-inspired Mickeyrdle game. Like the original Wordle, you have six moves to guess the five-letter word. The twist here is that this is a word game for Disney fans, so it uses Disney characters and other related vocabulary. There is only one puzzle released every day, so it makes it a little difficult to get excited about getting one word right, especially if you get it in two or three tries. My idea was to use the Mickeyrdle as a mine for writing ideas. Sometimes, the word revealed is a little obscure.

A couple of days ago, when I wanted to try this new idea out, I started with an “o” in the second place being a right letter wrong place. No other letters were in the word. I tried “Manor,” and the “o” was still in the wrong place. In the three guesses, I had eliminated “e” and “i” leaving only the “u.” Sometimes, they get tricky and like to use double letters; still when I put the “o” in the third place, it was still wrong, and I hadn’t found any other letters. That meant the “O” was likely in the last place. “Baloo” wouldn’t work because I had already eliminated the “a.” I tried to think of some words where the “O” was the first letter, but couldn’t come up with anything. Then it hit me: “Kuzco.”

That took the wind out of my sails because I didn’t want to write about The Emperor’s New Groove. Sure, the movie has arguably one of the best casts, from a star power perspective, of any Disney animated film. David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton and the iconic Eartha Kitt are pretty amazing. Tom Jones puts in an appearance singing the theme song at the beginning of the film, and well-known voice actors, Rob Paulsen and Jess Harnell took small parts. Eartha Kitt by herself has to be considered a coup for the casting director.

But New Groove is my least favorite Disney animated feature, even counting the disaster that is “The Black Cauldron.” It might be funny, but Spade is annoying, and it’s not warm at all. Maybe, that’s how it’s supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Support and Disclaimers

We use affiliate links. When a link takes you to Amazon and you buy a product, we get a finder’s fee. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us write more great articles.

If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

If you’d like to support us directly, my wife and I have a Patreon page. Thanks.

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A New Princess Ride-Through, TBA, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

In their press release touting the change from Snow White’s Scary Adventure to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, one of the items noted that the attraction, which has been around since 1955, was the only one at Disneyland to feature a princess ride-through. In 2024, that will no longer be the case. Splash Mountain’s makeover will feature Tiana and her crew making her attraction the second princess ride-through at Walt’s original park. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, or TBA (Are the imagineers trolling us?), will take guests on a water-soaked tour replacing the Song of the South theme.

Disney celebrated the announcement of the new theme with “a $50,000 donation “to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts, classical instrumental music, jazz instrumental music, classical vocal music, drama, musical theatre, theatre design, visual arts and creative writing.”

TBA follows a recent naming convention that is a little tiresome. The Indiana Jones’ Adventure, The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure all have someone’s name followed by “adventure.” (We’re giving a pass to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” because it took its name form the movie.)

Because Disney is no stranger to synergy, Tiana fans can look forward to a series featuring the princess in 2023. The Disney+ offering will feature Tiana in her princess role but assures fans that New Orleans will also be involved.

By removing the stigma of “Song of the South” and replacing it with Disney’s first African-American princess in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Disney has the ability to continue to use its developed intellectual property to form bonds between its television, streaming, movie, and theme park offerings. This will increase the company’s sales revenue for an IP that people have been supportive of.

Support and Disclaimers

We use affiliate links. When a link takes you to Amazon and you buy a product, we get a finder’s fee. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us write more great articles.

If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. On Medium, I wrote about why Disney should reimagine Splash Mountain. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

If you’d like to support us directly, my wife and I have a Patreon page. Thanks.

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Snow White’s Enchanted Wish Replaces Snow White’s Scary Adventures

Meeting Snow White at Disneyland's 25th anniversary

When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, he included the “Snow White Ride-Thru” as seen in the guidebook “The Story of Disneyland.” Guests boarded a mine car and went on Snow White’s adventures, but many guests were disappointed. They never saw Snow White in the attraction, and they wondered why. Where was Snow White?

The missing princess wasn’t the only problem parents had with the attraction, which took them and their children on a 3D ride through the 1937 movie story line. The witch shows up numerous times, threatening, changing into the old apple peddler, and the mine cars head through the castle dungeon and into the scary forest, which in the film is a figment of Snow White’s imagination. This attraction was terrifying for some of the younger audience.

According to “The Disneyland Encyclopedia,” the attraction changed to make clear what was going on. Snow White was added to the interior, and “scary was added to the official attraction name. But why wasn’t Snow White in the original plan?

“The park achieved a kind of reality. Like these virtual reality games the children are playing with. I told them we were doing this 40 years ago! Disneyland is virtual reality.” – John Hench

www.wisesayings.com/disneyland-quotes/?sm=107073#107073

The attraction developers wanted people to experience the attraction as if they were Snow White. This may be one of the earliest examples of first-person shooters if you don’t count the Frontierland and other shooting galleries themselves. It was a way for Disneyland to immerse its guests in the films they loved, but for some this proved too traumatic, and even through 2019, Snow White’s Scary Adventures were, well, scary.

When Disneyland reopened after the COVID pandemic on April 30, 2021, the Snow White attraction changed names. It is now called Snow White’s Enchanted Wish. Disneyland Resort Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Kim Irvine said:

“The Snow White attraction has such a rich history. We wanted to take into account the beautiful scenic work that has always existed and retell the story in a special way. We believe guests will enjoy this sweet story line in a stunning experience.”

https://disneylandnews.com/2021/04/27/disneyland-park-reopens-with-new-magic-at-a-classic-attraction-snow-whites-enchanted-wish-celebrates-a-timeless-fairytale-in-fantasyland/

The Snow White Ride-Thru has been a part of the park since the beginning, and like the park, it was meant to change and grow. This latest incarnation reminds us of Walt Disney’s words, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” It also shows us that scary things can become less scary when we use our imagination to create new solutions.

Support and Disclaimers

We use affiliate links. When a link takes you to Amazon and you buy a product, we get a finder’s fee. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us write more great articles.

If you’d like more articles about Disneyland and the Disney Company, check out www.penguinate.weebly.com. I have also written books available at Amazon and on this website.

If you’d like to support us directly, my wife and I have a Patreon page. Thanks.

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Why ‘Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil’ Is Bad

maleficent costume

A spoiler tainted review of the Disney Film

(This article was originally published on Medium. It was my most read article on that website.) If you haven’t seen “Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil” and you want to, do not read any further. There’s no reason to spoil the film for yourself, and you might love it more than I did. Otherwise, the discussion starts after the trailer.

‘Maleficent 2’ Forgets Its Origins — Twice

In 1959, Maleficent made her screen debut in Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” She was the elegant, ideal version of evil. Her motives were petty — she wasn’t invited to the party. Her punishment was excessive — Aurora’s death by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. The spell was changed so that Aurora would only awake after Prince Phillip kissed her; Maleficent would hold Prince Phillip hostage for 100 years before he’d be able to rescue the princess. She was, in her own words, “The Mistress of All Evil,” which is the phrase used in the title of the second film. The Maleficent of the second film, is clearly not the mistress of evil, not even a little bit. Disney wanted to do a different take on the character, fine, but why then harken back to Maleficent’s role in every other film and video appearance since then.

In 2014, Disney struck gold with “Maleficent,” which scored over $750 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie rode the coattails of the “Frozen” phenomenon by exploring the relationship and love that women can have for each other. “Frozen” addressed the love between sisters. “Maleficent” addressed the love of a mother-figure for a daughter without becoming the evil stepmother. The success of this movie was based on the idea that women can create a loving relationship and bond that supports one another. “Maleficent 2” takes that idea and stomps on it with all of the force and bravado of a long-drawn out and unnecessarily dumb battle sequence. In essence, the movie becomes Michelle Pfeiffer, the Mistress of Evil, versus Angelina Jolie, the dark fairy phoenix.

It’s Grey and Dark

All 3D movies still have an issue with dark scenes, and “Maleficent 2” suffers from it. Even the scenes at the beginning that are supposed to be colorful and show the beauty of the fairy world and the scenes in the middle that show the beauty of the dark fairies are muted. The scenes that take place in the rain, water, and dark are much harder to see and enjoy.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

It seems that Disney didn’t learn anything from “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the ill-fated sequel to “Alice In Wonderland.” “Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil” has some of the same issues. It’s not a sequel anyone asked for. There are pacing problems and scenes that are completely unnecessary to the plot and film. However, the worst part about this film, featuring Angelina Jolie in a role she was born to play, is that it wasn’t true to itself, it’s not true to the spirit of family, and it isn’t true to the audience that made the first one so popular. You can rent this same film under the title “Snow White and the Huntsman;” the only difference is that film is Kristen Stewart versus Charlize Theron. Or just return to “Maleficent” for a much better film experience.

Want more Disney discussion? Try my book “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” It combines Disney articles with suggestions based on researched principles to help you become more creative. You may also enjoy “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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DisneyPlus Movies You May Have Missed: The Love Bug, Magic Camp, and Timmy Failure

What mother daughter relationships in Disney films have been shown in this theater?

How the Love Bug Predicted the Future

Released in 1968, “The Love Bug” tells the story of a racing Volkswagen with a mind of its own. It was so popular that the movie inspired four sequels and a short-lived television series. While the movie itself starts out funny and has several madcap chases, which seem to be a staple of Disney movies in this era. Toward the end, “The Love Bug” reaches into the realm of nightmares to strike a horror chord.

Continue reading DisneyPlus Movies You May Have Missed: The Love Bug, Magic Camp, and Timmy Failure
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‘Pixel Perfect’ Weirdness Makes It Worthwhile on Disney+

Mickey Mouse on a Piano; music and animation compromise

“Pixel Perfect” is a 2004 Disney Channel movie on Disney+. The description makes it look like a take on the “Weird Science” story. A boy makes a hologram girl to be the lead singer of his favorite high school band. It pretty much follows the G-rated idea for the first part of the movie. Somehow, the hologram has feelings of jealousy, love, and vanity, which the adults mostly ignore. This stirs up conflict between the real girl lead singer and the boy. However, because this is a Disney Channel film, it never gets beyond vague notions of love.

Continue reading ‘Pixel Perfect’ Weirdness Makes It Worthwhile on Disney+
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Mickey’s The Gift of the Magi Lampoons Consumerism and Capitalist Christmas

Mickey Mouse on a Piano; music and animation compromise

The original “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry is about a poor couple that sacrifice to give each other gifts for Christmas. Jim sells his heirloom watch to by Delia combs for her long, beautiful hair. For better or worse, Delia sells her hair to by a chain for Jim’s watch. In the end, O. Henry implies that they are richer because of their sacrifices for one another. The story is often read as a feel-good Christmas story. However, as “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” shows, there are other interpretations of this short story and the meaning behind it.

‘Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas’ Summary

In the Disney version, Mickey gives Minnie a chain for her heirloom watch, and Minnie gives Mickey a case for his harmonica. The watch and the harmonica have been sold to pay for the gifts. They laugh and say the best gift is they have each other. How sad it is that they had to give up the only two items of value to learn this lesson.

Corporate Greed

Minnie works at Mortimer’s wrapping gifts with her friend Daisy. Minnie is working quickly because she needs her Christmas bonus to get Mickey a gift. Daisy is impressed, and Minnie gets a call to Mortimer’s office. The head mouse offers his praise for Minnie’s work ethic but never gets her name right. He then gives her the bonus for her work – a fruitcake. This echo of real-world, corporate bonus policy changes of the 1980s and ‘90s cuts to the quick of anyone who lived through counting on their bonus only to have the company pull the rug out from under them in search of greater profits and lower expenditures. Not only was it clearly not the bonus Minnie was expecting, but it was just as clear that her work wasn’t valued by her employer. The bonus achieved the exact opposite effect it should’ve had. Minnie walks out dejected rather than enthused about her work, which is keeping her in poverty.

While Minnie is employed by the local department store, Mickey has job with the typecast villain Pete. Pete runs a Christmas tree lot where people can get their 10-footers on a payment plan. His trees aren’t as fresh as he makes them out to be. He uses hot glue and paint on old, dead trees to make them new and green again. When a poor family comes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, Pete tries to sell them a 10-footer – a tree bigger than their house – even though it’s clear they can’t afford it. The dad wouldn’t want to disappoint the kids at this time of year, right? As the father is about to sign for the payment plan, Mickey brings over a smaller tree. The family leaves happy, but Mickey loses his job and Pete confiscates his wages to make up for the lost sale. While Mickey’s being fired on Christmas Eve isn’t a surprise, after all, he works at a Christmas tree lot, it still has its real-world echoes in the layoffs started by Neutron Jack Welch of GE. The celebrated CEO fired thousands of employees from GE, the most profitable company in the world at the time, in a surprise move during the holidays. Other companies followed suit throughout the 1990s.

Love Is a Gift

“Do it for the kids” features in Mickey’s next adventure. While the Firehouse Five band is putting out a fire at Pete’s Christmas tree lot, the charity they were supposed to play for is floundering. No one is donating toys for the kids who won’t have a Christmas this year because they’re parents are too poor to afford gifts. Mickey is asked to remember the kids, and he puts aside his needs as a small child pushes his teddy bear on stage to listen to Mickey play the harmonica. Mickey starts the concert, is joined by the band fresh from the fire, and the toys stack up to overflowing. Mickey’s given a thank you and has to rush to the store to get his own gift for Minnie.

The entire story is based on giving the person something precious is an indication of how much you love them and how much joy they will get out of the present and the holiday. If you don’t spend the money, your loved ones will be disappointed. Minnie is disappointed in her holiday bonus. Pete tells the poor family the kids will be disappointed if they don’t have a tree. Mickey is told that the kids will be disappointed without gifts from their parents. Both Mickey and Minnie want to express their love through the “perfect” Christmas gift.

Feeling of Christmas

Mickey arrives at the shop just as the shopkeeper flips the sign to close. When the owner exits the shop, Mickey asks him if the shopkeeper could open, so Mickey could trade his harmonica for the gold necklace in the window. The shopkeeper dismisses the harmonica as not worth very much and walks away with a “Merry Christmas” on his lips. A dejected Mickey sits on the curb and plays a sad “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The melody softens the shopkeeper’s heart to allow Mickey to trade the harmonica for the necklace. In this transaction, Mickey trades away his means of making wealth, the harmonica, for a gift for Minnie. With the shopkeeper’s admission that the harmonica isn’t worth very much, it’s possible the gold chain is worth more. However, its only real value lies in appreciation, whereas Mickey could’ve used the harmonica to busk and possibly cut a record deal as was shown earlier during the wildly successful gift-collecting effort. One could also fault the shopkeeper’s Christmas generosity in opening the shop to take the only real wealth-producing instrument Mickey has and trading it for something that may or may not accumulate wealth over time but will certainly not provide for Mickey or Pluto in the near future.

Minnie’s trade is even dearer. She gives up her heirloom watch, something that likely has value as an antique that still works, for a box. Even if it’s an ornate case designed to keep Mickey’s harmonica safer, it will not accrue value on its own the way the necklace and watch could have. Still, it’s a sign of love, and Christmas is about what you spend not how you feel.

What Is Christmas about?

When a corporation like Disney can so easily lampoon the crass commercialism of a holiday that’s supposed to be about family and love without people recognizing that’s what the corporation is doing, it becomes clear the country has lost its way. Instead of money spent, Christmas should be about how people spend their time and with whom. Even in the age of COVID, people can get together virtually to sing carols and enjoy each other’s company. The true expression of love isn’t what we spend, but what we give. “The Gift of the Magi” in “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” would have us believe otherwise – except for the one closing statement when Minnie and Mickey realize what has happened and confess their love for one another.

If you want to read more about Disney and creativity, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Read more about the Disney Company in “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Check out other Disney stories at www.penguinate.weebly.com. This is part of our Disneycember coverage. Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic, and Channel Awesome appear to have coined the term “Disneycember.” Come back every day during December and read an article.