We were a little behind schedule (life with a toddler!) so I was pretty nervous we would miss it, especially given that we opted to drive to the park instead of take the resort-provided transportation and as it was our first day, we were navigating for the first time. We ended up accidentally driving past the Magic Kingdom parking lot, but never fear! That ended up being a blessing in disguise, because as we kept on driving we caught sight of Disney's Contemporary Resort on the right. Eric recalled that staying at a Disney resort got you free parking at the parks and other resorts - so, we pulled in and had our pick of parking spaces at Contemporary. The best part? Contemporary is literally steps from the entrance to Magic Kingdom. So, no trams, no long walks, no monorails or ferries. Just hop out of the car, grab the kid and the stroller, wander across the street and boom, you're in. Basically, this alone made it worth having stayed at a Disney resort.
(Disclaimer: I don't know if we were really supposed to do this because, wouldn't everybody? But we did, for all visits except one, when we opted to take Ellie on the ferry instead. And if we were to stay on a Disney property again, we would definitely try this again.)
Thanks to that little bit of parking magic, we had plenty of time to get to the park, get our tickets synced with our Magic Bands, get through bag check and hang out at the entrance in the rain while we waited for the train to arrive.
And then arrive it did, and as I said in my Favorite Memories post, it was my most favorite moment of the entire trip. Ellie saw Mickey arrive on that train and just got all verklempt. She cried literal tears of joy and said in the sweetest little voice, "Mickey dance?" She could hardly believe her eyes and I nearly died. That, my friends, was well worth the price of admission.
VIDEO: Ellie watching Mickey arrive on the train at Magic Kingdom. I wish I had the moments before I started recording on video too, because that is when her reaction was the best (hence, why I started filming). But this is wicked sweet, too!
Here comes the train!
Some of the other Disney characters that arrived with Mieky
And then we were in! We started with a rainy walk up Main Street, headed back to the new Fantasyland area, where most of our FastPass+ selections for the day were located.
A beautiful day, indeed.
These two crazy guys!
On the way, we got sucked in by a princess meet-and-greet with hardly any line. Before we knew it, we were kicking things off with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. As this was Ellie's first character/princess encounter, I wasn't sure how it would go, but when we got to the front of the line she was so excited she ended up throwing a tantrum because I made her wait her turn. She stopped crying when she finally got to meet Cinderella (aka "Pindess 'Lella"), gave her a nice hug and had her sign her autograph mat that we brought for character signatures. Then, she was so distracted by Princess Aurora to her left that we hurried on over to her, too, though you'd never know by the look on Ellie's face how anxious she was to get there. Just take my word for it.
Hugs for her favorite princess
Cinderella's was the first signature on our mat!
Ellie thrilled to be hanging out with Princess Aurora
Our next stop was the carousel, at Ellie's request. She caught sight of it and was relentlessly all, "I ride horse? I ride horse? I ride horse?" until the answer was YES ALREADY. Again, you'll have to take my word for it that she requested this, because she looks totally unenthused.
Ellie and Eric on the carousel
The wait for "It's A Small World" was only about five minutes, so we hopped on that, too. Ellie looked adorable sitting on the ride - her first one!
The happiest cruise that ever sailed!
I promise, we were not actually torturing our daughter. She really did like it. It's just a lot to take in!
I fluctuated between thinking this ride was cool, and being a little scared the robots would come to life and prove to be murderous, SNL-sketch style.
Then, it was finally off to use one of our FastPass selections: Enchanted Tales With Belle, which was quite cool. They take you into Belle's castle and reenact the story of how she and the Beast fell in love, using volunteers from the audience to act out the parts. At the end, all the kids got to meet Belle and take a picture with her. Ellie was sort of in a daze through the whole thing, until she got to meet Belle and gave her a nice hug. They also gave all the kids Belle bookmarks, which Ellie quite proudly carried around afterwards announcing, "I meet Belle!"
Cuddling while we waited to go in. Also, a good shot of Ellie's Magic Band, which she is totally wearing just because it's adorable (because she's under three years old, she was free for everything anyway).
Belle and Lumiere
Hugs for Belle!
The Under the Sea ride!
Ariel and Flounder
I can't remember what our third FastPass selection was for the day, but by the time we finished with Ariel it was about time for the "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!" street party on Main Street, and we wanted to check that out. So, we skipped our third ride and went to grab a spot to dance in the street. Ellie loved this parade, as it included all her favorites (especially "Goopy"), and you know, the kid loves music and dancing.
Back to Main Street!
Here comes the parade!
"Goopy," as he is known in our house
Watching in awe
VIDEO: Ellie watching the "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!" parade
After the parade we stopped for a photo op...
...then continued on to Tiana's Garden Glen to meet Princess Tiana. I should mention that another great tool we made use of on this trip was the My Disney Experience iPhone app. We used it regularly to check our FastPass selections, find various things (food, rides, characters) nearby, and check wait times. In this case, we stopped for Tiana because a quick check of the app showed she was nearby with no wait time. Perfect!
Unfortunately, the "no wait time" was a little misleading, because she was just coming back from lunch (presumably) so although the line wasn't long, we did have a few minutes to wait. But not to worry: Ellie and I passed the time in line with a little dancing and other silliness.
Meeting Princess Tiana
Princesses/Princes dancing at the base of the castle
Ellie and Eric watching the show
THEN we bid farewell to the park for the morning, with a quick stop at a souvenir shop for a new Minnie hoodie for Ellie (I hadn't packed her nearly enough warm clothing, and was worried she'd be cold when we returned for the night parade that evening). The rain was picking up (and temps seemed to be dropping) and we were grateful to not have to do the monorail/ferry dance back to the parking lot (parking at the Contemporary Resort for the win again!). On our way back to our hotel room, we stopped at the Paddock Grill (by one of the pools at Saratoga Springs) to pick up the first of our three quick-service meals (pretty decent food, really). We took it back to the room and ate there, then put Ellie down for a nap. It was an exhausting morning for everyone!
Is this not the cutest Minnie you've ever seen?
Ellie took a particuarly good nap and if memory serves, we actually had to wake her up in order to get back to Magic Kingdom for the 7:00 p.m. Electrical Parade and fireworks. We took her dinner to go and fed it to her as we camped out in our spot for the parade (once again, we made it in plenty of time thanks to nearby parking at the Contemporary Resort!).
Ellie and Eric waiting for the parade
Night shot with the castle
The parade got underway after a brief weather delay, and was a lot of fun. Ellie loved pointing out characters she recognized!
Here comes Tinkerbell to kick everything off!
Mickey arriving by train again
Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat
VIDEO: A quick look at the Electrical Parade, featuring the happiest music you ever did hear
The "Celebrate the Magic" light show was up first. It is about a 10-minute projected light show on the castle, set to music. It was really, really cool, actually. I had never seen that before. Ellie seemed into it, too.
The castle lit up like the Cheshire Cat during the show
VIDEO: A selection from "Celebrate the Magic"
And then, it was time for the fireworks. Which....were a total bust. It wasn't raining at the time, but somehow it was so foggy/cloudy that we couldn't see ANYTHING. We could see the castle clear as day, but all the fireworks did was change the color of the sky behind it. With probably two or three exceptions, all we could see was color - no actual fireworks. We could hear them, too, but couldn't see. All that prep work! How disappointing! This was our one chance to see them (as we had planned), and we were pretty bummed. But, hey, you just have to roll with the punches on vacation, right?
Hey, at least we got a little Gator Disney action out of it?
Some of the only fireworks we could see, which Ellie so proudly informed us were red.
After the parade we decided to hit the Winnie the Pooh ride, which was already one of our FastPass selections for Sunday. However, the wait was really short, so we decided to go for it and choose something else to take it's place later. Ellie loved all the interactive stuff in the line leading up to the ride probably more than the ride itself, but the whole thing really was quite cute.
Playing with the "honey" on the walls!
Tigger and Pooh!
We then decided to try to make our way out and back to the hotel, but got sidetracked by the Chapeau Hat Shoppe, where we purchased Ellie's first mouse ears. OMG THE CUTENESS. Too much, I tell you. TOO. MUCH.
The best part? SHE LOVED THEM.
By that time, the 9:00 p.m. Electrical Parade was about to begin, and people were preoccupied with that. So, we happened to notice that there was only a five minute wait to meet Mickey at the Town Square Theater, something our princess-friend had recommended we do. When we had stopped by earlier, the wait was upwards of 45 minutes, so we had decided to skip it. In fact, we had planned to try to use one of our FastPasses for Sunday for this very thing. But a five-minute wait? Don't mind if we do.
Let me tell you. THIS was the moment Ellie was waiting for. Bless her heart, the poor thing had to be tired and wet and cold (though she was being a total trooper), but she lit up when she saw Mickey. He was great with her, playing and chatting and carrying on. We had plenty of time to enjoy him and made sure to get his autograph. Once again, it may not always translate in pictures, but trust me: Ellie was starstruck.
It's hard to make out, but there's a big ol' grin happening underneath those pink mouse ears.
Hanging out with her best bud Mickey
Finally, that was the way to end our day. It was a long one! We went back to the resort and stopped at the main dining hall to pick up another quick-service dinner for Eric and me, then it was back to the room to get our poor, pooped little princess to bed. Eric and I spent the evening hanging out in the bedroom, eating our dinner/dessert, watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies and relaxing in that blessed whirlpool tub (if I ever have one of those in my house someday, I can die a very happy woman). It was the perfect way to unwind and recharge for another busy (rainy) day ahead!
(Note: If you'd like to see more pictures from our day at Magic Kingdom, you can see the full set at my Shutterfly site here.)
Up next: Our day at Epcot, including dinner with the princesses!