Mini-Stepsister Dresses: 1900 Park Fare Dinner

I wrote separately about the odyssey that was sewing the girls mini-Evil Stepsister outfits. I can say definitively, though, that no matter how frustrating that project was it was totally worth it for the fun we had on our last trip. The girls wore their costumes to Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (which I've reviewed previously) and received so many kind compliments and special attention.

From the minute we stepped into the Grand Floridian's lobby the girls were in heaven. While we waited for our table the explored the big, beautiful space, asking to pose for photos next to the sumptuous decorations. 


My husband and I have a running joke that goes back to our first Disney trip in 2011.... Viola (who was only 3 at the time) was chosen to participate in the kids' parade as part of the Festival of the Lion King Show and my husband was responsible for video taping it. He taped the whole thing, zooming in and out, and it was super cute---- or so I'm told, because he never pushed the "record" button, and I've never let him forget that he never pushed the "record" button. We went back two years later and I was sure to take video myself, but still, it's not the same.... 

Anyway, I digress. Before being escorted to our table we had our photopass pictures taken. We felt a bit rushed through the photopass station even though there wasn't a line behind us; perhaps the photographer was reaching the end of his shift. The photopass pictures we get are usually very high quality but I was a bit disappointed with these ones. Still, they're better than the ones I took myself by far! 

We were seated at a table near the front of the restaurant, just as you walk through the doors. In the second room the characters were putting on a bit of a show where Cinderella and the Prince dance and the stepsisters heckle them. The girls ran over to watch and when Anastasia turned around and saw the girls in their mini-Stepsister dresses she made quite a fuss, pointing it out to everyone. I was right there with my video camera and I captured the entire thing..... or so I thought. 

That's right, I forgot to hit "record". And now my husband won't let me live it down! What a jerk, right? We returned to our table and waited for the characters to visit us. And visit, us, they did! Our visits with Cinderella and Prince Charming were brief, maybe because the girls made it known that they waiting to see the real stars of the night, the Tremaine family.

I am, by the way, a terrible photographer, did I mention. That's another part of why I'm such a fan of the photopass service. So, please excuse the poor quality of the pictures... 


Every time Anastasia passed by I thought Eva was going to pass out from excitement and anticipation. Before we met the stepsisters, however, we met their mother, Lady Tremaine and she was spectacular! She spent a lot of time with the girls chatting with them and she even gave them a private singing lesson. That's right, they sang "Sing Sweet Nightingale" together and it was adorable! Don't believe me? Check out the video below! 


Finally, there was no one left to see but Anastasia and Drizella! They tried to trade Viola for her hair bow, and requested that I make them a sweater for Lucifer. The girls were unusually shy (I think they were surprised by the level of special attention that the dresses brought) but they have talked about this dinner nonstop since! 

I'm so grateful to all the cast members for making our dinner such a special, memorable experience! We still have the dresses, of course, and I want to get them photographed since the girls will grow out of them before our next trip --- I tried my best, but as I mentioned above I am a terrible photographer so I'll have to find someone who actually knows what they're doing!  If I do, I'll be sure to update the blog so stay tuned! :-)

Sewing Project: Tremaine Sisters' Costumes

1900 Park Fare is one of our favorite restaurants. On our 2011 trip, we did the "Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner" and on our 2013 trip we tried the "Supercalifragilistic Breakfast". (You can read my comparison of the two character meals here). When I was planning our 2015 trip the Cinderella dinner was at the top of both girls' wish lists to do again. The girls were excited to see Cinderella, of course, but what they really wanted was some time with the Tremaine family. We've always enjoyed our witty and irreverent meetings with the evil steps sisters. 

My girls are girly-girls and they love costumes (in cases you hadn't noticed!) The fancier the better. At some point (probably when we were making the Anastasia / Drizella halloween masks!), the idea came up to make Anastasia and Drusilla costumes and we started keeping an eye out for suitable materials at our favorite thrift store.

I was able to find some pretty good used clothing items (skirts, shirts, etc.) in fuschia and lime green that I thought would work, as well as a costume that looked like a close match in terms of the cut of the dress that the sisters wear in the parks. I wish I could say these costumes were made with up-cycled clothes like our Harry Potter sundresses are but, unfortunately, things didn't work out exactly as I would have liked with the pattern/sizing and we ended up having to shop at JoAnn Fabrics for material about halfway through. 

Making Anastasia Tremaine's Pink Dress: 


The thrift store fabrics that I originally started with is on the left. Because of the placement of buttons on the outfit and my own ineptitude laying out the pattern, and because my daughter is bigger than I realized!, I had to start over. Pretty much, if I'd just winged it like I did with the Harry Potter sundresses I would have been fine, but because I was trying to follow a pattern fabric got wasted that I couldn't afford and I ended up with not enough to complete the outfit. 

Below is my second attempt with the fabric store materials. (So, so much more expensive than upcycling, btw!)


She's thinking, "What is it that those mice sang about needing 'Trimmin'?"  That it's good for covering up sloppy seams, my dear! :-)

There was a little gap in the hem of the overskirt and it let the tulle spill out behind like a little train. Evie loved it, so we left it that way. I'd also bought some strands of magenta beads to make a gaudy necklace out of, but we simply ran out of time....


Making Drizella's Tremaine's Lime Dress: 

Learning from my mistakes with the pink dress, instead of following the pattern for Drizella's dress exactly, I decided to create the bodice from a thrip-store button down I found and attach it to the sleeves from another thrift store button down I found. I also tried to make the bustle out of the same green shirt, but there wasn't enough material and despite my best efforts the bustle never really worked out as nicely as it did on the pink dress and ultimately I had to tear it out and replace it with a new bustle made from teal fabric I found from the fabric store. 

The original skirt was meant to be made from this awesome lime green curtain I found at the thrift store. However, when we went to the fabric store my daughter found this fancier material and convinced me that her skirt should be beaded like her sisters. I'm a sucker for pretty material, I guess, so I gave in. (Have I mentioned how much more expensive buying fabric is compared to upcycling from old clothes?! Even with my 20% off entire purchase and 50% off one-item coupons from JoAnn's the shopping trip really hurt!)


The final skirt had a tulle underskirt (gathered with a running stitch) and a really pretty lime green detailed top skirt. I tried to find a way to incorporate the green curtain I love so much, but in the final dress the only place it stuck was as a lace accent on the sleeves. As is a common theme with my sewing projects, the area where the skirt meets the bodice got extremely thick and when I was trying to sewing it together I kept breaking needles. Super frustrating! I certainly could have used some little mice and bird friends to do that part!


These dresses were also my first experience with sewing on a zipper, which was both harder and easier than I expected. I've always used buttons or ties wherever possible because the idea of zippers made me anxious, but in retrospect button holes are no easy feat either!

At this point I apparently stopped taking process photos because I was so frustrated. I tore out the bustle and replaced it with a new one, and I folded up the sleeves and added elastic / trimmings to make it look like the poof sleeve in the cartoon. I would like to say that it was substantially easier to use the sleeve off an up cycled shirt and to just shorten it than it was to make a sleeve from scratch (as I had to do with the pink dress). I added tulle to the poofy sleeves as well as to the bustle on both dresses to help them keep their shape.

The girls were super excited about the bustles and couldn't wait until the dresses were done to start playing evil step sisters. Every time I needed them to try it on in the  middle of the process I lost the dress to 20 minutes of flouncing around and evil stepsister posing! (Note to self: time to get a mannequin!)

To complete the outfit, we made Anastasia/Drizella themed headbands. I bought the big flowers at the same time I bought the fabric (they were really inexpensive, on sale for .50 each!), and was fortunate to still have lots of ribbon leftover from our fancy halloween crayon hats from the year before! 

The dresses were a big hit at the 1900 Park Fare dinner! My only disappointment was that the photos photographer at the Park Fare entrance didn't do a little bit more with that photo. I'm hoping to get some better pictures of the dresses taken sometime soon, because I'm really proud of how they turned out!


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Jedi Training Academy: tips for how to sign up!


I am a high-strung, anxious person. I'll be the first admit it. And so Disney vacations are especially taxing on me --- so many people, so much to see / do, and so much opportunity for disaster. A Disney trip is 1 part pure magic and 1 part misery, and the trick is to maximize the first while minimizing the second. That's why I'm such a stickler for all the obsessive advance planning: because I believe that is the best way to maximize the good parts and minimize the bad (the waiting, the low blood sugar temper tantrums, the standing in the heat, the sunburns, the blisters, the missing favorite rides/characters, etc.)

The problem is, not everything CAN be advanced planned. Specifically, Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios. There is no ADR for Jedi Training Academy, no 30 day FP+. To get a spot in the Jedi Training Academy show parents and the children who want to participate must sign up --- and the spots fill quickly, they're often gone shortly after rope drop.

As you can imagine, that's a really big unknown in my otherwise buttoned-down itinerary. So, I did some research on the best ways to ensure your child gets a spot. Essentially, you need to be first in line at Hollywood Studios for rope drop and then sprint from the gate to the sign up area.

Or - better yet - be in the park prior to rope drop for a breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine. Then you only have to sprint from the restaurant to the sign up area.

We chose the later approach, since my younger daughter loves the Disney Junior characters and we were going to be eating at Hollywood and Vine anyway. In my opinion, it's one of the better breakfast buffets, and they take breaks to sing songs and do dance-alongs with the kids.

I'll admit that I struggled to enjoy breakfast as we waited for rope drop and the opening of the Jedi Training Academy sign-up. I had to give this task to my husband because it was just too much for my nerves. He snooped around while we waited for our table and found out where exactly sign up was going to be, and which cast members were guarding the route to sign up. They told him to keep an eye out the window and be ready to bolt when he saw the cast members leave their posts blocking the sidewalk to the sign up location.

So, that's what we did. I stayed at the table with Eva who was having a great time meeting Sofia, Jake, and Doc McStuffins, while my husband took off with Viola to get in line. Not only did this strategy get us a spot, but they were actually first!!! in line, and had their pick of showtimes! My husband took along with him our day's itinerary (courtesy of my handy daily itinerary print out!) and was able to get Viola signed up for a show that fit in between our FP+ and other meals.

Here he is with the golden ticket! I was so proud! :-)

Here he is with the golden ticket! I was so proud! :-)

The day's itinerary...

The day's itinerary...

Quick tip - make sure to take a photo of your return slip, that way if you lose it you'll still have the digital copy! We also do this for any photopass cards we might get.

It was pretty surreal from the point-of-view of the table. About 5 minutes after my husband left, I started to see the folks coming by from rope drop--- moms sprinting past with jogging strollers stacked with three or four kids, dads with little ones under their arms like luggage. There was one family eating near us that I guess weren't paying close attention because about 15 minutes after rope drop they suddenly tore out of the restaurant, literally tossed their kids into a stroller, and took off. It was seriously strange, like the escape scene in some sort of horror movie--- I half expected to see godzilla turn the corner.

About 20 minutes after rope drop I saw a mom with a really little boy all dressed up in Jedi robes. I don't know whether they made it to the line or not, because by that time I'm pretty sure I'd already seen over 150 kids go by, but I really hope they got a spot!

My husband returned and we all wrapped up breakfast, then headed over to visit Hiro & Baymax until it was time to check-in for the Jedi Training show. He took Viola to check in, while I went to the stage with Evangeline in her stroller. 

We stopped by the gift shop first for some consolation prizes...

We stopped by the gift shop first for some consolation prizes...

Jedi Training Academy seems to be one of those things that brings out the worst in Disney parents---- well, maybe not the worst, but definitely the fiesty. As we were waiting for the show to begin, a couple near us got into a huge fight because the mom had sent the dad to save a spot in the crowd but I guess he hadn't gone directly there and by the time she arrived (after dropping her son off back stage) there was a crowd of other parents in the first row. I believe her exact words were "we did all that to get him into the show and now I can't even video it!" I squished over and offered her a spot in the front with me, standing behind Eva's stroller because I could totally sympathize with her frustration!

Here is a video I put together of the show Viola participated in. My daughter loves to tell the story of that time she beat Darth Vader in a lightsaber dual and used the force to knock over some stormtroopers that were trying to catch her,  just like in the movie. 

Jedi Training Academy was amazing, and definitely worth all the extra effort and anxiety it took to get Viola a spot. And, as an added bonus (?) my husband learned a whole lot of useful (?) Jedi puns:

Q:  What's the temperature inside a Tauntaun?
A: Luke warm!

Har har har!

If you have a Star Wars enthusiast in your family, here are my tips for getting your child a spot in the Jedi Training Academy show, based on our recent experience (2015):

1. RESERVE a Hollywood & Vine ADR for prior to park opening. True, you can be first in line for rope drop, but then you'll have to sprint through the park and that just seemed awful. Much more pleasant to enjoy some warm Mickey waffles while you wait! You have to time it though to be done eating before rope drop, or have one parent available to take your padewan to sign up.

2. REMEMBER: children must be present to sign up. Children can be as young as 4. We considered signing Eva up for the show, but after seeing it I'm glad we didn't. If you have a very outgoing 4yr old, it might make sense, but I think Eva would have been overwhelmed.

3. DO show up early at the stage --- be sure to arrive ahead of the show start time to reserve a spot in the front of the crowd if you want to be able to take a video. There will be a Photopass Photographer present, but you'll probably want to make sure you take some of your own pictures as well just in case if you can!

4. Finally, and most importantly, DO CHEER FOR ALL THE KIDS!  Be an active crowd participant and make the experience memorable for all the little padawans up on the stage.

Bonus: DO DRESS UP your child in Star Wars garb! Not only is it fun, but it will gain them a little extra attention on stage. :-)  (You can read the story behind the girls' R2D2 and C-3PO sundresses here).

After our Jedi Training Academy experience, we rode Star Tours (Eva was, alas, still too short by 1/4 inch!!) ....

and took some pictures with the AT-AT....

and some more with the Speeder....

and even made lightsabers,  all before our lunch reservation at the SciFi Diner (which is still my favorite Disney restaurants of all time!)

All-in-all, our Hollywood Studios day was one of the best of the trip. The Jedi Training Academy was an amazing experience for my daughter and I look forward to our next trip when Eva can participate too!

Star Wars Sundresses - sewing project!


Happy May the Fourth, everyone! 

You might not have guessed it from all my Princess rants, but I'm a really big SciFi geek at heart! And my favorite SciFi of all is Star Wars! Oh, how I'd love to go to Disney for the Star Wars weekends someday!

About a year and a half ago, well before we started planning our 2015 trip to Disney World, we were spending time with our good friends --- who also happen to be Eva's godparents --- when they remarked how the girls remind them of R2D2 and C-3PO.  Eva, at a little over 2 yrs old, communicated through gibberish punctuated by lots of squeals, and Viola was always nearby to translate in her flabbergasted 5-yr-old-going-on-15-yr-old tone: 

"She wants another cookie, mommy, obviously." 

"She's saying she doesn't want to take a bath, mommy, duh."

"What she means is she wants to keep coloring, mommy. Didn't you hear her say: COLOR MORE?"

In fact, Eva didn't really find her voice truly until last summer when her sister went away on vacation. Then she suddenly had lots to say for herself! 

But, I digress. 

After the R2D2 / C-3PO connection was brought to my attention, I thought it would be funny to buy the girls tshirts, so I ordered some tshirts online.

The R2D2 shirt was just fine, but the C-3PO one, despite being a child's Small, was waaaaay too big for Viola! 

So, I decided to alter it from a tshirt to some sort of a sundress.  My original plan was pretty simple: cut off the sleeves and add some straps and maybe a tie-back and turn it into something like a pillow case dress.  

As I did a little research (you can see my pinterest board for the project here) and started getting into the sewing, though, I decided that a pillow case dress was just too plain. I picked up some gold lamme and glitter tulle at JoAnn's for the C-3PO dress and, of course, then I needed to pick up some blue outerspacy tulle to make a skirt for the R2D2 dress, too. 

My sewing assistant. Super helpful for unwinding spools of ribbon!

My sewing assistant. Super helpful for unwinding spools of ribbon!


R2D2 was pretty straight forward: I created a tulle skirt by panelling together the two styles of tulle that I'd bought, the regular shiny blue with the "metal-infused" sparkly one (I told Eva that those were robot bits). Underneath the tulle was a metallic blue mini skirt to give it some extra robot-y-ness, too!  

I then also removed the tshirt sleeves and added a little ruffle to the shoulder. Finally, some blue holographic ribbon to tie it all together!


C-3PO was a bit trickier. I used the same dress pattern as I was using for our Harry Potter sundresses to create the collar, then attached to it the graphic portion of the tshirt that I wanted to keep on the front and the back. 

The skirt was perplexing and I tried LOTS of different variations.... 

attempt #1 was to do the same thing I'd done with the R2D2 dress, but it was too... I don't know. Too not right!

attempt #1 was to do the same thing I'd done with the R2D2 dress, but it was too... I don't know. Too not right!

Attempt #2 was too princessy.

Attempt #2 was too princessy.

For attempt#3 I thought maybe a more mini-skirt type ruffle skirt might work, (I was inspired by this grey skirt that the girls had) but that was too.... again, I don't know. Too not right.

My husband pointed out the C-3P0 would be better suited with just the gold lycra pants, but that didn't fly with Viola, who kept insisting that the gold pants would look great under a skirt, so that was out as well...

(Let's call that one "too not fancy enough".)

Finally, I returned to the ruffled skirt idea. The first version was WAY too big... 

Way, way, ridiculously way too big.

But close!

As much as I hated to do it (because by then, as you can imagine, I was so over this outfit), I had to entirely remove the tutu, pare it down, and reattach it. I was pretty happy with the end result. 

I was only able to find gold lycra pants in sizes too big for Viola, but that was fine. I trimmed them down by stitching along the inseam and tucking in the waist, then I cut off some of the leg length and used the excess material to make "gloves", that Viola prefers to wear like sleeveless. nd I found these amazing gold sneakers from an overseas vendor in eBay! They took a few weeks to arrive, but totally worth it!


Even though it wasn't the initial inspiration for the outfits, we did take them with us on our 2015 Disney vacation for the girls to wear to Hollywood Studios. We knew we were going to try to get Viola signed up for Jedi Academy Training. The outfits garnered lots of compliments and I think played a part in Viola getting placed front stage for the show. 

Of course, there are some things I would change if I were to make them over again, but all told I'm really happy with how they turned out!

For those of my readers who followed this sewing odyssey on my Facebook page, I thank you for your patience and feedback as I was working through the designs. I'm so excited to finally be able to share with you the final costumes and pictures from our trip, and of course make sure to check out the video of Viola participating in Jedi Training Academy!  


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Hoppy Easter!

Easter was a low-key affair at our house this year. It's not one of my favorite holidays, to be honest. But as I've said elsewhere "As goes the easter bunny, so goes Santa!" and I LOVE Santa! So, to preserve my over-the-top Chistmases for a few years longer, I'll paint eggs and hide jelly beans and sweep up plastic grass, if I must! 

Instead of boring you with the eggs/jellybeans/grass, I thought instead I'd share a few more pics from our 2015 Trip to Walt Disney World! Bunny themed, of course... 


We didn't have a solid plan for our days at Universal --- or any plan, actually. Once we'd finished up with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we pretty much roamed free. We were just finishing up lunch at the very cute Mel's Diner when Viola recognized the song "I want candy!" which she has loved ever since she saw HOP. We looked out the window to see none other that E.B. and friends performing on a float parked outside. I had no idea that these characters performed at Universal so it was quite a delightful surprise! Viola was on cloud nine talking to the Easter dancers, while Eva was distracted by bubbles from a bubble gun nearby! 


The girls rode the tea cups for the first time on this trip and they both loved them and wanted to ride over and over. After the first go, when I realized that we were in for several tea cups in a row, I offered to stand in line to meet the White Rabbit and let my husband do the spinning (ha ha!)  

The White Rabbit was pretty excited to see his page in our Autograph Storybook because the page Viola had for him to sign was a picture of him riding the teacup ride what we were standing in front of! It was very cool! I'll write more about that later, I promise!

As we were leaving the area, I noticed this service dog being seated on the tea cups! Amazing, right? I wanted to stay to see how the dog liked the spinning, but alas we had to hurry to see the afternoon parade. I assume that they eventually got him in and, er, seated?