Friday, January 31, 2014

An Alternative to Mouse Ears: Tiara Shopping 101

For your next Disney trip, before you reach for a set of felt Mickey Mouse ears, consider the alternative of a jewelry-like keepsake, a tiara.  Every girl, no matter her age, deserves to be a Princess!  And every Princess needs a tiara!  At Disney, not only is wearing a tiara accepted, it is ENCOURAGED!  Much like sporting a pair of classic mouse ears, there are few better ways to embrace the magic of a Disney vacation than to give the lady in your life a beautiful sparkling tiara to wear during the trip.  Bright smiles and laughter are guaranteed!  This column will provide tips for where to get a real (non-plastic) tiara, what to look for when purchasing a tiara, and some basic tips to prolong the life of a tiara.

My love of tiaras began almost three years ago at Disney when I was there for a pre-Christmas trip. One evening upon returning to my resort room, I walked in to discover a silver tray with a jeweled satin pillow and roses all around it and a sparkling tiara perched on top.  It was stunning!  It was a surprise Christmas gift from a friend.  I decided to wear it the rest of the trip.  During that time of year, the castle was covered in the holiday lights and all the parks were decorated.  It just felt appropriate for the holidays.  I received many compliments on that tiara and even more questions about where to find one just like it.  When I returned home from my trip, I placed the silver tray and satin pillow on my vanity and the tiara on top.

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I am fortunate that I travel to Disney World about every two weeks.  When the next trip time came, I decided to wear the tiara again.  It just felt lovely.  In addition to compliments, you will find that Cast Members and guests are more interactive with you when you wear a tiara.  Expect to be called “Princess” a lot!  I enjoy the extra magic that the tiara brings to my vacations to Disney.  Some guests enjoy Mickey ears or a Goofy hat.  I love a tiara.  So, for the past three years, I wear one during my entire stay of every Disney trip.  At least once a day someone asks where I got my tiara.  I highly encourage everyone to try a Disney vacation with a tiara and embrace being a Princess.

The following is a list of recommendations for where to purchase a quality tiara in various price ranges:




1. Amazon.com  
Amazon has a huge selection of tiaras in a wide price range.  I received a tiara from the site as a gift from a friend as a thank you for helping him plan a Disney trip (thank you Joe).  I have also purchased several through this site to give as gifts to others.  For about $25 dollars, you can find a fairly ornamental quality tiara.  Silver plated and crystal tiaras can run closer to $50.  There are hundreds of styles to choose from.  This is the best choice based on price.  For similar to what you might spend on a plastic toy tiara at the Disney parks, you can have a lovely keepsake instead through Amazon.  However, you do run some risk with not seeing it in person or trying it on.  Overall, I have been satisfied with my tiaras from this site.

Amazon.com tiara
Amazon.com tiara

Amazon.com tiara
Amazon.com tiara

Amazon.com tiara
Amazon.com tiara



2.  Arribas Bros.  
Those of you who travel to Disney may be familiar with this name.  Arribas Bros. has several crystal shops on Disney property.  Locations include Downtown Disney and Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.  Their tiaras are also available in Epcot inside Mexico as well as the outdoor shop and indoor crystal shops in Germany.  These tiaras start at about $20 for a very petite style and range to about $200 for more elaborate designs.  For a significantly noticeable style, expect to spend about $100.  I have purchased two of the smaller styles for friends at these locations.  I have also received an elaborate tiara made by Arribas Bros. from a fellow Princess (thank you Carla).

Arribas Bros. tiara from Downtown Disney
Arribas Bros. tiara from Downtown Disney

The prices are significant, but you do have the luxury of inspecting the tiaras and trying them on before purchase to get what works best.  Plus, it’s a souvenir FROM DISNEY.


3.  DisneyFlorist.com  
DisneyFlorist.com is where to go for the tiara and roses on a satin pillow and silver tray that can be delivered to your room or most restaurants at Disney.


DisneyFlorist.com tiara delivered to resort
DisneyFlorist.com tiara delivered to resort
There are options for both adult and child Princesses.  There are also a variety of choices for how the tiaras are displayed.  The prices range from about $100 to $500 depending on additions (such as crystal glass slippers and jewelry).  Delivery charges also apply.  I have two tiaras from DisneyFlorist.com (thank you Rob).  The first one I wore out after two years of wear during all of my Disney trips.  There is only one tiara design available.  It is a floral pattern.  It is very beautiful but also very fragile.  The extras that come with this design along with having it presented in a special way at Disney are what make this choice extra magical.

DisneyFlorist.com tiara
DisneyFlorist.com tiara


DisneyFlorist.com tiara
DisneyFlorist.com tiara

Some tips for purchasing a tiara:

1.  Buy metal/silver plated not plastic.  There are a lot of toy tiaras available.  They are fun and cute.  But, if you really want to make a statement, go with the real thing.  Silver plated and crystals are worth the splurge.  It will be a lovely jewelry quality keepsake of any Disney trip.


2.  Get a tiara with hair combs built in.  Many tiaras, including some styles at Arribas Bros., have no hair combs.  Combless tiaras are designed to have a wedding veil attached.  So, if you would like a tiara to wear during your vacation that will stay on, make sure that you get one with combs.


3. Lighter hair may require a larger tiara.  On dark hair, even a small tiara will stand out.  However, for those with blonde hair, the smaller designs may not be as noticeable.


4.  Look for loose stones or off-center stones when purchasing in person.  At Arribas Bros., you pick from the display case, but you receive a new boxed tiara for purchase.  Remove it from the box and double check the stone settings.  If you see a display tiara that has some stones missing or loose, just assume that that design will lose stones if you wear it a lot during your trip.


5.  Try the tiaras on if possible.  I’ve found that the more expensive tiaras have a better fit.  Those sold as novelties are not sized well and have more uncomfortable combs.



Tips for keeping your tiara as a keepsake:

1.  Be careful getting in and out of cars.  I bent and broke my first tiara from bumping it on the car door frame.  (It’s funny how you kinda forget you are wearing it after awhile.)


2.  If you wear it during your time at the parks, be very careful to hold it on during thrill rides.  If possible, remove the tiara and let someone else hold it while on thrill rides.  I have never used bobby pins or clips with my tiaras, but you may find those helpful.


3.  Have a sturdy box to prevent it from being crushed in luggage.  Arribas Bros. tiaras come in a perfect box to protect them.  However, DisneyFlorist tiaras have no container.  Amazon tiaras vary.  You can always use the box in which they arrive when shipped.  If you are giving a tiara as a gift, keep in mind that you should take some form of protective container.  I wear mine while traveling (I only have a 2 hour drive) mainly to protect it.

4. Don’t use any polishes or cleaners on your tiara.  A tissue to polish it up works fine.  At most, a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball can be used to remove hair products and oils.



I highly encourage everyone to embrace their inner Princess and try wearing a tiara during their next Disney vacation.  You are guaranteed to have some extra special magical moments and a sparkling keepsake of memories.

mary

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