Author: Shannon Pati

Dapper Day is an unofficial biannual celebration at Disney parks in Anaheim, Orlando, and Paris, where park patrons step out in style. I have attended this event since 2013 and have cultivated a few tricks along the way.

Below are my top five lessons that new Dappers can learn from:

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LESSON ONE: Consider the season and weather when choosing the apparel.

I attended my first Dapper Day in 2013. I found out that the event landed on a Sunday, which at the time, was my only day off. I was ecstatic! I told my boyfriend (now fiancé) that we MUST go. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of what to wear. I immediately thought “theme” or “era” to participate in the celebration. After researching the Dapper Day website, I learned you must dress your best.

When it came time to choose the outfit, I think I put more thought into the shoes than the dress; because, let’s face it, ladies, the shoes complete the look. Once the shoes were conquered, I purchased this polka dot dress online at Forever 21. Unfortunately, it was much shorter than anticipated (go figure for F21). When the day of the soiree arrived, I remember it being quite windy, so this dress wasn’t the best choice. Still, the thrill of preparing my attire for next year followed once the sunset.

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LESSON TWO: Skip the heels if you don’t have the stamina, or they aren’t broken in.

The next year, 2014, I considered the wind while shopping and came across this beauty (someone said it reminded them of Sleeping Beauty’s look). I loved that, although it looked like a two-piece, it was all one dress! My friend Tee, who works now as a professional hair stylist, prepared my hair and makeup. Unlike the previous year, the shoes aren’t in the photo. That’s because I wore flats that didn’t match, but it was the only pair I felt most comfortable in. I definitely learned from my last experience. No matter how cute the shoes are, you must remember walking around all day in them. Some may want to carry nicer-looking shoes for photo opts, but remember that you carry those suckers throughout your stay.

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LESSON THREE: Splurge on the experience, not the outfit.

When 2015 rolled around, the shindig had grown. My boyfriend and I splurged on the Dapper Day group’s hotel discounts at the Grand Californian Hotel. We arrived early to check in, so they gave us a free park view upgrade (#winning). We enjoyed the view of the Goofy Sky School ride and parts of The World of Color show at night. This was the year it rained during Dapper Day, and it was fun to see the guests looking suave with their rainy-day accessories. 

Again, I wore a longer dress to count for possible wind, and the shoes, I believe this time around, I opted for my Converses. I bought my dress at H&M off the sales rack for $15 and reused my red cardigan and necklace from my first Dapper. My boyfriend and I ended our outing early due to the chilly weather and packed park. We relaxed at the hotel, watching the fireworks for the rest of the night.

LESSON FOUR: Make it magical with DisneyBounding.
Bonus Lesson: Use Amazon Prime.

For 2016, we decided (more like I decided) to go DisneyBound style with our friends and their daughter. I chose classic Snow White and Prince Charming and cue the music, “Someday my prince will come!” (spoiler alert, mine arrived to put a ring on it in 2017). Although Snow’s color-blocking is easy, this ensemble was last minute! I found my yellow tutu and blue cardigan off of Amazon, with their Prime two-day shipping saving the day.

When we arrived at the park, we learned that this Dapper landed on a long weekend in November, during Veteran’s Day. Disney was also hosting RunDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon. Imagine the park on a holiday weekend, hosting a half-marathon and Dapper Day participants, and you have the very definition of EXTREMELY CROWDED. To make up for the busy day, the Cast Member kindly gave us FastPasses of our choice. It helped that we were also renewing our annual Disney passes. Although the crowds turned us away from waiting in line for rides, or photo ops, we continued to be awed by the work other guests put in their glamorous garb. 

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LESSON FIVE: Always come early!

This year, 2017, I definitely took it easy with a recycled dress I wore previously. I also didn’t spend as much time on my hair or makeup. Instead, I focused more on my nephew, as it was his first Dapper Day and his second visit to the park. Checking the weather, I knew it would be a warmer day, so I put him in shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, a bow tie, and a hat. He’s dashing and still stinking cute. 

From all my years of experience, my best advice for future Dapper guests is to go early, especially if you want those magical shots! By 11 in the morning, lines begin to form in prime locations, like the front of Cinderella’s Castle. I know the hardest part is getting ready early, but if you’re like me and want to avoid the crowds go early. Either way, seeing other visitors dressed up is always fun, particularly when it’s a family affair. It always melts my heart to see a baby dressed to the nines.

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