#CityDisneyStyle: Rock The Dots!

Disney Style, Style

dsc08653Happy National Polka Dot Day!  And say hello to the first #citydisneystyle post!🙌🏼  If you follow me on instagram, then you already know that this series is an idea I’ve been toying around with for the past month.  After getting all your great feedback, I’m finally pulling the trigger!

I hope that each month I can tell you more about how to put together a Disney Style outfit that suits your city life.  Instead of following one format, I’ve decided to focus on one topic each month. I’m planning to write up step by step guides, how to style one item multiple ways, and hopefully showing you how to easily transition at-home Disney loungewear clothes into a pulled-together errand outfit!🏃🏻‍♀️

This month, I decided to provide three tips on how to wear one of the most timeless prints around — Minnie polka dots!🔴⚪️⚫️🔴⚪️⚫️

dsc08665Tip 1: Choose interesting basics to pair with your dots.

I love a good pattern mix, but for easy city dressing, I usually pair a pattern or print back to interesting basics.  What do I mean by interesting basics?🤔 It sounds like such a contradiction, Alisa. Well, I’m talking about basic pieces with an unexpected point of interest.  Basics with an intriguing detail that makes them NOT so basic.

Notice in this outfit, that the points of interest in my black coat are the longer streamlined silhouette, slim collars, and distinct pocket details.  For my bag, the mixed metal buckle feels unexpected. And blue tinted aviators actually pick up on the blue in Donald’s hat. These kind of small details help to elevate your basics from literal “basic clothes” to stylish staples that stand the test of time.

dsc08659Tip 2: Mix different styles into your outfit.

Mixing different styles is something I often think about when putting together a #citydisneystyle outfit.  As much as I prefer to have a predictable life and schedule🙄, I try to go for an unexpected mix in my outfits.  And when it comes to styling Disney pieces, mixing fun and bright with more refined items easily transforms Disney clothes into city clothes.

Since I based this outfit on my flouncy Cath Kidston dot skirt, I decided to pair it with more structured items to get that nice mix of feminine and sleek.  Again, my black jacket instantly adds polish with its sharp silhouette and my earrings are minimalistic and streamlined. Both give a nice contrast to a flowy skirt and that contrast is what taps into that “je ne sais quoi” cool city girl mood.

dsc08697.jpgTip 3: Tuck it in!

It’s such a simple styling “hack,” but it has so much pay off.  For skirts or pants that sit at your waist, try to tuck in your top.  Not only does it help keep the shape of your outfit, but doing a French or half tuck will also help you channel that cool Parisian city vibe.  I mean, it’s called a French tuck for a reason!👩🏻‍🎨  Tucking your shirt in ever so slightly will instantly read as effortless and more polished.

Minnie dots are such a playful and timeless print to wear and I hope these three tips will help you wear them with confidence around the city!  Minnie may be girlie and sweet, but she’s also strong and independent. So to style an outfit that speaks to different sides of Minnie’s character was fun and meaningful for me.  And to share this outfit and these tips on National Polka Dot Day is just the icing on the cake!🎂

How do you like to wear your Minnie dots?  Let me know here or over on instagram!

A Holiday Outfit with Disney Flair

Disney Style, Style

DSC08525We’re a week out from Christmas, so trees, lights, and festive holiday outfits are in full swing!  In past years, I would wear the usual lace or sparkles, but this year, 🎶to save me from tears, I’ll give ‘fits some Disney style!🎶

What I’m trying to say with my horribly forced Christmas pun is that this year, I thought I would add some Disney flair into some of my holiday outfits.  I figured that would be a good way to help get me into the Christmas spirit, since I’m usually more of a Halloween ghoul.👻😆 I mourn the loss of fall weather and Halloween candy for a month.

DSC08534Since most of my Disney pieces are casual, I decided to pair a casual shirt with a satin, silky skirt to dress it up.  The mix of casual and dressy gives that cool, city girl vibe that I love.  But part of the fun in dressing for the holidays is also being a little kitschy.  Enter adorable Christmas light earrings!🎄  And since I have two ear piercings, I obviously had to capitalize on the opportunity and wear two pairs.😏  For this outfit, the green and gold pairs were the perfect accent colors.  BONUS: The earrings are less than $5 on Kmart right now!

DSC08543And even though I only intended to wear one piece of Disney apparel, I ended up wearing three.😅  Since the weather was gloomy, as it usually is during this time of year in San Francisco, I threw on my favorite oversized camel coat, which conveniently, features Mickey.  And to carry my essentials, I opted for my small Minnie Coach bag; also adding that perfect dash of Minnie style.🎀🐭❤️

DSC08527All in all, this was a perfect outfit for my afternoon work holiday party last week.  Dressy enough to be party appropriate, yet still laid back, fun, and festive!  And another bonus for ya…it’s an easy, comfortable, and cute outfit to wear for a visit to the Union Square tree!🙌🏼

I love that I was able to incorporate some Disney flair into my holiday outfit this year.  My usual holiday go-to’s are red, black, lace, or a dress of some sort, so it was fun to think out the box and incorporate some of my favorite mouses.🐭🎀🐭

What do you like to wear for holiday parties? Comment below what you’re going to wear for your holiday festivities or let me know over on instagram!

ABW

Tokyo Disney Resort Travel Guide: Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea

Musings, Travel

Tokyo disney resort disneyland disneysea style travel outfit mickey international

In 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to visit all 6 Disney parks within a year thanks to a close friend who encouraged me to do it with her.  And even though it’s been a quick (read “LONG”) minute, I’ve heard your cries on Instagram and am finally writing up reviews of each international park and hopefully answering your questions on accommodations, transportation, food, and more!  To kick it off, I’m starting with Tokyo Disney Resort!

japan tokyo disney resort mickey mouse disney style

Transporation

Transportation to the parks from on property and nearby hotels is easy and convenient.  Many hotels provide a shuttle that will either take you to the park or take to your closest monorail station. Disney-sanctioned hotels will even have the cute Mickey shuttle buses!

The monorail, unlike Disney World’s monorail, charges a fee.  But tickets are fairly cheap and if you know how many days you will be using the monorail, then you can buy multi-day passes which are a better value.  The monorail tickets can be bought at kiosks at the monorail station and they usually have cute seasonal Disney designs!

If traveling to the parks from Tokyo, you can take the metro (called the JR or Japan Railway).  It usually takes an hour to travel to the resort depending on where you are staying in the city and how many transfers you need to make.  But find the Keiyo Line or the Musashino Line, which both lead to Maihama Station.  Maihama Station lets you off at Ikspiari, which is like Downtown Disney or Disney Springs.  You can then board the resort monorail that takes you to the parks!

More info here: https://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdr/access.html

tokyo disney resort celebration hotel alice in wonderland disney style japan

Where to Stay

I’ve stayed both on and off resort and depending on how you want to spend your time in Tokyo, that is how you should plan where to stay.  If you are planning on visiting the parks for three days, I would suggest finding a hotel “on property.”  And I say that with quotes because similar to other Disney resorts, there are hotels within the vicinity of the parks, but aren’t necessarily associated with Disney. And these are great for those looking for cheaper rooms! But if you only have one chance to visit, I would recommend the Celebration Hotel! It’s one of the more affordable Disney hotels if you’re able to split the costs with a few people. I LOVED it! There are so many cute decor details (like bread and butterfly decals outside the room doors) and our room had the Joey Chou Alice in Wonderland mural along the wall.  SO MANY PHOTO SPOTS!

If you plan on visiting the parks for only one or two days and seeing Tokyo the remainder of your stay, then I would suggest finding a place in the city.  Even better, if you can find a hotel or airbnb near the Keiyo or Musashino JR Lines, it will cut down the number of transfers you have to make and get you to the magic that much faster.😉

japan tokyo disneyland resort mickey mouse disney food eats style cape cod

Food

TDR food is on another level.  Most, if not all, things are adorably cute.  However, I will say some of the food tastes a little processed.  Whether that’s good or bad is a different question, but do not expect to find fresh sashimi.  It still is after all, a theme park.

One of the more famed restaurants that is unique to TDR is the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall.  It is a cafeteria style restaurant that surrounds diners with the intricacies of Wonderland.  The signature dish is the Queen of Hearts hamburger patty, which is a fun heart shaped patty topped with a cheese crown.  However, since beef isn’t a super common meat in Japan, unlike the US, don’t be surprised if it tastes more like meatloaf.

japan tokyo disneyland resort sea disney style food eats stitch lilo hawaii curry popcornSome of my favorite TDR foods include the Mickey hand bun (Disneyland, Toontown), chandu tailchandu tail (Disney Sea, Arabian Coast), and Mickey chicken nuggets (DL, Tomorrowland Terrace but I like getting them in DS at Cape Cod Cookoff in American Water).  Other TDR foods that guests love are the different flavored popcorn and the Mickey shaped churro!  PS: Disney Sea has wine at Cafe Portofino in the Mediterranean Harbor area.🍷 Gotta thank the Nakajima sisters (Ayano & Natsuki) for helping us tourists with that one!😉

jack skellington disney sea style merch japan tokyo disneyland nailart nail art nightmare before christmas
Merchandise

I feel like there really isn’t much to say here because I think most Disney fans know that TDR merch is THE BEST.  Everything they sell is so much better than any other Disney park.  But aside from the ears, sunglasses, and apparel, I also really love TDR’s snack souvenirs!

Japan loves little packaged snacks.  And at both TDR parks, you’ll find whole sections of stores devoted to snacks and candies.  Even better, many of the snacks are cased in souvenir tins or containers.  So after you’ve eaten everything, you still get a fun case or tin as a souvenir!  I personally like bringing back the snack souvenirs as gifts for friends and coworkers.  But I always buy some for myself because it reminds me of my childhood.  My family was frequently in SF’s Japantown.  Preschool, summer camp, basketball leagues, piano lessons…it was all in Japantown for us. So growing up, we loved going to the Japanese markets to pick out whatever snack we wanted as our afternoon treat.  And now seeing some of my favorite childhood snacks wrapped up in fun Disney packaging just makes the child in me scream with joy!

japan tokyo disney sea resort disneyland disneybound disney style
People

Part of the reason why this one of my top Disney resorts is because of the people.  Guests and visitors are not only polite and nice, but they’re trustworthy.  Japan in general has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it’s because everyone respects one another.  Not saying you should leave your stuff around willy nilly, but if for some reason you left something behind, you have a good chance of getting it back.  Granted, there’s probably not much crime or theft that happens in Disney parks, you just get that extra reassurance that your belongings won’t be lost forever.

Tokyo DisneySea Disneyland Disney Resort Disneybound

Natsuki (left) & Ayano (right) 💖

Not many people there speak English.  So if you’re not knowledgeable in Japanese, be ready to charade your way through a conversation.  There are English maps and most signs have English translations.  Worst case scenario, have your map handy and point to what you’re looking for.  And better yet, also have a Japanese map with you so the cast member can read it in their own language instead of having to try to guess what the English map says.  But at least know “hello” (kon’nichiwa) and “thank you” (arigato).

japan tokyo disneyland sea resort disney style monsters inc university pixar

Unique Rides/Attractions 

Tokyo Disneyland is pretty similar to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. But they do have some rides and attractions that are unique to Tokyo! And of course, DisneySea is a completely different park, so everything they have can’t be found at any other Disney park. But if you only have a limited time, here’s what I would strongly suggest you try to ride in each park!

Disneyland park: Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek

DisneySea: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Magic Lamp Theater, Aquatopia, Nemo & Friends SeaRider

japan tokyo disneyland disney style park sea resort walt mickey mouse international park

Overall Thoughts & Suggestions

TDR is by far one of my favorite Disney parks.  I love the mix of Japanese culture and Disney magic, but overall it’s just a well-rounded resort.  Fun rides, easy transportation, various hotels, instagrammable food, and of course amazing merch.  But what really captures my heart are all the small details in the park.  The soap in the bathrooms are dispensed as mickey shaped foam, ramen egg yolks are also mickey shaped, and one time we swore the camel statue in Arabian Coast smelled like actual camel poop smell. They’re THAT dedicated to details.

To fully experience the parks, I would suggest a three day stay.  However, two days will still allow you to enjoy most of what the parks offer.  And I would probably spend a little more time in DisneySea versus Disneyland.  Only because DisneySea is completely different from any other Disney park.

If you’ve been to TDR, let me know what you love most about it! Or if you have extra tips, leave them here to so others can learn more too! And stay tuned for the next international international Disney park travel guide!🐭✈️

ABW

There is a place in New Orleans – AHS Coven Tour

Musings, Spotlight, Travel
New Orleans walking tour american horror story coven LaLaurie Mansion American Horror Story Coven Witch

Who’s the baddest witch in town?

New Orleans.  Food, jazz music, Mardi Gras celebrations…but I came for the AHS filming locations.😆  American Horror Story: Coven, the third season from the American Horror Story franchise, was actually the first season I ever watched.  I remember seeing commercials for season one and definitely thought it was way too scary for me.  But when commercials for Season 3 started airing, I was strangely drawn to it.  Some AHS fans felt season 3 was too “housewife-y,” but I honestly thought it was great to see a story focused around women and their relationships with each other within the “horror” genre.  I especially loved the show’s focus on the temperamental mother-daughter relationship.  And THANK GOODNESS we also get to see how race, class, and age play a role in those relationships. Like…yes, Ryan Murphy, YES.👏🏼

After doing some research, I found a gem of a walking tour — the unofficial American Horror Story Tour.  Mostly in the French Quarter, the tour is the perfect mix of AHS fandom and historical facts.  Bea, the tour guide, is also just amazing.  She is super knowledgeable about what parts of the show are based on New Orleans history and what parts were embellished or fictional.  And to my surprise, she knew those prime instagram spots AND was willing to help us stop to take photos.  What more could you ask for?! Thank you, Bea!!

New Orleans French Quarter LaLaurie mansionOur first stop was the LaLaurie house.  Not only infamous for being the residence of Madame LaLaurie in the show, but a bonafide haunted mansion and the site of LaLaurie’s torture “chamber.”  In Coven, we are slowly introduced to Madame LaLaurie’s fascination with blood and the human body.  She was filled with “childlike curiosity.”  And that was not a far departure from the truth.  Bea explained how Madame LaLaurie was accused of over-punishing her slaves, but since she had friends that were city officials, she was able to escape any serious charges.  But one time, the evidence was undeniable.

While hosting a party, the kitchen, which was in a separate back annex of the house, caught fire.  After rescuers extinguished the fire, they found a 70-year-old woman chained to the stove.  She later revealed that she started the fire to escape Madame LaLaurie’s torture and then led authorities to the attic where other slaves were imprisoned and tortured.  The evidence and testimonials were overwhelming.  So much so that her and her husband fled New Orleans shortly afterwards.  However, in Coven, the family’s disappearance is due to Marie Laveau’s revenge against LaLaurie. Below is the green iron gate where Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau first meet and Laveau’s plan for retaliation is set into motion.  In the show, it is shown as the front gate to the LaLaurie house, but is actually part of the neighboring building.

American Horror Story Coven LaLaurie Laveau Voodoo Kathy Bates Angela Bassett

New Orleans French Quarter American Horror Story Coven Witch

Even though the two women never met IRL, they lived within walking distance of each other in the French Quarter.  Marie Laveau, aka the Voodoo Queen, was renowned in New Orleans and obviously was included as a character in Coven.  She was the first practitioner to popularize Louisiana voodoo.  And honestly, learning more about Marie Laveau was probably my favorite part about this tour.  In the show, Marie is almost positioned as a villain against not only the Coven’s Supreme, but also Madame LaLaurie.  Both white women.  But hearing about Laveau’s real story, I was amazed to learn that not only was she a healer in the community, but she was also devilishly smart.

Accurately shown in AHS, Laveau was a hairdresser.  And she would occasionally offer her healing “powers” to clients.  Afterwards, she would simply tell clients to pay what they felt her help was worth.  She knew satisfied patrons would usually overpay because they were so grateful for her services.  Slightly Godfather-ish, but so admirable for a woman of that time to be so business savvy.  And though it’s not thoroughly shown in the series, we do see glimpses of Laveau’s business acumen.

When Laveau had daughters, she would give them her name, Marie Laveau, with different middle names.  The daughters looked just like their mother, so when the daughters were out, Laveau ensured that they were in different parts of town.  When townspeople asked who they were, the daughters of course replied “Marie Laveau.”  Baffled, people began to believe that Marie Laveau was actually getting younger!  And since Laveau and her daughters were never in the same place at the same time, no one knew otherwise.  This urban myth is also written into the show as LaLaurie and the Supreme meet Laveau in the hopes of obtaining her secret to “everlasting life.”

For Marie Laveau to build such a reputation during that time in history is impressive and inspiring.  Complete #girlboss behavior.  Granted she benefited greatly from the Code Noir, Marie Laveau found a way to make herself a legend.  If I ever have to answer that icebreaker question about the one person I’d like to meet or have dinner with, Laveau would definitely be at the top of my list.

New Orleans Saint Louis cemetery Marie Laveau American Horror Story Coven

Saint Louis Cemetery

Our walking tour also took us to the Saint Louis Cemetary.  Not only the site of Nicolas Cage’s semi-outrageous pyramid-shaped tomb, it is also home to Laveua’s tomb.  Upon visiting her tomb, it’s evident how influential Laveau was.  To this day, people still visit her tomb to make a wish.  If the wish was granted, they revisit her grave and mark a triple X as proof.  And if you see a lonely hair-tie or bobby pins, do not take them.  Those are gifts left for the hairdresser, Laveau.

Our last stop was the street where the infamous witch’s walk takes place.  It definitely didn’t feel as eerie as it seemed on the show since there were tons of tourists and cars around, but I made the most of it and strutted my witchy self up and down the sidewalk a couple of times.  And now I understand why all the girls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies complained so much about the heat.  Yeah, it’s hot and humid, but wearing an all black and mostly covered ensemble IN the heat is an entirely different story.

New Orleans French Quarter walking tour American Horror Story Coven Witches walk

If you haven’t watched AHS: Coven, please set up a fort in your house and watch it ASAP.  I personally love that it’s rooted in New Orleans history and shows the relationships, successes, and struggles of powerful women and women of color.  It is a treasure trove for exploring the intersecting identities of women.  And if you ever find yourself in New Orleans, please book this tour!  You get to learn more about one of the most kickass women in New Orleans history and grab yourself a few insta worthy shots…there’s really nothing to say “no” to here, ladies and gents.😏

ABW

Styling the Target x Mickey Mouse Collection

Disney Style, Style

Disney Style Mickey Mouse True Original 90 Birthday Target DisneylandAs we all know, Target released a Mickey Mouse summer collection a couple months back and I’m sure thousands of Disney fans raced to their closest Target.  I, of course, was one of those people because I am always SO thirsty for all the cute Disney merch!😆  The one item that I absolutely needed, and prompted my last minute evening Target run, were these white Mickey Mouse sunnies!  But alas, you never visit Target and leave with only one item.

Disneyland Disney Style Mickey Mouse 90 Birthday Target CollectionThe first apparel item I  reached for at the store was these lightweight chambray embroidered Mickey pants.  Fun and “less conventional” pants have been everywhere this past year and for good reason.  I love that these pants have an elastic waist.  (Hello, Jack Jack cookie num nums!🍪)  And to maximize the comfort factor, these pants are more of a straight leg cut, which gives you a little extra wiggle room for running to that FastPass station.

Disneyland Target Collection Disney Style Mickey Mouse Cath KidstonPants, sunglasses, and handkerchief: Target, Bag and bag strap: Cath Kidston, Shirt: H&M, Shoes: Superga

I love pairing light blue chambray with white and ivory, so I dug up an old white H&M scallop edge top and tucked it in for a defined waist.  And accessorizing is a breeze when you end up buying all the coordinating accessories from the collection.😅  The white Mickey sunnies add that element of fun to an otherwise more proper-looking outfit, and the red Mickey handkerchief brings attention to my face.  The Cath Kidston bag originally came with a navy strap, but for that extra punch of fun, I switched it out for the alternate red striped one.  And to tie it all together, I wore my red Superga 2750 classics.  (Bonus: California residents can get 10% off Superga shoes with the code “abitwong10”!)

pixar California Adventure cars land radiator springs target disney style disneyland mickey mouse 90 birthdayAnother clothing item from the Target collection is this rainbow “Good Times” Mickey shirt.  I love that it’s a basic tee with a twist.  Rather than a blank white shirt, a simple rainbow graphic brings more character to an outfit.  And instead of just pairing it with my usual skinny jeans, I decided to try something more fun!  These coral linen pants are colorful and breezy, but beware… linen = wrinkles galore.😩

california adventure cars land route 66 disney style target mickey mouse 90 birthday pixarI also picked up this girls😅 straw drawstring backpack from the Target collection.  It has a frickin’ hidden mickey on it made out of pom poms.  How does one not buy it?  And this particular backpack carries so much stuff!  Aside from my denim jacket, which I brought along for the chillier pre-summer evenings, I also fit my DSLR, water bottle, and polaroid camera — and I still had room for extra souvenirs.😆

If weather permits, I also like to wear a denim jacket because it’s a great way to “tone down” an outfit.  These coral pants are definitely loud and a little different than what I’m used to wearing.  So if I ever felt self-conscious, I just threw on my denim jacket.  And being a jacket fiend, I just love the way it completes an outfit.  But we all know that the real outfit completer are shoes.  These Vans Winnie the Pooh shoes perfectly picked up colors from the rest of my outfit and it’s always fun to add a little extra whimsy to your feet!

california adventure cars land pixar disney style target mickey mouse 90 birthdayShirt and backpack: Target, Pants: Sears, Shoes: Vans, Jacket: Forever 21

Yes, I did pick up more stuff from the Target x Mickey Mouse collab, but I’ll spare you for now.😆  And even though we’re still a few months out from Mickey AND Minnie’s 90th Birthday, I’m so excited that Target and other big retailers are already releasing Disney Style pieces!  I actually heard that Forever 21 is dropping some new fall Disney Style pieces, so….I’m going to go online shopping now.🛍🙈

ABW

Growing Up Asian American

Musings

epcot disneyworld growing up asian american

For the conclusion of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, I thought I’d participate in an “Growing Up Asian American” tag.  I also feel guilty that I didn’t do more posts dedicated to this month, so hopefully this can help make up for it.😁

1. Which ethnicity are you?

100% Chinese 🤗

2. Which generation are you?

I consider myself to be a 3rd generation Chinese American, but I think according to the Webster dictionary, I’m 2nd generation.  My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. when they were young, and in fact, my great grandfather on my dad’s side was working in the U.S. and would occasionally return to China.  While in California, he found a suitable husband for my grandmother to marry.  And so my grandmother then immigrated to the U.S. essentially as a “picture bride.”  On my mother’s side, my grandparents were married and had their first child in China.  Soon after my uncle was born, they immigrated to California.

3. What is the first experience where you felt that demarcation of being a minority/different?

It’s hard to say because when using the words “minority” and “different,” this question seems to imply that learning I was Asian American was a bad experience.  But between growing up in San Francisco, which has a huge Asian American community, and my parents who were actively engaged in Asian American community organizations, knowing that I was Asian American was something to be proud of and something I learned at an early age.  Especially around Lunar New Year because I could brag about how the huge televised SF Chinese New Year Parade was an event that honored my culture.  Plus…red envelopes!😆

But it’s hard for me to pinpoint what exact experience made me realize I was a minority.  And even if I did realize that being Asian American meant I was different, being around a large community of Asian Americans reassured me that it wasn’t wrong to be one.  In grammar school (K-8th grade), the popular girls were Asian, the MVPs of our female sports teams were Asian, the girls most of the boys liked…were Asian.  I owned a hoodie that said “Generasian” on it and practically wore it everywhere I went when I was a tween.

From a young age, my parents made it a point to teach us about our ethnicity and culture and to expose us to the community.  An experience that I think is unique to cities and areas that have a dense Asian American population.

4. Were you always proud of your heritage or was there a time you rejected it?

The time in my life that I regretfully rejected being Chinese American was in high school.  To this day, I feel like I am still fighting to win back that Asian American confidence I once had in grammar school.

And maybe this pertains to the previous question, but I distinctly remember one day in high school when I was trying to get my books out of my locker.  I was in a rush because I gave a presentation in my previous class in which I had to dress up as a jazz singer.  Trying not to be tardy, I had to quickly change my clothes and head to my next class.  When I got to my locker, the guy who owned the locker above mine, was leaning against them and therefore blocking my way.  Instead of stepping to the side, he just ignored me.  And this wasn’t the beginning of the year; he knew I had the locker below his.

I finally spoke up and asked him to move.  He scoffed, turned to his friend, and said something to the effect of “She thinks she’s a Chinese princess over here.”  And those words don’t seem scarring, but for some reason, they stuck with me.  Why is it that all of the sudden I’m a demanding Chinese princess for speaking up?  But as someone who is also a major introvert, I don’t like to cause a commotion (in public at least😅).  And if speaking up prompts that kind of response, then maybe it’s better if I just held my tongue.

So throughout highschool, I tried my best to not come off as “too Asian.”  And granted there’s probably more to unpack in that one experience (me being female, him being male, him trying to be cool, me being stressed, him being a Sophomore, me being a Junior), but the overall tone of this interaction was racial.

5. What are some stereotypes that you struggle with?

Because I’m Asian American, many people assume that I’m smart and quiet.  Both which feed into the model minority stereotype – which is a larger, more general stereotype about Asian Americans.  And I agree, there are many Asian and Asian American families that have been extremely successful.  My family is probably even considered successful.  We’ve had the privilege of not having to worry about money, living in a house we owned, being able to work free of disabilities, and having English be our first language.  But there are also so many families that experience economic struggles, domestic violence, and immigration issues.  And they’re often overlooked because so many people believe the model minority stereotype.

But I like to think I have my smart days.  Ask my boyfriend about the countless million dollar ideas I’ve pitched to him.😂  And in school, I did manage to get some good grades and took a few honors and AP classes.  But don’t be fooled because I had to get good grades in those classes to offset the ones I failed in.🙈

And in general, I’m pretty quiet and keep to myself.  But that’s because I’m an introvert.  As a child, I was probably taught to be quiet rather than loud because that’s the respectable thing to be in Asian cultures, but if I was an extrovert at heart, I would probably be more outspoken.

But as an Asian American female, the expectation that I’m to be quiet and submissive is compounded.  There have been multiple times in my life where a stranger would try to dominate the situation because they figured I’d roll over and they could get away with being overly mean.  But be warned, I have held my own in a few instances!  Asian American females are also often hypersexualized.  Luckily I’ve never had to deal with those kind of encounters, but unfortunately, many Asian American females do.

6. Can you speak your language?

Sadly, no.  I can order a chicken bun and know a few baby words (milk, bad, “don’t pick your nose” is a handy one), but that’s the extent of my Cantonese.  Don’t even ask me about mandarin. >.<

7. How has being Asian American affected your relationship with your parents?

Since my parents are American-born, they were better equipped to navigate my “American” upbringing compared to my immigrant grandparents raising them.  And as I mentioned earlier, teaching us about being Asian American, and to be proud of it, was something they prioritized.   My mom made us watch Flower Drum Song, one of the first movies to feature a predominantly Asian cast.  For the release of Mulan, my family coordinated with my friend’s family, who was also Asian American, so both our families could see it together and celebrate Disney’s first animated Asian heroine.  They would even bring us along to events hosted by those Asian American non-profit orgs so we could meet their colleagues – aka social justice advocates, like themselves.  In fact, my parents’ involvement in Asian American non-profit community organizations is what inspired me to take Asian American studies and Sociology classes focused on non-profit orgs in college.

8. How do you feel about your heritage now? Do you identify with it?

Yes, I am grateful to be Asian American and identify as being Asian American.  But occasionally, I also feel hesitant to fully claim it because there is a myriad of Asian American experiences that many have experienced, but I haven’t.  I never knew what it was like to have to translate English for my parents.  I never had to feel ashamed of my “weird” Asian food at school because I was usually signed up for the school provided lunches.  I did have classmates pull their eyelids to the side and make funny faces at me and my friends, but my teachers knew to immediately educate them on why it wasn’t appropriate.  And I won’t get into being Asian v. Asian American.

9. What is your favorite thing about being Asian American/your heritage?

I think being an Asian American female gives me a unique perspective on the world.  It enables me to provide a different POV to others and hopefully encourages them to share theirs as well.

I’m also proud of the leaders in the community that fight for the social injustices that affects the Asian American community.  And I’m especially proud of those who try to further Asian American representation with more diverse and dynamic stories.  Asian American representation is something I value and the reason I started this shindig in the first place!

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If you’ve made it through this whole post, thank you so much for lending me your eeaaarrr…eye!😉  I hope telling you my story encourages you to tell yours!  And even though APAHM is coming to a close, we can still ask each other these questions and talk about our shared experiences year-round!  The more we tell our stories, the more we can learn from one another and grow together.

ABW

Rockin’ the Dots for Minnie’s Walk of Fame Star

Disney Style, Musings, Style

January is always a great month for me because…

1. BIRTHDAY MONTH! and

2. It’s a month devoted to Minnie and rockin’ the dots!

paradise pier california adventure disneyland rock the dots minnie mouse disney styledress: Realisation Par, jacket: Zara, purse: Coach, shoes: Converse

But this is post is going to be about Minnie (and some Minnie inspired outfits), not my birthday shenannigans. 😉  In fact, Minnie had a “facebook worthy” life event when she received her star on the walk of fame earlier this month!  And honestly, it’s about time!

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Mickey got his star back in 1978, but Minnie was only nominated for her own star just a few years ago. And in the wake of the #TimesUp movement, I’m sure the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce felt pressure and saw the perfect opportunity to show support.  More about how Minnie had to wait 40 years before getting her star here!

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And I’ll be honest, I tend to choose Mickey over Minnie; especially when it comes to merch and disney fashion.  And that’s usually because I find Minnie to be a little too girly for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got love for Minnie and everything she’s done.  But when it comes to girly, I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I tend to shy away from it.  When you’re a short asian and look “doll-like” in girly clothes, people tend to treat you more like a child rather than an adult.

paradise pier california adventure minnie mouse disney style mickeyjeans: Siwy, purse: Danielle Nicole, shirt: Harajuku, tank: LF, sunglasses: QUAY

Should I let the way others treat me deter me from wearing girly clothes? Absolutely not.  But the other part of wearing less girly clothes is to limit the amount of defense I have play.  If I encounter someone who starts treating me like a child, all of the sudden I have to make my case on why they should treat me like, I don’t know, a grown adult?!  Yes, I have a major sweet tooth, hate going to sleep when I’m told to, and I like Disney.  But that means I’m a child at heart, not an actual child.

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But let’s get back to Minnie.  I’m so glad Minnie finally got her star!⭐️  It was long overdue and just highlights how far behind we were in recognizing the gender disparity between Minnie and Mickey.  So instead of just rockin’ the dots only in January, I’m going to try to let Minnie inspire more of my Disney outfits.  Because the only thing better than representing this iconic fashionista is to shock strangers that dare treat me like a child.

ABW

california adventure paradise pier minnie style mickey mouse disney style

5 Favorite 2017 Disney Collaborations

Disney Style, Musings, Style

san francisco golden gate bridge mickey mouse disney styleIt’s the last day of the year and instead of making a list of practical resolutions, like how I should save more money, I’m instead reminiscing on the all the ways I wanted to spend my money this past year – aka my five favorite 2017 Disney collaborations!  There were so many great Disney collaborations that debuted this year, but I’ll mostly be focusing on apparel collabs because there’s no better way to show your Disney pride than to have it plastered all over your body. 😬

Coach x Disney

Last year, Coach released a special Mickey collection that sold out INSTANTLY.  I went to a Coach store around 1pm the day it released and the store was literally down to it’s last few items for each style.  So this year, Coach released another Mickey collaboration only in their outlet stores.  The assortment was reminiscent of the original collection, but included a lot more styles and variety.  You best believe I snatched up a bunch of the bags and maybe a jacket…or two. Well, one of the jackets was gifted to me, so that doesn’t count.  But regardless, this was probably my favorite collaboration of the year.  I wear those Coach x Disney bags so often and the jackets I’ll keep forever!mickey mouse disney style coach sugar cookie disney eats food

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UNIQLO x Olympia Le-Tan “Minnie Mouse Loves Dots”

Another collection I loved was the UNIQLO x Olympia Le-Tan “Minnie Mouse Loves Dots” collection.  I’m usually more of a Mickey lover, but the Minnie graphics were too cute to pass up.  I especially loved the embroidered details that tied all of the pieces together.  I’ll admit, some of the shirts were too sweet for my taste, but I fell in love with the cropped tattoo-esque shirts with Minnie’s face and banners flanking each side of the collar.  I loved it so much, I picked up both the black and red colorways.  I also picked up a couple of the bags, but my favorite is probably the red structured Minnie bag.minnie mouse style uniqlo zara san francisco disney style

Arezzo

This one, I’m quite sad about because THEY ARE ONLY SOLD IN BRAZIL.😭😫 I was actually so close to snagging something from this collection thanks to a sweet friend that offered to pick it up for me.  But I guess it wasn’t meant to be because my size was sold out in almost everything.  Anyways, Arezzo is a Brazilian shoe brand that released a super diverse Mickey inspired collection.  The range included espadrilles, classic pumps, and trendy slides.  I especially wanted the yellow Mickey ear slides because they are perfect for a Mickey disneybound and add that great pop of color to everyday outfits.  Hopefully, someone out in the world is re-selling theirs!🙏🏻

 

Cakeworthy

Cakeworthy released it’s first official licensed Disney collection earlier this fall and it is amazing.  Cakeworthy always delivers the coolest Disney streetwear clothes around.  Compared to many other small apparel businesses that create Disney-inspired clothes, Cakeworthy items always have that unique punk edge.  I immediately loved the Neverland denim embroidered jacket and the novelty Mickey pizza bag.  Both are a little out there, but super special pieces that can’t be found anywhere else.  I’ve known the brains behind Cakeworthy for a few years now and they are amazing people.  They always find that one thing that Disney fans want but doesn’t actually exist, and then make it into a reality.  Their ability to identify the white space within the Disney apparel world is what puts them ahead of the rest.mickey mouse disney style true original 90 birthday levi's levi

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Photo from Cakeworthy’s Disney Lookbook!

Pendleton

I know this one isn’t necessarily clothing, but I had to add it in after my boyfriend so thoughtfully gifted me the Pendleton Mickey wool blanket for Christmas!  After seeing it as part of a Disney Style gift guide, I immediate knew I had to have it.    They also released a few kids’ throws which are adorable for families with younger children.  But for the adult that’s young at heart, the Mickey’s Salute throw is perfection.  It’s the ideal mix of Pendleton’s classic geo patterns and old school Disney charm.  And I am a total sucker for that timeless Mickey.  If I ever end up not using it (stab me if that ever does happen though because that would be a heinous crime committed against this blanket), I love the idea of framing it and making it this huge piece of artwork to hang on the wall!

pendleton mickey mouse 90 birthday true original disney style

So those are my top five favorite Disney collaborations from this year!  There definitely was a huge number of Disney collections, but these were the few that I really coveted.  And the fact that I had to narrow down my choices is exciting!  Compared to 2016, I felt 2017 was the year many designers and companies finally realized that people love Disney and Disney products!  Within the past few years, I think more people are finally comfortable showing their love for Disney in everyday life – namely in apparel!

I could be completely wrong on this, but I feel like Disney lovers would wear all their gear in the park or to some kind of Disney event, but that’s the only “acceptable” time to sport it.  But nowadays, I walk around work and see other co-workers wearing their Star Wars sweater or a Mickey shirt and I get a little excited.  I think we’re coming into an age of “Screw it.  This is something I love, so I’m going to wear it.”  And now more than ever, people are braver about showing off the things they love.  And in terms of showing off Disney Style, I’m all for it.❤️

Cheers to a great 2018!🎉  And to more Disney collaborations!🐭

ABW

Shanghai Disneyland – Solo Travel Tips

Travel

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Forewarning: This is not necessarily advice on how to see the whole park in one day.  It is just some helpful solo travel tips.

So as I mentioned in my last post, I was fortunate enough to visit Shanghai Disneyland this past summer.  And navigating a Disney park alone isn’t new to me.  But navigating an international park is an entirely different situation.  Now, I’m not usually a solo traveller, but in case you ever find yourself wondering Shanghai Disneyland alone, here are a few tips that I hope will help make your visit a great and easy one!

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1. Use the single rider lines if possible and/or strategically plan your fastpasses.

This is actually a good tip for both solo travelers and groups.  I totally played it wrong this last visit as I didn’t take advantage of the fastpasses.  But when you first arrive to the park, find one of the fastpass stations and see what rides you’d like to get a fastpass for.  And some rides have single rider lines, that usually have shorter wait times than the regular stand-by lines, so take advantage!  Especially for Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron!  For more tips on how to beat the lines, search google!  There are tons of helpful blog posts from avid park goers floating around.

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2. Ask younger park-goers to help take your photo.

If you don’t get a castle photo, did you even really visit a Disney park? 😏 jk.  But I’ll be honest, I wanted at least ONE castle photo with me in it.  I found I had the best luck when I approached younger visitors that were dressed more stylishly.  Let’s face it, if they’re dressed in street fashion, they’re most likely wanting a good photo of themselves too.  And they’ll actually know how to use a camera phone or DSLR.  Sure there’s lots of people you could ask, but the majority are families with young kids and I just felt guilty burdening busy parents.  Especially since I didn’t speak Mandarin.  So find those street style, hipster looking visitors!  And of course, return the favor and offer to take a photo of them and their group afterwards.

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3. Or make sure you have a portable tripod of your choosing (gorilla tripod, selfie stick, phone back stand, etc.)

Before I found a pair of stylish friends that were willing to help me out, I actually used my camera on a gorilla tripod and had it clung to a nearby rail.  Did I look a little insane?  Yes.  But here’s the secret — no one knows you!  So what if older grandparents sitting around the park look like they’re judging you.  “Maybe I’m just trying to take some photos to show my own grandma, mister!”🙄  Anyways, having my gorilla tripod came handy when I wanted to take photos of myself.  If you’re savvy enough, you can also use it as an impromptu selfie stick.  Or even an arm extension for us shorties out there who just want a better glimpse of a parade.

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By the look of that bunny, I’m thinking this is a noms spot.

4. Learn basic words and phrases in Mandarin.  And don’t be afraid to charade your way through a conversation!

You should at least know hello (ni-hao, pronounced knee-how) and thank you (xiè xiè, pronounced sheh sheh).  This at least softens up the person you’re talking to because you’re at least trying to speak Mandarin.  And sometimes, that’s all they want to see.  Effort.  If you’re looking for a certain attraction, restaurant, or bathroom, have your map handy.  If you just point to what you’re looking for, the cast member will most likely understand, and point in the direction you should head.  And if you’re like me, you might be searching for specific kinds of adorable looking food and merch.  In that case, try to screenshot a photo of it on your phone BEFORE you get to the park.  Later, you can easily bring it up on your phone and ask a cast member.  And if all else fails, try your best to charade through your conversation.  It’s actually fun to be kind of goofy and cast members usually find it endearing and were more willing to help.

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Peace out, Shanghai! ❤

There you have it!  Just a few tips to help make your solo trip to Shanghai Disneyland a little easier and more enjoyable.  And I am by no means an expert of this park or solo travel.  There are tons of people out there on the interwebs that know this park inside and out and could probably give you so many more great guidelines and tips.  But these are just a few things that I found to be super helpful during my solo visit.  And honestly, part of the experience is not knowing what the hell you’re doing sometimes.😆  So here’s to hoping we can all be a little braver to be more adventurous!💪🏼

ABW

Shanghai Disneyland – Experience

Musings, Travel

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Last year, I was able to travel the world with a close friend to visit all of the Disney parks within a year.  The catalyst for this trip was of course the opening of Disney’s newest park, Shanghai Disneyland.  I thought it would be a few years until I was able to visit again, but last month I was lucky enough to travel to Shanghai for work.  And duh, of course I had to make a special trip to the park.🐭

Now that I’ve visited the park twice, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences.  And hopefully, this will give you some insight before your first or next visit to Shanghai Disneyland!

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Dibs!

You’ve probably heard already, but parkgoers in Shanghai Disneyland are pushy.  But know that it is not meant to be intentionally rude or mean-spirited, it’s just cultural norm.  So be mentally prepared for it.  There are tons of photo spots around the park and instead of forming a neat line, people crowd around in a circle and jump in once the spot is open.  If you’re in line and there’s space in front of you, people behind you look over your shoulder until you move up.  Or even worse, they’ll try to move around you to occupy that space and essentially cut you.  And again, this isn’t because they’re trying to be mean to you.  It’s more a “take it or lose it” mentality.  If you’re taking to long to get your photo, then I’ll go ahead of you.  If you’re not going to move up in line, then I’ll move up.  In a country where resources are sometimes limited, many grow up feeling the need to be more assertive in taking what they want or risk not getting anything at all.

As an avid Disney park-goer, this is a completely different and somewhat intolerable environment.  My advice is to take it in doses.  It’s much more bearable.  Wait in line for a ride and then go find a place to sit while you eat.  After you finally fight the crowd for that photo, head to Tomorrowland to watch the Tron bikes zoom by for a few rounds (the lights are actually mesmerizing).💫🚴🏻  Just break up your day if possible instead constantly battling the crowds for 10 straight hours.

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You’ve been warned.

After a while, you might want to start yelling at the crowds.  But just know that security and cast members are not the most involved when it comes to altercations between guests.  Last year, while waiting in line for Tron, a guy cut past me and my other friend. The rest of his group was not far behind and I could tell what was about to happen.  Fed up with pushy guests all day, I grabbed the rail to prevent his friends from passing.  Of course, the guy was immediately upset and started to yell at me.  I sternly explained that his group needed to go to the back of the line.  Or alternatively he could go ahead, but his friends could not.  It was a single-riders line after all and it didn’t matter if they were altogether – they would be split on the ride anyways.  After a few minutes he pushed me backwards.  And this was a full-palm double handed push.  Luckily, his friends were behind me and actually caught me, but my friend and I were literally stuck in this tangled mess of flailing arms and loud yelling.  This showdown happened within earshot of cast members and they did nothing.  No one rushed over to mediate or to assist.  They literally just stared at us.  Not fun.

However, during this past visit, two women began yelling and thankfully it didn’t take long for cast members to show up.  BUT it still took cast members almost ten minutes to actually resolve the situation.  The Tarzan show actually had to be delayed.  And your girl just wants to watch a half-naked man do some aerial arts, so you can imagine how annoyed I was.  At any other Disney park, cast members would have escorted those ladies out in a flash.  But I think park operations are still learning how to handle guests.  So before getting into an argument with anyone, just know that you could be on your own.

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Spread the love! ❤

On the flip side, most cast members I encountered were helpful and friendly, IF you approach them politely.  Walking up to a cast member acting like they’re the crazy ones for not speaking English, just sets you up for a bitter interaction.  And believe me, I’ve seen that happen before.  Not a pretty sight.  So please don’t be that “ugly American.”  PUH-LEASE.🙏🏻  We have enough people in the world that hate Americans already.  In fact, try proving everyone wrong.  Show them how humble and polite Americans can actually be.💁🏻  And cast members deal with tons of unpleasant guests all day, that they’d probably be more than happy to assist someone that is actually nice to them.

Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Rose Cup Shanghai Disneyland

Do you suppose the sign says “Best Cup Ever” in Chinese?

Traveling in China as a Chinese American is an interesting experience.  Everyone expects that you’re just like them, but you’re really…not.  Most people I encountered in China automatically started talking to me in Mandarin.  As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I grew up speaking English.  And on top of that, my grandparents immigrated from Southern China, which means they and my parents speak Cantonese, not Mandarin.  So even if I did know some Chinese, it would still essentially be a different language.

So when I approached someone at the park, I would actually feel embarrassed for a split second.  They would start talking to me in Mandarin and since I couldn’t respond back I stared at them like a dear in headlights.😓  The worst response I’ve gotten goes back to my Tron incident.  The guy that pushed me yelled “You’re Chinese, why don’t you speak Chinese!” while we were arguing.  The “ugly American” in me yelled back “I’m not Chinese, I’m American!”  But I immediately regretted it.  There’s this sense of identity loss if you don’t speak the native language of whatever ethnicity you are.  Not speaking Chinese for some reason makes me less Chinese.  And to some extent I agree.  I’m not Chinese.  I’m Chinese-American.  And that shouldn’t mean I’ve somehow dishonored or disowned my Chinese roots.  Others, of course, feel differently.  But if you’re an Asian that doesn’t speak Mandarin, just be prepared for lots of people expecting you to know the language and to instead dish out lots of humble apologies in return.

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She’s a girl worth fighting for.

Other than the Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron rides, what I also love about Shanghai Disneyland is how Mulan is much more well-represented around the park.  She has her own spot in the parade, she’s shown in park decor, and is one of the princess stories shown in their storybook attractions.  And in the parade, Mulan is actually wearing her warrior outfit!  Not sure how the parks landed on that, but can we just appreciate the fact that it’s exposing kids to the idea that princesses don’t have to wear dresses?!  It’s also an introduction to non-conforming gender individuals and I’m 💯% on board with that.

But the fact that an Asian Disney character is so well-represented in a Disney park just feels…validating.  Yes, Disney came out with an Asian female led movie, but when she’s barely represented in the parks or in merchandise, it almost feels like Disney was just throwing Asian Americans a bone.  “Here you go, your Asian princess. Now back to our regularly scheduled non-colored princesses.”  We are not a charity case.  I get that Mulan isn’t nearly as popular as other Disney princesses.  I’m a merchandiser, I get that they have sales goals to meet and the safest bets are with white princesses.  But with the new Mulan live-action movie coming out soon, I’m hoping that will change.

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See ya real soon!

So that is my two cents on Shanghai Disneyland so far.  I’m sure my opinion will most likely change as I visit more and as the park matures.  Overall though, I really do like the park and am excited to visit again since I still haven’t actually done all of the attractions.   And maybe by my next visit, I’ll actually know a little more mandarin!

And stayed tuned for another post about Shanghai Disneyland!  I’ll have tips for your solo trip to the park. 🤗

ABW