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Disney in Chicago: Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Light Festival & Parade

Please welcome Jamie Robbins as a guest writer to the WDW Radio blog.  Jamie is from the far southeast suburbs of Chicago, and a self proclaimed Disney fanatic! She has visited Walt Disney World over 20 times and loves finding Disney-related things to do while away from the World!   Jamie also was one of the winners of the WDW Radio 40 Hour Trivia contest!  She started her own blog at http://mydreamingcorner.blogspot.com/ and am very active on the WDW Radio forums as eeyore79!

Jamie recently attended a wonderful Disney experience, and she agreed to share the fun with us here on the WDW Radio blog!

I attended Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Light Festival & Parade on Saturday November 19th with my daughter Kayla and my mom to see Mickey and Minnie light up over 1 million lights on over 200 trees on Michigan Ave., otherwise known as the Magnificent Mile!! I have never been to this event before so I was excited.

I did a few days worth of planning and during my planning I found out that some extra fun Disney entertainment was going to be happening earlier in the day. First, I saw that the Neverland Pirate Band from Jake and the Neverland Pirate series would be performing at 12pm, and then at 1pm China Anne McClain from A.N.T Farm would be performing! Kayla is a HUGE fan of both those and I debated about going earlier to see them…then I found out China was doing a meet and greet afterwords and that decided it. A chance for my 5 year old to meet one of her favorite stars…deal!!

Next I found out that during the parade the stars of Lemonade Mouth would be on a float…wow!! Kayla LOVES that movie so that was exciting. Then I found out they were also doing a meet and greet the next day, Sunday, at Navy Pier from 11am-1pm…double deal!! She adores Bridget Mendler (Olivia), Adam Hicks (Wen), and Hayley Kiyoko (Stella), and I knew this would be a once in her lifetime experience.

We took the train into the city and arrived a few minutes before the entertainment started. We found a great spot to watch and rocked out with the pirates!!  Jake made a surprise entrance with Radio Disney after the band performed. He only met a few kids during a trivia contest, but it was still cool to see him!! Kay was sad not to meet him, but when I told her he is meeting at DHS now so we would see him in May, that made her happy!

We had about 45 minutes until 1pm when China was scheduled to perform along with her sisters and also Radio Disney’s NBT star Shealeigh.  I knew the meet and greet would start at 2:15pm, so my mom and I decided for one of us to stand in the line and wait while the other took Kay to watch the performance. We were lucky enough to be along the fence and see her come out and she actually waved at Kayla because I yelled “HI China!”.  Radio Disney started off with a dance party, then Shealeigh sang 4 songs, then finally at 1:45pm China came out and sang her top 3 songs.  Afterwards, we headed back into the line for the meet and greet and quickly we were meeting China! We were given a picture for her to sign and ushered up to the table. We then only had a few seconds with her and it was a little too rushed with being almost yelled at to “keep it moving” while I was trying to to take pictures.

Kayla meeting China McClain

After the meet and greet we decided to get something to eat and find a place to watch the parade from. This reminded me of staking out a spot at Walt Disney World for the parades…some people claimed their spot as early as 3:30pm for the parade which started at 5:30pm!

Image Courtesy of ABC7 Chicago

The parade was sponsored by ABC 7 Chicago, and we all know Disney is a parent company of ABC, so they were the main sponsors!! Plenty of advertising for planning a trip to WDW! We had visits during the parade from our Disney friends…Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy, Donald, Chip, and Dale. Also a giant Kermit balloon, China from A.N.T Farm, and Lemonade Mouth stars Bridget Mendler, Adam Hicks, and Hayley Kiyoko!

The parade was so much fun, especially when the Grand Marshals, Mickey and Minnie, came down the street and stopped at each block to light the trees. Mickey asked “Is everyone ready to light the lights?” then would count down from five and yelled “Happy Holidays” and through some pixie dust magic…thousands of twinkling lights lit up on the trees down Michigan Ave.! The parade and lasted about an hour and afterwards we slowly made our way down to the train station. There was a fireworks display over the Chicago River that  wasn’t Wishes…but it still made me smile knowing we had gotten a dose of Disney that day!

Sunday morning we woke up at 6:30am and got ready, then headed downtown at 8:15am and arrived at Navy Pier by 8:40am. We parked and headed outside to the main entrance to wait in the line that had started to form. For the Lemonade Mouth meet and greet they were giving out wristbands starting at 10am at the main entrance. We were about 50 people back in line..the 1st people in line got there at 6:30am! It was COLD, but the hour wait went by pretty quickly by talking to people around us.

Finally it was 10am and we were let in and received our wristbands. Our return time to line up was 10:45am…which meant we would be in the first group to meet the stars!! We dashed into McDonald’s for a drink and some apple pies. Radio Disney was entertaining with music and trivia questions so we checked them out for a few minutes. Then it was 10:45am and we were ushered upstairs to the meet and greet area.

We were about 100 people back in this line, and the stars started meeting just a few minutes past 11am! The routine was the same as the previous days meet and greet- you were given a picture for them to sign, you gave that to the attendent and then moved down the table as they signed. I did enjoy this meet and greet more so because you did get a few extra seconds with each star and they actually talked to you in small conversations. Again, I was on photo duty so I didn’t say anything to anyone, and Kay was in awe of them, but I know Adam commented that he liked her glasses and shirt, and my mom told Bridget that she “was the all-American girl and we just love you” to which she replied “aww you are too kind” 🙂 Such a sweet girl. Hayley didn’t really say too much but “are you having fun” and Kay said yes. She was soooo excited to meet them, and that really made me happy!

The staff was much nicer at this meet and greet, and while I was told to “keep it moving”,  I still was able to take pictures from different angles. I did get a little irritated because as I was taking some pictures, the lady that was behind us, came and stood in front of me to take pictures of her daughter meeting Adam, so I had to tell her to please move since I was taking pictures. It all happened quickly but I did not like that. She had been trying to get in front of us in the line too while we were waiting. I kept trying to keep a happy “Disneytude” though!

Afterwards, we rocked out with Radio Disney some more, and did some trivia and dance contests. I have to say, our Chicago Radio Disney Road Crew is really awesome! There were maybe about 500 people that came through the meet and greet from what I estimated, and by 12:30pm the stars were taking standbys, which I thoughts was awesome! They wanted to make sure they met all of their fans!

I would highly recommend if anything like this comes to your town to definitely check it out if it appeals to you or someone in your family!! Things like this are a great way to get some Disney magic when you are so far away from the World! Plus it makes for great once in a lifetime memories!