Saving Mr. Banks

One of my favorite gal pals, Meghan, managed to snag a slot in the Disney Parks Blog’s Saving Mr. Banks Blog Meetup a week ago, and I was floored when she asked me to be her plus one! Luck would be on my side as I managed to move my trip covering the date prior to the announcement of The List! This was a great way to unwind in the weeks leading up to Christmas (and nearly two weeks of non-stop flying starting on Christmas Eve), and I am thankful I could get enjoy it with one heck of a lady (and one of my blogging muses).

Image[There is a film review at the bottom, but if you want something completely spoiler-free, stop when you reach Event Highlights.]

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Fashion Selection: Princess Kate dress (Issa Collection for Banana Republic), black moto-style jacket, black tights, and black booties. To match my beautiful dress, I picked up a light golden pair of sequined mouse ears accents with peacock feathers and sparkly appliques.

Pre-Event Dining: Carrabba’s Italian Grille (Altamonte Springs, FL)

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Peach Sangria (Happy Hour Special; Lemon & Strawberry garnish) with Tomatoes Caprese (fresh mozzarella, red onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar). We sat at the bar and enjoyed being pampered by the bartenders. As it was still early, we were able to eat, drink, be merry, and get out before the restaurant got swamped with the Friday night diners.

Event Highlights

We were granted park admission at 8PM, and it allowed us to swing by The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights to check out all the beautiful dancing lights. Having never seen The Spectacle, I felt like a child, staring wide-eyed at all the glittering lights, walking under the falling snow, and soaking in all the holiday merriment.

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We happened upon the Santa Goofy Character Meetup, and jumped in line without a second thought. Dressing up certainly paid off, as Santa Goofy decided to waltz with me. It has been a while since I got my ballroom on, but it was nice to be spun around with all the dazzling lights.

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Walking around the spectacle, we happened upon the Premier Theatre, and entered the event area. We stopped to pose with the Saving Mr. Banks promotional back drop, and it was surreal seeing the video crew taping us as our photos were taking by a cast member. I love the simplicity of the silhouettes, but I wished they had the carpet with the shoe prints like the California event had. We snagged our free popcorn and bottles of water, and managed to find ourselves in the third row center.

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Prior to the showing, the cast warmed up the crowd with a little trivia for copies of the released Blu-Ray edition of Mary Poppins and the Saving Mr. Banks Original Soundtrack. There was a SMB umbrella up for grabs, that sadly one guy did most of the work, but someone else finished to secure the prize.  We were also treated to four trailers for upcoming Disney feature films: Muppets Most Wanted (03/21/14), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (04/04/14), Disneynature: Bears (04/18/14),  and Maleficent (05/30/14).  Obviously, the film geek within squealed and clapped over everything, especially Lady Angelina as my favorite Disney villain!

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After the film, we were granted the opportunity to have a photo op with either Mary Poppins and the Dancing Penguins OR Bert and the Chimney Sweeps. It was a heartbreaking decision, but in the end, we elected to wait for the boys, as Mary Poppins is easily caught at Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion in her Sunday regalia (sans penguins). I wish they could have organized it like the Princess Meetup or Pixie Hollow, were guests can quickly cycle through both photo ops with the assistance of the character managers. One of the dancing penguins was also working the line, but I wasn’t quick enough to catch it’s attention. They are really, really cute!! Limited Time Magic Alert: DPB just announced photo ops with Mary Poppins & Bert at Disneyland California Adventure Park & Epcot’s UK Pavilion (December 16-22).

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Film Review (*Potential Spoilers*)

Prior to the event, I did my best to resist reading any film reviews or historical commentary about the relationship between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator, P. L. Travers, so I could receive the film without any preconceived notions of what Saving Mr. Banks should-would-could be. Naturally, having Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in the roles of Disney and Travers certainly gave the film substantial credibility and star power. What I love about both actors is their ability to disappear into their characters. Compounding the situation is the challenge of portraying one of the most iconic (and visible) men in film history, Walt Disney; a task few could legitimately handle without muddying the image with their own stage presence. Hanks vanishes into character, complete with brown eyes covering his gorgeous greens. Emma Thompson throttles Disney’s creative team with her spot on, outstanding performance as the quirky, unyielding Mrs. Travers. Her embodiment of the defensive English writer pinpoints the greatest fear of most writers: relinquishing control of one’s master work and fear of someone else utterly destroying it. The parallel story lines of the fight to secure the film rights and the flashbacks to Travers’ childhood, helps the audience to understand her extreme protectiveness of Mary Poppins as well as her reluctance to sell out to the Man with the Mouse.

For Mary Poppins film fanatics, diehard Disney history buffs, and documentary cinephiles will thoroughly enjoy Saving Mr. Banks. With it’s PG-13 rating, children will most likely find the film difficult to sit through (and parents might not want their children to know about Walt’s vices of tobacco and booze). Also, the humor and themes are geared toward adults, though young adult fans of Disney and teen Anglophiles will enjoy the peeks into the social differences between Americans and Britons. The biggest thing to keep in mind when watching this film is its roots in American film history. It is a fictionalization of the chain of events leading to the release of one Disney’s most iconic live action films. Do not go into it with hopes of seeing Julie Andrews or Dick van Dyke being part of the process, and be prepared for interesting takes on the musical soundtrack that helps sway Travers into agreement with Walt. The discovery of the kindred, creative spirits of a boy from Missouri and a girl from Allora, Australia, drives the film home: just as Mary Poppins and the Bankses are family to Travers, for Walt, it all started with a Mouse. Disney promises Travers to make Mary Poppins a legend without compromising the author’s emotional investment in the work. personal  The hardest thing Travers is faced with is entrusting her Mr. Disney with her beloved fictional governess, but in the end, he delivers her a universally cherished Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

Be forewarned, steel your nerves or have your tissues at the ready, misty-eye moments ahoy!

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Upon returning to Meghan’s abode, we dove into a mini-12 pack of cupcakes from the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck! Viva Pippament Middleton!

UPDATE (19 DEC 2013): I chased up the DPB Practically Perfect Preview Follow-up, and I discovered that Meghan and I made it into the event video! We joked about getting our photo taken, but I honestly didn’t imagine they would actually use the footage of us from the photo back drop!

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