Chocolates and roses are nice, but your gal pals are extraordinary and deserve something just as special! For me, I actually met many of my close friends through our love for Disney. So I was excited to think about what kind of small Disney gifts I could give to friends this Valentine’s Day! If you have Disney friends in your life, here are some great Galentine’s Day gifts they’ll love!
1. Disney Headbands
We’ve seen these cute headbands make their way to the US parks after their popularity spiked at Tokyo Disney Resort. I’ve definitely started quite the collection.😆 But I especially love the ones from BooHoo because you can also find fun Disney PJs for you and your bestie!
2. Park Photo Session
Since I met many of my close friends through social media, booking a mini photoshoot with a friend is such a fun way to bond and get some memorable photos! I highly recommend Edwin and Kevin, who both have an amazing eye for getting that unforgettable shot!📸
3. Disney DIY Earrings
I’m not super crafty, but if you’re wanting something truly unique for your one of a kind friend, try DIY’ing the most extra Disney earrings! Erika’s DIYs are so clever and her tutorials are super easy to follow!
4. DisneyBound Book
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I met many of my close friends because of our love for Disney. But more specifically, I met many through DisneyBounding! And honestly, we’ve become so close because DisneyBounding is such a great way to bond and get to know new people! If your friend is unfamiliar with DisneyBound, the official DisneyBound book is the perfect introduction!
5. Basin Soaps and Bath Bombs
If you want to pamper your bestie, consider getting them some soaps or bath bombs! And for the Disney lover, the only thing that makes luxurious bath bombs even better, is a bit of Disney magic. I especially love visiting the Basin store at Disney Springs because they have SO many cute Disney designs!
6. Disney Luggage Tags
It’s no surprise that I love a fun Disney trip. And I can never say no to a Disney trip with friends! So show your Galentine how excited you are for your friends getaway with a Disney luggage tag! I love these Mickey and Minnie ones from American Tourister!
I’m not usually a plushie person, but I couldn’t resist the spam musubi and shave ice Wishables from Aulani! Because Wishable are blind bags, it would be so fun to have a Charlie and Grandpa moment, à la the Chocolate Factory, with your bestie and open them up together! Sorry, no lifetime supply of chocolate, but you get a lifetime supply friendship!😆
Getting a little something for your friends is always a kind gesture, but it can never replace the emotional support and quality time that you and your friend give to each other. So this Galentine’s Day, don’t forget to tell your friend how much you appreciate them and make some fun memories together!💖
From Tokyo to Hong Kong! Next in my international Disney park travel guides is Hong Kong Disneyland! Some of these photos are from a few years ago, so please pardon the lower quality photos (they’re iphone 5 photos).😅 BUT the advice and tips are still solid.👌🏼 So here’s what you need to know about the quaint park nestled in the mountains!
HKD is located on Lantau Island, so depending on where you stay, the transportation time may vary. I’ve stayed in both the Mong Kok area and in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island. If you’re not staying on Lantau Island and not too strapped for money, I would suggest just getting a taxi to the park. Taxis are pretty affordable for the most part (from Mong Kok, I believe it was less than $30 to taxi to the park). But if you do take the metro, Disneyland has its own stop near the gate entrance making it easy for guests to find their way. From Mong Kok, the metro ride was around 45 minutes to an hour outside of rush hour.
If you stay on Lantau Island, most, if not all, hotels should have complimentary shuttles that can take guests to the parks. Just be mindful of the departure times!
Where to Stay
Where you stay should be determined by how you are structuring your visit. I would say if you are only doing HKD, then a hotel on Lantau Island might be best. Hotels on the island are surrounded by lush greenery and if you’re visiting during the hot season, it’s almost like a mini tropical vacation! However, that kind of natural beauty isn’t necessarily cheap. 💸
But if you’re planning on exploring and visiting HK on your trip, then I would suggest finding a hotel in Hong Kong proper or on the north side of Hong Kong Island. And for an easier commute to the park, try finding a hotel that is close to a main metro hub!
Probably the most infamous food at HKD isn’t actually in the park. Located at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is Crystal Lounge, where Disney Dim Sum is served! The hotel is walkable from the park entrance, so if you’re doing multiple days at the park, you could easily have dim sum in the morning at the hotel and then walk over to Disneyland for a fun day at the park. The menu changes slightly every season and I believe you’ll need a reservation at least a few days in advance to tell the restaurant what dishes you’re wanting to order. So be sure to call if possible!
Hong Kong Disneyland Mickey Boba Disney Souvenir cup
Hong Kong Disneyland Mickey boba
Can you spot the Mickey head boba?!🐭
Inside the park, probably by far the best food find is…MICKEY SHAPED BOBA. Not Mickey shaped jellies…BOBA. This flavored soda boba drink is sold at various places around the park and is served in a souvenir sippy cup! (Yes, they call it a sippy cup!😆) The boba itself isn’t especially flavorful, but the novelty of it is worth it!
Also stop by Clopin’s Festival of Foods! Cleverly named after “Festival of Fools” from The Hunchback of NotreDame, this cafeteria style “restaurant” in Fantasyland is where you can find more Asian influenced dishes that are great for lunch or dinner!
Merchandise in HKD is pretty similar to the parks in the states. I excitedly bought this Baymax mug a few years back without knowing it was available stateside.🤦🏻♀️ The other souvenir I was really excited about finding at HKD is a Mickey face watch that was sold out when I visited Disneyland Paris that same year. But if you are compelled to bring back a souvenir, I would suggest picking up an umbrella! HKD sells tons of umbrellas because of the unpredictable tropical rains. I especially love the compact umbrellas because they’re easy to pack for rainy travel destinations!
Guests and cast members are for the most part, friendly. However, efficiency is their M.O., so cast members can be a little short with guests. But I think that’s the nature of Hong Kong communication and culture in general — not necessarily rude, just efficient and to the point. But similar to my advice about communication in my TDR travel guide and Shanghai solo travel tips, just be sure to carry a park map in both English and Chinese. Even though most cast members in HKD understand a fair amount of English, it’s always smart to have a map in a cast member’s primary language to help make communication easier!
Hong Kong Disneyland feels smaller than Disneyland, but there are some unique park rides and attractions that you definitely need to do when you’re there!
Ride Mystic Manor! Albert, the monkey is all you need in life. Also the building is GORGEOUS and reminds me of SF’s Victorian houses. It’s a tracklass dark ride and is HKD’s “Haunted Mansion” if you will. Guests embark on a tour of the house and watch Albert get into all sorts of fun trouble.
The Iron Man Experience is probably the newest attraction at HKD and it’s definitely a great addition to the park!💥 It’s the same ride format as Star Tours, but instead of touring the Galaxy and saving the rebel spy, you soar around Hong Kong with Iron Man and help him save the world!
Hong Kong Disneyland Cinderella Fantasy Garden Shoefie
Hong Kong Disneyland Fantasy Garden
Fantasy Garden is unique to HKD and has LOADS of photo spots, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising as it’s sponsored by Kodak.📸 But here is where you’ll find lots of fun whimsical places to get “not so basic” park photos!
HKD also has Toy Story Land! But now that we have Toy Story Land in Orlando, it isn’t as much of a novelty. But it’s still worth walking through if you don’t find yourself in Orlando often! I especially loved seeing Toy Story Land during Halloween! Many of Sid’s toys make an appearance to make the area feel spoopy! And if you love Toy Story merch, make sure to shop at Andy’s Toy Box!
Overall Thoughts & Suggestions
HKD is probably the smallest of all the Disney parks. Therefore, I wouldn’t advise making a trip out to this park unless you intend to also visit and explore Hong Kong or fly to the other Asia Disney parks afterwards. But HKD definitely has it’s gems that are worthy experiencing!
You could do most of the highlights in a single day, but if you want to thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the park, I would suggest visiting for at least a day and a half. For me, one day is usually enough! And pro tip, try to visit the park during a “holiday” season! I’ve visited during the Lunar New Year and Halloween seasons, and both times the park had extra decor up to celebrate. I guarantee it makes the park visit that much more magical and special, so definitely try to go during a fun time of year!
I hope this short guide helps you plan your first (or next) visit to Hong Kong Disneyland! Tag me @abitwong so I can live vicariously through you!😆
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!
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!
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.😉
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.
Some 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!😉
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!
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.
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).
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
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!🐭✈️
As 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.
The 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.
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”!)
Another 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.😩
I 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!
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.🛍🙈
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🤗
“Lights, cameras, acceptance speeches!” On our first night aboard the Disney Wonder, we caught the Golden Mickey’s show. In my previous post, I mentioned how I cried my eyes out during the “heroism” part of the show, which showcased Tarzan, Quasimodo from TheHunchback of Notre Dame, and Mulan. Now you would guess that I would have cried hardest for the Mulan number. But it was actually quite the opposite.
The sequence consisted of a “karate-style” dance to Be A Man, which is fine. That’s how the scene is in the movie. But there weren’t even any Asian dancers in the mix. 😑 Granted, we were sitting in one of the back rows, but I’m pretty sure Mulan and Li Shang were white performers. And let’s get real for a second. If this were a Princess and the Frog segment, and Tiana came out as a white person, that wouldn’t fly. And not even as a white person wearing blackface, just literally as a white actor playing Tiana. But when it comes to white people portraying Asians or Asian Americans, it’s much more acceptable. Just look at all these movies that have committed whitewashing. And studios don’t seem to see anything wrong with that. And that’s frustrating.
Photo of Mulan sequence above found on google images.
Now those who are familiar with the Asian or Asian American experience, probably know that more often than not, Asians love to emulate white/western culture. Bigger eyes, lighter skin and hair, pointier noses. And Asian Americans specifically tried to be more “white” to better assimilate into American culture. So this craving to distance the group from “Asian-ness,” from being seen as foreigners, would seem to be the culprit for letting a white actress play Mulan like it was no big deal. But of course, as with any issue related to race or intersecting identities, there is so much more to this than just wanting to be “less Asian.” But I won’t hold you captive here.
My end game again is this — Tiana, Disney’s first black princess, is now part of many different Disney attractions and shows. But Disney knows not to hire a white woman to play Tiana. They would never imagine to do that (I would hope at least). But for some reason, it’s ok to have a non-Asian play Mulan in a live show. Do Disney and other entertainment powerhouses get away with it because Asians are the model minorities who won’t make a big fuss over it? Maybe they figure there isn’t as much backlash to be had because many Asians have wanted to attain a certain level of “whiteness” for so long now that it’s almost second nature?
And for some reason, the only way to get something like this to change is to make a fuss over it. To be vocal about it. But why do we always need to rally? It’s tiring! I’m tired of having to point out the obvious. But I guess what’s obvious to me, isn’t always obvious to others. Oh how I long for the day when the people running these entertainment companies finally realize that accurate, yet diverse, portrayals and representations of POC are necessary. Anything other than that is unacceptable.
Note: These comments are my own opinions and this is just what I’ve observed and encountered in my life. Also, I understand that Disney has made huge strides, specifically in recent animated films, to be inclusive of different ethnic groups. In this post, I am speaking specifically about the one show I watched while aboard the Disney Wonder. This could very well have been a one time occurrence, but white actors were still used to portray Asian characters, so my opinions are based on that incident.
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to sea we go! A few weeks ago, I went on a Disney cruise with a group of friends and we were probably the only group of young adults without children. I say young group of adults because there were actually older (probably retired) couples that were vacationing without children too. AKA my life in 30ish years.
“Alisa, aren’t Disney cruises only fun for families and kids?” On the contrary! Yes, Disney cruises are aimed towards families, but as we learned, it is first and foremost a cruise. Which means you still get great food and dining experiences, fun cocktails and drinks, and “adult only” areas. All of these things just happen to have a little Disney magic sprinkled in.
So how’s a group of young adults supposed to enjoy a Disney cruise? Well, let’s start with FOOD!
Each night we dined at a different “restaurant.” The first night we ate at The Animator’s Palate, which honors the history of Disney animation. You’ll find animation sketches everywhere and what once started as a still black and white drawing will then turn into a full-on colored animation by the end of the night! Throughout the night, we were excited to keep tabs on the new changes we saw throughout the restaurant. And to join in on the magic, we all Disney Bounded as Disney animated characters. Erika and Vince of Village Haus were clever enough to bring a black and white outfit and then a colorful outfit to change into at the end of dinner! So clever those two. And spoiler alert (seriously, if you don’t want to know skip ahead now!): Sorcerer Mickey comes out in full force at the end and it was the best part of the dinner.
For our second night, we dined at Tiana’s Place, which obviously serves up tasty southern inspired dishes. And we all decided to Disney Bound characters from The Princess and the Frog. I probably ordered 5 courses that night, which was not ideal for my all white Mama Odie Disney Bound outfit. And if you get a chance, take a lap around the room to see all the small details. On one wall, there were cabinets filled with photos of Tiana’s parents, her dad’s recipe box, and various frog paraphernalia. But again, the best part of the night was at the end of the dinner when Tiana and Louis led a fun-filled jazzy dance party!
Before or after dinner (depending on your scheduled seating time), be sure to catch at least one of the Broadway-style shows! The first night was “The Golden Mickeys Live Show” in which Golden Mickeys are awarded to different Disney movies. I assumed the usual characters would make an appearance — princesses, fab 5, maybe even Stitch and other critter characters if Disney was feeling adventurous. But Disney threw me a massive curveball. There was one portion of the show that featured Tarzan, Mulan, and are you ready for this…Hunchback of Notre freakin’ Dame!! I may have cried a little while surrounded by small children that were constantly their parents who that character was that was walking funny.
And I cried not so much because they were some of my favorite movies growing up, but because it was just so great to see them represented in a show! Quasimodo is NEVER in a show! Just to see them get their moment in the spotlight and get recognition was somewhat emotional for me. “Alisa, these aren’t even real people, they’re freaking animated characters.” I knooowww, but they get validation and credit for being worthy Disney characters for once! But my tears dried up halfway through the Mulan segment. Hopefully, more on that in a later post.
Aside from great dining and entertainment, the Disney Wonder is full of prime instagram spots. So for all those social media butterflies out there, you’ll love bopping around the boat getting all those cute photos. For our group of social media enthusiasts, we were on a mission to take the most #basic Disney cruise photos. And with the help of Taylor Jackson, we got some amazing shots and quite possibly the best basic Disney cruise photo ever. Check out Taylor’s vlog to see how he captured these amazing photos!
^The winner of the most basic Disney cruise photo.
Eating + entertainment + cute photo ops = fun for young adults on a Disney cruise! And of course add a few drinks into the mix for an extra fun time. But in general, you can always have a good time anywhere and anytime as long as you’re in good company! And honestly, I think this trip was SO MUCH FUN because of the incredible people I got to experience it with. Did I mention that I also cried during the last night of our cruise at dinner because I was so thankful for great time we had together and to just be there in that moment with all of them? Oh, I didn’t? Well, now you know how grateful I was to be on this fun trip with these extraordinary people. Go check them out! –> Leslie, Erika, Lindsay, Vince, Taylor