For February’s #CityDisneyStyle post, I was originally planning to share how I style a Disney sweater multiple ways. But when I found out I was able to get small peak of NYFW during my trip to New York, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to put together a Disney Style outfit that was a little more…extra than usual.😆 And speaking of extra, can we just take a minute to appreciate the hilarity of these “smoke” photos?!☁️🤣
So let’s jump right in and break down this outfit. And we’ll start with the most obvious piece — this crazy H&MxMoschino gold sequin parka! I’ve been meaning to break out this bad boy for the perfect occasion. So when I was packing for New York, I knew it would be the item that I built my outfit around. PLUS, it’s a padded parka that was perfect for the cold weather.
But what to wear that would simultaneously compliment, but not compete with the gloriousness of the jacket? 🤔 With Ilana‘s advice to wear a Mickey sweater, I knew this cropped Forever 21 sweater featuring a dazed Mickey would be perfect. I love that the graphic stands out from the jacket, but isn’t too busy to compete with it. And the yellow stars were such a fun way to play up the shimmer of the jacket.
For pants and shoes, I wanted to wear more “basic” items. But as I mentioned in last month’s #citydisneystyle post, I like to choose interesting basics to help keep my outfits from looking too boring. Instead of just wearing any pair of black pants and shoes, I wore these wide leg, velvet burnout pants and chunky velvet sneakers. The patterned pants are subtle enough to not overpower the outfit, but still add texture and interest. And the platform soles on these Supergas help give the whole outfit a more street style vibe.👟
And of course to complete the look, I chose a fun, graphic bag! For the shows, I actually decided to carry my Cakeworthy Mickey hand bag, but I also like how my new Pixar hard case bag looks with this outfit too! I especially like how the star plays off of Mickey’s dazed stars. And the tophandle came handy since the parka is so puffy. Have you ever tried throwing a bag strap over a puffy jacket before? Not. Easy.
And as a BONUS, here’s one other way I wore this crazy sequin parka with some Disney Style flair! After picking up this black and gold Mickey bag from the Shanghai Disney store, I knew it would look amazing with my gold parka and a sleek black outfit. And for an extra touch of Mickey, I wore these gold Mickey stud earrings I picked up from the parks a year ago. It was the perfect outfit for a late night dinner out in New York and SO easy to put together!
Since I didn’t get to share the original #citydisneystyle outfit I wanted to post for February, keep an eye out for it next month! I’m going to share the different ways I like to style a Minnie sweater!🐭🎀 And since February is already over, I promise you won’t need to wait long.😉
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!🐭✈️
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!!
Our 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.
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.
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.
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.😏
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!💪🏼
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. 🤗
Aaahhhhhhhhh! Where to even begin?! For many Disney fans, Pixar Studios is a supplemental, but oh so necessary part of the Disney company and experience. It’s like adding avocado to your BLT. Pixar just makes Disney THAT. MUCH. BETTER. Omg, Pixar is an avocado. No wonder everyone loves it!😆 So when I got the chance to visit the Pixar campus with some friends, I was ecstatic.
We visited on a Sunday, which was actually really nice because it was completely empty and quiet. We could take a million photos with no one in the background! 🤗 An added bonus was the warm weather! If you ever visited or lived in the Bay Area during the summer, then you know that warm days during the “summer” months are like Pixar easter eggs — you only get them once in a while.😉 Cloudless skies meant I could wear a blue dress for my Guido disneybound without hesitation. I would’ve worn the dress anyways since Chelsea and I planned on being twinsies together, but great weather just made it that much better. P.S. Loved Cars 3! See it if you can!
Luigi and Guido disneybouds!
Aside from the multiple Pixar statues that greet you at the entrance, there’s also a trophy case filled with all the awards Pixar has won. Oscar…oscar…beaten up Woody? In the far corner, a well-loved Woody, all dirty and missing his boot, was set next to a letter from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The cast member explained how a 6 year old boy was given a new Woody doll and rather than throw the old one away, the boy left it at the park’s City Hall so his old Woody could have a great new home and “spend infinity and beyond with Buzz Lightyear.” I’m sorry, I would go on but it seems I’m on the verge of crying.😩
Of course, there was tons of concept art throughout the building. When we visited, most of the art was for Finding Dory and Cars 3. We saw everything from pencil sketches to clay models. Unfortunately, all of this amazing concept art was in a “no photo” zone, so I don’t have any pictures. Sorry!😭 But trust me when I say, it was so cool to see all the different stages of the animation process. And I guess Pixar made up for it with huge posters and statues that scream “instagram photo op.”😏
And Pixar being Pixar, they also scattered lots of magic throughout the rest of the property. Halfway through our visit, I headed for the bathroom. And when I reached the door, instead of the usual female silhouette logo, I spotted a familiar curvy, mom-bob, above-the-knee boot wearing superhero! She was incredible.😉 But my favorite surprises were the characters that were embedded into the floors! So while walking around, you could randomly run into some of your favorite characters!
And of course, the pièce de résistance…Luxo Jr. and the Luxo ball! Erika slayed it and actually disneybounded as the Luxo ball, but by complete accident, we all ended up wearing similar style dresses all in yellow and blue.😳 And guess what, our separate disneybounds then became a singular one. We. Were. The Luxo ball. If that isn’t the definition of serendipty, then I don’t know what else is!
We are Luxo ball.
I still can’t believe such an amazing company is just across the bridge from me. A company that not only seeks out talent and creativity, but also encourages personal storytelling, is just so endearing and heartwarming. And call me a snooty San Francisco native, but I like to think that Pixar employees are often inspired by the Bay Area and somehow weave that into their stories. Case in point, Inside Out. Ultimately, I just love the idea that employees of a huge storytelling company that millions of people know, are creating these stories in an area that is tremendously liberal and diverse. And I like to think that San Francisco’s liberal values make their way into Pixar’s stories; ultimately passing those values along to millions of people. But that just might be a snooty San Franciscan’s wishful thinking. But hey, one can dream!😊
“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
Earlier this month, I hopped over to Hawaii to spend some quality time (read: eating time) with my sister and mom. Over the weekend, we decided to eat at Scratch Kitchen and Meatery. Before talking about the Keiki Collection, you have to know something. If you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to try at least one of the “Pimp My Grits” dishes from Scratch Kitchen. Just…ugh…so good. A quick pic and then we’ll move on:
To walk off this amazing, but super heavy grits, we decided to shop around South Shore Market. Picked up a copy of Alexa Chung’s It and a pair of delicate rose gold heart earrings, but the best pleasant surprise was running into a small pop-up shop from Keiki Collection. Keiki Collection is a community of kids that learn how to sell their handmade goods. But we should honestly call them mini #Girlbosses.💁🏿💁🏾💁🏽💁🏻💁🏼 Sidenote: There are young boys in the group too, but none were there that day.
I remember when I was younger, my mom and I would do the same thing. We’d figure out what kind of crafts we could make to then sell at school holiday craft fairs. I loved working away making tons of colorful lanyards and decorating hair claws with Christmas tinsel. It was so fun to be creative and I felt so “official” when we sold them. And we probably barely broke even each time because everything was pretty much under $5. But I love that these girls are creating something that they’re proud of and then learning business skills to sell them. Things you don’t necessarily learn in school these days.
I was most impressed by one girl that made large macrame hanging pot holders. They were just so impeccably made! I was so impressed that I ended up buying one even though I don’t really have a place to put it.😅 But it’s a small price to pay to support a young mini girlboss though, right?🤗
We tried our best to buy a little something from each person. These girls are learning the basics of business and entrepreneurship and that’s just something we had to support. And Hawaii in general has a pretty diverse population, but can we take a second to recognize that this was also an ethnically diverse group of girls!! I mean, COME ON! It’s just so amazing to see young girls of color learning to be entrepreneurs, creatives, and supportive of one another. It warms my soouuull.💕
If you can, give Keiki Collection a follow on instagram. They have occasional pop-ups like this one around the island. Let them know what they’re doing is impressive and important — not only as a young female, but also as a person of color.