Tokyo Disney Resort Travel Guide: Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea

Musings, Travel

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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!

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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

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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.😉

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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!😉

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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

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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

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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

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

Disneyland Spring Lookbook

Disney Style, Style
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A Disney food adventure. 😉

So as I mentioned in my previous post, my family and I took a quick weekend trip to Disneyland back in early March.  Other than getting the chance to wear all of my Disney clothes, it was also a trip filled with FOOD. DISNEY food.

My sister, specifically, was on a gastronomic mission.  And I wasn’t about to turn down a good Disneyland Resort food crawl.  And it wasn’t just any old park food.  We were on a quest to find the best Disneyland and California Adventure eats.  She was working on a snapchat story for Tastemade, so everything had to be top notch.  My sister being the foodie took these drool-worthy photos. 😛

Top right: Poutine from Red Rose Tavern, Top left: The Grey Stuff from Red Rose Tavern, Bottom: Lobster Nachos from Cove Bar

Now day 1 of our food crawl, I did not make the smart decision and ended up wearing fitted mom jeans that have No. Stretch.  Talk about a food crawl fail.  But I’ve been dying to wear my Zara Mickey pants to the parks.  Definitely had to burp it out a few times during dinner. 😅  Anyways, I paired my Zara jeans with a churro shirt from Lucky Rabbit Supply Co.  And can I say, Mike and Gillian were amazing!  Not only are they based in San Jose (Norcal represent!), but they were kind enough to ensure that I received my shirt in time for this trip.  And they made sure to pack up my purchase and mail it out weeks before their wedding!  They’re just so great.DSC06542

DSC06544Shirt: Lucky Rabbit Supply Co., Jeans: Zara, Mickey Bag (Yes, it’s a bag!): Christopher Raeburn, Shoes: Nike, Sunglasses: Quay 

So day 2, I learned my lesson and wore something loose.  This Lazy Oaf denim dress is pretty much like wearing a huge denim sack.  Complete body freedom, but you still get to look cute. 💁🏻  But I actually had the waist taken in slightly.  I think if my chest was slightly smaller it would’ve hung better as is, but since I’ve got a unique body, I gotta tailor it to what best suits me.  Probably a sentiment that can be applied to life in general, dontcha think? 😊  And there’s your dose of positive life validation for the day! Don’t even think that’s a real term, but let’s just go with it.

DSC06586Dress: Lazy Oaf via Poshmark, Sunglasses: Free People, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell via LF

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So I think I really need to work on getting these posts written up faster.  I’ve already returned from another Disney trip — a Disney cruise!  But if you follow me on the instas then you’re already up to speed.😉  Hoping I can write up a little something to recap that trip.  Looking through my camera roll, I already know it’ll be similar to this post.  “What I wore and what I ate.”😆

ABW