Megatron made her first visit to Disney! This report shares a look at Baby Bricker’s day at Disneyland, with family photos from our Christmas-time experience and thoughts on what it was like seeing the parks through the eyes of a two-month old infant.
That’s probably going to be completely unsurprising to parents. I don’t doubt that many of you are looking forward to our Early Entry and rope drop reports being forced to slow down as we learn the limits of having a child in tow. But that’s another post (or several dozen) for another day. The key difference here is that we weren’t trying to ride as many attractions or meet as many characters as possible. In fact, we weren’t trying to do anything.
In that regard, this visit to Disneyland was a massive success. We set out to accomplish nothing, and that is, in fact, what we managed to do. That’s a 100% success rate, beating even some of my best Early Entry benchmarks. Megatron is already a park touring extraordinaire!
Honestly, this was less about baby’s first visit to Disney and more about new parents going stir crazy and wanting to get out of the house, missing Disneyland at Christmas, and wanting to see how she does in a semi-public space. Aside from walks in public parks and the beach, the three of us haven’t really done anything in the last couple of months.
This is because we’re trying to err on the side of caution and mitigating risk by avoiding prolonged indoor activities for Megatron’s first ~6 months and during the peak of respiratory illnesses season. We recognize that this is extreme, but we’ve waited so long to get to this point that we’re erring on the side of caution to the greatest practicable extent.
It’s also important to stress that we’re not being preachy or passing judgment on the decisions any other parents make for their own families. There’s already way too much of that on the internet. Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance and mitigation measures they’re willing to take; it’s all about tradeoffs–there’s no such thing as zero-risk.
We recognize all of this and also that it’s healthy (emotionally and physically) to tolerate risk! This is something everyone is doing on a daily basis; taking measured risks–driving, riding a bicycle, crossing the road, etc–is a part of life. It’s important to approach decisions rationally without being overcome by paranoia or hysteria. At the same time, worrying while traveling wouldn’t be fun for us, either.
That’s pretty much where we are with this–two people who normally have reasonably high risk tolerance, but currently do not. This will not be the new normal for us. Once March 2024 rolls around, it’s back to business as usual–with lots oftravel for Megatron, including baby’s first international flight.
All of that is probably an over-explanation, but we wanted to avoid criticism that we’re paranoid and overcautious now and flip-flopping hypocrites later. It’s all about mitigation during the highest risk season and age, and then living normally.
The other reason we decided to take an impromptu baby’s first visit was because we were salivating over the crowd levels. It’s no secret that pent-up demand has (still) been running hot at Disneyland, and the parks haven’t really seen their normal lulls between holidays the last couple of years. Our visits after Thanksgiving last year certainly did not have low crowds, and were nothing like what we encountered at Walt Disney World.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when watching wait times from home, as one does, that there was a pronounced drop-off. It didn’t happen right after Thanksgiving, instead hitting at the start of December. After seeing low numbers for a few days and seeing reports of low crowd levels in the evenings, we decided to take advantage.
Not doing any attractions, the actual “advantage” this offered was fairly limited. But it was nevertheless fantastic to park with ease, enjoy an empty walkway from Pixar Pals, and have no line whatsoever at bag check. Walking through Downtown Disney, which has been uncomfortable at times due to pinch-points from the construction walls, was likewise pleasant and relaxed.
Then there was the actual in-park experience at Disneyland. It was, without question, the least-busy normal afternoon and evening we’ve experienced during the Christmas season since at least 2021. (Including the “normal” caveat because they was a particularly rainy day last year that was uncrowded–but that’s to be expected.)
With this window of opportunity likely to close very soon, we’re already debating a return visit to Disneyland to see the parks again during our favorite time of the year.
As it turns out, when you’re taking your child to Disney for the first time, you are absolutely transfixed on their reaction to any and everything. I didn’t care if it was random trees or Troubadour Tavern, we wanted to see Disneyland through Megatron’s eyes.
This meant a lot of random stops and starts, direction changes, and so forth. Definitely a good thing we went on a day with the lowest possible crowd levels rather than high ones. Not getting in anyone else’s way was a positive, but even more important (to us at least) was being able to stop and savor her expressions and reactions to everything.
I also have a newfound appreciation for things like balloons and even those infernal bubble wands. I have long, ahem, not held those things in the highest esteem. Honestly, I’ve wondered why anyone would buy them when they could, instead, simply not.
We probably weren’t in Disneyland more than 10 minutes before Megatron reacted to a balloon, and I’m standing there like a doofus seriously questioning, should we buy this?! Cooler heads prevailed and we did not, thankfully. I think our fervent frugality is going to be a useful offset to moments like these. (Side note: balloons at Disneyland cost up to $20?!?! I shouldn’t be surprised, but it had just never really been on my radar.)
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of free-to-look-at balloons attached to strollers parked over by “it’s a small world.” All of the wide-eyed wonderment, zero of the expense. (I’m already feeling like I’m going to “need” to put together a post of random hacks like this for first-time parents!)
Joking aside–and really, none of that is a joke–I cannot even begin to articulate how incredible it was to stand over by “it’s a small world” bathed in the warm glow of the lights, just looking at her looking at the facade and all of the balloons in the area. Those little smiles, expressions, and sense of curiosity filled our hearts.
It was very similar to every morning when she wakes up with an unbridled sense of happiness, smiling and excited to start another day. Except this was at night and for a much more prolonged period of time. We didn’t think we could love “it’s a small world” holiday any more than we already did. Turns out we were wrong.
For us, moments like this are absolutely what it’s all about. When sharing some of our future travel plans, we’ve had some people wonder why? (Almost exclusively non-Disney ones–the Disney fans seem to get it.) After all, it’s an expensive undertaking and the kid won’t remember anything under a certain age.
We just bite our tongues, because why bother, but I’ve always thought, “you know that we exist too, right?” The joy we experienced in seeing Christmas at Disneyland through Megatron’s eyes cemented that.
I know there’s absolutely no way Megatron will remember this or hundreds of other little moments she’ll have in the next few years. But we absolutely will. That time around “it’s a small world” holiday is indelibly etched into my memory and was the absolute essence of pure Disney magic. (Inject that stuff directly into my veins, as the kids say!)
Seriously, those moments were priceless and we will never forget them. It’s the type of feeling you have explained to you by other parents (as I’m doing now), but the full weight of those emotions just doesn’t translate to text. It’s one of those “if you know, you know” type of things. And I feel like we are just beginning to “know” now.
I might add that all of this awe and wonderment was also during Megatron’s normal witching hour, the time of day “when demons, monsters, and other horrifying supernatural creatures are at their most powerful and wicked” per European folklore. (I’ve been advised by the editor-in-chief that I cannot use these words to describe our angelic little daughter…so I’m simply quoting the official meaning.)
Sarah joked that all we need to do to avoid the dreaded witching hour is go to Disneyland every night. This also may have not been 100% a joke; during the following night’s witching hour, the idea of another visit to Disneyland was once again floated. As attractive as that might sound, we won’t be doing it on a nightly basis.
One of our biggest mental blocks to visiting Disneyland prior to this was, “what do we do if/when witching hour strikes while we’re at Disneyland?” Our ‘solution’ was essentially head for the least-crowded spots in the parks (Fantasyland Theatre by “it’s a small world” being one of them) and hope for the best. (Side note: Fantasyland Theatre tops our work-in-progress list of quiet places to feed.)
Beyond coming up with that fantastically foolproof solution, what convinced us to visit Disneyland during the heart of witching hour is other recent walks during that time. Megatron loves to move, and so long as she’s strapped into the baby carrier and constantly in motion, she’s good to go for the most part.
Strong emphasis on constantly. There are times at home when I stop for ~30 seconds to pour myself a water or take a bite to eat, and she voices her opposition to the standstill. This is absolutely fine by us! If there’s one thing at which we excel, it is walking. Seriously, we pride ourselves on it.
If motion is all Megatron needs to be cool and calm, we have that on absolute lockdown. On this particular evening at Disneyland, walking or motion plus gazing at thousands of resplendent lights did the trick. She’s definitely her parents’ daughter.
That’s really about all there is to say about this first visit to Disneyland. It’s pretty much just a rinse and repeat version of the “it’s a small world” holiday anecdote. Walk to a new part of the parks, stare at the Christmas lights or other shiny objects for a while, savor the scene, and move on to a new area.
About my only “regret” is that we didn’t make our way over to Grizzly Peak earlier, as she was asleep by the time we arrived at Big Marc the Bear, all decked out in his ugly Christmas sweater. Oh well, there’s always next time.
I’m sure every trip to Disney for the next several years will be filled with exciting new discoveries, emotions, and reactions. We absolutely cannot wait. We’re also really looking forward to more substantive visits to test strategy and itineraries, so we can share more practical planning posts instead of just photo reports of ourselves.
Already, this visit to Disneyland during which we did nothing at all goes down as one of my all-time favorite days in the parks. We can’t imagine what else the future holds, but we’re looking forward to savoring every moment of it!
Any thoughts you have in response to our latest update on Baby Bricker? Anything else you’re interested in reading about with regard to Megatron, babies in the parks, etc? Anecdotes of your own about first visits to the Disney parks? Any other questions? Hearing your feedback is always appreciated, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!