Need “Tsum” More Minnie Ears?

With Etsy bringing its best to the ear-making phenomenon, Walt Disney World has released several new editions of Minnie Mouse’s signature bow look to rival the work of competing crafters. Between a recently introduced peach and flower option, to a pair with a sparkly, diamond bow in shades of pink or blue, Minnie has gotten her share of the spotlight in Disney merchandise. But truly, despite the franchise’s valiant efforts to heighten their level of creativity, I far prefer custom work in comparison to the identical products sold in the Parks.

However, that poses the question: What handmade products can I actually trust? Quality is essential. If you’re going to shovel out 30 dollars or more to refine your picture-perfect look for a day at Disney, the expectations are set high. For the price, the durability and functionality of your accessory should match its official counterparts. I have certainly had my share of Etsy-buy mishaps, which is why Annie’s Fairytale Bows had me head over ears when I tore into her package.

I was initially struck by how outlandishly adorable her design was, because a tsum tsum set of ears is certainly something I never thought I would be able to get my hands on. Ms. Laura Solorsano’s finest achievement, though, was showcased by the exemplary display of professionalism and neatness in her product. The entirety of the (amazingly comfortable) headband base is covered in the same fabric used for the ears, which adds an elegant

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I was probably more excited that the fabric design matched the shirt I bought from Kohl’s more than anything else. Pair your outfit to maximize the amount of tsum you can represent! More is never enough.

continuity to the overall style, and lined with ribbon on the underside. The ears themselves are sewed perfectly, sturdy, and attached firmly, unlike some products that I’ve grown frustrated with in the past for quickly falling apart. If these ears are going to ride Everest with me, jump through character meet and greets, and last through my endless parkhopping, they need to be built for my hyperactivity. Annie’s Fairytale Bows lives up to its name by incorporating a fabric bow with a hard image of a super cute tsum tsum stack on the front. Everything looks wondrously finished, as a little rim of sequins lines the edges of the ears to polish off the pesky little edges that don’t look nearly as nice as they do when cleverly obscured. I honestly felt as content wearing Annie’s Fairytale Bows’s ears as I would if I had taken my classic Park-bought Minnie ears on my afternoon Animal Kingdom run.

As lovely as her ears are, and as mystified by them as I am, Ms. Solorsano’s talent extends beyond the mouse’s fashion statement and into a line of character bows all her own. My particular favorite, and due recommendation, is Annie’s Fairytale Bows’s Mickey

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After playing around with these products, I’ve been persuaded that Annie’s Fairytale Bows are made to go with literally every outfit conceivable.

and Minnie Mouse set, which are my favorite things to decorate a messy bun with. The subtle allusion to the inspiration of each bow is kept classy and simple, which is a stylistic technique of the shop that I am incredibly fond of. Everything is minute and carefully constructed.

Annie’s Fairytale Bows possesses the talent to breathe life into the beloved stories they create designs of, and one of the sweetest small shops to support. That being said, they have tsum tsum Minnie Mouse ears. If that isn’t a beautiful thing, I’m absolutely unconvinced you’re wearing the right pair of ears.

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Polka Dots (Spot)ted at Disney Spring’s “Rock The Dots”

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When I was little, my parents bought be my first Minnie Mouse plush, which ignited my girl crush for the classiest mouse in the kingdom. Collecting different Minnie Mouse dolls became an obsession, and I would bring a different friend along each time we visited the Parks. Needless to say, when I found out Disney Springs would be hosting a special celebration in honor of my favorite diva, I was already making arrangements to #RockTheDots with my favorite gal pals.

rocktedotsI definitely don’t frequent Disney Springs often because the site is such a constant temptation to treat yourself (have you seen the desserts?), but national polka dot day brought out the best of free deals and limited offers, which totally warranted a trip. Disney Parks Blog released a list of participating shops that would be rocking the dots January 22nd to keep guests updated, which is absolutely the best resource for any annual passholder or Disney enthusiast that wants to keep themselves in the loop for upcoming promotional events like Rock The Dots.

A majority of participating storefronts had in-store discounts or offered a free gift with a lofty purchase, but for those who sought out a more economic way to enjoy the celebration, Disney Springs hadn’t forgotten to provide some wallet-friendly options. My polka dot party of three, including the author of the lovely Dole Whip Press, and I opted to test the experience’s value without having to pay our way through the event. But instead of feeling limited to a small category of things to do, we were able to spend a brief three or four hours feeling absolutely pampered. For those of you who would like to follow our path and learn a few tips for the next Rock The Dots celebration:

1. Get your free button.

For most exclusive promotional celebrations, Disney creates a limited pin that can only be collected the day of the event. Rock The Dots featured a Minnie Mouse button that all participants were welcome to pick up from a participating store, primarily at “World of Disney.” I missed the opportunity to get the Mickey’s 88th birthday celebratory button in 2016, and I still haven’t lived down the regret.

2. Enjoy a makeover.

dscn9537Walking into Sephora is practically a fairytale experience on its own, but free makeup only makes it even better. You may be unaware that Sephora offers free “mini” makeovers regularly, offering 15 minutes of their time applying makeup to one area of the face. For example, they’ll willingly help you achieve a gorgeous wing or smokey-eye, if that’s all you need. Seeing a free “mini” makeover listed on the Rock The Dots itinerary, I had been expecting to receive just that. Instead, Sephora designed a more creative alternative to their typical services, face-painting pop art Minnie Mouse designs on walk-in guests at no charge. If you want to participate, but don’t have a polka dot closet at the ready, Sephora will certainly help you channel your inner polka dot princess.

Be mindful, even though Disney listed a start time of 1 p.m. for the event, there’s no harm in arriving early! If you plan on attending in the future, give yourself time to get a head start on the crowds so that you can avoid the waiting list that quickly developed at locations like Sephora.

3. Say hello to Minnie herself.

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We caught Minnie in her most vibrant dress of the day, while sporting the Parks’ new redesign! I was living for her adorable pink bow and neckline.

My favorite opportunity at Rock The Dots was the special character appearance that hadn’t been listed on the flyers. Accompanied by a DJ and polka dot flags everywhere, the event centralized by Town Center, where Minnie Mouse hosted her very own dance party. Instead of the typical, controlled meet and greet experiences expected of Disney, Minnie played alongside friends of all ages and welcomed those just arriving with hugs and kisses. Specific to the Rock The Dots event, Minnie changed polka dot dresses with each appearance, sporting four outfits in total throughout the day. Depending on the time of your arrival, you could visit Minnie Mouse in her classic red, pink, yellow, or multi-colored polka dot outfit. I was pleased to see Disney offer the magic experienced in their parks to a location that non-passholders could enjoy for the special occasion.

4. Say “cheese” for PhotoPass.

For passholders, one of the happiest perks of Rock The Dots are the free photo opportunities. Located behind the dance party, guests were invited to pose with a Rock The Dots sign and picture frame to capture the moment.

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Just because Minnie is the polka dot icon doesn’t mean our little Mickey mouslings have to be left out! We loved the polka dot style on his shorts.

Usually, I find myself underwhelmed by Disney-hosted events, but Rock The Dots promised a unique, outside the Parks adventure for guests needing a little time for refreshing. The giveaways hosted by the Alex and Ani outlet and other shops were highlights of the shopping complex’s featured event, but the most satisfying part of Rock The Dots was the heavy presence of the Disney community. The same energy that is present on Dapper Day filled the streets of Disney Springs, mutual compliments and strangers asking to take photos with each other were met with kindness and sincerity, a thing that we all need to see a little more of. Don’t just rock your style and smile for Rock The Dots, carry it with you just like our BMF (best mouse friend) would.

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Arm Candy with Ears

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The Mickey Ear Shoulder Bag from @bmarquez_nevergrowupshop has become my Disney-trip necessity.

I’ve found that visiting the happiest place on earth is always a little more satisfying when you dress for the occasion. This year, I’ve started a collection of custom Minnie ears and Disney-themed apparel that have overtaken my closet space. But I’ve still found a problem when it comes to picking out the right bag to bring along. I don’t want to carry around some bulky, unsightly nightmare that looks equally ugly in all my photos with Cindy and Tinkerbell. And there’s no fun in purchasing something boring when you’re looking to have a magical day.

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It doesn’t matter which park you’re visiting, Ms. Josie-Marquez’s handbags are perfect for any excursion.

Happily enough, Never Grow Up Shop is my absolute favorite go-to for resolving little dilemmas like these. Brittany Josie-Marquez handcrafts the most adorable handbags for a day out, my personal favorite being her Mouse Ear Shoulder Bag (which sells for only $35). Almost all of her products have flexibility regarding color, which is a huge asset in attempting to search up an item that will blend into the rest of your wardrobe. Even though the traditional black was tantalizing, I fell in love with her light grey option which surprisingly possesses the capability to brighten up any look.

I wasn’t sure how handmade could look so wonderful on a purse, but Never Grow Up Shop makes the feat seem effortless. The product I received was masterfully constructed and looked like something you would pick right off the shelf of your nearest Disney-themed department store (the lack of thereof is exactly why Never Grow Up Shop‘s products are an absolute need).

Any item that can get unending cast members asking where you bought it is an undoubted success, in my opinion. I like knowing that what I wear out to the Parks doesn’t look touristy, and nothing is more charming than something that’s simple and unique. Ms. Josie-Marquez definitely understands that a pair of Mickey ears can make anything better, especially a late-night Magic Kingdom runimg_2498

I’ve actually had the product for some time, convinced that I would post a review right after I took it on “just one more” trip to Walt Disney World. But I had to stop myself from jealously taking my new treasure on adventures in order to share just how much I love it with you. Never Grow Up Shop is a gem, that aside from envy-worthy bags, also creates dazzling Minnie ear sets and other Disney-decorated accessories. From playing tag with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum with my custom bag across my shoulder, to taking photos in the Hub Grass with a strikingly photogenic purse, Never Grow Up Shop’s handbag is the best purse a girl with Disney in her veins could ask for.

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Heart Amour Prints for Some Extra Love

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Amour Prints’s “Once Upon A Dream” design is displayed above.

Amidst the watercolor beauty of flowers and the spiraling emblems on royal tea sets, a royal painter named Kirstie Edwards transforms such natural beauty into elegant, enamoring prints for every princess to frame on their castle walls. Ms. Edwards daydreams these masterpieces in her mind and works from her home to bring the magic she envisions to life for everyone. The love she laces in the foreground of each design envelops the purpose of Amour Printsof which is to deliver the happiness of beloved royalty to every believing heart.

Juliet The First and Amour Prints have partnered to make a Disney-mail delivery to three very special noblemen or women this season. To enter the giveaway for a print of your choice, follow @julietcahow and @amourprints on Instagram. Like the giveaway photo posted by the enchanting diaries of Juliet The First, and tag one friend to spread the word that you have a piece of our hearts this holiday. For extra entries, you can like Amour Prints on Etsy and subscribe to this blog, simply leave a message that you have done so in the comments! The giveaway will end December 20th at midnight, EST and winners will be selected randomly. May your days be merry, bright, and full of Amour Prints.

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Set Sail to The Heart of Anna and Red with Moana

dscn8158As Moana undergoes a voyage to Te Fiti in an expedition to find herself and save her island, the fabulous Anna and Red has already crafted an inspired bow to emulate the Polynesian heroine’s fiery spirit. I sported the adorable hair accessory to a showing on opening day at Disney Springs, with guests already clamoring to discover where I had found it. From my recent trips to the Polynesian Resort and Disney World Parks, I noticed a limited selection of official Moana merchandise, which only makes Anna and Red’s newly released bow even more exciting.dscn8048

I was so thrilled to have received the piece before the movie even premiered, thanks
to Anna and Red’s perfect timing. And as with every purchase from her store, I opened up the package to see an adorable holiday surprise waiting for me. Christmas is not only my favorite time of year in general, but my favorite time of the year to visit the Parks. The dream lights covering the castle in glitter, Mickey-shaped wreaths, and snowfall on Main Street USA make everyday in the Magic Kingdom a delight. The only things that could make the holidays even better are festive sweaters and tiny Disney bows from Anna and Red. 

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Anna and Red is constantly developing designs to bring a little extra pixie dust to her customers.

Disney’s newly released film captured everything good and beautiful about life, with a daughter of the chief who represents both women of color, and women who are still shaping their identities along the path in which they are journeying. With such an inspiring role model taking the big screen in theaters everywhere, Anna and Red’s Moana bow is the most fitting keepsake that I wear constantly to remind me of the courage Moana taught me. The colors of the product are absolutely gorgeous, and the tiny flower Ms. Ada places on the top of each bow intertwines a tropical, bright Moana vibe with the professional quality.

dscn8168I have grown so attached to Ms. Ada’s work because she continues to offer her customers with new creations that are even cuter than those before them. Anna and Red has also recently welcomed an Elena of Avalor inspired bow, which recreates the authenticity of her coronation gown. Ms. Ada’s designs are completely unique to Anna and Red, and emanate a level of polished neatness that is unparalleled by manufactured bows that lack the same handmade magic.

In the spirit of goodwill and cheer this season brings, Anna and Red and I have again paired up to deliver a special holiday gift. Use the promotion code “JulietTheFirstHH” on your order of $15 or more for $5 off your purchase before December 21st! You can pick out the perfect bow for you and your loved ones via Anna and Red’s Etsy shop. Her bowtique is the most enchanting place to find stocking stuffers for any Disney princess this Christmas. Perhaps even Moana will venture beyond Montunui’s reef again to place an order for her village.

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Juliet The First is in love with Moana and even more in love with the kindness of Anna and Red!

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“Seas” The Day with a Disney Cabana

fullsizerender-38Although not placed along the shores of shell-laden sand and crystal waters, or even the brink of a resort’s spa, Walt Disney World has released their first in-park cabanas at the edge of Tomorrowland for what Cast Members are referring to as a “test-run”. Two of the plastic, tent-like retreats are currently located to the right of the popular Space Mountain attraction behind its stroller parking section. Outside guests are kept at bay with a line of potted plants, patrolling Cast Members, and the occasional roaming security guard. I didn’t believe the preliminary images I had seen on the internet when the cabanas were first announced, so I took to the task of seeing them in person. The limited amenities and flimsy appearance conveyed through the photographs of the white-tented horrors I had seen online only matched what the major tourism franchise has to offer guests from a closer glance.

The Walt Disney World Resort previously allowed visiting families to rent poolside cabanas at both the Contemporary Resort and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, but decided to take the offering one step further by bringing them beyond the gates of the Parks themselves. I inquired further about the new addition to the park with attending Cast Member Nelson, who claimed the primary reason they believe rentals will be successful is their capability to shield families from “the hot mess of people” that crowd the Magic Kingdom on busy days, as all days at the famed theme-park are. This coddling mindset falls in line with the included perk of a modified form of room service, as I was told Kingdom Cabanas’s guests will be able to order food from Tomorrowland’s nearby Cosmic Rays restaurant for an additional charge so that they can avert the lines that make the park a blistering cluster of collectively exhausted visitors.

For an approximate $650 per day, which totals to $691 after taxes have been included, families can rent their own Kingdom Cabana with seating for up to eight guests and complimentary refreshments. Eight Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars, coffee, a fruit basket, personalized Mickey Mouse ear hats, and reserved seating areas are also included amenities to entice willing families to partake in the newly available rental sales. The small spaces are equipped with heaters for the approaching cooler weather, and despite a lack of air conditioning, ceiling fans are provided to extend a cool refuge to guests during the hot summer weather. Mr. Nelson claimed that despite the hefty price tag, “They’re just meant to be a good place to chill and take a nap.”img_2527

According to the Cast Members on staff at the Kingdom Cabanas soft-opening this week, the next parks expected to welcome these not-so-reclusive getaways are Disney’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom. The testing phase is projected to end November 28th, when Kingdom Cabanas will then be open for reservation.

While Kingdom Cabanas have the potential to do incredibly well monetarily for the park, as there are a plethora of guests who have and are willing to spend the money, it lacks the same elegance and story-telling element that emanates throughout the Walt Disney World Company. The cabanas are simplistic and do not offer the same, holistic environment that enraptures guests through Magic Kingdom’s attractions, restaurants, and resorts. For those able to overlook the price, the concept offers an ideal meeting location for large parties who intend to split throughout the day, or families who don’t want to backtrack all the way to their resort midday.

That being said, from the view I observed, and the conversations Cast Members were able to offer, the project seems to be a hurried way of producing more cash from preexisting, onsite consumers. While the cabanas share the Walt Disney World Company’s same love for profit, they lack the connective tissue that is the resort’s capability to procure pure magic. Unlike such, these plastic, sans-beachfront tents making their ways to the Florida parks are no illusion.

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Florida Mermaids Take Aquatica

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Feel like a fish out of water? We certainly don’t because at Aquatica Orlando, there is fin-fun for everyone. Guests can experience thrilling water slides, relaxing rivers, wondrous wave pools and unique animal encounters at this family-friendly water park. We let down our mermaid hair for the day and had an absolute splash!

Even with autumn upon us, Florida has persisted to bring bouts of sunshine and warm weather our way in place of the crimson leaves and cooler days expected of the harvest season. But for a family of mer-friends, there’s no adventure more promising than a day spent swimming through the waters of the seven seas to capture the tropical embrace of a Floridian Fall.

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Why reach for the stars when you can reach for a sky full of orcas?

In gratitude to SeaWorld Orlando graciously providing us with complimentary media passes to explore Aquatica from a dolphinately different perspective, Holly Spoonley, the author of The Cute Country Chick, and myself put our fins together and set sail on a refreshing voyage.

“Water, dolphins, and merfolk equates to water park fun!” -Holly  Spoonley

Aquatica is uniquely SeaWorld, as upon entering the park visitors are greeted by a friendly display of Commerson’s dolphins. This proves a clever choice, since the species is related to killer whales, which are more largely representative of the theme park’s signature mascot, Shamu. Despite their small size, the friendly creatures provided a warm welcome and reminded our mermaid party of four that Aquatica isn’t too far distanced from the ocean, with animal encounters spread throughout the park.

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They may not have been orcas, but we had a whale of a day.

Loggerhead Lane, an attraction with salt water running through its veins almost as much as ours, is one of these featured up-close experiences. The lazy river ride takes visitors on a journey beneath an arch of exotic fish and past a wall from which the Commerson’s dolphins can again be viewed. Although brief, it offers a special opportunity for guests to feel encapsulated by a far-off world and acts as a perfect attraction for merchildren of all ages.

Aquatica also offers two side-by-side waterslides, HooRoo Run and Walhalla Wave, which allow families to wave the shore goodbye together as they depart on a wild ride through the ocean’s current. We flipped our fins through HooRoo Run more than once, where we enjoyed a triple-dip water run that gave us the sense of complete weightlessness until our raft met the dock.

While SeaWorld’s Aquatica provides guests with opportunities rivaled only by the potential treasures of the lost city of Atlantis, we were still able to arrive late and make our way to every attraction at least twice. The park’s small size is likely unnoticeable to traveling merfolk, but as Disney-frequents, the lack of dense crowds allowed for us to leave satisfied within a few hours. For tourists planning a vacation, or even Florida residents preparing for a brief staycation, a maximum of three to five hours should allow you to enjoy the water park without limiting you from embarking on another adventure for the day.

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I loved the happiness of the bright colors of Aquatica’s décor.

The water park is still worth the visit for merfolk who are looking for something a little different and less intense than a traditional set of looming slides, with other options like Aquatica’s Dolphin Plunge and Roa’s Rapids, which lack the intimidating quality of other attractions housed at competing water parks.

With just the right amount of smiles, seashells, and mermaid vibes, SeaWorld’s Aquatica is a must to bring back the warmth of the sunshine state on any dreary day. It was the perfect pick-me-up for two sandy, coffee-driven mer-bloggers, and might just be the little piece of paradise every fish in the sea needs.

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Aquatica brings the feel of “reel”y spending a day at the beach, as we even got the chance to bury our toes in the sand.
Hugs and fishes,
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