Halloween, in the cosplay calendar, is amateur night. The night when you can throw on a pair of ears and a unitard and pretend your Catwoman or, if you’re really desperate, crack open a licensed Marvel/DC superhero costume. The super serial cosplayers tend to reserve their energy for Dragon*Con or San Diego. That is, unless you’re spending Halloween in Tokyo Disneyland…
At this point most people’s reactions are a) they celebrate Halloween in Japan? and b) there’s a Disneyland in Tokyo? The answer to both questions is yes and it’s awesome. Each year, Tokyo Disneyland only allows adult cosplay for the first and last five days of the Halloween season, probably because the costumes are so impressive it’s often difficult to distinguish between castmembers and park attendees. This year I was lucky enough to spend October 31st in the park, where I got to see some incredible costumes first hand and speak to the cosplayers that made them. So read on for my top ten cosplay tips, Tokyo Disneyland style!
10. Au Naturel: Enhance Your Natural Features
Sure cosplay is all about dressing up like someone else, but take inspiration from your natural features. I love how this Gadget’s hair is the same colour as her wig and she’s padded out her hips to help create a cartoon shape. Super kawaii!
9. Strike a Pose
Having an awesome outfit is all very well, but you need to know how to bring it alive when someone asks for a picture. The hyena costumes above, are actually really simple (grey hoodies, black arm warmers and trousers) but thanks to their incredibly committed pose you can see the details in the masks and the claws. If you’re in a group costume this can work even better. The space rangers, below, scrambled into formation when I asked to take their picture!
8. Location, Location, Location
All dressed up and nowhere to go? You’ve spent ages on your costume so make sure you find a setting that will complement it to get some great photos. At Disneyland the cosplayers made a beeline for the area of the park that matched their costume, like this Mary Poppins near the carousel. At a con head for the booth relating to your character.
7. Group Hug
There’s something about a group costume that looks really slick, so try and coerce your friends into coordinating outfits. Whether you decide to go for a theme, like the Beauty and the Beast ensemble, above, or all wear the same costume, such as these adorable Incredibles, below, a group shot is always impressive.
6. Twist and Shout
Good cosplay isn’t always about replicating a character’s outfit pedantically. Sometimes taking a well-known character and giving them a twist can produce amazing results, like this exceptionally chic Cruella de Vil, above, who swapped her fur coat for a mini skirt and messy weave for a slick bob whilst remaining instantly recognisable!
5. You Look Familiar…
When choosing a character to cosplay, it’s tempting to go for the instantly recognisable but sometimes a less familiar costume can be just as rewarding. One way of switching it up is to pick a well-known character in a lesser known costume, such as the girls above, who are both obviously Ariel without a fishtail in sight (the pink dress is from the dining room scene, the white dress from the wedding). Alternatively, choose a character from a less iconic film, such as Meg and Esmerelda, below, from Hercules and Hunchback of Notre Dame, respectively. They may not be the first films you associate with Disney, but they are part of the Disney canon nonetheless and they were the only Meg and Esmeralda I saw in a sea of Snow Whites and Cinderellas. Or go for a minor character in a famous film, such as Lumiere and Fifi from Beauty and the Beast, at Cosplay Tip No. 7, above. The best example of this I witnessed in Disneyland was a gaggle of girls dressed as the brooms from the sorcerer Mickey scene in Fantasia, with buckets to boot. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a picture of them!
4. Home Made vs Store Bought
It goes without saying that the best costumes are home-made. Maleficent, above, explained that her mother had made all the costumes for their group, including Sleeping Beauty’s (her mother, not pictured, was dressed as a fabulous Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland). Minnie, below, had made both her and Mickey’s marvellous musical costumes.
Minnie and Mickey Mouse
3. The Devil is in the Detail
Attention to detail always takes a costume to the next level and ‘detail’ doesn’t have to mean complicated. I saw lots of Snow Whites posing with apples and Belles toting red roses. This Rapunzel, above, was carrying an armful of blonde wigs around the park that she would artfully arrange for pictures to make her hair look preternaturally long whilst Gadget from the Rescue Rangers (see Cosplay Tip No. 10, above) had managed to source a to-scale wrench.
2. Say Cheese!
It sounds cheesy but if someone asks for your picture, smile! Ok, if it doesn’t suit the character (e.g. Batman) you’re excused but please don’t get huffy when someone asks for your photo – it’s a compliment because they think you have an exceptionally good costume. Or an exceptionally bad one and they plan to ridicule you on the interweb. Either way, say cheese!
1. Bring a Duffy!
‘What is a Duffy?’ you may well ask. Duffy is a Disney teddy bear created for Tokyo Disneyland. He comes with his own wardrobe, accessories and backstory (one of the Tokyo Disney parks has a Duffy emporium where you can purchase all of these items) and it is rare to see anyone in the parks without at least one Duffy (it became a game to see how many Duffies could be spotted on one person: the winner was carrying nine, of varying sizes). So naturally, over Halloween, Duffy has to have a costume as well, either a a miniature version of yours (such as the Cheshire Cat Duffy, above) or a complementary one, such as the White Rabbit Duffy, above (who, you might note, is not only wearing a White Rabbit costume but is actually wearing a White-Rabbit-in-full-Queen-of-Hearts-herald attire, thus also excellently demonstrating Cosplay Tip No 5).
So don’t forget, you can pose, smile and come up with the most original costume on the planet but to achieve Tokyo Disneyland level cosplay, it’s not enough to have an awesome outfit of your own: your Duffy needs one too!