What better way to start off my blog than with a post about the Happiest Place on Earth? My vacations to Disneyland are something I look forward to year around (no matter if one’s planned for the future or not), so when Disney announced that they would be hosting (aka capitalizing on) their very own version of Dapper Day, I was over the moon. As the first in what is supposedly to be a series of events that take place after park closing, we all knew little of what to expect – only that we knew we had to go; and since the first date fell only a week after my little sister’s birthday, my roommate and I took the opportunity to give her the proper Disney bash she’s never had because we always go a month later on my birthday.
Disneyland’s first After Dark event was described as a “Step back in time to the ‘50s and ‘60s for a taste of the classic after-dark experience at Disneyland,” and so we approached the event as a replication of their 1950s “Date Nite” events where guys and dolls would dress their best to experience the park at night with swing dancing and bands adding that little extra something.
With excitement, anticipation, and a dash of worry, the three of us planned our outfits (opting out of in-your-face Disneybounds for the first time in years in favor of being era-accurate), and made the drive from Arizona to California. Morning of, I woke up at 4:30 am to brush out my roommate and sister’s hair to give them updos I had yet to practice on their hair, but came out beautifully: a poodle on on Lauren’s once stick-straight hair, and a half-poodle on Julide’s a la Annette in “Babes in Toyland.”
After a 30 minute standstill at the parking lot to get in, we walked up to the parks only to realize that it opened two hours after we had assumed (shame on us!). We decided it wasn’t such a tragedy (and I willfully ignored that I had just woken up at 4:30 am when we were going to be in the parks until 1:30 am) and took the opportunity to snap some photos.
My roommate, Lauren, who’s fashion sense is modern (and generally leans toward ’40s when she goes vintage for an event,) ended up opting for the most beautiful silk taffeta 1980s does 1940s/50s gown that I still envy her for. While I’m not generally a fan of ’80s-does, this one won my heart and flattered her tall frame perfectly. It also easily made for the best photographs because of its long, full skirt, and reflective material. We topped her look off with a new 3-strand pearl necklace, gold heels, red lips, and a pair of my purple rhinestone earrings to give her that red carpet glow.
My sister, Julide, who tends to lean towards 1950s found a perfectly fitting (and fitted) dress of black with pink embroidered flowers, and topped off the look with a pink satin 1960s hat, pink lips, pink 1950s gloves, a shrug from Pinup Girl Clothing, and the cutest flats around. While Lauren was the glamour gal in the group, Julide was definitely the epitome of the cute party girl who would’ve attended Date Nite.
In my search for an outfit, I landed on a 1950s party gown in this stunning shade of green. Since I wanted it to feel more special than my usual Disney attire given the event at night, I added some perfectly matching green gloves to the equation, my own 3-strand pearl necklace, gold heels, and a little frog brooch to my glove to give a nod to Tiana.
Of course, the direct sunlight proved too intense for the pale shade of green I was wearing, but that didn’t stop me from snapping more images!
After a good amount of time spent taking photos, we finally made our way into the Happiest Place on Earth.
The day went swimmingly and aside from not going on Space Mountain (a definite first), it was the perfect day.
We met some of our favorite characters…
…and even played hide and seek with Peter Pan (the love of my sister’s life) before she was swept away by Hook in a waltz (the new love of her life):
I threw in a fast outfit change (since the under bust of my dress was too tight, making the bodice shove my shoulders down painfully):
Saw the elusive Belle in her town gown rush by without being able to talk to her (as usual…how do I meet her, dammit??), so settled for second best and posed with her statuary and ate in her restaurant:
We went on Small World which was still decked out for Christmas and none of us had ever experienced it as such – and it was MARVELOUS. We, of course, rode the teacups – a feat my sister and I quickly realized was much more difficult when only two people were turning the wheel and one was practically useless due to gloves:
And before we knew it, it was time to pick up our event passes and exclusive park maps, and reign in the normal operating hours by watching Fantasmic! (the first time we’ve seen the show since it was revamped). Side note: the map was absolutely adorable, and in retrospect, we missed out on a lot of things due to exhaustion.
I quickly changed back to my original outfit when I realized that my beautiful Belle gown had a large hole starting by the zipper in the hour between park close and the official start of the event, and off we went for a night time of fun.
Although we were exhausted after 12 hours already spent in the parks, being greeted by the peppy ’60s party tunes coming from a stage set up by Walt’s statue and seeing the decade-specific wardrobe put that bit of spring back in our steps. After wandering around Mainstreet for awhile greeting new chums and generally taking in our surroundings, we quickly shuffled through the huge crowd gathered in front of the castle to find a spot for Disney’s “Fantasy in the Sky,” a replica of the firework show that first started playing in Disneyland in 1958. It was a happy moment, being surrounded by fellow ’50s lovers, and although plenty of guests weren’t dressed up for the event, enough were to make it feel truly special. From Hairspray-inspired ’60s looks, to poodle skirts, to true vintage, all interpretations of the decades ran rampant and it felt like home.
After the fireworks spectacular, we branched out into other areas of the parks (primarily Fantasyland), and were greeted by the swing band playing near Small World. While we waited in line to ride the Storybook Land Canal Boats, we watched as varying levels of couples took to the dance floor, and then spotted an incredibly rare character greeting guests just off to the side – the Blue Fairy! Since we had picked up our wristbands and event brochures earlier in the day, we had known that the “classic” characters we were promised ahead of time would include people from “Sleeping Beauty,” “Pinocchio,” and “Sword in the Stone.” Although we were shocked that Snow White and Cinderella weren’t represented in the lot, seeing the Blue Fairy almost made it better. Once we’d made our way around a bit more, we finally found the Blue Fairy again and waited to meet her.
Her gown was absolutely stunning and I fell in love with her 60s bouffant and elegant hands. She was definitely one of the most beautiful characters in the parks, and waiting for the PhotoPass photographer to show up didn’t seem such a trial when we could watch Merlin wandering around giving sage advice to park guests.
Although we didn’t manage to meet Merlin (so little time!), we did manage to find Aurora again…and this time, with her Prince! I was bemused but happy to discover that in order to walk up to the pair, one had to ask permission for a photograph. With difficulty, I mustered up the will to do so, and we got our images. We’ll ignore how far away I was standing from Phillip because my nerves got the best of me! What can I say? I’ve never met a character wielding a sword before.
After meeting characters, we decided to take advantage of the photo ops set up all around the park depicting original attractions:
Even if we were absolutely exhausted by the time 1 am rolled around, we felt the usual sadness sink in as we had to make our way to the exit. The music still playing was difficult to leave behind – even more so than usual knowing that official 1950s events in Disneyland would be few and far between. We felt that the extra $90 spent on a mere 4 hour event was easily worth it, with the fireworks show, the rare characters, the dancing, and just seeing everyone wandering around.
Next time, we plan on trying to find a way to go two days so that the previous day can be spent at the parks, leaving the day of the event free so we can recharge and move a bit faster when the event was actually happening, but this was a lesson we learned at Mickey’s Halloween Party and failed to follow through with already, so who knows? If you were unsure about investing in this event due to cost, I would say that it’s definitely worth it. While Dapper Day brings out more cosplayers and eras of vintage, being able to experience the 1950s IN the parks feels completely different. I doubt anyone would argue with a few extra hours tacked on at the end, a few more characters, and maybe even a mini parade (something closer to what the Halloween party does, and who knows, perhaps they’ll develop the event as time goes on,) but the immersive feeling was certainly unique and made it worth every penny.
Did you attend Disney’s Throwback Nite? Let me know your thoughts!
Miss Lark Bahar