7:45 pm EDT, July 21, 2016

Disney’s ‘Moana’ hits SDCC: 8 things we learned during their panel

The directors of The Little Mermaid hit SDCC to talk about their new animated film.

Moana doesn’t hit theaters until Thanksgiving, but the directors, writer, and head animator were at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday to give a look at the making of Disney’s first teen Pacific Islander heroine.

It’s always fun to hear from creators and cast involved with Disney productions, as they’re known for their intense preparation for films, and their expertise in bringing new characters to the screen. This year at SDCC was no exception. The creative forces behind Moana showed us just how devoteda they are to making this film the best it can possibly be, and even showed some exclusive footage. Here are eight things we learned at the panel that have us more excited for Moana than ever before.

1. No romance for Moana

You read that correctly, folks. Straight from the mouths of directors Ron Clements and John Musker (who helmed The Little Mermaid), Moana will not be falling in love with Maui or any other character in Moana. She will be waaaay too busy trying to restore the love of the ocean to her people to pay attention to romance, and it sounds like we definitely won’t miss it.

2. It is a musical… or at least a movie with music.

They may or may not have meant to disclose it, but Moana will definitely have a few songs throughout. We don’t know whether Moana herself will be singing (we’ll be crossing our fingers for that), but it’s good to know that Disney is continuing to bring us the musical animated movies we all have fallen in love with since we were little kids.

3. Dwayne Johnson is singing a song written by Lin-Manuel Miranda

One character that we do know will be doing some singing is Maui, and Dwayne Johnson will be performing his singing voice. Dwayne was not in attendance at the panel, but Ron Clements and John Musker were keen to share just how excited Dwayne was to get a chance to sing.

Moana Maui Disney edit

4. Moana’s father, the Chief of her tribe, wants her to succeed him, but she wants to restore her people’s love of exploration and the sea

We were also given quite a few details about the plot of Moana, and what exactly we can expect to see when the movie hits theaters this Thanksgiving. One point that we found particularly interesting is that Moana is destined for greatness. She wants to explore the open ocean on her own, and sets off doing just that, but even if she didn’t have a yearning for adventure, her father, Chief Tui, wants her to succeed him as head of their tribe.

5. It is set 2000 years in the past

This may be a bit of a no-brainer, but we thought it was worth noting that this movie is set 2000 years in the past. It takes place during a period in time when exploration and navigation were minimal for the island nations, numerous explanations for which were heard by the creators when they traveled to the region for research. The story of Moana is one explanation for how these people re-discovered their love for the ocean and exploration.

6. Moana’s grandmother is a driving force behind her need to explore

One of the most noteworthy characters in the movie is Moana’s grandmother, the woman who tells her all about the legend of the heart of Tahiti and why it needs to be restored to its rightful place. Her grandmother is more than just a respected elder. It sounds like her grandmother will be a driving force and we are so excited to see how that plays out on film.

Moana Disney edit

7. Amy Smeed is the first female co-head of animation for a Disney motion picture

Amy Smeed, co-head of animation for Moana, is the first woman at Disney to hold that title. We cannot wait to see her work in all its glory when Moana hits theaters. It’s important to note these things and hopefully women will continue to find success behind the scenes at Disney.

8. Mini-Maui features traditional 2D animation on a 3D character

The filmmakers were really excited to be able to feature traditional 2D animation within the dynamic world of Moana. Mini-Maui is a tattoo on Maui’s skin that interacts with him and is a integral part of Maui’s character. What a fun way to keep Disney traditions alive!

During the panel the voice behind our Pacific Islander heroine surprised us all and was very excited to partake in her first Comic-Con adventure. Check out her tweet from the panel!

We were lucky enough to listen to Auli’i Cravalho talk about her passion for the project. We also saw a video of herself and her mother talking about the casting process and what a shock it was when Auli’i was selected to voice Moana.

And in case you haven’t already seen it, check out the international trailer with footage of baby Moana meeting the ocean. It’s truly adorable in every way.

Now are you even more excited for the debut of ‘Moana’ this November?

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