Modern Family Disneyland Episode Review

Modern Family Disneyland Filming

Modern Family Filming at Disneyland 3/1/2012

I hope you all had a chance to watch Modern Family’s Disneyland episode last night. While Sarah and I watched all three days of filming in February and March, we couldn’t find ourselves in the background of any scenes. I guess there goes our chance at becoming overnight celebrity sensations! (And I’ll never get those hours of my life back!)


Our Grade:

I give the episode an A+ from the perspective of a Disney fan who loves Modern Family (one of my top 5 shows on TV). If I weren’t a Disneyland fan, I would have thought it was a good episode of Modern Family, but not an elite episode. The plot wasn’t quite as strong as some of my favorite episodes, but there were a lot of good jokes. I want spoil anything by going into specifics, but we especially liked the Gloria shoes plotline and the child leash storyline. And, of course, the Modern Family trademark tie it all together” ending was excellent and oddly heart-warming.

That said, as a Disneyland fan, I thought it was an excellent episode of Modern Family. It was my favorite episode to date because it did a great job taking a show I love and giving it a setting at my favorite theme park. It clearly wasn’t white-washed by Disney PR (the digs at people on scooters, the long wait time, “Robot Lincoln” instead of AA, Little John talking, etc.) nor was the show a blatant vehicle for advertising the parks, which was great. As much as I loved shows like Boy Meets World, Full House, etc. that went to Disney theme parks, Modern Family is a higher caliber of TV, and having Modern Family be a blatant plug for the parks would have been disappointing.

It was nice to see jabs at Disneyland, but the best part about the episode was the attention Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln received. Although very popular with hardcore Disneyland fans, this is an unheralded attraction with the general public. It certainly isn’t as recognizable as a lot of the big name attractions, and it was nice to see this great attraction receiving its due. It caught us off-guard, but was great to see.

There were some “inaccuracies” that are easy to notice as a hardcore Disney fan, but I think it’s important for everyone to remember that the target audience for this show is not hardcore Disneyland fans. The average person isn’t going to notice a different look to the wait time board, that people entered the exit of the queue, or that there was no character handler. Some things need to be modified to make the production of the show easier/better, and exactly that was done. No TV show is completely faithful to real life, and with that in mind, I think the qualms here are VERY minor. I watch Law & Order all the time and enjoy it a lot, but I can tell you that it’s nothing like “real life.” I’m frequently told that most medical shows (besides, oddly enough, Scrubs) are similarly inaccurate. Viewers familiar with Disneyland shouldn’t fixate on these inaccuracies, since they’re present in all TV shows.

Our Reaction to Others’ Reactions:

Some people are complaining that the references to Disneyland were too forced and frequent, and some people are complaining that the park was merely a backdrop and wasn’t given enough exposure. These ‘contradictory’ complaints just go to show that you can’t please everyone.

Another vocal minority is complaining that a character, Little John, spoke in the episode, which ruined character integrity. Sarah and I watched the filming of this scene for about 2 hours in Fantasyland, and I can tell you that no one in the park heard the character talking. The only people who heard it are those who tuned in at 9 pm to watch a television show aimed at adult audiences. I do feel sorry for parents, unfamiliar with the show, who let their kids watch it and had the “magic” ruined, but Modern Family has dealt with far more controversial topics and often has edgy humor. Character integrity is definitely important in the parks, but not so much on show with an intended adult-audience (an intended audience that, presumably, all realizes characters have “friends”). So I think these complaints are viewing what happened on the show entirely out of context. But that’s just me.

What did you think of the Modern Family Disneyland episode on ABC? Do you agree or disagree with us about the “character integrity ” controversy?

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20 Responses to “Modern Family Disneyland Episode Review”

  1. Karen says:

    I thought the show was great as always! Did every extra have a balloon?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      No, but interestingly enough, every extra did seem to have a balloon, shopping bag, OR popcorn. Also, during filming, we noticed what we thought were unique park maps printed specially for the filming. They DEFINITELY were not the maps in circulation to the general public those days. They had the Fab 5 on the cover. I know sometimes foreign language maps have different covers, so maybe they were those? Seems crazy that they’d print maps specifically for the show!

      I didn’t notice the maps at all when we watched the show, so that would’ve been a lot of effort for nothing if they did print them specially!

  2. Justin M says:

    I enjoyed the episode. I found the whole shoe issues quite funny. On a trip to Epcot last year my girlfriend wore some shoes with a heel. We argued before we left and I told her to put on tennis shoes. Sure enough within two hours I was forking over $35 dollars for a pair of disney sandals.

  3. Daniel says:

    I watched with two kids, two kids who usually don’t watch Modern Family. Niether were freaked out by Little John talking, though they have also interacted with Talking Mickey (which did catch the youngest attention).

    The fact that it was in the park kept thier intrest, and if it was just a regular episode they would have gone off to do their own thing.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Good to hear that at least a few people who watched Modern Family with kids are sane. Even if kids are freaked out by it, there are PLENTY of ways to explain it away without having the magic being ruined. I mean, how do these parents explain Santas in every mall at Christmas? Do people seriously not have the ability to think on their toes?

  4. Brian Skinner says:

    Overall the episode was great and did bring light to Great Moments with Mr Lincoln and showed the great classic Disneyland attractions. But I feel there were a couple areas that could have been better handled in the way they are presented. The “Churro” refrence at the beginning, the snacks and Churros in particular and no more expensive than other theme and amusement parks and in fact cheaper than in some places. Many dining and snack options are priced accordingly with others in the industry. But the “eat up because the Happiest Place on earth also has the Most Expensive churros on earth” just gives the impression to new visitors or those that have never been to a Disney park that everything is overpriced. AS far as the Little John part, the talking didnt bother me as much as the part where he was pushed down then having Fox run over laughing. Other than that the show was good, in fact is was the first time I have ever seen the show. Overall it was a sit com and thats how I took it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The impression of Disney food is that it’s overpriced, even if that’s not always reality. So the joke worked on that level. Just like a joke that there’s a gift shop after every attraction would work, even though it’s not even close to true.

      I didn’t interpret it as Robin Hood laughing, but trying to articulate his surprise without talking, himself. In fact, while we were there watching the filming, I recall them coaching him to “act more surprised and upset” or something like that. Maybe it comes across as laughing, but I don’t think that was the intent.

  5. Melissa says:

    I enjoy sitcoms, though I tend toward those geared more at adults than families (Community, the Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and New Girl are some of my current favorites). I had never seen an episode of Modern Family before, but I made it a point to record last night’s episode. I loved it as a fan of both Disneyland and sitcoms. I think I may rent the previous seasons on DVD and catch up so that I can stay tuned next season.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Modern Family is definitely geared towards adults, not kids. I watch every other show you mentioned, and Modern Family ranks right up there with New Girl as my favorite (although I like everything on your list).

  6. Betsy says:

    A fabulous episode of a fabulous show. I was counting down for this episode as if I was the one going to Disneyland. This episode tops my previous favorite “sitcom goes to Disney” episode which was Step by Step. Who wasn’t cheering for the quirky family friend trying to complete an ultimate touring plan?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I haven’t seen Step by Step’s Disney episode! I’ll have to track that down this weekend, as I’ve heard from a few people that it’s a classic!

  7. Jenn says:

    LOVED it! I was giddy watching it and filled with magic (i know…you’re thinking weirdo and making the cuckoo motion). I LOVED seeing different parts of Disneyland and I loved the little jokes and whatnot. I also loved the “rollercoaster knuckles” they did and introduced that to my second graders today….they LOVED it. It is saved on my DVR for days I’m craving Disney (which is usually always).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I don’t think you’re cuckoo at all. We really enjoyed it too and plan on watching it again this weekend!

  8. Maria says:

    Loved it. I agree it wasn’t a best of the best of modern family episodes, but it worked. Perfect way to end my Disney booking day yesterday!

  9. Morgan Forrest says:

    I thought the episode was absolutely heightened for Disney fans. It felt as though it had plenty of inside jokes that just really hit a funny spot for those who frequent the parks. Bret and myself constantly poke fun at the kids on leashes, so that storyline was just hilarious. I also died every time they said “Robot Lincoln.” Although I am guilty of muttering under my breath, “they can’t go ride the Matterhorn, it’s being refurbished!” …and then chuckling at myself for being critical of such a thing. It was definitely a great episode overall, especially for us Disney lovers!

    Problem is, now I’m super craving a trip to Disneyland yet again. Time to start planning!

  10. Shipwreck says:

    I was surprised that Disney actually has costumes for Robin Hood and Little John. Did the Robin Hood characters take pictures with guest that day?

  11. sharbar says:

    Modern Family is such a funny show, one of my favorite primetime shows out right now. My Hopper caught all the action for me since I had to work late at Dish that night but when I watched it, I loved every minute of it. My favorite was Cam and Mitch with the leash, my mum bought my brother a leash back in the day! I thought it was a very good episode and I was so happy to be able to skip through the primetime commercials with my Hopper’s new Auto Hop feature. I hate sitting there waiting for commercials to be over to get back to my shows.

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