The hardest part about going to a Disney park is leaving a Disney park, and somehow, the longer you stay, the harder it is to say goodbye. There’s something about breathing Disney air 24/7 that makes no stay seem long enough, and we’ve tested this! Every year, we manage to find a reason to extend our WDW vacation by one more day, culminating in what has become a 10-day stay 3 years running. By the end, we’re completely spent and satiated, and can even admit to feeling ready to return to normal life where we won’t have to schedule everything through an app. And yet… as we’d be rolling our overpacked suitcases across the lobby of our Disney Resort hotel, whichever it may be, we’re already ready to start all over again and be the people arriving with our overpacked suitcases instead of leaving with them.
For about a day and a half it’s nice being home. It’s nice not having to rely on Disney transportation (“How come every bus has come at least once, except for the one going to Animal Kingdom?), or our limited packing constraints (“I knew there was going to be a cold snap, but I didn’t expect an Arctic Winter cold snap!”), or a mini fridge (“Uhhh… I guess we should’ve brought a smaller bottle of vodka.”).
But then… normal life starts looking—and feeling—like normal life again, and the impulse to wave at public transportation is a stark reminder that we’re not in Disney anymore. We start to feel like expats, struggling to find ways to keep the Happiest Place alive in our real lives and trying our best to live off the fumes of our memories until our next visit, which can’t come soon enough.
It’s at this point that Disney withdrawal sets in. It might be a droop in the mood, a heaviness of the heart, or an insatiable desire to wish upon a star. There are also far more obvious manifestations that make the condition that much easier to diagnose:
- You still haven’t taken off your MagicBand or taken your room key out of your wallet (depending on which resort you stayed at).
- You’re still checking wait times on the Disney mobile app—and getting excited when Peter Pan is down to 45 minutes!
- You almost cried putting away your Mickey ears—or are looking for excuses to keep wearing them.
- You asked the checkout person at the market if Annual Passports are accepted.
- You worry you won’t get back in time for the fireworks show.
- The sound of distant music causes you to stand curbside in anticipation of a parade.
- You realize breakfast doesn’t seem right without Chip and Dale.
- You end all phone conversations with “Have a magical day.”
If you identify with any of the above, congratulations, you’re not alone! We’ve all experienced it, and there’s no shame if it hits you hard, it just shows the depth of your Disney love—which is nothing to be ashamed of! The good news is, the Disney high need never be far from reach as long as you keep your Disney Toolkit close at hand.
We recommend any or all of the following for soothing the unbearable longing to return to Disney:
- Create a slideshow of your favorite Disney photos to view on your TV screen. In no time at all, you’ll be reliving your happiest moments almost as if you’re right there.
- Make your slideshow part of a romantic weekend or date night by adding music and cocktails to the equation.
- Journal your Disney experience so you can easily reference the highlights and magical moments. You may even want to incorporate some of your photos and make it shareable to friends and family—or even the world! Think Instagram, Facebook, or, if you’re more ambitious, make it a web page or a small site. Adobe Spark and Apple’s Sparkle Visual Web Design are both free, though some restrictions likely apply [Note: This is not an endorsement of either product.].
- Do a YouTube search for your favorite attractions and walkthroughs at your favorite Disney parks and create your own Disney playlist. When you’re feeling the burn, just go to your playlist and click Play. You may even want to take a trip in the time machine and return to some favorite “extinct” rides or earlier times for that added dose of love and nostalgia.
- Search Facebook for Disney Facebook groups. There are a number of good groups worth joining, where you can be among fellow addicts, aficionados, artists and cast members who all understand what it is to love Disney, crave Disney, and collect Disney. Some of our favorites include (but are not limited to): Disneyland CALIFORNIA Resort – Past, Present and Future, EVERYTHING Disney Theme Parks, The Secret Disney Group, and Vintage Disneyland.
- Play the “What would make the next time even better?” game. As great as the last visit or trip may have been, there’s always something you’d do differently given the chance. Planning your next Disney excursion puts you right where you want to be: at the Disney park of your choosing doing all the things you want to be doing. This has become a favorite conversation over a weekend breakfast or Happy Hour.
- Get that next trip or overnight stay in the books by making a reservation! There’s nothing like a solid commitment to your Disney future to make it feel real in your lives. Then all those “What would make the next time even better?” discussions will be that much more valuable when the windows open for making your dining and FastPass reservations.
- Cast yourself as a Disney cast member. Disney has employment and volunteer opportunities available for all ages and skill levels, for full- and part-time positions, as well as for special events with a limited duration. Even if such a possibility isn’t realistic, it’s still fun to fantasize: If you could be a cast member at any Disney park or resort, where would you be and what would you do?
These are our go-to cures for filling the Disney void when we can’t really be there. If you have your own, don’t hold back—c’mon and post ’em! The happiness Disney brings doesn’t have to end when we leave.