As in any good Disney film, with great sorrow comes great happiness, great hardship brings great rewards, great Villains bring great Heroes, and love always conquers evil. The juxtaposition of these great themes is one that we have come to love and expect from our Disney entertainment. But what about reality? What happens when you create memories that threaten to taint this precious balance between good and evil? I’m talking about bad experiences at Disney. And, not the experiences which you can tap a Cast Member on the shoulder, have them sprinkle a little Disney Magic, and you’re back on track.
Sure, we’ve all had those moments: inconsiderate people cutting in line after you’ve already been waiting the posted wait time (AND THEN SOME!), returning to your hotel room with sore shins from being run into by strollers driven by careless parents all day, or bouncing, bobbing, bumping, blundering your way through capacity crowds for 8 hours under a relentless burning sun while simultaneously forgetting that sunscreen exists. But those are all things that we have come to expect from Disney Parks if you’re a true Disney fanatic. If you’re wise in your planning and patient then you can still have a great time, even if you’re not a Disney fanatic.
But what happens when the enjoyment of your trip is jeopardized by the people with whom you are travelling? We all have those people in our lives, family members we can’t stand, significant others whom we are trying to recapture the romance with…friends whom you don’t really know until you’ve spent 5 days in a hotel room together, eating together, sleeping together, putting up with each other’s quirks all while trying to maintain a Disney-like composure. Usually the solution is to not travel with each other. But, let’s face it, humans are gluttons for punishment, and if these people are in your every day life, chances are you have had to (or misguidedly wanted to) travel with them at some point or another.
Regardless of whom this person is to you, what do you do if you are a Disney Fanatic and you take a trip with someone that you would rather forget? Most people would probably just cross Disney off their travel list, never wanting to be reminded of those foul memories ever again. For me, that will never be an option. So, how do you return to a joyful place which also holds painful memories for you?
First, if you can, deal with the emotions of the traumatic event before your next Disney trip. If you must cry, cry. If you’re angry with the person, tell them. If you cannot communicate with the person, do your best to try and resolve those issues within yourself: journal about them, go into a room and shout, scream, and sob, seek advice from a trusted person. If those emotions are still fresh, then revisiting Disney could be like pouring salt on an open wound. Second, remember the joy that Disney brings you and allow it to fill you up so that there is no more room for those negative thoughts/emotions. The joy of Disney is a reward all its own and should not be limited to those whom you travel with. Third, focus on the moment, this one, and that one, and the next one…Don’t dwell on the negative memories, but try and make new ones that will dwarf any Goliath of a memory which threatens to extinguish the joy that Walt wanted to bring to us all.
Lastly, and I cannot express this enough, imbibe discretionally. In the right quantities alcohol can be an outstanding social lubricant which bridges social gaps, dissolves anxieties, and helps even the shyest wallflower come out of their shell. However, with the plethora of cocktail options emerging at Walt Disney World and now the Disneyland parks, it is easy to over-imbibe and cause a negative experience for which there is no one to blame but yourself. Remember, Disney is expensive, you’ll be wanting to remember those memories, not grasp at them in a drunken fog.
For me, this is just theory. I plan on putting these techniques to the test in a couple of months when my husband and I embark on a last-minute birthday trip to Walt Disney World. But I refuse to allow my love of Disney to be tainted by anyone or anything. It has been a love of mine since my first memory of walking down Main Street USA when I was 10 years old, with a grin on my face so big that it made my cheeks hurt. It was where I created amazing memories with my high school peers and won first place in the Music in the Parks choral competition. It was my first and second vacations with my now husband, where he proposed, where we were married, and honeymooned. It’s safe to say that Disney is so engrained in my life at this point that if wild horses were dragging me in the opposite direction, I would muster my strength to stand and drag them back to Disney!