Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Disney, Algernon, the FLOTUS, and Healthy Eating

Proving that I am brave enough to risk being pinned to the ground by the secret service for an inadvertent gaffe, I accepted an invitation to go to the Disney Magic of Healthy Eating event that was held on Tuesday.

Why would the secret service care about this event? Well, Michelle Obama was one of the speakers. And what could I do to attract secret service attention, you ask?

I'm not threatening, just...odd.

I don't quite know how I got a seat so close to the podium, but it was awesome. Actually, I do know. I took a chair from another table and jammed it between two of my friends who had awesome seats. That's how I got that seat.

The whole reason for the event was to publicize Disney's Magic of Healthy Living (auto-play video with sound at that link) efforts. They told us that, starting in 2015, they will not be accepting ads for junk food on its media programs. They also shared information about the "Mickey Check," a new logo that they will put on products that meet certain specific nutritional standards, thereby making it easier for parents to make healthy choices at the grocery store.

This is all part of Disney's efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity seem more appealing. Disney chairman Robert Iger told us that it turns out that what is good for kids is good for Disney, which is one of the reasons they are taking these steps.

That seems to be the gist of what Iger said, although I was too busy taking photographs of Algernon with Disney-shaped props to take notes.

He felt naked without his Mickey ears. I thought he
should have felt naked because he doesn't have pants.

You could actually probably ask one of the people from the real press that were there, lurking behind Scrappin' Michele and TeachMama Amy.

Nothing like real press to make you feel like an idiot
with your stuffed mouse and wasted master's degree in journalism.

No, I'm kidding. I really did pay attention. Then I came home and actually did some thinking about what to say about it. Because it's really easy to get swept up in the excitement of an event and be all MICKEY MOUSE WANTS TO HELP YOUR CHILD BE SUPER HEALTHY THEY ARE AWESOME BUY OUT THE DISNEY STORE NOW!!!!!!! But that maybe isn't the message I need to pass on here.

My first instinct is always to mistrust large corporations, of which Disney is unarguably one. But when I think about corporations who go out of their way to create good things for kids, Disney is one of them. And, as Iger said, what is good for kids is ultimately good for Disney.

I really like what they're going to be doing with advertising. I can't tell you how many cereals my kids have wanted to try because they've seen them advertised ad nauseum on television. And, trust me, they're not the low sugar cereals.

I've read some criticism that the nutritional standards aren't strict enough and so on, but I'd say that these nutritional standards are better than none. Are these ideas perfect? No. But it is a start and they seem to be trying. I can get on board with that. And no other corporations seem to be doing it on this scale either. Good for Disney. Thumbs up/happy face.

I assume this cookie meets Mickey Check standards.

I never cared much about Disney before I went to Disney World last December. But after experiencing it and also hearing about how good they are to individuals with special needs, I've jumped fully on board. There was a panel discussion after the speakers, and one of the things they addressed was how the chefs at Disney will go out of their way to make sure guests with allergies or special dietary needs are accommodated. I think that is pretty cool.

I also liked what the panel said about making sure the food at their parks was healthier. However, if I were the kind of person who was able to raise her hand and ask questions at these sorts of things, I would have asked why there wasn't an apple anywhere to be found within 20 minutes of Star Tours when I needed one last December (item #10 in that post). But I'm not that person, so we might never know.

I am, however, the person who will ask Sous Chef Mickey to pose with Algernon.

After a while, you get used to being obtrusive.

But enough about healthy eating and Disney and Algernon. I know what you really care about. Did I get to meet Michelle Obama?

Sadly, no. But I was within about 30 feet of her. It was really exciting. I think she might have noticed I exist. In fact, I'm pretty sure she gave me a secret BFF wink.

Or she gazed over my head as she spoke. One of the two.

Well, even if I didn't get a photo op with the first lady, I got a second one with Mickey. His security was a little less stringent.

Thanks for a nice morning, Mr. Mouse!

Disclosure: I was provided with breakfast (although I used most of my food as mouse photo props) as well as a tote bag when I left. Also, because I hung around until the bitter end, the hosts gave me one of the extra Edible Arrangement fruit centerpieces with Mickey-shaped pineapple slices. I never claimed to be proud. I wasn't asked to nor compensated for writing this post. All of the opinions expressed here are (clearly) my own.


  1. I love this post - we are still tres simpatico. :)

  2. I wouldn't have minded being pinned to the ground by that Secret Service guy. 

  3. Mrs. Obama totally gave you the secret BFF wink!

    Love Disney and their special-needs-friendly atmosphere. We have had nothing but great experiences there with our family.

    I kind of have to laugh about how it's all about healthy, and there are cookies and rice krispie treats w/ chocolate.... :)

  4. In my world this announcement was huge! Partnership for a Healthier America (the private sector arm of Let's Move!) has negotiated a lot of big deals over the past two years but this one is most certainly the biggest and really is a game changer like Mrs. Obama said. There are so many people in the childhood obesity space these days but really, it's going to take the efforts of all of those people to actually correct the problem and I really applaud what the first lady has done. 

    Side note: I still haven't gotten over my jealousy that Algernon had a FLOTUS siting before I did! But I do think it's awesome that you got to attend! :-)

  5. 1) How could Algernon forget to bring his mouse ears to the event?  There are not many places that mouse ears are appropriate but this was definitely one of them.  I would have worn my mouse ears.  Frankly I am disappointed.
    2) Did Mickey remember Algernon from their first meeting last December? (I am guessing no since Algernon wasn't wearing his mouse ears)
    3) You probably would have gotten face time with the FLOTUS if Algernon had been wearing his mouse ears.  Just sayin'.

  6. I love Disney, and Algernon, so three thumbs up for a fantastic post!
    I also love irony, that they were giving out cookies and rice krispie treats with chocolate at a healthy eating breakfast. : )
    Disney is definitely great at special needs AND at food allergies. They not only helped my daughter and I with our slightly bizarre food allergy (we're both allergic to apples) but they also brought my daughter a few extra helpings of cheese and grapes at a meal when it turned out she wouldn't eat anything else on the plate.  : )  Well, that and the ice cream dessert, of course. : )

  7.  The muffins there were low fat at least. :)

  8.  I agree. Childhood obesity is at the front of the American attention span and she is a huge part of it. I liked what they said at the event about partnering with parents to help their kids eat healthier. If kids see those healthy foods regularly, they are a lot more likely to eat them.

  9.  So what you're saying is that you think Algernon made a good choice by not wearing his hat?

  10.  There was a Disney dietary specialist there and they said that for even the very specific allergy and dietary needs, they can find a way to work with you individually if you give them a couple weeks notice. I think that is pretty cool.

  11. What a fun event to go to! I LOVE Michelle Obama!

    It cracks me up that they fed you guys cookies while talking about eating healthier! LOL

    In all fairness, it's pretty easy to find fresh fruit at Disneyland.

  12. This morning I read a piece about this on the BBC news website including a clip showing Michelle Obama giving her Disney speech. Then I clicked over to your blog and, da da, there she was again, only this time with Algernon! How great that you (both) got to be there to hear her.
    (I have to admit to my ignorance though. I had to go and look up what FLOTUS stands for. We live in Scotland, what can I say?)

  13. I keep trying to find a nice way to say this without sounding like an ass, but I keep failing, so I'm just gonna say it: At the LTYM event? You. Looked. Amazing. (blah blah blah blah, everyone looked great, you read real nice, [anything else I need to add here to avoid offending any of the other performers]. . .)

    But you? You looked celebrity beautiful. Like they found a Hollywood starlet who bore an eerie resemblance to you, who performed your piece. See? Right there? I just went and made it sound like you're usually *not* stunningly attractive, which is a lie, and now you see why it's taken me so long to figure out how to say this. I'm still not doing it right.

    So let me try this: To the people who read this blog and are used to seeing snapshots of Stimey grinning with a stuffed mouse, but have never seen Stimey on stage under a spotlight, you do not know how breathtakingly gorgeous this woman is.

    I do. Ha ha. 

  14. I agree, its a start and I love the no junk food add policy

  15. So So So awesome! Oh, and MY BFF Michele Obama totally told me that you are IN on our BFF club when she sent me a family photo and nice long four page letter with a return envelope this week!

  16.  I guess if you live in Scotland you're allowed to not know that. :)

  17.  It took me a while to respond to this because it might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Thank you. Really. Thank you. You make me feel really happy about me.

  18. What an awesome idea to share with Disney healthy eating. I think my kids would love it. Thanks!

  19. I love Disney for lots of reasons but mostly for their policies regarding guests with special needs. It's half of why we go there so often. The other half is because I really like rides.


Thanks for commenting! May you be visited by unicorns and kittens.