By now you’ve most likely seen and been inspired by Disney’s Moana. You’ve probably listened to and have sung along to “How Far I’ll Go” on repeat, cried happy tears at all the emotional and beautiful moments in the film, and have become smitten with the cuteness of Pua and Heihei. Well, if you love this film like we do, keep reading because we know the way to some fun facts that will put wind in your sails! And with Moana available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Disney Movies Anywhere, it’s even more reason to learn these interesting insights for the next time you delight in the epic adventure. Here’s 13 things we bet you didn’t know about Moana:
1. Maui was almost bald!
It’s hard to imagine Maui without his full head of curly locks, but early designs gave him a bald head! However, consultants from Tahiti advised filmmakers against Maui’s bald head since Pacific legends commonly depicted the demigod with hair. Let’s take a minute to appreciate the tresses that almost never were:That’s some great looking hair.
2. Maui’s hook was inspired by the constellation called Maui’s Fishhook, aka Scorpio.
Maui’s Fishhook is a constellation in Oceania, which is the same constellation also known as Scorpius, or Scorpio. (Does this mean Maui’s zodiac sign is Scorpio?) The shape the stars make in the constellation inspired the design of Maui’s magical hook.
3. For the film, astronomers researched what the Pacific Island night skies would have looked like 2,000 years ago!
Wow. We’re starry eyed just thinking about this—it’s amazing that astronomers can research stars from that long ago! We definitely can’t wait to watch Moana again so we can pay more attention to the film’s nighttime skies!
4. Speaking of 2,000 years ago, all the outfits worn in Moana are made exclusively from materials that would have been available at that time.
Again, we are amazed by all the thoughtful research that went into every detail of this film. As far as outfits go, Moana wears a total of 7 throughout the movie, including the one she wears as a toddler. One elaborate ensemble she wears during a dance sequence is only visible for 6 seconds!! We marvel at the thought of all of the detail and research animators put into that 6 seconds!
5. When Moana wears red feathers, it symbolizes royalty.
In Pacific Island culture, red is a color of royalty, so it’s fitting that the daughter of a chief wears that bold, vibrant, and royal hue—especially for ceremonial occasions.
6. Heihei was originally sassy!
Yep, this is true. However, filmmakers worried the rooster wasn’t unique enough, so they brainstormed and decided to make him more … well … more Heihei! And we’re so glad they did! I mean, look at that face. We heart you, Heihei!
7. The realm of monsters was named Lalotai for a reason.
The reason being that in Proto Polynesian, lalo means “below” and tai means “the sea.” Put them together and that means “below the sea,” which is where the fantastical, bioluminescent world of Tamatoa and all his shiny objects are located. And now you know 2 Proto Polynesian words!
8. Maui has something in common with Pinocchio.
Can it be that a confident demigod and a wooden boy are alike? Yes! They both have a character acting as their conscience! Pinocchio has Jiminy Cricket, and Maui has Mini Maui, who came to life using traditional hand-drawn animation techniques by Eric Goldberg and his team at Walt Disney Animation Studios. The team often compared Mini Maui to Jiminy Cricket during production. Also, Pinocchio is one of two films that inspired Moana director John Musker to pursue a creative career. (The other film was Sleeping Beauty!)
9. Disney offered Lin-Manuel Miranda the Moana job the same week he found out he was going to be a dad!
What a week! As it turned out, Lin-Manuel is a big fan of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. When he was just 9 years old, he was profoundly inspired by the film, which was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements—also the directors of Moana. So he was thrilled to work on the new project. And when Lin-Manuel’s son was born, he named him Sebastian. So did his love of The Little Mermaid and his work on Moana inspire him and his wife to name their son after the musical crustacean? Or was it just a coincidence? Hmm, we wonder …
10. Lin-Manuel Miranda won a Polynesian dance contest while on location researching for Moana!
Is there anything this man can’t do? On a research trip to New Zealand with Moana musical composers Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina, the men attended Pasifika Festival, one of the largest Polynesian cultural festivals in the world. Soon after arriving, Miranda was pulled onstage to dance, not knowing that he was joining a dance competition with other audience members. And he won the competition! So. Talented.
11. Rapunzel’s hair in Tangled helped inspire the ocean in Moana!
“Huh?” is probably what you’re thinking right now. But in an effort to develop the movement and character of the ocean in Moana, animators closely studied the creative process that was developed for the movement of Rapunzel’s long hair in Tangled.
12. Volunteer Moana hair models got dunked in water for research.
Because creating the look of wet hair is challenging in animation, artists asked volunteers who had similar hairstyles as Moana to come to the Walt Disney Animation Studios to be dunked in water! Since Moana spends time underwater, it was important for filmmakers to portray her hair realistically.
13. A group of Pacific Island advisors to the filmmakers of Moana became known as the Oceanic Story Trust.
The Trust was made up of anthropologists, educators, linguists, master tattooists, choreographers, haka (Māori war dance) practitioners, master navigators, and cultural advisors that the filmmakers had met on various research trips to the Pacific Islands. This group helped advise and inform filmmakers of Pacific Island culture in an effort to make the film’s cultural references and character representations as accurate as possible. Filmmakers also invited choreographers of Polynesian dance to the Walt Disney Animation Studios so artists could watch and sketch as they danced. Artists were also able to learn the meaning behind each dance movement. Amazing!