13 Things You Didn’t Know About Moana

Moana, a 2016 animated feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, presents a refreshing and adventurous tale set in the rich cultural backdrop of ancient Polynesia. The story revolves around Moana Waialiki, the spirited and strong-willed daughter of the chief of the island village of Motunui. Destined to lead her people, Moana’s life takes a turn when she sets out on a daring mission across the vast Pacific Ocean to save her people from a looming ecological catastrophe. Inspired by the rich mythology of Polynesian culture, “Moana” is a vibrant celebration of courage, exploration, and self-discovery, imbued with themes of environmental stewardship and cultural identity.

The film stands out for its stunning animation, memorable characters, and a soundtrack that captures the essence of its setting. Auli’i Cravalho brings Moana to life with a performance that balances youthful energy with the gravity of a future leader, while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson adds charisma and humor to the demigod Maui. The narrative is further enriched by a cast of characters that include Moana’s wise and supportive grandmother Tala, her cautious father Chief Tui, and her loving mother Sina. Alongside its human characters, Moana features an array of whimsical and memorable non-human characters, such as the comically inept rooster Heihei and the flamboyant, treasure-obsessed coconut crab Tamatoa, voiced by Jemaine Clement. With its empowering message, catchy music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a story that weaves together adventure and cultural heritage, “Moana” has captivated audiences around the world, becoming a modern classic in Disney’s illustrious line-up of animated films.

Primary Characters and Actors

The primary characters and the actors who voiced them include:

  1. Moana Waialiki: Voiced by Auli’i Cravalho. Moana is the spirited and determined daughter of the chief of the Polynesian village of Motunui. She sets out on a daring mission across the Pacific Ocean to save her people.
  2. Maui: Voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Maui is a legendary shape-shifting demigod who accompanies Moana on her journey. He is charismatic and somewhat egotistical, but he has a good heart.
  3. Chief Tui: Voiced by Temuera Morrison. Chief Tui is Moana’s father and the leader of Motunui. He is protective of Moana and is apprehensive about the ocean and exploration.
  4. Sina: Voiced by Nicole Scherzinger. Sina is Moana’s supportive mother who tries to help her daughter balance her responsibilities to the island and her own aspirations.
  5. Tala: Voiced by Rachel House. Tala is Moana’s grandmother and the spiritual guide of the community. She encourages Moana to follow her own path and is a firm believer in the island’s ancient legends.
  6. Tamatoa: Voiced by Jemaine Clement. Tamatoa is a giant, treasure-hoarding coconut crab and serves as one of the film’s antagonists. He’s known for his eccentricity and the song “Shiny.”
  7. Heihei: Voiced by Alan Tudyk. Heihei is Moana’s pet rooster who unwittingly joins her on her journey. He provides comic relief throughout the film.

These characters, brought to life by a talented cast, contribute to the heartwarming and adventurous spirit of Moana” making it a beloved addition to the Disney animated film lineup.

Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Moana

As with all Disney movies, they put a lot of time and attention into the detail into every scene.  Check out some of the interesting facts about the movie you may not have caught or been aware of.

1. Originally, animators designed Maui as having a bald head, however, the filmmakers, later decided to give him long dark hair, as this is how he is described in most Pacific Islander legends.

2. The sign for Maui’s fishhook was inspired by the Scorpio constellation.

3. The movie’s animators got many of their ideas for how to best design the ocean, from watching the movement of Rapunzel’s hair in the movie Tangled.

4. In order to make Moana’s hair look as realistic as possible, the Disney animators had several models, with hair that looked similar to Moana’s, come to the studio and dunk their head in water, so that the animators could see what it should look like.

5. Although most Disney princesses are designed as having very unrealistic body types, the animators of Moana, decided to specifically design her as having a realistic body type.

6. Several Easter eggs can be found in this film, such as Flounder, from The Little Mermaid and Olaf, from Frozen.

7. Originally, Maui was supposed to be the main character in this film and Moana was supposed to only be a secondary character; however, this was changed, because the filmmakers wanted the plot to be about Moana’s own personal journey, not just about her relationship with a boy.

8. The filmmakers did not hold auditions for Maui, because they knew they wanted Dwayne Johnson to voice him.

9. It is only a coincidence that the voice actor of Moana looks so similar to her character, as Moana was designed before Auli’i Cravalho was

10. Moana’s red clothing represent her royalty, as red is the color of royalty in the Pacific Islands.

11. Dwayne Johnson inspired some of Maui’s physical appearance and movements.

12. Maui’s tattoos are Classic Disney Characters

13. Auli’i Cravalho is the youngest Disney princess voice actress.


Moana received widespread critical acclaim and was a commercial success upon its release in 2016.

  1. Critical Acclaim: Critics praised Moana for its vibrant animation, engaging storytelling, and rich cultural representation. The film was lauded for its portrayal of Polynesian culture and mythology, which was seen as both respectful and educational. Moana, as a character, was particularly celebrated for being a strong, independent, and relatable heroine, marking a positive shift in the depiction of Disney princesses.Lin Manual Miranda
  2. Music and Soundtrack: The film’s soundtrack, which included songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina, received special commendation. The song “How Far I’ll Go” was especially noted for its powerful lyrics and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  3. Box Office Success: Moana was a hit at the box office, grossing over $690 million worldwide. Its financial success demonstrated its broad appeal across diverse audiences.
  4. Awards and Nominations: The film received numerous awards and nominations. It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. It also received nominations and won several Annie Awards, which are specific to achievements in animation.
  5. Cultural Impact: Moana was recognized for its positive cultural impact, particularly in terms of representation. It was seen as a step forward in Disney’s efforts towards diversity and inclusivity in its films. The character of Moana has since become an iconic figure, inspiring young audiences and adding to the legacy of Disney’s animated heroines.
  6. Audience Reception: Audiences responded positively to the film’s adventurous spirit, humor, and emotional depth. It was praised for its ability to entertain and engage both children and adults, making it a family favorite.

Moana was celebrated for its artistic achievements, cultural sensitivity, and empowering message, securing its place as a beloved and significant film in the Disney animated canon.