Modern Family “Disneyland” Review

Tonight’s episode of Modern Family had the whole gang going on one of their usual all-family trips to the happiest place on earth, “Disneyland.”

Growing up in Southern California, I appreciated the little details that embodied Disneyland culture beyond the park’s world-renowned attractions. Minor things like Cam’s pin collector lanyard, the Dapper Dans on Main Street, the mention of outrageously expensive churros, mouthwatering corndogs, and enormous turkey legs all contributed to a very authentic family trip to Disneyland. Sure, you won’t often see a 45 minute wait for Indiana Jones in the middle of the day on a weekend, but the line was right about where it should have been for that wait time.

Admittedly, as a former Disneyland cast member, it was also a challenge to watch tonight’s episode without fussing over some of the less authentic Disney moments. The bits that bothered me might only stand out to other cast members or die hard annual pass holders, so for the sake of this review, I’ll suppress my Disney nitpicking.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Alex and Haley in tonight’s episode. Earlier this season, I had mentioned that their bickering was starting to get obnoxious, but tonight it was done rather well. Their fighting over Ethan, the kid that Claire wanted to set up with Haley, was more subtle than their usual screaming matches and I found their passive aggressive back and forth to be entertaining.

Cam and Mitch brought Lily to Disneyland on a leash after realizing that Lily was a runner. The constant teasing about the “safety tether” that Cam got was great and while the gag about getting their leashes crossed like dogs was clever, it ultimately fell flat for me. Jay’s no-leash/no-run solution to Cam and Mitch’s runner problem was absolutely brilliant and totally unexpected. Lily was adorable in her new princess shoes and there was no way she was running after “squirrels” (ahem… chipmunks) anymore.

Spend some time at a theme park and you’ll usually come across at least one woman like Gloria whose feet are crammed into the most outrageous 4 inch stiletto heels for a full day of walking. I felt like this story-line was giving me some insight into the mystery of that breed of tourist. The change in attitude after Jay picked up some Minnie Mouse slippers for Gloria was hilarious. I loved how she suddenly became the sweetest, most apologetic version of Gloria that we’ve ever seen – and it was all because her feet were no longer in pain.

Finally tall enough to ride the big attractions at Disneyland, Luke was determined to get on every single roller coaster. Although he was most likely being affected by the flu, Phil’s struggles to keep up with Luke made him consider the reality of becoming an aging father. Phil and Luke talking about how their relationship would change as Phil got older was heartwarming and recalling Luke’s relationship with his elderly friend, Walt, I have no doubt that Luke would care for Phil like a best friend in his old age.

Modern Family normally uses the final monologue to wrap up an episode, but tonight, Jay’s monologue was practically a plot line of its own. I’m usually rather indifferent about the Modern Family ending monologues, but I was very moved by Jay’s story about why Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln would always represent a life-altering moment for him.

If theme park product placement was one of the goals of tonight’s episode, then maybe it worked because I’ve suddenly got the urge to visit Disneyland again. At times, this episode of Modern Family felt like a very well done infomercial. The story lines were rather simple, so a lot of what made this episode entertaining was seeing these characters interacting in that unusual and magical setting and in some ways, I guess you could say that Disneyland stole the show.