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MAY
07

Top Ten Lessons from Dapper Day

Most Disney buffs know about Dapper Day, but this was my first time participating. The tradition is, in a word, charming. But then again, could there be any other way to describe thousands of people showing up to the park in circa 1950s Sunday best? Methinks no. A few tips for those looking to join in next time.

10. Arrive early. Like, really early. I arrived before 8:00 AM and they were already re-routing people from the parking garage to the Katella lot.

9. Bring a second pair of shoes. True that as soon as you change into your flats you'll feel about a billion times less cute, but your feet will thank you come about 2pm.

8. Rent a locker. For the shoes, yes, but also for your regular bag or purse. It's nice to be able to walk around the park on Dapper Day carrying nothing but the tiny vintage purse you bought just for the occasion. And the locker rental is super easy, and pretty cheap, too. You'll find them halfway down Main Street on the right side.

7. Bring a compact. So you can reapply lipstick after each churros, ice cream cone, and bread bowl.

6. Don't spend all day at Disneyland. I say this because there are actually more people dressed up in California Adventure than at Disneyland. And being all dolled up feels a lot more fun when you're en masse.

5. Look for ye olde photo ops. Disney doesn't actually sponsor Dapper Day, but they certainly support it. If you keep a lookout, you'll notice they've got multiple throwback photo ops ready (like old car models), complete with Disney photographers standing by. Seriously cute.

4. A hat is a must, but maybe take it off during Space Mountain. My courtesy picture shows me firmly holding my sky-blue pillbox on my head. I'd kept one arm there the whole ride. I should have just taken it off, but those damn pins had been so annoying to get in place.

3. Ease up on the rides. What I mean is this is a day that's all about the experience. The mood is different, lighter. And to me, the most satisfying thing wasn't maximizing ride time (usually I try to go on as many as I can), but rather soaking in the classic goodness. Admiring other people's outfits, listening to the band play, imagining what the park had been like 60 years ago when everyone dressed like this every day.

2. Pace yourself when putting together your outfit. You may find a vintage dress for $13 and think this is really no thing, but then the tailor might charge you $55 to take it in because of the detailed paneling. And the hat and gloves you find at the antique store might run you another $40, a purse $14, and a petticoat another $36. Hypothetically. In short, be prepared to wear the outfit every time you go to Dapper Day.

1. Bring a date. You'll want someone to take your picture, but mostly you'll want a man on your arm looking equally dapper.

Here's to November. I'll see you all there!

 

 

AUG
27

A Very Disney Day

 

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I've recently learned that if a Disney employee actually wishes you a "very Disney day" that they are, in essence, flipping you off. But that aside, I did want to mention as a follow up to this post (Disneyland Annual Pass: Yay or Nay?) that I did get the pass. And for my inaugural pass-holder visit, I was lucky enough to have my brother in town to be my partner in Disney crime. We opened the park (7:30 AM), we closed the park (midnight), we owned the park.

This brother is almost a decade younger than I am, so I wasn't around for much (read: any) of his growing up. I actually had two brothers who were still kids when I left home, and it's one of the reasons why I was such a blubbery mess the morning I drove away, college-bound. Because I was going to miss so much. Of them. Of their games and concerts. Of their laughs and mischief. Of their bedroom door that I'd always pass while on the way to mine...a door completely covered in stickers that I'm pretty sure my mom has never been able to remove.

This was probably the most time my brother D and I had ever spent together as adults (so naturally we went to Disneyland), and while sometimes it can be jarring to think of my younger siblings as having long passed me up (in size, in major life milestones), the way I most often think of them is as the two little boys I used to read Harry Potter chapters to. Fitting then that the family picture I keep framed on my nightstand is a circa 1998 Splash Mountain photo. My brothers, ages 7 and 9, wear priceless faces. One of blatant disgust and the other of sheer terror. Someday I hope we'll be able to recreate it, but even if we do, I doubt I'll ever like any family picture more. It's partly because of the priceless terror faces, but it's also because they were kids. I guess we all were, in a way. And it was magical (yes, I said it) to be with one of them again at the place where you sort of always feel like a kid. Looking forward to your next visit, D.

AUG
19

After All

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Anyone who recognizes this picture is my kind of people. It's on the outside of the Small World ride at Disneyland, which is where I spent last weekend. I waited in line to see the princesses, got my face painted, and flew my Dumbo car at its full height while beating away the calls of reality with a stick. (More posts on this topic to follow...)

Small World isn't my favorite ride (although it does provide a few glorious minutes of air-conditioned sit-down time), but I always feel a certain amount of tenderness toward it because I remember my dad once remarking to me that he particularly liked it. Last time I was there I took a picture of the outside of it all lit up and sent it to him. It really is neat once the sun goes down and all at once about a billion lights come on and everyone standing in line gasps in unison. This past weekend I outdid myself. While sitting through my second Small World go-round of the day (it was hot, okay?), I thought about dear old dad and how much it would lift his spirits if I sent him not a picture, but a video from the actual ride itself. I filmed several minutes and sent him the longest of all the clips.

When I spoke to Dad and asked him if the clip made his day, he laughed in the sort of way that means, "Are you serious?" Yes folks. It turns out that my dad actually hates the Small World ride, and he thought all of my Small World pictures and videos to him over the years were a joke. He thought it was funny. And that the video goes on and on made it seem even funnier. Whereas I thought I was being thoughtful. And that the video goes on and on made it seem even more thoughtful. To quote Flight of the Conchords, what a hilarious misunderstanding. It's a good thing I didn't buy him a souvenir shirt. Although part of me wonders how long I would have gone on in this manner and had no idea...

JAN
14

Out with the Old: Tarzan vs. Swiss Family Robinson

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I snapped this picture a few days ago because I like vintage typewriters and someday aspire to own one. I saw it, of all places, at Disneyland, in the treehouse that for so many decades was known as the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, but which some years ago was converted into Tarzan's treehouse. I know, I know, Disney has to consider its audience and what is relevant to them, but as a person who has been going to Disneyland since I was a little girl, these changes can be somewhat disenchanting.

Take the princesses. I didn't see Cinderella or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty anywhere in the whole park. Not walking around, not signing autographs. But I did meet Merida, Elsa, and Anna, heroines who, prior to this trip, I hadn't even known who they were. But all the little girls were falling all over themselves to meet these new princesses.

This isn't bad. Ok, maybe it's a little bit bad. Mostly it just struck me on this trip that times change, that new stories replace old ones, and that Disney is, ultimately, a business. Don't misunderstand - I love Disneyland. And I love that it can be for each little girl what she needs it to be. I know this because it is still that place for me. Even if I don't know who any of the princesses are.

AUG
20

Tuesday Nostalgia

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Because, why not?

The Lion King came through town a few weeks ago, which I suppose is why I've been a bit nostalgic ever since about all things Disney. When people ask what my favorite Disney movie is (to be clear, no one ever asks me this), I say The Little Mermaid. It probably has more to do with my age at the time the movie came out, but I'm pretty convinced there is a rather large contingent of women out there who hold Ariel and her underwater posse close to their hearts.

I always thought it was just me and was almost embarrassed that I had latched onto the movie so, but at a church camp one summer years later (a girls camp), I learned I was not alone in my obsession. Being a church camp, the camp leaders had put together a little book of songs that were approved for us to sing en masse while we sat in the lodge and waited for our tables to be dismissed for dinner. (Because certainly the worst possible thing that could have happened that week while caring for hundreds of teenage girls would have been inappropriate song lyrics. The horror.)

Anyway, one evening as we sat waiting for dinner, someone started singing Part of Your World, which, incidentally, was not in the song book. A few more joined in, then a whole table, and in a moment that was as solidaritous as it was amazing, pretty soon the entire lodge was singing this song. We knew it by heart. Every single one of us. And it wasn't just that we knew it, it's that we were into it. Think about it: here's a story about a girl who risks everything for a chance (and not a good one) to have what she wants most. That kind of gumption is not just admirable, it's inspirational. It's empowering. So imagine a campful of teenagers all wanting something more than they currently have, whether freedom or opportunity or circumstances. Imagine letting them loose with this song. Not sure I've ever seen such passion in all my life. Thank you, Disney. And thank you, Jodi Benson. For giving us a voice, then and now.

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