We were originally scheduled for a flight that didn't depart from Pittsburgh until 8:30pm, so we felt blessed to be able to fly stand by on a flight so much earlier in the day. This would give us an extra half day to explore Disney World. Kerriann did so well during the flight and all of the other passengers loved her. Since we flew on stand by, we ended up in the very last row of the plane. She definitely kept everyone company as they were waiting for the bathroom-haha!
The journey from the airport to the hotel took much longer than we anticipated. By the time we got to our hotel and freshened up it was late in the afternoon. Though we were all tired (especially Kevin, he wasn't even home 24 hours before we left for FL) we were running on adrenaline and decided that we would check out the Magic Kingdom before dark.
Before boarding a shuttle bus, which was our main form of transportation during our stay, we posed for a few photos with the patriotic Mickey statue in the lobby of our first hotel, Shades of Green.
We loved staying at Shades of Green, and we definitely would like to go back one day. This hotel is for military personnel and their family and they really took great care of us during our stay. The rooms were spacious, the hotel was beautiful (especially decorated for Christmas), and the food in the restaurants was amazing. The chef was even very helpful in helping select gluten and dairy free meals.
After a ride on the shuttle bus as well as the tram connecting the bus stop to the Magic Kingdom gates, we were ready to do some exploring. We made it into the park just in time for a parade in front of Cinderella's castle.
The parade was the perfect way to kick off the visit. Kerriann loves parades, and all of the characters. You could tell that she was in awe.
A tip for those visiting the park and watching the parades... make sure you are on the outside of the parade, rather than trapped on an "island" inside. This will be extremely helpful if you want to leave before the parade has ended. It will also get you out quicker even if you choose to stay for the duration. People start lining up for parades up to 30 minutes in advance and they are PACKED! For this one we just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but we were prepared for the other parades that we saw over the next few days.
Once the parade was over, we decided to walk around and try to plan out what we would do the next day when we came back. The park was extremely packed because it was the Saturday before Christmas. This was probably the worst day we could have chosen to be there as far as crowds. The lines were too long to really do anything but sight see.
As we were walking, we noticed that the line to meet Tinkerbell was only 45 minutes long (which was pretty short on that particular day), so we decided to wait it out. This was Kerriann's first character meet and greet and she did awesome!
I think it helped that Tinkerbell was a real person, rather than a person in a costume. Either way, she had a great time. She got to meet Tinkerbell and another male fairy, though we're still not sure what his name was!
Look at the mark Tinkerbell left on Kerriann! We thought this was so cute!
After our visit with the fairies, we headed back to the castle for another parade. This one was geared towards music and dancing.
Kerriann could hardly contain herself once the music started. She was ready to get down and DANCE!
As the sun set and the parade ended, we all directed our attention to the castle for a skit. Minnie, Mickey and a few of the other characters were dressed in their Christmas gear, ready to light the castle.
The castle was so beautiful once it was lit with the Christmas lights. I have been to Disney at Christmastime before, but I have never seen the lighting ceremony or even the lights at night. It was definitely a memorable experience, and I'm so glad that I was able to share it with Kevin and Kerriann.
After that we headed back to Shades of Green to rest up for day two!