Disney World is one of my favorite places on the planet. When I’m sad, it’s the first place I wish I could be… that or a beach in Mexico with a good book and a cold margarita. There is nothing that lifts my spirits like walking down Main Street in a cute dress, latte in hand, heading out for a day of spinning in teacups, traveling to space, and discussing fashion with my favorite princesses.
Currently, I am preparing for a Girl’s Trip with a couple of my best friends to participate in the RunDisney Princess 5K. While the trip is still a month away, I’m already thinking about how to pack. From drinks at Trader Sam’s, to our day at Magic Kingdom, to the race itself, I want to make sure that my suitcase is full of things that are fantastically Disney… and fantastically me! Of course I want my PhotoPass pictures to look awesome.
I never traveled to Disney as a kid. I mean, we didn’t have a lot of money, and taking a family of six from Ohio to the most magical place on Earth was an impossible dream. I would watch the commercials and episodes of Full House where they go to the park and BEG my parents to go, only to be met with an offer for a day trip to Cedar Point. (It’s cool… but not the same.) I absolutely never imagined that in my adult life, going to Disney would eventually become an annual pilgrimage!
The first time I traveled to Disney World, I was 25. Jeff and I were invited to go to Florida for a week with my grandparents. They offered to take us to Magic Kingdom for a day. It was so much fun and we made the most of what we imagined would be our only trip there. It really was a wonderful day, even with the rain that fell most of the evening. I dressed for the day in a t-shirt and shorts I had just bought from my job at the Gap, paired with a trusty pair of Keds. It was cute. It was comfy. It was so early 2000’s.
Almost ten years later, I discovered the beauty of taking my students to perform at Walt Disney World. Not only was it a great experience for them, but it meant free trips to Disney for me. (Bonus!) I got into the routine of taking the trip every four years, so each student had the opportunity to experience the magic of Disney Performing Arts. Our first school trip was in 2010. At that point in time, I still didn’t really have a distinct style. I kind of just dressed how people expected me to, and tried to blend in. I packed a ton of capris and tees. Though most of the clothes were cute and I was definitely comfy… I still didn’t have a signature park style.
Since starting the school trip rotation, I’ve also planned a week-long Christmas trip, a bachelorette party, a 25th “friendaversary” trip, and an epic 40th birthday celebration at the Disney Parks. Plus, my in-laws have moved to Florida, giving us the excuse to take an occasional day trip to a park. In fact, I have been privileged to visit a park every year since 2012!
During that time, I have started to approach the way I dress for Disney in a completely different way. Instead of dressing for comfort alone, I’ve started to dress up for a day at the parks. I mean, if ladies could wear dresses and heels at Disneyland in the 60’s, surely I can dress up a bit now.
I have found that wearing a dress is actually cooler and more comfortable than shorts and a t-shirt anyway. Dresses are breezy and air conditioned. So long as you remember to wear good shoes and a pair of bike shorts to help with the chub rub (and prevent an occasional breeze from being embarrassing), a dress can be the perfect outfit for a day at Disney.
Getting on and off the rides isn’t really a hassle, except for a few that sit low to the ground like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Your PhotoPass photos look hella cute, and social media worthy. But, I think my favorite part of dressing up for the parks is the reaction I get from Cast Members and resort guests. I can’t tell you how encouraging it feels to have random people tell you that you look like a princess, ask you where your clothes are from, or have characters react to your outfit. It is absolutely WORTH standing out.
Over the last few years, many brands have created collaborations with Disney. Everything from outdoor gear, footwear, and haute couture have borne the image of Mickey Mouse. While these collections are adorable and I would love to own them all, many are not terribly plus size inclusive. That’s where Torrid and Her Universe have come to the rescue for me. Both brands consistently offer fresh Disney fangirl collections, featuring athletic gear, causal tees, and dresses that are perfect for Disney travel (or living an everyday Disney life).
Then, there’s the Disney Dress Shop… a magical collection of vintage-inspired dresses featuring Disney characters and park attractions. I have written about my love for this collection before. These dresses are a bit pricey, but make me feel like the most beautiful fangirl in the park.
I am certainly not here to tell you that you are a bum if you wear shorts and flip-flops to a Disney Park. Almost everyone else does and they have a wonderful time. I just like adding that bit of extra that makes my trip more magical. It’s like stepping right into my own Disney fairytale!