Monday, December 2, 2013

A Family Therapy Student's Review of Disney's Frozen (*Lots of Spoilers*)

Frozen, the newest Disney film to hit theaters, is sure a hot topic for having such a wintery theme.  The story of two royal sisters, one with the power to create snow and ice, and the other left in the dark for years, hits home for many viewers, and for a good reason.  The family-centered theme is easy to find relatable, and spoke especially true to me as I both currently study families and have a close sister in my life. 

Anna and Elsa’s relationship start out seemingly normal, as sisters who love to play together.  They use Elsa’s powers to create winter wonderlands full of snow and ice, which we all know can be a bit dangerous for kids, especially if unsupervised.  In the instance we see, young Elsa’s powers cannot keep up with Anna’s energy and she ends up with a frost beam striking her in the head.  After their parents, the king and queen of Arendelle, find out the kids are rushed to a mystical herd of trolls in the forest who advise Elsa’s powers be curbed and Anna’s memories of the powers be erased.  The family therapist in me thinks this advice is just crap, and the rest of the film proves this to be true.  Whoever those trolls are, or wherever they came from, I’d like to see some credentials.

Seriously though, think about anything that is powerful yet can be dangerous.  Say, cooking, for example.  Cooking can be very dangerous, involving knives, stoves, ovens, and all kinds of things that can be harmful if used without proper training.  But cooking can also be fun, creative, and extremely safe.  It can result in a product that people love, when you learn how to use a knife, the stove, and the oven. Sealing Elsa away for her powers is comparable to doing the same to a little girl who likes making cupcakes, and once accidentally burned her sister once while letting her try a fresh baked batch.  The reinforcement that her powers were something BAD that could KILL her sister, and must be CONCEALED only fueled her anxiety associated with them.  Conversely, if her parents had found some way to embrace the powers and help her to control them in a healthy way, Elsa would have not had that anxiety, communication would be healthy, and Anna would have been able to see her sister more often.  I know the metaphor is stretched a bit as powers don’t exist in real life, but the concept is what’s important. Roll with it.

The fact that the king and queen died so early in the story is also a shame.  And Elsa’s absence at the funeral was quite noticeable and heartbreaking.  She was so in fear her whole life about exposing her powers that she couldn’t even come out in public to participate in an important grieving ritual.  Who knows what effect that had on her, in the long-term?

The “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” sequence showed Anna’s frustration with the situation really well.  And anyone who has had or been a younger sister can sympathize.  Little sisses are known for following their beloved older sister around, wanting to play, and mimicking everything she does.  It’s annoying growing up while the elder sister is trying to stake out her own identity, but as an adult it becomes more apparent that it’s more flattery, and healthy part of development for the sibling subsystem.  Anna was deprived of this experience, and you can hear the desperation in her voice as she is faced with occupying herself with an empty castle.  Prime development was lost for both sisters here.  Elsa didn’t learn how to care for her sister, or to learn how to properly communicate with her.  And I’m sure hearing Anna’s desperate cries for playtime made her miss their time together even more.  I can attest to the power of close sisters seeming to share brainwaves.  We finish each other’s sentences (and sandwiches!) all, the, time.  So you can imagine how emotional it is to hear two finally grown sisters feeling incredibly lost, alone, and utterly confused, by the end of this heart-wrenching song.  I definitely cried here.

The day of Elsa’s coronation arrives and so much happens here.  Anna has been anticipating the opening of the gates to the public and a huge celebration for so long, and it’s obvious in her song “For The First Time In Forever.”  Her social awkwardness works here, since we know she hasn’t had normal opportunities to socialize while maturing.  Another consequence of that troll’s crap parenting advice, unfortunately, is that she is just so eager to go BE WITH PEOPLE.  But what happens when you’ve been so deprived of healthy relationships for so long? Well, you jump right into the arms of the first person that takes interest in you so you can form some sort of attachment.  Anna’s sudden engagement to Prince Hans is no surprise here.  We know it’s a bit too good to be true, but she hasn’t had the experiences in life that would give her that insight.  She didn’t have an older sister to steer her away from these things.  It’s such a shame.

Meanwhile, Elsa is still locked in her room having panic attacks and stress breakdowns with no one to tell her it’s going to be okay.  No little sister to give her that confidence, and the echo of her parents telling her only, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”  This just absolutely breaks my heart.  At age 18, adolescence is not too far behind her.  Teens are developmentally meant to be more self-conscious than normal.  They think everyone is watching everything they do, and that nobody in the world understands the emotions they are feeling.  This helps them to develop their identity and individuality.  Elsa’s most likely still feeling these normal emotions, alongside being reminded that that she has deadly powers that no one should know about.  Talk about pressure.

Anna and Elsa’s first conversation (in pretty much forever) is awkward and it seems as though they are complete strangers.  Anna clearly still yearns for a connection between the two of them and harbors no bitterness toward Elsa for keeping herself separate all those years.  It’s beautiful and you can tell Anna has a huge heart.  Elsa acts warm toward Anna but seems like a shell of herself, and almost mentally checked out.  She cannot even enjoy the biggest event of her life because she is so invested in keeping composure.  And when Anna suddenly reappears a few hours later with plans to be married to a man she’s just met, her sister instincts kick into gear.  She sees that this isn’t a good idea and becomes protective, and Anna pushes back.  A younger sister doesn’t always know when the elder is trying to protect her, however, and Anna just sees it as her sister shutting her down once again.  Both sisters can’t be blamed here, especially in context of their stale past.  But unfortunately Elsa’s passion ignites her powers and the very thing she feared her whole life unfolds before her eyes.  People freak out, Elsa sees her sister’s eyes filled with fear, and without any knowledge of how to deal with this situation, she flees.

The following sequence is “Let It Go,” the most beautifully executed musical scene in the entire movie.  Idina Menzel is known for belting emotional numbers in a powerful way and this is no exception.  The emotions revealed here start as sadness, embarrassment, and loneliness, and bubble into empowerment, a bit of guilty pleasure, and finally extreme confidence.  Up on a mountain and away from people, she can “test the limits” and even have a little fun with the one thing she had been taught to fear her whole life.  She is growing into her individuality and independence finally, the task she was struggling with as a locked-up teen.  She blossoms into a free-flowing beautiful woman and literally lets her hair down, her outfit change echoing her internal transformation as well.  However, she unknowingly causes an extreme snowfall on her kingdom of Arendelle, making everything, well, frozen.

Meanwhile back in Arendelle, Anna is very much confused about the night’s unfolding events.  All she knows is that she has to take responsibility for finding her sister, making sure she’s okay, and getting her to unfreeze the kingdom.  Again, her huge heart is evident here.  It’s hard not to be mad at someone you care about who keeps running away from you. But Anna only wants to make things right and without a second thought leaves her fiancĂ© in charge of the kingdom while she sets out to find Elsa.  Her frustration is revealed though in the next scene, as she rides out and wonders out loud if it is her fault at all, or if all this would have happened if Elsa had just confided in her in the first place.  Poor Anna.  Poor Elsa.  So hopelessly set up to fail before they can have any say in the matter, and all because of one troll.

Along the way Anna happens along a lone mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer companion Sven.  She basically buys their services to help her up the mountain to get to her sister.  He is hesitant at first but after Anna proves her non-total-worthlessness by helping fight off a pack of wolves he actually seems pretty onboard.  Not to mention his livelihood is threatened by a total ice-over since he is in the ice business, so he finds his investment in this cause as well.  One thing I would have loved to know more about is Kristoff’s seeming aversion to people.  He sings a whole song about how reindeer are better than people, but all we know is that he was taken in as a child by the same trolls who I believe should be seeking major malpractice insurance.   Kristoff’s backstory is incredibly underdeveloped, which is one my issues with the film itself.  As such a loveable and sincere character he deserves more, I think.

They meet Olaf, the snowman that Elsa created the night of her accident with Anna and again during her “Let It Go” sequence, along the way and he accompanies them the rest of the film.  He offers some comic relief as well as heartwarming moments and a connection to Elsa that keeps Anna going.

Once Anna reaches the castle she attempts to reason with her sister.  She shows no bitterness or anger, only desperation for her to return home.  Elsa is firmly convinced that her powers can only result in terrible things, and tries once again to protect Anna by shutting her down.  Anna brings up the tiny fact that all of Arendelle is frozen solid and this only reinforces Elsa’s attitude.  She didn’t know she had done it, let alone how to fix it.  The whole situation turns into a dreadful positive feedback loop, amplifying Elsa’s anxiety and fear until she shoots an ice beam at Anna, which strikes her in her heart.  Her darkest fears confirmed, she creates a snow monster to physically throw Anna and her friends out of the castle.  But Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf escape only to discover her hair turning completely white, an indication that her heart is indeed frozen.  Luckily Kristoff, being raised by the damn things, remembers seeing his troll family unfreeze Anna years ago, and so he takes her to his “friends.”

For some reason “frozen heart” symptoms arise in a much slower manner than “frozen head,” which is another discrepancy I found in the film.  Nevertheless, Anna stays conscious and mostly ambulatory until they meet up with the trolls.  Here is my personal lest favorite scene, and not just because of the problem I have with their idea of parenting advice.  The trolls assume Kristoff and Anna are a couple, or on their way to becoming one, and proceed to sing a very strange song about why Kristoff is great despite his flaws.  But it’s just… not a great song and seems to stretch way too far in attempts to be funny or edgy.  Apparently blondness is unmanly, he is close to Sven “outside of nature’s laws,” and it’s weird that he relieves himself in the woods?  I dunno, I don’t understand this song at all and I’m not a fan of anything reinforcing gender stereotypes about what’s masculine or not.  In addition, near the end they start singing about how love brings out the best in people who make bad choices because they’re mad or scared or stressed, which seems like a blatant point to Elsa when they’re supposed to be singing about Anna.  Anyway, after the song papa smurf, err, the lead troll tells Anna that only an act of true love can melt a frozen heart.  And it appears the characters have seen their share of Disney movies because they assume this means true love’s kiss and take off to find Hans.

Meanwhile, Hans and his armed volunteers have gone to Elsa’s castle and brought her back to Arendelle, imprisoned until she can unfreeze the kingdom.  She insists she doesn’t know how so she remains chained up.  Anna returns to Arendelle and as soon as she finds Hans to ask for her life-saving kiss he reveals that he had only been using her all along to take control of the kingdom.  Here I can only imagine Anna’s humiliation.  Hans revels in how easy it was to fool her, as she is wasting away and running out of life.  Her last hope to survive and continue to try to resolve things with her sister is truly the villain of the story and leaves her to die.  She crumples to the ground, her hope and life all but sucked out of her.  Olaf discovers her and gently reminds her that her true love may have been riding alongside them on a reindeer the whole time.  When he sees Kristoff actually returning to help Anna he helps her out onto the frozen fjord to try to get to him. 

At the same time, Elsa has managed to escape and is also out on the fjord fleeing Hans, who thinks Anna is dead and is attempting to kill Elsa next.  Although Anna sees Kristoff coming to her aid, she also sees Hans raising a sword to kill Elsa.  In her last act Anna chooses her sister one last time, throwing herself between Hans and Elsa as she turns completely frozen.

The next few moments in the film are the most poignant and heart-wrenching.  Anna, who has been selfless throughout the majority of the film and has been deprived of so much her whole life, just sacrificed herself for the sister that she believed had been purposely been shutting her away her whole life.  And Elsa realizes this and collapses upon the ice sculpture that was once her little sister, absolutely crushed and sobbing.  At that moment she really “lets it go,” and lets all that pent up emotion loose with absolutely no idea what to do now.  All the love she couldn’t share with her sister her whole life is released.  It is an intense and emotional scene, no doubt.  But in true Disney magic fashion, of course this is an act of true love from BOTH girls finally and the frozen heart spell is broken.  The girls share a beautiful sister moment and it looks like all is well in the kingdom of Arendelle as the love shown by Elsa melts the winter spell.  Hans is sent back to his home country, Anna and Kristoff share a kiss, Olaf is given his own personal snow cloud to keep him alive, and Anna and Elsa happy proclaim that the castle gates will never be closed to the public again.

I just want to reiterate how different this film is from many of the Disney musical films.  The main storyline is family, not romance.  The tears at the end resurrect a sister, not a love interest.  The family dynamics here are incredibly real and relatable, and it actually has a sound moral: Don’t shut people out when you are in need of love, communicate your fears, and embrace the love of others who can help you.  Also, seek family therapy from a professional and not a stone troll, but that should be obvious by now.  In all seriousness, this newest of Disney films makes huge bounds in storytelling, a twist on the typical villain and love story, and music that really rings true. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cultural Diversity Gems

Two recent events in Disney news have caught my eye lately, in that they illustrate Disney's effort to respectfully appeal to a diverse audience.  First, a new children's television show has been announced, featuring the children of the world from the it's a small world attraction at the parks.  There's been a sneak peek released of "it's a Small World, the Animated Series", which depicts children exploring and learning about a new country each episode.  

I am optimistic about this effort, imagining kids meeting new friends and learning about unique and special customs, food, clothing from each region.  A healthy combination of stylish Mary Blair-reminiscient art and fun cultural diversity sounds like a winning idea to me.  And with the success of previously pioneering shows like Dora the Explorer I have no doubt many kids will embrace this fun series.

The development of this series combined with iasw's recent new merchandise line proves that this attraction truly stands the test of time and achieves its message of world peace almost half a century after its creation.

Photo from the Disney Parks Blog

Moving along to the Disneyland Resort, a new holiday celebration has debuted in Disney California Adventure park.  Disney ¡Viva Navidad! celebrates Latino culture and customs, and is currently taking place from November 15 to January 6.  Components of this new Holiday Time offering include a festive street party featuring beloved characters Jose Carioca and Panchito, live mariachi and samba musicians and dancers, and Mexican mojiganga puppets (giant figures made of paper and cardboard used in celebrations).  Other offerings include face-painting, dance lessons, and a whole menu of comida latina that has gotten some great reviews! 

Above photos from the Touring Plans Blog

This new addition to the Disney Parks' already impressive holiday-exclusive draws seems to be a huge win.  The location is prime as well, as being from Arizona I am familiar with the rich Hispanic population in the Southwest United States.  Embracing the colorful and longstanding traditions that many people who frequent Disneyland celebrate is a great way to encourage diversity and promote learning in a fun way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Please Don't Conquer it's a small world

Every now and then an image makes the rounds on social media of Disney clothing or merchandise that just strikes a chord in a weird way.  Whether it's Swaggy Micky Mouse or skinny-fied villains sometimes trying too hard just shows.  This tee shirt is something I could do without for a few reasons.  

First and foremost, the use of the word "conquered" in reference to an attraction specifically built to promote world peace and brotherhood for the 1964 World's Fair in New York is disrespectful.  Think about any conquering of a country in history or present time and it brings to mind murder, war, sickness, rape, and other atrocities. There is absolutely no need to associate that word with a concept that was completely counter to any of those ideas.  With all the modifications it's a small world has endured over the years, the central theme of forgetting our differences and embracing our similarities has been chiseled away little by little.  The addition of Disney characters turned the ride into an Easter egg hunt instead of a relatable message.  I stand by the argument that it's a distraction since I can't ride it anymore without noticing my fellow passengers become absorbed in finding each character instead of taking in the big picture.  The modification, including an "American room" at the end, dominated with white settlers and cowboys and sprinkled with Native Americans here and there, takes away from our global happiness and reminds us before we exit that we are, in fact, different.  Now this shirt reads as another reminder that this attraction doesn't speak to its general audiences as it once did. 

This leads me into my second point, that I believe Disney should be extremely supportive of the lasting legacy Walt has left that continue to remain in the parks.  To imply that this historical ex-World's Fair exhibit is something that needs to be "conquered," or even survived to the extent that it invites being mocked it is just distasteful to me.  And I do understand that the song can be annoying to modern-day audiences without historical insight.  But it is also a song written by legendary songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman, one of which is still alive and doesn't need to have his talent insulted outwardly by Disney.

The latter point is an opinion, of course, but I stand by my statement that using the word "conquered" is offensive in this instance.  I, perhaps naively, only wish those involved in Disney merchandise would think a little bit deeper about the messages some of their items put off, whether intentional or not, before trying to turn a dollar from them.  It's just unnecessary.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Disney's Disability Access Service - A Response to the Responses

The recent launch of Disney’s new disability system has caused a major discussion thread in the Disney community.  Certain individuals have more to say about the subject than others, and within these outspoken groups are both individuals who need the disability system and those who don’t.  Not having any experience whatsoever with the system and limited knowledge of the needs of those who might use the system, I feel like this is a subject that should be written about, but open to the voices of others with experience or insight.  Please comment if you would like to, and I gladly encourage respectful discussion.

From the Disney Parks Blog

The new system, Disability Access Service (DAS), can be obtained as a card from Guest Services.  With the lines and wait times I’ve heard reports of, this does seem to be a topic of displeasure.  I can understand this.  I can imagine that down the line the wait won’t be as bad, as the need to extensively explain the new procedures to guests may decrease.  But I can sympathize with the fact that they must wait to enjoy the parks rather than dive right in like non-disabled park-goers.  I’m not sure of a way to fix this but this is something Disney should keep its eye on to further improve.

Once the card is obtained they will check in with a Cast Member, either at a nearby kiosk or at the entrance of an attraction they want to ride.  The Cast Member will write down the time, current wait, and return time if the standby wait is longer than 10 minutes.  The guest can then return and go through the Fastpass line on or after the written time and take advantage of other park activities in the meantime, such as food, shorter wait-time attractions, or entertainment.  They cannot, however, get signed off on another attraction until they do the first one.

Guests with special needs will still be accommodated, as long as those needs are described to the Cast Members that can help.  In addition, it is recommended that guests use Fastpasses in conjunction with their DAS cards to get the most out of their experience and ride choices.  These details seem to ensure that Disney wants to continue assisting guests with disabilities.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that parents of disabled children face an extreme amount of difficulty when taking their children on vacation.  Disney has done much to make their parks physically accessible but there are many children with mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities, for which many places are a challenge to navigate, or even enjoy.  Autistic children have trouble with social interaction, communication, and view the world in a way that is not typical to most people.  One can imagine that tackling a Disney park as an autistic child and his or her parents would be an ordeal indeed.

However, it is worth mentioning and reminding that parenting a non-disabled kid is no walk in the park either.  Just sit and people-watch on a bench in Fantasyland and among the magical moments you’ll see countless meltdowns, tantrums, and crying children who need to be fed, changed, hate waiting, or whatever else is bothering them at that particular moment.  Most things about theme parks are, ironically, not kid-friendly, including long hours outside, waiting in lines, frightening characters, and crowds.  Combine that with the fact that many parents mistakenly believe kids have no problem being in the park from open to close.  The truth is, kids need breaks for naps, snacks, and recharging between activities.  They get over-stimulated and tired easily, and as a result they get cranky.  Parents of all types of children should be educated on what their children can handle at their particular developmental age and plan their Disney trip accordingly.

I don’t mean to reiterate this point to undermine the struggles of parents of disabled children.  I am in NO WAY implying that they shouldn’t be accommodated properly for their children’s specific disability.  And that seems to be what DAS is doing: helping those with disabilities enjoy the parks as best they can, while cutting out any abuse of the system.  Many parents are outraged because their autistic children don’t understand having to wait to do something they want to do right now, and to that I’d like to politely remind them that this is a characteristic of ALL children.  The DAS system gives the guests a time to come back so that those children don’t have to stand in the standby line for a long period of time, while the average park guests must tactically supervise and entertain their children in the longer lines.  And I do understand how that can be more difficult for a mentally or physically disabled child than a non-disabled child.  I hope that parents can appreciate the things that Disney can do to help make their odyssey of a trip easier, and if there are things lacking that they address Disney in a constructive manner.  

What I don’t agree with is people who use statements of how much money they spend or have spent at the Disney parks as (supposed) leverage to get the system to change back.  They think their minimal amount spent, in comparison to how much money Disney brings in altogether, is enough to make them get their own way.  We are all familiar with this tiresome sense of entitlement we all have experienced from those with more money than average.  Not only does this argument have childlike characteristics in and of itself, but also it is simply not effective and I would argue that it turns most people off to their plight.  If you casually throw around that you can afford to stay in exclusive suites each trip or eat at the most expensive restaurants, it alienates those of us who may have felt for your circumstances.  It also leaves us skeptical of you not being able to find other ways you can spend your spare time while waiting for your attraction time slot to arrive.  Surprisingly (or not) I have found in the customer service industry that it is more how you treat those who can help you than the amount of money you spend that influences how efficiently your problem is solved.

It’s very hard for me to judge the experiences of guests with disabilities, and I really do understand many of the concerns.  I urge my fellow Disney community members to try to put themselves in these guests’ shoes before they pass judgment on their frustration.  Most people, myself included, cannot even imagine how extremely tiresome the lives of people with disabilities, or parents with children with disabilities can be every single day.  They do deserve their share of the Disney magic.  

However, when the arguments start to become hostile and guests start threatening to stop taking their children to Disney parks because of these changes, I can’t help but wonder they can better express their concerns.  Guests should keep in mind that the system was revised for a reason.  People were abusing it, and so for Disney to not do something about it would be irresponsible.  This is the system that they have chosen to keep accommodating those who need the extra help while weeding out those who do not, and I am positive that they will continue to revise it to best help their all of their guests. 

Helpful links:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gay Days at Disneyland + A Trip Report

Last weekend my husband and I had the privilege of taking a much-needed trip to the Disneyland Resort for our first wedding anniversary.  We hadn't been since New Year's Eve of 2010 and we were anxious to see all the new offerings that both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure had added in recent years.  This included the new areas of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and all of the Halloween decor.  We had the unique opportunity to see the Villains fireworks show, since it could not be presented during the ticketed Halloween Party event because of extreme winds.  Although at first I was disappointed to miss my favorite show "Remember, Dreams Come True," we did get to see it the following night instead.  We made some amazing memories riding the Lilly Belle car and meeting some great Twitter friends, while also taking time to just enjoy the parks and escape from reality.

Here are some photos I took during my trip: 

The beautiful and exclusive (yet attainable by the general public!!) Lilly Belle Car made for a memorable anniversary!

My husband and I had our first Dole Whips ever! I don't know how I ever passed this treat by, but I'm sure glad we finally did it.

We finally got to see the new(ish) Jolly Holiday Bakery, and had coffee there our last morning.  I thought it was very well done, with subtle tributes payed to one of my favorite Disney films, Mary Poppins.

The Red Car Trolley in DCA had all the charm of a Main Street vehicle, Railroad car, or any other relaxing transportation that may have once existed in Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom.  We quite enjoyed the atmosphere it helped to create and the ride it gave us down Hollywood Land.

The Court of Angels in New Orleans Square, which was scheduled to close the previous weekend and miraculously did not, was thankfully still open on our visit.  This was actually the last photo I took inside of Disneyland on our last night, and the very next morning I was dismayed to read that it had finally been closed off to the public.  I don't know how I got so lucky as to have had the chance to say goodbye to this peaceful area but I will never take that opportunity for granted.  

My husband I actually did not go into this trip knowing that this weekend was the unofficial "Gay Days" of Anaheim, but after a few hours it was hard to miss!  It was absolutely the coolest experience to see so much pride in the Happiest Place on Earth, and seeing couples who could enjoy the parks with the ones they love.  While Gay Days is an unofficial event, NOT put on by the Disney Parks, it was definitely obvious that Disney was happy to cater to this audience.  The parks were a sea of red (the color they are encouraged to wear while there) all weekend.

We turned the corner by the Rivers of America just in time to see this awesome sight.  I left the photo un-cropped so you could see just how crowded it was, as well as the reactions of the crowd, all wanting a picture of the Mark Twain dressed in red!

The merchandise stores had racks set up near the front with the following merchandise, anticipating that those celebrating their pride would want to display it in all Disney glory.  Pins, antenna toppers, bracelets, and red shirts with rainbow Mickeys were happily scooped up by many a park-goer I saw displaying these items.  

The above photo was taken from the highly recommended Dateline Disneyland.  Head over there for more pictures and information about this event!

There were also plenty of food items like rainbow-colored sugar cookies in display cases, which was another sign that Disney is extremely supportive of this event.

Along with all the happiness and camaraderie we witnessed, there were also a few instances of fan-made shirts that were less than appropriate for such a family-oriented place as Disneyland.  While I am a full supporter of the LGBT community and do not consider myself to be a prude, I do think there is a time and a place for outspokenness of sexual acts or innuendos, and that is not in a Disney atmosphere.  Some examples of phrases we saw on clothing were:
-"Free (mustache symbol) rides" 
-Two women with different shirts, one saying "I like to eat candy" and the other "I'm candy"
-"I want the D (written in the ever-tacky Walt Disney font)"
-"Keep calm and get kinky"

Once again, I don't want to limit expression but I also do not see how overly sexual messages on clothing is beneficial for this type of event in this type of setting.

Back on a positive note, I say to anyone who might be hesitant about this event that we witnessed more rude and distasteful behavior from heterosexual guests than from same-sex visitors!  I can't wait to see how this event evolves over time as LGBT acceptance and support becomes more and more prominent.  

I'll conclude by reiterating how extremely lucky I feel after looking back at this trip.  We just had the absolute best time possible with the days we had, and I obviously can't wait until our next chance to do it all again!