Thursday, May 21, 2015

24 Things You Should Do at Walt Disney World's 'Coolest Summer Ever' 24-Hour Summer Kickoff + 1 Thing You Shouldn't Do

Full disclosure: this post wasn't my idea. I love it, but it wasn't mine. In fact, I stole it from Touring Plans who posted this version for Disneyland.

But if you look in the comments on their post, someone asks for a WDW version. The author of the article offers the idea up to anyone who is interested; so here we are. (My post isn't affiliated with Touring Plans in any way. Which is a bummer, but hey, any TP folks reading this, feel free to contact me!)

So with that, here are my picks for 24 things to do (and one thing not to do) during the 'Coolest Summer Ever' 24-hour day on Friday, May 22nd at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

1. Watch two sunrises in the Magic Kingdom - One of the highlights to the 24 hour event is the opportunity to see the sun rise over Cinderella Castle not once, but twice. This is a rarity in itself, so be sure to arrive at rope drop on May 22nd and be there again for the sunrise on May 23rd. Not only are these wonderful photo opportunities, but there's something even more magical about seeing the parks bathed in the soft dawn light. 

2. Take a picture of a 'weenie' in each land - No, not those you pervert! You may or may not be aware of the intentional 'weenies' placed throughout the parks to draw guest attention to a particular area. Make it a mission to photograph one from each land; some may be more obvious than others, and there's not right or wrong answer, so use your imagination and be creative.

3. Try to ride EVERY attraction in the park - My friend Tink and I did this during my first 24-hour day back in 2013, and it. was. AWESOME! It can be done, it just takes a bit of planning and strategy. And take into account that many attractions go down at some point in the 24 hours for maintenance and such. 

4. Have a waffle with Washington Irving -  Start your day with a Nutella and fruit waffle from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, which is modeled after the Hudson Valley home of Washington Irving. There are other options of waffles as well, including a few lunch sandwich options. Either way, you've got an entire day, so make it a point to try at least one. 

5. Explore Tom Sawyer Island - One of the few '+1's' WDW has over the enchanting Disneyland park is the original reincarnation of Tom Sawyer Island. While Disneyland's version has been taken over by the popular pirate franchise and renamed 'Pirates Lair,' WDW's has blissfully stayed pretty much the same as when it opened. Take some time and relish this retro goodness. 

6. Ride the train around the park -  Do this a lot! Not only is a great break for your feet, it's just a really nice time and tour of the park. Plus, you'll get to ride at night which is always a plus.

7. Take a ride on the Liberty Belle at night - It's fairly rare that the Liberty Belle runs after sunset. Take advantage of this opportunity. 

8. Take a rocking chair break -  If you're staying the full 24 hours (come on, you can do it!), you'll have to factor in some down time. One of my favorite things to do is to sit and watch the World go by; see some of my favorite spaces here. The rocking chairs on Tom Sawyer Island are a great option, as are the two rockers outside the Hall of President's exit. There are also three rockers on the raised boardwalk area along the Frontierland walkway. All are shaded, as rockers should be ;). 

9. Catch all the shows you might otherwise skip - it's going to be a hot one, and what better excuse than to sit in a cool, air-conditioned room and watch an attraction you might otherwise leave off your to-do list. I'm thinking Hall of Presidents, County Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, and the Enchanted Tiki Room (although all of these should be on your regular 'must-do' list anyway because they're fairly original and retro and just so 'Walt.' )

10. Make an ADR for a sit down meal at least once in the day - this is especially important if you plan to stay the full 24 hours. Taking a lunch break in the heat of the day will be a lifesaver; likewise, a nice leisurely dinner will recharge you when you need it most. Last year, my party walked up to Be Our Guest just after park opening and scored a 4pm dinner reservation. Sure, it sounds like an early time to eat dinner, but when you've been up since 5am and in the parks for almost 12 hours already, it's great!

11. Climb every Mountain -  Loosely translate a tip from Julie Andrews and ride every Mountain in WDW. You've got Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, but could also include the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train since technically, it's built into a mountain. 

12. Watch people get their first glimpse of Cinderella Castle - Stand at the corner where Main Street USA makes the turn from Town Square and watch as people see Cinderella Castle for the first time. Parents point, kids squeal, some tears are shed. It's really a cool moment to witness. 

13. Do some shopping - Sure, there'll be plenty of exclusive 24-Hour Day merch to scoop up, but take this opportunity to really check out all the little shops and stores in the park. One of my favorite sources for sundresses is Zanzibar Trading Company in Adventureland. The Space Mountain gift shop has some neat retro space stuff (astronaut ice cream, anyone?!). Not only is the Briar Patch gift shop next to Splash Mountain charmingly themed to a rabbit warren, but it's got some neat little treasures. And the Philharmagic gift shop is your one-stop shop for all things Ducky. I always find some Donald item just begging to come home with me. Don't forget to have your packages sent up to the front of the park so you don't have to schlep them around all day. 

14. Get pictures with the characters in their pajamas -  Because it's cute. Check the Times Guide for when and where they'll be out. Even better if you're wearing your pajamas in the picture.

15. Be kind to the Cast Members -  Chances are, they're working extra long hours to provide for this extra long day of fun for you. Be kind, respectful, and appreciative. 

16. Take the Dole Whip/Citrus Swirl challenge - Grab one of each and have a taste-off. Be crazy and put a scoop of each in your mouth at the same time. Whaaaaa?? 

17. Ride the Main Street Vehicles -  These are only out for a small amount of time before the park gets too crowded. More than likely they'll be running first thing in the morning. If we're lucky, they'll run during the late night hours (hey, a girl can dream). Make it a mission to ride each one available. 

18. Sit up on the train station platform and people watch -  Even better if you time this around the Flag Retreat at 5pm, or for a parade. 

19.  Take a tour of the park -  You can do an official WDW sanctioned tour, such as Marceline to Magic Kingdom, Magic Behind Our Steam Trains, Key to the Kingdom, etc. Or go it on your own and do an audio walking tour of the different lands. Lou Mongello has some good ones

20. Eat something crazy for breakfast - When you've been up for 24 hours straight, you get a little loopy. Embrace it and eat something for breakfast that might otherwise make you squirm. This girl may or may not have had corn dog nuggets from Casey's Corner at 6am on her first 24-Hour Day. Ice cream for breakfast? Why not? I think the phrase is YOLO, or something like that? I'm not really sure. 

21.  Charge your phone -  Most of us know about the charging stations in the Tangled bathroom area. But did you know about the covered seating area back in Storybook Circus that's chock full of outlets?? I didn't until just recently. It's located in a big tent just in front of the Fantasyland train station, next to Pete's Silly Sideshow and Casey Jr.'s Splash and Soak. 

22. Pack your patience pants - It's going to be hot. It's going to be crowded. Lines will be long. People will be stupid. You know what you're getting in to, so leave Grumpy at home and put on a happy face. 

23. Take a picture in front of the clock on Main Street when you enter and leave the park - Double points if the clock says 6:00 am both times!

24. Wait for and watch the 'Kiss Goodnight' - As if this little show isn't tear-inducing already, watching it after an exhausting 24-hour day as the sun begins to come up is something beyond belief. What a perfect way to cap off a memorably magical day. 

25. DONT make like a bum and sleep on the ground -  I get it, you're tired. It's late (or early?). There are plenty of places to catch a cat nap, but for the love of Walt, please don't sprawl out on the ground and sleep. This goes for the benches too. It never fails, every year around 1am or so, the park begins to look like a war zone as bodies are strewn about in stupor. It's kind of off-putting and just, well, strange. Nap on the train, in a show, on the TTA, at a table, in Philharmagic, on the Haunted Mansion. Jump on the monorail for a few loops. Or better yet, if you have to sleep, go back to your hotel room and catch a few winks. At least don't get mad at me when I accidentally step on you on my way to Space Mountain. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Weekend Wear-abouts: Trader Sam's TWICE in One Weekend (featuring some Lilly for Target!)

Hey! Remember me? 

It's been quiet over here on this side of the screen. Guess it's true when they say that preparing for a wedding is time consuming. And ours is almost as low-key as it gets! Whew!

Anyway, thought I'd pick back up with some Weekend Wear-abouts to show you some snippets from my weekend. 

When John got off of work on Friday, we headed over to Epcot. I had to finish up some research I'm doing for a future blog post (no really, it's legit!) and we were meeting up with darling Amanda from Dixie Delights and her hubby. She surprised him with this trip for his 40th birthday and boy, did she do a knockout job; you can read about it here. She's amazing. She's all things Lilly and Disney and crafty and everything

We caught the last showing of the Tomorrowland trailer for the day. Note: last call is around 6:35 pm, since most Future World attractions close at 7. 

After lapping World Showcase, we all met up in the Rose & Crown for a drink before heading over to Trader Sam's.

 We arrived at 10:30 and were told it would be around an hour wait. We were in the Grotto by 11:10. 

John and I tried the Nautilus for the first time. My oh my is it delicious! We also took this bad boy home with us. 

On me: Lilly Pulitzer tank (old, similar here) //  On Amanda: Lilly Pulitzer romper (older style, similar here)

It was neat closing out Sam's; they played a snippet from the Tiki Room, and the house lights came up. The cast members and crew were lively as always. I'm amazed with the energy they constantly bring to the joint. Here's RJ doing his thing. Note our server, Chris, in the background. 

Saturday was fairly uneventful save for the online marriage course John and I took. Not only did it save us some money on our marriage license, it was also interesting and, I feel, beneficial to our relationship. I'd recommend it to anyone getting married. Can't hurt, right?

On Sunday, John's sister Ally drove down to hang for the day. We started at MGM where we ate outside at the Brown Derby Lounge. 

A few style notes: I've had to mix it up and wear my skinny strap Rainbows lately; y'all, my flip flop tan was for REAL and kind of out of control. I'm trying to get it in check before the wedding because it shows when I wear my wedding shoes. #FirstWorldFloridaParkHoppin'Problems.
Also, these pants, while nearly impossible to find, are the perfect park pant. Cool and breezy but still keeps you covered, which I like. I'm always more comfortable in pants than shorts or skirts. If you do get your hands on some, know that they run really big. I'm in a Small here, and I'm a solid Medium girl in all other things. They're also really long.
J.Crew is offering 25% off select styles until Thursday. This tank isn't included, but I love this closet staple.   

Hollywood Studios was packed that day; after waiting an hour or so for a table and eating, we made our way to the Animation Studio only to find an hour wait there. We decided to skip it and headed to... Trader Sam's!

We arrived about 20 minutes to 4:00 and got in line. There were about 30 people or so ahead of us. The doors opened and we found seats around the surfboard table. That seems to be our usual spot. I got the shrinking bar stool! Thomas joined us; Sam's is his home away from home. The CM's all know him by name. 

Though we already had one version, I wanted the new (and specific to our Grog Grotto) glaze of the Zombie Head and Krakatoa. And the Uh-Oa. John being the sweetie that he is ended up ordering us all three over the course of the afternoon, so now my collection is complete! 

Ally loved it there and took home the Zombie and Hippopotamai-tai. We ate some food and stayed for a few hours. 

While we were there, Skipper Erica unpacked a bubble gun to use during the Nautilus schtick. Here it is in it's debut. 

Ally had to drive home, and Thomas and John had work on Monday morning, so we called it a day around 6:30 or so. 

As always, it was a fun time. If you get in right at 4, when they open, expect to have one effect after the other going off constantly. It's great, but just be prepared for a high level of antics. When we went on Friday night around closing, it was considerably less hectic. Pick your poison.

How was your weekend? 

*This post contains a few amazon affiliate links. You know the gig-- same price to you, small commission to me, which tries to keep Dressing For Disney out of hobby status. :) 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dressing for the Lilly Pulitzer x Target ACTION PLAN! 5 Tips to Help Navigate the Madness.

Just popping in to offer 5 tips on how I plan to navigate the Lilly Pulitzer x Target launch tomorrow!!

I've been away for a few weeks, and have spent the last four days road tripping down the East coast with my mom. We've spent most of our time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which makes for beautiful scenery but crummy internet. Thus the lack of posts on this particular subject. Also thus the last minute nature of this post. In fact, chances are good that you're reading this after the sale has happened. Oops!

Also note most of this is applicable to online shopping only. I'm in the mountains of North Carolina and don't plan to get to a Target tomorrow, so I'll be taking my chances by shopping online. Also, the thought of the crazy in-store crowds kind of makes me nervous. 

In any case, here are my top 5 tips for navigating what is sure to be mayhem and madness in tomorrow's Lilly P x Target collab. Best of luck and happy shopping! 

1. Check out for a comprehensive guide to the sale. Ashley had her act together and created a very helpful post with lots of good info, much of which you'll see referenced here. I also found some helpful information here and here

2. Set up an account on Save your payment info and shipping address. 

3. Use your REDcard to shop for free shipping. I don't know how similar this will be to the semi-annual Lilly sale on, where even if something is in your shopping bag, it can disappear in a moments notice. I've never really shopped online with Target enough to know if things stay safe and secure once in your bag, or if they can disappear as well. I'm not taking any chances and will shop for my number one must have, checkout, and go back for more. 

I just applied for the REDcard online and received my account info, so I'm going to store that in my Account settings and use that free shipping to my advantage. You can apply here

You also get free shipping on orders over $25 regardless of what form of payment you use. 

4. Have a list of your must-haves and search for them in order of preference. My list is below. You can go onto now and mark your 'favorites' for easier access come shopping time. Also make yourself very familiar with the Lookbook so you can search quickly. Over 40 items are online only, so check to see what on your list falls into that category. 

5. Don't plan on getting much sleep tonight. The collection will go live sometime in the 'early morning' on, with sources saying between 12 am and 2 am Central time. I'm crazy and will probably start checking about a quarter to midnight Eastern time, and continue checking until I hit gold (and pink and green). Or fall asleep. And plan for the website to crash multiple times. 

As mentioned, here are my picks in order. I honestly hope they're pieces that others don't necessarily love; that will give me a better chance of getting them! Hate to say it but based on what I've seen and heard, the hammock and coffee cup set are hot commodities, and will be gone in a jiffy. 

Whelp, that's it. Good luck and have fun! Remember to keep it classy, be kind to your fellow Lilly lovers, and for goodness sake, try to clean up after yourself to some degree if you shop in stores. Let's give those Target employees a positive impression of the brand and clientele behind our beloved Lilly Pulitzer. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beyond Disney: Dressing for New York City's Grand Central Oyster Bar

While I realize I may have pigeonholed myself into a corner with the title of this blog, there are times I'd like to venture outside of the Disney parks. I know this may not interest a majority of readers who simply tune in because of the Disney connection, but hey, it's my blog and I'll post what I want to! Plus, I'm visiting family in Connecticut and NYC for a few weeks, so you get what you get, k?

If you're still reading, I'll try to tie this in with Disney in some way. But that'll come toward the end of the post.

I love New York City. It's got history, culture, variety, and it has an energy to it that I can't put into words. Uptown, downtown, westside or east side-- I love 'em all.

One of my favorite spots is the Grand Central Oyster Bar. It may be a tad touristy, being right in the middle of Grand Central and all, but it's smooooooth. This historic space opened in 1913, the same year that Grand Central re-opened into the opulent space we know and love today. The country was on the cusp of WWI. While the restaurant itself has gone through a few changes, the architectural elements and cove-like setting make you feel like you've stepped back in time.

My mom and I recently visited before catching a train back to Connecticut after a day of wedding dress shopping in the City (and I said YES to the dress!!)

I don't claim to be an expert, but I do know a bit about where the cool kids sit when visiting the Oyster Bar. There are essentially five different seating areas; the main dining room, the lounge, the low countertops, the high top oyster bar, and the saloon. I'll show photos of each space, as well as a little info and comparison to their Disney counterpart.

Disclaimer: the servers here are a bit curt. They're not exactly Disney style, and are often missing warm smiles, small talk, and general patience. It can be a bit off putting, especially to someone who's accustomed to Southern hospitality like I am. But they know their stuff. Any server can tell you about every wine on their exhaustive wine list, as well as every oyster.

Upon entering the restaurant, the main dining room will be off to your left. This is where the tourists typically sit. My mom and I sat there on this last visit, as we've never done so before. It's also the only area that has booth seating. It's light, bright and very open. But like I said, it's where all the tourists sit, which is perfectly fine. Kind of like the Electric Umbrella in Epcot. If you want street cred, go a little deeper. 

Looking in to the main dining room from Grand Central terminal.

Still standing at the entrance, the lounge seating is directly in front of you. I don't know much about this area and have never sat here. I think a lot of people assume it's simply a waiting area and don't know you can actually order and eat here. It kind of reminds me of the little seating area next to the Rose & Crown, across from the bathrooms. Unless someone else is sitting there, people assume it's closed off and don't venture to it.

Turning to your right, you'll see two options. The most obvious is the low countertop seating. This is a pretty hip space to sit. You'll have to befriend whoever sits around you, but that's part of the fun. Same surly service, but a pretty authentic New York feel. I'd liken this to the bar side seating at the Dawa Bar. You know when you sit there, whoever else is there is in the know, and probably pretty cool.

The other option, and the creme de la creme of cool kid seating is at the high top oyster bar. This is where the magic happens. You can watch the guys shucking oysters, and the same fella has been manning the soup steam pots for years. He's got a crazy look in his eye, and is often found talking to himself, but he makes a mean cup of chowda'. This spot fills up quickly and stays packed, but it's worth it to wait for a seat. No frills, no smiles, just damn good food. Pair a dozen oysters and a vodka martini with this spot, and I'm in heaven. This is also where Julia Child sat in 1937 and watched the soup masters before perfecting her recipe for oyster stew. I liken this spot to either Mizners or the bar at Yak & Yeti; Mizners because it's my favorite in-the-know spot, and the bar at Y&Y because it's pretty cool just to stroll up past the crowds and sit at a good spot. 

If you venture further back, you'll spot the Saloon. This is the spot where the nine-to-five suits congregate for a drink or two before getting the train home to the suburbs. Sounds very Mad Men-ish, no? If you're going to sit at a traditional table, this is the place to do so. It's a bit more lively than the main dining room (read: noisy), but is cozy and tucked back into a warm corner of the restaurant. It's also closest to the bathrooms. This reminds me of La Cava de Tequila or the Wine Bar in Italy as it's small but fun. 

Now on to the eats.

While the majority of the menu is seafood based, there are a few options for land lubbers. But the real draw here are the oysters (duh). The restaurant always houses at least 20 different kinds of fresh oysters. As you can see, the menu is extensive. The wine list is just a big, with one side featuring whites and the other featuring reds.

I'd never pass up a chance to get the New England clam chowder, and my mom and I split a bowl and a house salad. A small bread plate is served when you sit down, consisting of one sweet biscuit, one traditional dinner roll, and several pieces of crisp flat bread topped with a variety of seeds and spices (think of an 'everything' bagel).

Any kind of oyster you want, it's here. I prefer small, firm oysters from the West coast, with my favorite being Kumamotos. Those weren't in season, so our server suggested a few others to try from that region. Mom and I both started with a dozen Shigoku. They were wonderful, nice and meaty. I forgo the cocktail sauce and eat mine with a squeeze of lemon, a dollop of horseradish, and dipped into the mignonette sauce. Slurp!

After polishing off a dozen of these bad boys, I was eager to try some others. There were four varieties from Washington State on the menu, so I asked for three of each, totaling one dozen (yay maths!). We also ordered some French fries, because oysters and fries go together so well. No really, they do!

Now on to the Disney connection. Let me be clear, I'm completely assuming, but I can imagine Walt meeting business clients here to talk shop about he 1964-65 World's Fair that was held a short train ride away in Queens, NY. Perhaps he got a table (more practical for talking shop), ordered a drink and a bowl of oyster stew, and dreamed up ideas that made their way into one of the four iconic Disney attractions at the NYWF. I don't know, it's a stretch, but a girl can dream. After all, oyster stew was on Walt's list of favorite foods.

Hope you enjoyed this venture beyond the Disney gates. I'm going into the City again in a few days and plan to visit the Disney Store in Times Square; I'll report back on that in a post that should hopefully appease my die-hard Disney readers. Until then, cheers!