The Twelve Days of... Halloween?

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Is it just me, or is Halloween spiraling out of control? I feel like this year we had weeks and week of Halloween --- perhaps this has been going on for some time, and it's just that my kids are older now and can participate in all the Halloween goodness that I'm noticing it? 

In the month of October we attended no less than SIX Halloween dress-up occasions: 

Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village

(Witch costumes)

School Trunk-or-Treat

(Pirate costumes)

Downtown trick-or-treating 

(V: Aurora, E: Sofia the First)

Town Halloween Hoot

(V: Aurora, E: Sofia the First)

School Halloween Party

(V: Anna Coronation, E: Jessie)

Neighborhood Trick-or-treating

(improvised warm outfits)

We also did Disney on Ice: though not technically Halloween, it involved dress up so I think it should sort of count... There were a whole bunch of other local events (like church Trunk-or-Treat and Mall trick-or-treating and a friend's Halloween party) that we were just too tired to attend.... that is to say, the list could have been much longer!

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When I was a kid Halloween was confined to Oct 31st. It's like Halloween realized it needed to step up its game if it was going to compete with Christmas. As for Thanksgiving - what Thanksgiving? It's being squeezed right out! 

Don't get me wrong, I love Halloween. Its my favorite holiday, what with all the costumes and dressing up. But sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing, you know? By Oct 31 I was pretty Halloween'ed out. And, it was snowing. 

That's right: SNOWING! 

I don't like sending the girls out in costumes with coats over them (because what's the point of dressing up if no one can see what's under your winter coat?) so we quickly pieced together costumes for warmth. All options of princess costumes pretty much went out the window with the first snowflake (snow, people!)  Fortunately, Eva still fit into Viola's first Halloween costume: a padded, super warm spider outfit. And Viola pieced together a fun orange-and-black ensemble on top of lots of layers, using bits and pieces from last year's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party components.

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The girls made it up and down both sides of our street, but didn't feel up to crossing onto the next block. They wrapped up early and spent the rest of the evening handing out candy to the brave (mostly older) kids who were still out risking frostbite.

All-in-all, kinda anticlimactic given all the Halloween lead-up activities, don't you think?

On the bright side, Halloween brought great deals on Princess costumes! Ebay is the best for picking up used costumes right before and after Halloween! I was even able to snag a Limited Edition Snow White costume (which I've been coveting forever!--- review to follow!) and some nice costumes on post-Halloween discount from the DisneyStore.com for our upcoming trip in March! :-) 

I hope all your Halloweens were wonderful (and warmer than ours!)

Limited Edition Aurora Costume now available! Squeee! :-)

(Often the release of a Diamond Edition blue-ray and a Limited Edition doll would correspond to a LE costume...)

(Often the release of a Diamond Edition blue-ray and a Limited Edition doll would correspond to a LE costume...)

Remember a few weeks ago when I was lamenting over the fact that there were beautiful Aurora shoes but no Limited Edition costume to go with them? Every store clerk I spoke with insisted that the Deluxe costume was the LE costume. And after several weeks I gave up hope that there would be an Aurora LE dress.... 

(Though I remained skeptical that these shoes were designed to go with this dress, mainly because despite the matching roses, that lovely lacy brocade fabric of the shoe itself isn't anywhere to be found on the Deluxe costume.)


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Disney released this Limited Edition Aurora doll with a beautiful dress, and in the past that has corresponded with a LE costume. I saw the doll at the Mall of America's Disney Store during the pre-order period and was delighted by how pretty it was---- surely, I thought, that meant a really pretty LE costume was in the works.  But, when no such dress materialized I decided that maybe my costume instincts were getting rusty.... hard to believe, I know! :-)

I even gave up looking for it on the DisneyStore! I've continued checking the mobile shopping app daily so I can give you all a heads up when the Frozen costumes restock.... Well, this morning what should appear in the "recommended" section but a LE AURORA COSTUME!!! And it is sooooooooo pretty! From the photos it looks as though this dress is back to the detail and quality of the original LE costumes (Snow White, Belle, Rapunzel).

Hey look! It's the same fabric as the shoes! :-)

Hey look! It's the same fabric as the shoes! :-)

Thanks to my trusty Disney Visa Rewards discount and reward dollars, I was able to get a size 6 and the beautiful, beautiful shoes. I haven't decided whether it will be a Halloween gift or whether I will save it for Christmas.... If I can, I will do a photo shoot and full costume review once it arrives (5-7 business days). 

Now I'm sort of bummed that we opted not to schedule another visit to the My Disney Girls' Perfectly Princess Tea Party with Aurora for our March trip.... Hopefully by March she'll be back at Fairytale hall?  

PS. While I was on the phone with Disney Store's customer service, they confirmed that they're expecting another stock of Frozen costumes at the end of this month. "Any time now". For those of you still looking to get your hands on an Elsa costume here is my recommendation: download the Disney Store mobile app and check it when you wake up in the morning, at lunch, and before bed. Seriously. Those dresses have stocked at different times (sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late afternoon) and sell out within minutes. I don't know that the restock coming will be any different then ones past (though I would hope they'd have a larger restock to satisfy demand before Halloween, I don't think it's wise to count on that happening at this point). I'll keep checking and will let you know via my FB account the moment I see them restock! So, if you're not following me on FB, you should go do that now! 

My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party

If you have a little one obsessed with Princesses and/or Fancy Tea Parties, the My Disney Girls' Perfectly Princess Tea Party is absolutely a must-do. Little girls will enjoy singing, dancing, live piano music, and lots of quality time with Princess Aurora all in the beautiful Garden View Tea Room at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. And gifts! Did I mention gifts? Each child receives the following: 

  • A special 18-inch My Disney Girl doll dressed in a Princess Aurora gown plus accessories (little ones can opt for a Duffy Bear instead).
  • A plastic tiara 
  • Silver Princess link bracelet 
  • Fresh rose 
  • Special princess scrapbook page "Best Friend" certificate for their new My Disney Girl doll 

Tea Party reservations are often available past the 180-day mark, because the event isn't well known (and also because it's so very expensive). I'd still recommend making reservations at the 180 day mark if you can but, unlike Cinderella's Royal Table or Akershus, you may be able to pick up reservations closer to your trip.

The event begins at 10:30 on select days. This means if you plan carefully and are lucky with your reservations, you could take your daughter to the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique prior to the event. There is also an on-site salon at the Grand Floridian called the Ivy Trellis, which I've read is a great alternative to the BBBoutique (and, bonus, it would be in the same building so no rushing across the parks!)  Most of the girls will be dressed in princess costumes or fancy dresses, so be sure to bring a costume if you can. (If you're new to or overwhelmed by the array of choices, check out my Princess Costume Primer.)

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We didn't do makeovers on the day of our Princess Tea Party reservations, but the girls had been to the BBBoutique earlier in the trip and I did my best Fairy Godmother impersonation before we left for the Grand Floridian. And, of course, we had princess dresses with us! Eva wore an Aurora costume from Babies R Us, and Viola wore her vintage DisneyStore "Pink Cinderella costume that the mice made for her!" which we found in lovely condition at a Mom2Mom sale a few years ago. There is so much pink at this event that I would definitely recommend a pink costume if you have access to one.

Upon arrival, the girls are asked to line up outside the Garden View Tea room, which is located on the ground floor, off the lobby of the Grand Floridian. Each girl is called up by name to receive a crown and have her picture taken with the hostess, Miss Rose Petal.

The girls are led to their tables where their new My Disney Girl dolls (dressed as Aurora) are waiting. One important thing to know: The My Disney Girl dolls have been discontinued. We didn't know this when we signed up. They still give the Aurora dolls away at the tea party, but you are unable to buy additional dolls or accessories or outfits for them anywhere in the parks or online. This was a pretty big disappointment, and I'm surprised that they haven't changed this aspect of the activity now that the dolls are discontinued. 

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That said, the doll isn't the main reason to attend the tea party. My daughter (and, honestly, most of the girls who sat near us) showed minimal interest in the doll.  No, the real draw of the tea party is the tea party itself. 

There is hot tea for the adults and a juice in a pink teapot for the kids. The adults'  tea is delicious, by the way, and I am not generally a tea fan. The finger food is delivered on plates with a lovely princess cinnamon design in the center. The jelly sandwiches are even cut into little heart shapes! Don't expect to fill up on the little sandwiches and fruits, though, they really don't constitute a meal. But there is delicious strawberry cake toward the end, which is reasonably filling if you steal a few extra bites from your preoccupied children... 

If you are bringing a little one, you have the option to not pay for them, in which case they do not get tea or a plate of snacks, or a doll. If you choose to pay for a little one, you have the option of receiving a Duffy Bear instead of an Aurora Doll.

We chose not to pay for Eva; she ate my snacks and my tea and we brought our ShellieMay bear in an Aurora dress (from Build-a-Bear workshop), and frankly I don't think she noticed whatsoever. That said, I wouldn't take a young child empty-handed, as there's a chance they might become upset when all the other girls have dolls and they do not... you'll want to be sure to bring with you some sort of special doll or stuffed animal, which you could certainly pick up from the gift shop for far less than it costs to add an extra child to the Tea Party. The children also get silver charm bracelets, which you could also pick up at any of the resort gift shops ahead of time and slip into your younger child's napkin.

Rose Petal entertains the children with singing accompanied by live piano, and even takes requests. She tells the story of how she came to be (spoiler alert: the fairies turned a rose into a girl). Then, she teaches the kids the special way to greet royalty: Hail to the King! Hail to the Queen! Hail to the Princess Aurora! complete with hand motions. As the children sing this song, Princess Aurora appears. She takes them for a parade around the room, while Rose Petal sings Once Upon A Dream. Afterward, she hands out roses to each girl, as well as a card, and spends a fair amount of time at each table for pictures and autographs and conversation. One down-side to the event is that there is no Photopass photographer to capture a really great picture with Aurora or Rose Petal--- you will have to do your best with the camera you bring with you. 

At the conclusion of the tea party, the kids are led in a parade around the Grand Floridian lobby, then up to the second floor where a photopass photographer waits to take their picture. (Why isn't the photopass photo taken with Aurora or at least Rose Petal? I have no idea!!!) 

(Photopass)

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(Photopass)

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I put together a video (below) with some clips from our visit in 2013, to give you an idea of what the entertainment was like. If I recall correctly the entire experience last about two hours or so.


Is it worth it?

In 2013 (when we attended) the cost for the Perfectly Princess Tea Party was $250 for one adult and one child (minimum); $165 for each additional child (ages 3-11) and $85 for each additional adult. This cost covers the doll, the bracelet, and the other gifts.

If getting a My Disney Girl doll is important to you, this is the only way to get one as they are, as I mentioned, discontinued. I don't know how much they had cost brand new, but let's compare to the cost of an American Girl doll which is $80 new. The "silver" bracelets are $10 in the gift shops. So, the cost of the experience and "meal" for a child is still at least $75 once you take into account the value of the gifts. For younger kids, they swap the Disney Girl Doll for a Duffy Bear which only costs $30 new, so you can see that that is not a good value. 

If Princess Aurora is your daughter's favorite princess, than this is a pretty obvious choice. But what if she's not? My daughters' favorite princesses (prior to Frozen) were Cinderella and Rapunzel, but they still delighted in this experience. It would be awesome if in the future Disney offered similar events with the other princesses, too. The Perfectly Princess Tea party is something my girls still talk about, and was the inspiration for our over-the-top Frozen-themed birthday party: we created a tea room and had Anna/Elsa actors instruct the girls in proper table manners, polite conversation, singing, dancing, et al--- 100% inspired by this experience.

As a unique opportunity to spend a fair amount of time with a princess, I do think that the Perfectly Princess Tea Party is an experience worth doing once if you can afford it. But, it's not something I would do repeatedly--- we will not be doing it on our next trip, though I imagine we will go one more time when Eva is older. If you do choose to do it, I offer the following recommendations: 

  • DO take young children: I'd say 2yrs to 12yrs will enjoy this experience. My girls were 2.5yrs and 4.5yrs when we went in 2013 and both had a blast. 
  • DON'T pay for kids under three. When you make your reservation, you'll be offered the choice to opt-in to pay for your small ones. But, there's no need: they can eat off your plate. I'd add, DON'T pay for extra adults, either. The show is really geared for the littles, and it doesn't seem worth $85 extra if one parent can handle them and take photos, etc.
  • But DO bring a special doll for your littlest one if you opt out of paying for them, so they're not sad when all the older kids get new dollies. The last thing you want is a melt down over a $30 bear when you're paying hundreds of dollars for tea.
  • DO go fancy: dress up (bring a costume from home if you have one), and if you are thinking of booking a Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique appointment, try to get it for first thing on the morning of your Perfectly Princess Tea party reservation, ideally at Magic Kingdom so you can ride the monorail over to the Grand Floridian.
  • DO bring a good camera: the photopass photographer comes at the end of the event after Princess Aurora has left, so if you want a pic of your child with the princess it's up to you.
  • DON'T skip breakfast or lunch for the Tea Party. Though it's tempting to consider the 10:30 event like a brunch, the finger food will not fill you up and you will need a meal either before or after.

Last, but not least: the Garden View Tea Room offers a formal afternoon tea every day during the week between 2:00 and 5:00. If the Perfectly Princess Tea Party is outside of your budget, you might consider getting dressed up and having your own fancy tea party anyway. There wouldn't be characters present, but I'm certain it would be a memorable experience for you and your little one nonetheless! (You can view a copy of the menu for the general tea service here.... If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, the Garden View Tea Room counts as a Table Service. You can not use the Dining Plan for the My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party however.)

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