At six years old, Miss O was starting to grow out of her obsession with all things ruffly and sparkly, including her devotion to Disney Princesses. She could also still be terribly shy. With our first family trip to Disney coming up, I started to worry that she wouldn’t want to do any of the character meet and greets I scheduled during times when the rest of our group was thundering and splashing down mountains. I prepared myself not to get upset and not force her to do anything she really didn’t want to do. This trip was for her and my nephew, Mr. A, and while I was determined to honor that, I still hoped the Disney magic would find her for just a little longer.
Full disclosure, I had not actually ever done a princess meet and greet, at least not since I was maybe six or seven, and it was definitely not like it is now. My expectations were set by my trip research, countless Instagram posts, and friends’ experiences. I was prepared for long lines, cranky people and a rushed visit. I didn’t dare hope for one of those extraordinary Pixie Dust-filled interactions that last more than five-minutes and turn your world around. I just wanted a few autographs, photos and a special memory or two just for Miss O and me.
We scheduled our first day in Animal Kingdom, which at the time of our trip featured only one Princess – Pocahontas. That morning, we visited Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Miss O shyly smiled at Doc McStuffins from afar, but wouldn’t go near her or Rafiki. I know some kids can be shy with the full costume characters, so I was hoping meeting the face characters would be a little different for her.
There were a couple of attractions I knew Miss O had no interest in, so I included a visit with Pocahontas, one of Miss O’s favorites and the only Princess appearing in Animal Kingdom at that time, in our park plan for the day. I figured if it went well and Miss O wanted to do more visits, I had them scheduled already in my other park plans for our trip and if not, we’d go explore some shops or get snacks and not worry about it.
Even so, I held out hope as our time to split off from the group and find Character Landing approached. It was mid-afternoon by then and I was pretty sure we could all use a break and a snack, so my heart made a wish that Miss O would still want to try and we’d at least get one photo. I told myself not to worry if Miss O wasn’t into it and prepared myself to make the most of it.
My girl did not disappoint!
She loves Pocahontas and she waited for 10 minutes, enduring a threat of rain cancelling the time slot and some pretty rude guests in front of us in line. Now, I can get pretty emotional about things and I knew I’d tear up a little, but when it was our turn, we walked down the path and I started to get nervous. We picked a color for her signature and got ourselves ready. When she came forward to greet Miss O I could barely keep it together. Miss O, however, was slightly in awe, a little excited and not one bit shy. Her smile was huge as I showed Pocahontas the autograph banner I made for Miss O’s room. I managed to stammer out that this was the first time Miss O’s got to meet a Princess and instantly felt ridiculous. Pocahontas said she was honored to be the first and I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I expected a PhotoPass photographer to be on hand, but there wasn’t, so I fumbled a little getting my mobile phone ready.
Pocahontas was so gracious. I couldn’t have asked for a better first character greeting!
There are other characters appearing in Animal Kingdom, Chip and Dale, Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Timon. We saw Goofy and Donald from afar as we rode the Triceratops Twirl in DinoLand U.S.A, but Miss O had no interest in the costumed characters. I figured I’d take our win for the day and we just waved as we went around and around.
Our next day was our first day in the Magic Kingdom and we had FastPasses for meeting Tiana and Rapunzel. I knew those would be very different experiences than our visit with Pocahontas, so I was glad we had a nice, low stress entry into the process. I just hoped Miss O’s bravery would last and she’d be able to meet all her favorites before the princess phase passed completely.