June 15, 2024

What Went Wrong During Baby Bricker’s First Visit to Disney World (Final Report)

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Megatron's first trip to Walt Disney World was one of our best family vacations, but it wasn't without challenges. This is the 'grand finale' to Baby Bricker's first WDW trip report, with continuing coverage of




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Megatron’s first trip to Walt Disney World was one of our best family vacations, but it wasn’t without challenges. This is the ‘grand finale’ to Baby Bricker’s first WDW trip report, with continuing coverage of what went wrong. It features photos & thoughts on forcing firsts, early mornings vs. late nights, ride downtime, our Figment Fail and more.

This is the fourth part of our Walt Disney World trip report, the direct follow-up to our ‘parent fails’ during Megatron’s first WDW trip. Before that, we shared ‘what went right’ during our family trip – part 1 and part 2. If you’re looking for the positives from this trip (and the overwhelming majority was amazing), check out those first two parts. They’re the heartwarming stories and photos from Baby Bricker’s first vacation to Walt Disney World.

Overall, this was fun and immensely satisfying as we rediscovered Walt Disney World as parents. It was also a huge learning experience and went far from flawlessly, but we wouldn’t trade this trip–warts and all–for anything. Anyway, here’s the final installment of this report with more of our challenges in taking Baby Bricker (Megatron) to Walt Disney World for the first time. Let’s dig right in…

Early Entry & Rope Drop – Given the previously-discussed issues with Megatron’s sleep schedule, this isn’t going to come as even a slight surprise, but we didn’t do a single Early Entry or rope drop as a family. (I did a couple solo and will have reports on those soon.) Together, we made it to the parks before 11 a.m. a grand total of one time.

The lack of rope drops was to be expected, as we were keeping Megatron on Pacific time. She gets up for the day at home between 5:30 and 6 a.m., and early as that is, it’s still too late for Early Entry once you account for getting ready and transportation.

What I didn’t fully appreciate is just how long it would take to get out the door each morning. (Now I know why the later Early Entry at Magic Kingdom is so much busier than the ones that start an hour earlier!) Definitely much more of a production to get a baby ready, and it seemed that by the time we got everything done, there were certain steps of the ‘process’ that already had to be repeated. Again, I hope this is partially a “skills issue” and as we become more adept at traveling, we’ll be able to get out the door faster.

At the other end of the spectrum, one thing I forgot to mention as something that went right was late nights. Megatron’s “ideal” bedtime at home is 7 to 8 p.m. (big time air quotes around ideal), which is 10-11 p.m. Eastern. As a result, we were able to do park closings with ease. We didn’t attempt Extended Evening Hours, but think we will next trip. That will be during the hotter summer months and we’ll want to spend more time out after dark as a result.

Forcing Firsts – A few months ago, we made ourselves a ‘Baby Bricker Bucket List’ that also functions as a list of intended firsts. Our thinking was that we want to be purposeful about what she does and when, so we (and she) can look back at the things she did first at each of the parks and when. We also want to be able to repeat certain milestones and memories over the years, so we wanted to be strategic in choosing attractions and experiences that will probably be around for decades to come.

This is all a great idea in theory, and we will sort of continue to do it. The problem is that babies are about as unpredictable and sleepy as a house cat. We found ourselves putting things off that we intended upon doing because naps or other things intervened. For example, we planned on her wearing a specific outfit for her first ride on Journey into Imagination, and then meeting Figment as we exited the ride. We also planned on her being awake for this.

We walked over to Journey into Imagination three separate times with that plan in mind. All three times, she fell asleep during the commute. As it turns out, EPCOT is a big park (who knew?) and the baby carrier is an excellent spot for a nap! I’m not sure that I necessarily regret this, as her first ride (awake!) on Journey into Imagination was really memorable.

In general, though, I think we tried to choreograph too much with the firsts and that led to us wasting a lot of time and doing more walking and fewer actual things. The end result with Journey into Imagination made that “worth it,” but even that had one not-so-minor problem. In the future, we’ll be more willing to roll with the punches and just let whatever happens, happen.

Figment Fail – That one not-so-minor problem with Journey into Imagination is that Megatron has yet to meet Figment. Between our late starts, his limited set schedule, and her falling asleep en route to the Imagination Pavilion…it just didn’t happen. We almost called an audible and went to EPCOT on our last partial day, but we would’ve had ~45 minutes when all was said and done and that would’ve been a big waste had she just fallen asleep again. Plus, we’ve learned that a 45 minute window can vanish in no time at all with a baby.

Honestly, we don’t regret this! While it would’ve been fine to roll with the punches and do other things while she was asleep, meeting Figment was not one of those things. It’s really important to us that she’s awake for her first encounter with Figment, as all of the meet & greets she’s done while awake have been special and fun, whereas the ones she’s done while asleep have not. If that means pushing Figment off until she’s potentially less enamored with characters (I know there’s an ebb and flow), so be it.

Short of scheduling several more days at EPCOT, there was nothing we could’ve done differently to avoid this. It wasn’t a mistake–just something that went wrong. Hopefully she’ll be visiting Walt Disney World for the rest of her life, so not every major “first” had to happen this first trip. Here’s hoping the Figment meet & greet happens next time!

Complicated Outfits – Megatron must shop at Dan Flashes, because her outfits are so complicated. I get why people like cute clothing ensembles for babies as they’re great for photos and all that, but I am not a fan. The more pieces an outfit has, the more likely something is to get lost or get bunched up in the baby carrier and cause discomfort.

Perhaps worst of all, it’s a tremendous challenge for inept individuals trying to change babies and struggling with socks or pants as baby does their best Pelé impression. (Not that I speak from experience or anything–just looking out for my fellow fathers…or mothers! But seriously, why do none of the parenting books discuss this? There should be a full chapter dedicated to socks shenanigans.)

I’m the expert on a lot of things. You know that. I know that. Uh, not a lot of things. A few things. But fashion is definitely one of them. And in my considered opinion, the pinnacle of baby style is the onesie and the top designer is the House of Burt’s Bees. Browsing their lookbook for the Summer 2024 season, and there are just so many striking styles. Dinosaur onesies, dragon onesies, shark onesies. That’s a design team at the top of their game; true baby couture.

Half-joking aside, literally all of my favorite outfits for Megatron are from Burt’s Bees and they go hard. Going forward, I hope that she only wears onesies while traveling for their ease and simplicity. I know that if I could get away with always wearing one-piece pajamas in public, I absolutely would. We shouldn’t deprive her of this golden window of opportunity before it becomes socially unacceptable.

Ride Downtime – This was not unique to our trip. Many guests these days seem to think they experienced atypically bad ride breakdowns during their Walt Disney World vacation. In reality, that’s because attraction downtime is far higher than its historical average.

I’m not sure whether that explanation makes it better or worse. Misery loves company, so perhaps you take solace knowing others are in the same boat. Or maybe you’re mad that Disney doesn’t address this known issue. (Honestly, I don’t know if it’s something they even can fully address. Remember how we warned of the loss of institutional knowledge with the furloughs and layoffs back in 2020? Well, look no further than this for the “fruits” of that short-sighted decision, as maintenance departments have been decimated and have far fewer years of tenure.)

Either way, this was an issue for us yet again. It was also a bigger deal, perception-wise, when visiting with Megatron for the first time since there are more moving pieces with a baby. Whereas on a solo trip or when it’s just the two of us, we can quickly pivot when what we intended to do is down. Not really that big of a deal, except during Early Entry. It was definitely more annoying this time, and I can see how this would be even more frustrating with older kids, grandparents, or anyone with mobility issues.

Animal Kingdom – We were more excited to take Megatron to Animal Kingdom than any other park at Walt Disney World. Well, except for EPCOT. Okay, and Magic Kingdom. But we were definitely more excited for DAK than DHS…and third place out of four is still respectable!

This was entirely for the animals. She loves Yossarian the Cat and Walter Dogsney–and I mean loves them. The cat in particular, because he’s very cat-like and spends his day tucked away in random boxes and sleeping in the closet, so she doesn’t see him much. But when Yossarian comes up for treat time and she spots him, she goes nuts. Yossarian probably ranks higher than I do with her.

Megatron also really likes seeing the baby ducks and cats at Disneyland, so we assumed Animal Kingdom would be a home run with her. That it would just blow her mind with otters, exotic pigs, flamingos, big cats, and so forth.

We assumed wrong. As best I can tell, she saw one animal all day long–a random duck in the walkway. The rest of the time, she fixated on posts, handrails, or reflections in glass of the animal enclosures. I’m no baby scientist, but she just kept focusing on the foreground–and there was always something nearer to her than the critters. So it didn’t matter that a really cool creature that would’ve blown her mind was off in the distance, because she had to figure out what was up with the pole within her reach. And by that, I mean she had to attempt to grab it so she could lick it.

Since we do not let her lick any foreign objects, Animal Kingdom was a big disappointment for her. (What’s the point of all these posts if they cannot be licked?!) Consequently, Megatron’s favorite “animal park” is a crown still held by Disneyland thanks to its ducklings, goslings (baby geese, not Ryan), cats, and other assorted critters. DAK was her least favorite park and definitely our least favorite as parents. Once you take the animals out of the equation, there’s not a ton to do for babies.

That’s really the salient point of this from a planning perspective. If you have a baby and are debating which park to skip at Walt Disney World, give serious thought to Animal Kingdom. Before this trip, I would’ve assumed Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be the park to skip given how thrill-centric it’s become and how many attractions have height requirements. But DHS is more doable and enjoyable with babies, at least in our view.

Animal Kingdom’s issue is that there’s not a ton for anyone, but babies have it especially rough as most of the rides worth doing have height requirements and/or are jerky. It’s also a hot park with a ton of area to traverse, and not many “low stakes” options for sitting in air-conditioning, as the stage shows are all fairly long and involved. Normally that’s a good thing from our perspective, but not so much with an infant. It’s tough to commit that much time to a high-quality production in a huge theater, as you don’t want to disturb other guests if things go sideways, and leaving quickly isn’t exactly easy.

Unsurprisingly, Magic Kingdom was far and away the best park for a baby. We went in fully expecting that because Magic Kingdom is arguably the best park for all age groups with the largest and most well-rounded slate of attractions–and also because it’s our personal favorite. We’re also big EPCOT fans, of course, but we ended up being slightly surprised at just how good of a park that was for babies. All of the indoor pavilions offer huge advantage; there are also enough smaller scale and low stakes attractions that are nice and relaxed for small children.

Superstar Sarah – This is not something that went wrong, but rather, the reason this list isn’t double or triple its length. While I am literally struggling to put on pants (both my own and the baby’s on her), Sarah is singlehandedly holding the whole operation together. Just look at her in the photo above…she’s not even flexing!

Not to perpetuate the bumbling dad stereotype–I’d like to think of myself as semi-competent and I truly hate not being good at anything–but I just seem to encounter more, ahem, technical difficulties with Megatron. For example, socks. How do you keep them on a baby and, furthermore, how the heck do you get them back on (assuming you don’t lose them outright) those tiny, constantly moving feet? If Megatron is only 50% sockless when left in my care, I take that as a win.

Sarah somehow manages to do it all flawlessly, in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation without complaint. I don’t know when the last time was that she got ~3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but definitely not in the year 2024. Maybe sometime last November? There was a brief window where things seemed to be swell before sleep regression reared its ugly head. I am in constant awe that Sarah has managed the pressure and demands of this 24/7 job without missing a beat. I’d be absolutely losing my mind.

At home and during this trip, Sarah does and did the heavy lifting. I help where I can, from carrying Megatron to rocking her to sleep at night, among other things. But there are limitations on what I’m able to do as contrasted with Sarah. When the baby starts crying and Hey Bear (my last line of defense) can’t get her to stop, there are only two things Megatron wants, and I don’t have those. I am clearly a distant second favorite, perhaps #3 behind Yossarian.

In the end, thankfully much more went right than wrong on our first trip to Walt Disney World. At least 90% of that was due to Sarah being a great mom, anticipating problems and needs before they arise and making it all seem easy. I am very, very aware that it’s most definitely not easy, because when I’m running the show, we’re having trouble just keeping feet fully socked. Although I guess maybe these trip reports would’ve been “easier” if it were me in charge, because what went wrong would’ve been a one word post: everything.

Even over the span of four posts and over 12,000 words, there’s still a lot that we haven’t even covered. Things that neither went right nor wrong, but just “went.” This includes a lot of things, from two of the toughest airports anywhere (Los Angeles and Orlando) to the flights to table service meals and more.

The good news is that this trip was a great learning experience for us, and we’ve already put some of the lessons to use. I’m so glad we did this before traveling to Tokyo Disney Resort for the first time, as this experience taught us a lot and reshaped our approach. From things as simple as packing more efficiently to learning how to better adjust her sleep schedule. Already, the second trip is going better than Baby Bricker’s first!

As we continue to get more experience under our belts, we’ll start sharing advice rather than first hand reports. Flying with a baby is a big one from that perspective, but we’ll also have more on baby wearing, navigating places with and without a stroller, character meal reviews, and a ton more. For now, thanks for joining us on this journey–we hope you learned something from what went wrong during Baby Bricker’s first trip to Walt Disney World…or at least had a laugh at my and Sarah’s expense!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Thoughts on what went wrong or right during Baby Bricker’s first trip to Walt Disney World? 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!




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