Sophomore year when I joined my sorority I was told I needed to find a white dress and white shoes for the initiation ceremony. This tradition was passed on for decades, going all the way back to the founding of Sigma Kappa and other chapters as well. Unfortunately, 50 girls running out to find completely white outfits two weeks after labor day turned out to be no easy task. I had to settle for the first dress I found, which in this case was several sizes too small and not at all my style.
This scramble for white dresses repeats itself at the start of each year with the initiation of a new pledge class, so it seems only fitting that I would finally find something that I like with just quarter left until graduation. Luckily there is a ceremony to become an alumna of the chapter, so I will get to wear this for Sigma Kappa ritual at least once. I like this dress enough that I will probably wear it on repeat this summer anyway.
The first time I got to debut my white dress was at Universal last week, which was perfect. While the fabric seems thick and structured, I never felt like it was too heavy even on the hottest day of my trip. Paired with gold I felt simple and understated, but still chic as I walked around the parks. It also gave me the excuse to wear my lightning bolt earrings as a nod to Harry Potter. After seeing tons of over-the-top licensed merch at the parks it was nice to show some spirit without going too crazy. I've always preferred minimal gold jewelry to a bedazzled hood anyway.
Dress: Forever 21
Earrings: Forever 21
Sandals: Saltwater Sandals
Yesterday was my last day in Orlando, so to go out with a bang Taylor and I headed to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter parks. This was one of the most exciting parts of the trip for me, since I was a little bit obsessed with the series growing up. Some of my favorite memories are listening to the books on tape in the car, or wearing robes and pretending the creek by my house was Hogwarts when my friends came over. We used to make potions in the bathroom, and for years all I wanted for Christmas was the castle lego set. To see a lifelong favorite come to life in this way was truly amazing.
While the Universal Park overall seemed fun, nothing was as detailed and exciting to me as Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, which were connected by the the Hogwarts Express. There is even a ride that goes through the castle, and another that goes through Gringotts.
One of my favorite spots was Honeydukes, and I couldn't resist buying a pack of Bertie Botts and a Chocolate Frog to bring back for Tyler and I to share. The whole store was super cute, with all of the treats from the movies lining the shelves. From Pumpkin Juice to Fizzing Wizzbees, it was super difficult to decide what to get. The pastry cabinet also had themed treats, like the Pumpkin Pasty and the Cauldron Cake. I honestly wish I could have tried it all. Luckily I was able to get a butterbeer next to the castle that curbed my sweet tooth long enough to make more rational decisions about desert.
Another great spot was the robe shop in Diagon Alley, complete with a mirror that gives compliments. I couldn't leave without a Weasley sweater, especially after the talking mirror told me I looked dashing. I decided I didn't have a lot of use for Ravenclaw robes, as much as I wanted them but I did settle for a pin so that I could still show my house pride.
The Magical Menagerie was set up like the pet store where Hedwig and Crookshanks are from, and filled with stuffed versions of magical creatures. I was pretty disappointed that there was no niffler, which I've loved since Hagrid brought them for a Care of Magical Creatures lesson in the Goblet of Fire.
For dinner Taylor and I got to eat at the Three Broomsticks, with the moving Azkaban poster of Sirius Black (hands down the best character - closely followed by Luna and Hermione) keeping watch over us. I ordered fish and chips again, falling back into my study abroad habit. It's really hard to resist pub food, and I've missed it in the states.
After dinner we left Diagon Alley for the final day of the Universal Mardi Gras parade, which turned out to be a blast. The floats were huge, and some shot out confetti and breathed fire. I got tons of plastic beads, some that I caught and others that hit me in the face, but overall it was a great finale to an amazing trip.
I am so grateful to have friends that provide me with opportunities like this vacation, and I am so glad that Taylor was willing to show me around her "new" home this past week. I miss her all the time, but Orlando is perfect for her, and who can complain about friends who work in the happiest place on earth?
Today was our 3rd and final day at Disney World parks, so in order to make sure I saw it all we split our time between Hollywood Studio and Animal Kingdom. These two definitely felt like the smallest of the parks, so doing a half day at each went really well.
Since we had dinner reservations in Animal Kingdom, we headed to Hollywood Studios in the morning after eating Mickey Waffles at our resort. The main street of Hollywood is super cute, with vintage style theatres on either side. It was pretty colorful, although the park didn't seem as cohesive as the others overall. This is partly because it's in the process of changing and Star Wars is slowly taking over. At 3 o'clock Stormtroopers took to the streets for the imperial march, which felt super bizarre after stepping off a Toy Story ride in the Pixar section. We also did the Tower of Terror, which I loved. I had to get over how creaky it was though, since it freaked me out a lot more than the big drops themselves. It reminded me of a wooden rollercoaster, and I'm never a big fan of a ride that sounds like it could break at any time.
Another thing about the roller coasters at Disney World is that they are always taking your picture at some point during the ride. While I knew this was to be expected, I never knew when it was going to happen. I look like I'm having a terrible time in every single photo, because I was either terrified, or holding on for dear life. Our Tower pic was super serious looking.
As for Animal Kingdom, I would describe it as a zoo with an amusement park inside of it. As soon as you walk in you see birds, and eventually weave your way through tiger and monkey enclosures as well. We wanted to go on the classic safari ride to see savannah animals, but the line was always over an hour. Instead we did some of the faster rides like Everest (which we were lucky to have fast passes for) and Dinosaur. We also caught some shows. I now remember why I was so freaked out by the Bugs Life live show as a kid, and I definitely wasn't the only one. I think every child around me was crying after the cricket appeared.
At our dinner we got to meet Mickey, who was all dressed up in his safari clothes. Character dinners are really popular, and it was kinda fun to have them stop by your table for pics. Much faster than waiting in line and you get to eat!
Since this was my last day at Disney I really wanted to wear something fun. When I ordered this embroidered mesh top from Forever 21 a few weeks ago, I was pretty nervous about how it would look. I have never really tried anything this bold in terms of color, but I think it really paid off! I got a ton of compliments on it, and it looks great with denim for when I return to chilly Seattle. Everyone needs something exciting like this to mix things up every once in a while, and it really brought me out of my all-black comfort zone I have been hiding in!
Today was also our last day to pin trade (unless we find something at our hotel) and I am really happy about my little nesting doll princesses. They remind me of my trip to Russia, and were such a cute way to incorporate Disney into a simple shape. I had purchased a pack with 5, and got too attached to trade them all away, but now that I see them paired with this look I am glad that I didn't.
I'm going to miss all the Disney World fun, but our next stop is Universal Studios!
Top: Forever 21
Skirt: Forever 21
Bag: UW School of Art
Pins: Disney Pin Trading
Earrings: Forever 21
Bracelets: Bluma Project - from Pop Sugar Must Have
After snoozing our alarm for close to two hours this morning, Taylor and I made our way to Magic Kingdom for the classic Disney experience. We both grabbed our ears and our Saltwater Sandals and headed to the biggest (and probably the busiest) of the Disney World parks.
Taylor was able to score us some awesome reservations for the Be Our Guest restaurant, which is one of the most popular stops in the park. We ate in the main ballroom of the Beast's castle, and even "tried the grey stuff" - yes, it was delicious just as the song suggests. I'm glad we were able to get a table here, it made me even more excited to see the movie when I get back to Seattle.
Then we headed over to meet Ariel, which was one of my childhood dreams come true. I didn't get the opportunity during my second grade trip to Disney Land, so I was extremely excited to see her this time around. Afterwards we rode the Little Mermaid ride, which was super cute.
Some of the rides I skipped out on as a kid were also on our list for the day, and I finally got the chance to experience Splash Mountain and Space Mountain as someone who isn't as easily scared. Fast passes were a life saver for these rides, which would have taken us an hour in line. I didn't realize that Space Mountain was completely dark, so that definitely caught me by surprise. You can totally tell how unprepared I was in the candid photo that they take during the ride.
The best part about Magic Kingdom is the emphasis on the entertainment. We saw two parades - one of which turned into a dance party with the characters in the street. Our dance got cut short when I accidentally knocked down a toddler who was groovin behind me. I was apparently waaaay too into it...We also stuck around for Wishes, the nighttime firework show at the castle. Unfortunately it was too windy for Tinkerbelle to fly tonight, but the show was worth it either way.
I ate more food today than the other two combined, and most of it was dessert. But how could I resist a post-tiki-room dole whip or a Mickey shaped ice cream bar? Both lived up to the hype for sure, although you have to eat frozen things super fast in the Florida heat. I need to work on not getting brain freezes if I'm going to continue with my snack streak tomorrow.
Top: Forever 21
Shorts: The Gap
Shoes: Saltwater Sandals
Today was my first official day at Disney World! Taylor opened my grand tour of the parks with Epcot, where she works. Spring is the Flower and Garden festival, and I am so glad I was lucky enough to visit during such a beautiful event. There were tons of character themed topiaries, special gardens, and pop-up kiosks with themed snacks that they only have once per year.
We started the day in Future World, which is the specific area that Taylor spends the most time in. Most of the rides seemed technology themed and educational, but we did get a fast past for a super cool Finding Nemo ride. I also really liked Spaceship Earth, which was in the Epcot Ball (I thought it was hollow before). But the best one of the day was definitely Soarin, which is a virtual parasail ride around the world. They even spray scents during it, and the super big screen really messes with your perception so that you feel like it's almost real.
Overall my favorite area of Epcot was the World Showcase, that has pavilions dedicated to different countries around the world. Morocco was probably my favorite, although I did get to have some pretty authentic fish and chips in the UK. The cool thing about the World Showcase is that each area has cast members from that country, so you get to meet a ton of people from all over the globe. It's really crazy that Disney is able to be such a universal love in that way.
We also waited in line to meet a few characters today, including Daisy and Daffy Duck. Plus a lot of princesses hang out in the pavilions, so Taylor and I met Aurora, Belle, Elsa, and Ana. But Daisy was definitely the one to steal my heart.
(PS I got this pom pom dress at forever 21 and I felt like it was perfect for the festival. More pics of it to come! You can also follow me on Instagram @alhblog where I am currently spamming everyones feed with Disney)
23 | Seattle, Wa